The 11 Best Things to Do in Grand Cayman on a Cruise

If you have a full day to spend on Grand Cayman during your stopover, then get ready to explore one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful and luxurious islands! From thrilling water sports to charming historic attractions, there are so many ways to make your trip to paradise a memorable one.

But with only a limited time on shore, it’s important to decide on activities beforehand. With thousands of cruise passengers disembarking on the island, you’ll be thankful to have a plan of action that allows you to make the most of your short stay. 

So, let’s take a peek at the best things to do in Grand Cayman on your Caribbean cruise vacation! 

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What are the Best Things to Do in Grand Cayman on a Cruise?

Whether you’re here for fun or relaxing, Grand Cayman offers a wealth of unique experiences. Beachgoers will love the sandy shores of Seven Mile Beach or Smith Cove, while adventure seekers can go snorkeling with sting rays or swimming with sea turtles. And if you prefer to stay dry, then you can also visit some of the island’s cultural landmarks, like Pedro St. James Castle or the National Museum of Grand Cayman.

As you can see, Grand Cayman appeals to all types of travelers. I’ll cover each of these tours (and share some more off-the-beaten-path activities) so you can plan your perfect day on this beautiful island.

The Best Things to Do in Grand Cayman on a Cruise

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1. Spend Time on Seven Mile Beach

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Considered by many to be the best beach in the entire Caribbean, Seven Mile Beach should not be missed during your trip to Grand Cayman. From the powdery white sand to the gentle lapping waves of bright turquoise waters, it’s truly the epitome of tropical paradise.

While Seven Mile Beach is a prime destination for sunbathers, it is also popular with snorkelers and scuba divers. For the best underwatering activities, visit Cemetery Reef or Cheeseburger Reef to see colorful corals and abundant marine life.

The start of the beach is approximately 2 miles north of the port, so you’ll need to take a taxi or bus if you haven’t booked an excursion. Your cruise may also provide shuttles to and from the beach, as it is one of the more popular activities for passengers on Grand Cayman.

2. Visit the Cayman Turtle Centre

A visit to the Cayman Turtle Centre is a family-friendly activity for animal lovers of all kinds. This conservative facility and wildlife park was created to protect native sea turtles and to help them through their various stages of development.

However, turtles aren’t the only creatures you’ll find in the center. There’s a crocodile exhibit, a shark reef, a butterfly house, and an aviary that you can also see during your visit. For a truly unique experience, make sure to book a swim in the on-site turtle lagoon. You’ll be able to snorkel in a protected saltwater pool with real live sea turtles and other tropical marine life. 

The Cayman Turtle Centre is located on the northern tip of the island, about 15 to 20 minutes away by car. 

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3. Play with Rays in Stingray City

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If you had to choose just one excursion to do during your stop in Grand Cayman, then I would highly recommend a snorkel trip to Stingray City.

You’ll be taken out by boat to a shallow sandbar in the northern sound of the island, where you’ll have the opportunity to swim with, feed, and even touch dozens of gentle stingrays. Most tours also include pitstops at other snorkeling destinations, like Coral Gardens or Starfish Point. 

This once-in-a-lifetime experience can be enjoyed by swimmers and snorkelers of all ages. Best of all, most tours include transportation to and from the cruise dock, so you won’t have to worry about taking the bus or hiring a taxi. 

Just keep in mind that this is one of the most popular tours for visitors, so you should book as early as possible!

4. Explore the Historic Pedro St. James Castle

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Dating back to 1780, Pedro St. James Castle is the oldest building not just on Grand Cayman but in the whole Cayman Islands. It was originally built as a home, but it became the seat of the parliament and the birthplace of the island’s democratic system.

The 3-story home is now a museum, outfitted with decor and furnishings from the 18th and 19th centuries. You can also watch an immersive performance in the Pedro Theater that uses water, wind, and lighting to tell the stories of early settlers on the island.

After your tour (can be done self-guided or with a guide), head to the Outpost Bar and Restaurant for a local rum tasting. Make sure to give yourself enough time to see everything on the property, as the castle is 20 minutes from the cruise port.

5. Enjoy a Glass-Bottom Boat Tours

If you want to explore the waters without getting wet, a glass-bottom boat tour is one of the best activities you can do. As you cruise through the Caribbean Sea around Grand Cayman, you’ll be able to see the vibrant coral reefs and colorful marine life – just like you would if you went snorkeling or diving! 

There are several companies on Grand Cayman that offer glass-bottom boat tours. If your cruise line does not offer this type of excursion, you can also book a trip directly with the tour operator on land. However, I suggest finding a company that leaves from George Town or Seven Mile Beach so you don’t spend too much time in transit.

6. Go Horseback Riding on the Beach

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There are few things that are as romantic as taking a majestic horseback ride across the sparkling shores of the Grand Cayman coast. Horseback riding tours are very popular on the island, so you’ll likely see this offered by your cruise line or with different tour operators on land.

On most tours, you’ll also have an option to take your horse into the ocean. These “sea swim” tours are so unique because the horses aren’t just galloping through the water – they’re actually swimming! 

While this is a nice activity for couples, anyone can go for a horseback ride, as no experience is necessary.

 7. Stop By the National Museum of Grand Cayman

If you’re a history buff like me, then a visit to the National Museum of Grand Cayman is a great way to learn more about the island’s history and culture. There are multiple exhibits to see in this historic 1800s building, including galleries about natural history, cultural history, and art.

You probably won’t need any longer than an hour or two inside the museum. That means you’ll have more time to explore George Town or combine your trip with another short excursion on this list. And because ticket entrance is relatively cheap ($8 for adults and $3 for children), it’s one of the more affordable activities you can do while visiting Grand Cayman.

8. Go Snorkeling

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Grand Cayman is famous for having some of the best snorkeling conditions in the Caribbean, making it a very popular activity for those visiting on a cruise. Most cruise lines offer different types of snorkel tours, although you can also go by yourself if you have equipment (there are also a few gear rental shops in town, too).

Besides visiting famous spots like Stingray City, there are a few other noteworthy snorkel destinations I can recommend. Cemetary Beach, Governors Beach, Eden Rock, and Sunset House are a couple of world-renowned areas with flourishing underwater life. 

9. Visit the Town of Hell

When you’re on Grand Cayman, you can go to Hell – quite literally! Hell is a small town on the West Bay (~15 minutes away from George Town by car) known for its otherworldly landscape of jagged limestone rocks. The field is rather small, but the black rocks shooting up past the lush green vegetation make it one of Grand Cayman’s more unique scenic attractions. 

Don’t forget to buy a postcard and take your photo by the “Welcome to Hell” sign. 

10. Drink Rum at the Cayman Spirits Company

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Savor the rich flavors of the Caribbean islands with a rum tasting at Cayman Spirits Company. Although you can buy rum at the souvenir or liquor shops in town, it’s worth it to make the short drive to the Cayman Spirits Company to sample it straight from the source. You can even get a tour of their 5,000-square-foot facility while you’re here (don’t worry, it also includes a tasting).

If you really like rum, then I also recommend picking up a rum cake from Tortuga Rum Company. As the #1 export from the Cayman Islands, these rum-infused cakes make a delicious souvenir or snack. They come in a variety of flavors, but the Cinnamon Raisin Caribbean Cake is the best, in my opinion! 

11. Dip Your Toes in Smith Cove

If you want to beat the crowds at Seven Mile Beach, head down south to Smith Cove (also known as Smith Barcadere). With crystal clear waters and sugary soft white sand, this small beach is absolutely stunning. 

Talk a walk along the rugged limestone formations for picturesque views of the ocean and waters. Or go snorkeling to discover the vibrant coral reefs of Grand Cayman’s underwater world. It’s a quiet and tranquil spot to simply enjoy the beautiful landscapes of the Caribbean. 

Grand Cayman is easily one of the most beloved islands in the Caribbean. Even if you’re only here for a few hours, I know that the laid-back atmosphere and beautiful scenery will capture your heart like it did mine. Whether you’re booking a shore excursion or simply exploring the island at your own pace, you’ll be thankful that you had time to immerse yourself in the magic of Grand Cayman! 

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Grand Cayman Cruise FAQs

Where is the Grand Cayman Cruise Port?

Most cruise ships dock in George Town, the capital and main port of call for Grand Cayman. When the ship arrives, it will anchor in the bay, and guests will be required to take smaller boats (tenders) to land. The tender will dock at one of three piers in town – the Royal Wratler Terminal, the North Terminal, or the South Terminal. All three terminals are near each other and within walking distance to the main attractions of George Town.

Do I Need to Book an Excursion?

The short answer is – no, you don’t have to book an excursion or tour while docked on Grand Cayman Island. However, it can greatly enhance your experience, especially considering that your stay is limited to a day. If you have your heart set on a specific activity, like snorkeling in Stingray City or horseback riding on the beach, then it’s best to organize a tour before you arrive. But if you prefer something more laidback, you can always explore the sites around town or grab a taxi up to Seven Mile Beach for an afternoon of lounging and relaxing.

What is the Currency in Grand Cayman?

In Grand Cayman (and all the Cayman Islands), the local currency is the Cayman Island Dollar (CI$ or KYN). While many locals prefer getting paid in KYN, the United States Dollar is also widely accepted, so you won’t need to exchange money when you arrive.In Grand Cayman (and all the Cayman Islands), the local currency is the Cayman Island Dollar (CI$ or KYN). While many locals prefer getting paid in KYN, the United States Dollar is also widely accepted, so you won’t need to exchange money when you arrive. I also want to add that businesses will also accept American credit cards. In fact, your card will likely be charged in USD rather than KYN, which means you can avoid foreign transaction fees. 

How Can I Get Around Grand Cayman?

Cruise ships dock in the middle of George Town, so you can easily walk to the shops, restaurants, and attractions if you’re planning to spend the day here. But if you want to explore the island, you’ll need to hire a taxi or take public transportation. Unfortunately, rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft are not available. But if you book an excursion, it’s very likely that it will include transportation to and from the dock. This can be a huge benefit for cruise ship passengers, as all the planning and logistics will be taken care of. If you are planning to sort out transportation for yourself, make sure to take note of the cruise ship’s departure schedule. Give yourself plenty of time to make it back to the dock, or else the ship might leave without you!