If you're traveling to Grand Cayman there are four activities that should be at the top of your list: Seeing the Grand Cayman Turtle Farm, trying the Shipwreck Exploration Snorkel for Kids, exploring Stingray City and, lastly, eating out.
Grand Cayman Turtle Farm
The Cayman Turtle Farm is the islands' premier tourism attraction for good reason: cute, cuddly, irresistible sea turtles. The farm is dedicated to research and conservation of these amazing sea creatures and the experience is wonderfully hands-on. Kids and their parents can climb right into contained pools with young turtles, pick them up, rub their bellies and observe them up close and personal.
Grand Cayman Shipwreck Exploration Snorkel for Kids
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Ambassadors of the Environment Program Shipwreck Exploration Snorkel. Kids 11 and older can join their parents on this amazing adventure. Unlike so many other snorkeling adventures where they give you a mask and some flippers and dump you in the water, this program begins with an actual fitting! Kids are given masks that fit their faces, snorkels that fit their mouths, fitted life-jackets, and fins that fit their feet and they are led out to the wrecks by expert guides who split their time between pointing out some amazing underwater life and making sure that everyone is safe and happy. Snorkelers have to swim to the wreck site which is a decent distant offshore. My daughter is 11 and was a bit freaked out by the idea. She thought of turning back, but after some calm, friendly, re-assurance from our guides she relaxed, jumped right in and was blown away by a school of massive tarpons, a sight that can only be appreciated in person.
Grand Cayman's Stingray City
Stingray City – A stingray snorkel trip on a natural sandbar that will both freak you out and thrill you. Jump in the water (waist level), grab a handful of cut squid, put your hand under the water and thrill to the feeling of a huge stingray gently vacuuming the food from your hand. Plenty of opportunities for up close interaction and photos and, if you're among the more daring among your fellow visitors, give a stingray a kiss for seven years good luck. It's really a great place for family photos, and your kids will find that custom photo books are a great way to share these captured memories.
Lastly – EAT! My most lasting impression from our time on Grand Cayman was the food! It is not often that you find a spectacular restaurant with a creative chef, a killer menu, extensive wine and beer selections, and great service that is also kid friendly, but Grand Cayman is loaded with just such places.
My Favorite Grand Cayman Restaurants
Here are a few of the standouts:
Periwinkle at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Ambassador: For anyone who likes traditional food with a twist, the truffle french fries are a must-have indulgence. If you're going to the Ritz-Carlton for the Shipwreck Exploration Snorkel, arrive early and order up a heaping plate of these perfectly seasoned delights, but be sure to order the kids something else so that you can have these for yourself.
Michael's Genuine Food and Drink at Camana Bay: The restaurant serves family style dishes, the sheer variety and ingenuity of which will blow your mind. My group shared between 7 and 10 dishes (they come in small, medium, large and extra large servings so you can mix and match as you like), all of them were delicious, but there were three exceptional standouts;
Wood roasted local double yolk eggs with cave-aged gruyere, roasted tomatoes, chives and sourdough crostini – otherwise known as deviled eggs from heaven!
Sweet and crispy pork belly with kimchi, crushed peanuts, scallions, and cilantro.
And the Crispy Pastrami. Wow! A perfectly-cooked fried hunk of tender pastrami with a crunch.
They also have a childrens' menu to suit any young palate including wood oven pizzas and a dessert sampler with everything from vanilla ice cream to seasonal pie in a jar.
Ragazzi: Amazing Italian in a cozy atmosphere. Their menu is as diverse as it is inventive. My daughter had a traditional Spaghetti Bolognese while I indulged in a steaming plate of the delicate and delicious mushroom ravioli. These mouthwatering pockets of delight are stuffed with foie gras and porcini mushrooms and served with a poppy seed, truffle oil sauce with shaved parmesan that will inspire you to rethink the way you imagine Italian food. The wine list is extensive and the desserts are top notch.
Ristorante Pappagallo: Yes, Italian again, but with a different menu and a vastly different setting than Ragazzi. Pappagallo means parrot in Italian and these majestic creatures surround the dining room in big, open-air cages. The tall thatched ceilings and gently flowing waterfall provide the quintessential Caribbean atmosphere, unexpected for an Italian restaurant that in no way diminishes from the superb dishes which are a combination of Italian and Caribbean flavors. The two cuisines go great together – start off with a light seafood carpaccio or the rich and creamy duck ravioli with porcini mushroom sauce and then gorge on a seafood risotto with shrimp, scallops, calamari and mussels or a selection of fresh fish cooked one of four ways. After dinner, be sure to enjoy an espresso while the kids roam around and talk to the parrots.
While visiting Grand Cayman we stayed at the Westin Casuarina Resort & Spa which sits on the famous Seven Mile Beach. The resort was named to Condé Nast Traveler's Gold List and is nearby all of Grand Cayman's best attractions. The beachside breakfast buffet was excellent and the grounds are safe and kid friendly with plenty of onsite activities.
For more information and hotel suggestions, visit the Cayman Islands Tourism Department.
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.