Grand Cayman is the perfect destination for a long weekend. While there is plenty to do the island is small so you can really see most of it in a short stay. Grand Cayman isn’t known for being the most inexpensive island but there are many ways to cut down on costs. I spent $980 on this 3 day trip.
From Miami there are always flight deals to Grand Cayman. It was actually cheaper to fly one airline there (American) and another back home (Cayman Airways). I used some of the American miles I earned from the sign up bonus of my Citi AAdvantage credit card (I personally wouldn't recommend this credit card, I'm very disappointed with the point redemption) so our one way tickets to the Island cost me only $11.20 total. I paid cash for our return airfare for a grand total of $265.60RT for 2 roundtrip tickets for the weekend.
There are no jetways at Grand Cayman Airport and you will de-board and board the plane on the tarmac by stairs so be prepared for this especially if you are traveling with small children. A carrier is essential in being able to carry your baby plus your carry-on luggage.
Where We Stayed
We stayed at the newly renovated Margaritaville Beach Resort. It was a joint mommy/daughter trip with my girlfriend and her daughter so we saved money by splitting a double room. Margaritaville has special offers throughout the year for rooms as low as $150/night but be aware there is a $35/night resort fee. The Resort Fee includes: internet, beach towels, Nespresso Machine, two bottled waters per day, and self-parking.
The lobby is very nice and when we pulled up I was pleased with our decision in choosing this hotel. However, while the inside of the rooms were newly renovated and and very nice the outside of the rooms and hallway area could still use a major facelift. Below is a video of our room.
The property has 3 pools including a hot tub, kiddie pool only 1 foot deep as well as a pool with a swim-up bar. Below is a video of the pools on site.
There are 3 restaurants on-site, two casual options and Yara, a nicer steakhouse. We only ate at Yara one morning for breakfast and 5 O’clock Somewhere once for lunch. Food at both were good but if you leave the property you can find cheaper options.
The hotel also has a private beach cove, free from the crowds of the public Seven Mile Beach. Since it’s a cove the water is extremely calm which is perfect for the little ones.
The hotels renovations were not complete during our stay and they were in process of finishing their gym, private rooms, and a kids club which will be free for hotel guests.
What We Did
We arrived late the night before so we didn’t schedule our first activity until 12PM. We were heading to the North side of the island to visit Rum Point and Starfish Point, two staples of Grand Cayman just 10mins apart from each other. By car these destinations are a 1 hour car ride and if you aren’t renting a car a taxi will cost you about $125 each way! To avoid this we took Cayman Ferries for a short 25min ferry ride. The ferry only operates Tuesday-Sunday and departs from Camana Bay, which was a 15min walk from our hotel.
Camana Bay is filled with restaurants, cafes, a movie theater and even the hammocks pictured below. It's a great place for dining and even has a run through water fountain the kids can run through.
The ferry is $25RT for adults (13+), $20RT for kids 5 and up and free for kids 4 and under. Even if you are paying for 2 adults and 2 kids $90RT is much cheaper than $250RT you'd pay for a taxi and you reach your destination quicker and with a better view.
Things don’t always go as planned and when we got to the ferry they let us know Rum Point was closed for the day for a private event. We had our Stingray tour scheduled for the next day (Sunday) and the ferry didn’t run on Monday’s so we went anyway.
When we arrived to the pier at Kaibo we ate at the restaurant right there. The food was really good and the prices were decent. You can rent kayaks, stand up paddle boards and jet-skis there but we headed to Starfish point, an 8-10min walk away.
The water at Starfish Point is extremely shallow making it perfect for even the smallest kids. We saw plenty of starfish and even saw some brown jellyfish.
Since we couldn't visit Rum Point we stayed at Starfish Point until 4:30PM as the ferry departed at 5PM (the last one on the weekends so don't miss it). The girls enjoyed themselves and we even turned them into mermaids!
If both are open when you visit you can easily split your time between the two you can definitely visit both in one day. If you are taking the ferry her you should go straight to Rum Point when the ferry arrives as they offer a $5 shuttle to Rum Point. Depending on the day you go you'll need to walk or taxi over to Starfish Point when you are done as they will only come to pick you up from Rum Point when the ferry is departing.
In the evening we decided to have dinner at Hemingways as more than 6 different people recommended it. The food was very good but the restaurant was much more than my typical allotted budget. Jordyn's kids Mac & Cheese was 9CI ($11.25) and my Salmon was 30CI ($37.50).
We were scheduled for our Stingray City Tour which included visiting the infamous sandbar, snorkeling at Coral Garden and then visiting the Turtle Centre. Unfortunately for us the winds were extremely strong and there was a small craft advisory so all tours at all companies were cancelled. Our tour company said we would be able to get on a tour the next day if the winds died down but as our flight home was at 5:10PM we would need to do a tour of only Stingray City as the one we originally planned for was 5hrs and being scheduled to return at 2PM would be cutting it too close for our flight home.
We headed to the Cayman Turtle Centre since we for sure wouldn’t be able to do that the next day. The Turtle Centre is about 15-20mins from Seven Mile Beach, you can take a taxi (super expensive), public bus (2CI per person), or depending on the time you are leaving and coming back you can take the free shuttle provided by the center. We didn’t know the schedule at first but lucked out and one was arriving just as we were about to take the bus.
The Turtle Centre is open from 8AM-5PM and there are two different prices. Adult prices are considered for anyone 12 and up, child prices are from 5-11 years old and kids 0-4 are free of charge. If you want have access to the entire Centre which includes swimming in the lagoon with the sea turtles and the breakers lagoon which has a waterslide and have the entry fee is $45 USD for adults and $25 USD for kids. Below is a short video of us swimming with the sea turtles.
I bought both Jordyn and I's full face snorkel masks as I thought it would be a lot easier for her to use than the traditional bite down mask. We also frequent the beach so I thought it would be a good investment to have our own masks rather than using the ones that everyone else does when your on a snorkel tour. I ordered an XS for Jordyn and I small for myself. We practiced in the tub and at the pool before going on the trip so she would be more comfortable when we snorkeled.
If you don't want access to the lagoon to snorkel and the waterslide area you can purchase a ticket for half of the Centre to visit the touch tank area. The fee is $20 USD for adults and $10 for kids. Besides the touch tanks there is a take where anyone 5 and older can wade with the sea turtles and hold them while in the water but of course much different than snorkeling like the lagoon. Below we are at the touch tank area- as you can see the Centre is a little outdated and could use a renovation. It seems as if they clean and refill the touch tanks every morning so if you get there right when they open they will be empty like the one you can see here. Luckily the person over the tanks still let us hold one of the turtles.
The Cayman Turtle Centre breeds these sea turtles and keeps them until they are one. They then release them into the wild to help increase the sea turtle population. We were informed the year mark is due to the sea turtles having the highest chance of survival in the wild at this age and not being eaten by predators.
Since we missed Rum Point the day before and we finished at the Turtle Centre at 11:15AM we decided to catch the 12PM ferry back to Rum Point after confirming it was indeed open. We took the free shuttle from the Turtle Centre at 11:30AM and before we got in we asked the driver if he would be able to drop us at Camana Bay instead of the hotel. He said no problem at all and another family ended up getting off here too. This saved us the taxi fare.
Since we ate at the restaurant at Kaibo the day before and Rum Point is famous for their mudslides we decided to eat there. I spent $45 on our lunch for a fish sandwich with fries, conch fritters and the mudslide. Our food was horrible and to me the mudslide was watery, I took two sips and was done. My friend and her daughter each got a veggie burger and they were also disappointed, the burger wasn't fresh at all but instead a frozen patty. We wish we had eaten at the same restaurant as the day before.
People rave about Rum Point and it was highly recommended by so many. I wish we had that experience but since the winds had only gotten stronger since the morning the beach was closed for swimming. I can see how much fun we would of had, they have tons of water sports you could participate in such as stand-up paddle boards (which Jordyn really wanted to do), kayaks, jet-skis and more but after two attempts it obviously wasn't meant to be for us! We enjoyed the view and stuck our toes in the water for an hour or so but then headed back to Kaibo as they had a kids playground the girls could enjoy.
Unfortunately on our last day the wind didn't lighten up and the Stingray City tour was cancelled again. We spent the morning at the beach and while the winds made the current too strong to go in Jordyn had so much fun anyway. She played with some other kids on the beach chasing waves and building sand castles with them.
We requested a late check out due to our 5PM departure flight and we were granted a 2PM check out at no additional fee. After cleaning up we had lunch at 5' Oclock Somewhere which is on the property. The food was more expensive than the off the property options but it was convenient with our time constraints.
After lunch we headed to downtown Georgetown just to walk around and get some Tortuga Rum Cake for my mom. We only spent an hour there, the area consists of restaurants and shopping. We collected our bags from the hotel and headed to the airport for our flight.
Reading this post it probably sounds like we had a horrible trip, nothing went as planned. I won't lie Saturday after our Stingray City Tour got cancelled I was disappointed but I thought, no biggie there were others things we could do. But then when Rum Point ended up basically being closed as well I was frustrated as hell, what a wasted day I kept thinking. But then I looked at Jordyn and while she wanted to rent a stand-up paddle board she wasn't upset like me. She said mommy let's put our feet in the water, she was just happy to be outside and be with me and our friends. She wasn't complaining and reminded me to just enjoy the company we were in. I'm a serial planner and this was a hard pill to swallow but I didn't want to sulk all day so thank you Jordyn for letting me see the bright side and enjoy you and our special time together! She's still talking about our trip to Grand Cayman 3 weeks later and while she keeps trying to convince me to take her back for her birthday so she can see the stingrays (not happening lol) her mentions of the trip are all good ones. Look at her smile below!
I highly recommend booking your Stingray City Tour for your first day on the island. Our first day had the best weather and no tours were cancelled. In case the winds end up being strong your first day you will have your remaining days to hopefully reschedule.
Getting to/From the Airport
We took a taxi to and from the airport, the four of us landed at the same time and the taxi was $24 total and there was another passenger in the taxi who was going somewhere else and dropped off after us. On the way to the airport it was just Jordyn and I and the taxi cost $18.75, I still haven't figured how they calculate their fares but they did tell us they have set fares but charge per person so the set fare varies.
Getting Around Grand Cayman
Grand Cayman is the most expensive island I've ever traveled to. Taxis are ridiculously expensive. Walk as much as you can and if it's impossible to walk take the public bus. The Margaritaville Resort was a 15 minute walk to Camana Bay or a $12 taxi, even in NYC that taxi ride would have been half the cost so bring your stroller if needed and walk! For further distances take the public bus. I've never seen a bus that looks the way these do or operates the way they do and I loved it. The public buses as actually vans and their aren't any bus stops. You just flag them down when they are passing by and they pick you up. You tell them where you are going and they take you there like a taxi would except there are multiple passengers so think of it just like a shared uber or lyft. They will take you anywhere in town for 2CI per person. To give you an example of the savings, a taxi to the Turtle Centre costs $26 but even for a family of 4 it would only be $8CI/$10USD.
Renting a car is another option but note they drive on the opposite side of the road than we are used to in the US. Also depending on how many days you are staying, how many people are splitting the rental and how many of your tours include transportation it might not be worth the cost.
Margaritaville Grand Cayman Resort comped 1 night of our 3 nights stay in exchange for mention in this blog post however all opinions are my own and true.