There are sight-seeing opportunities throughout the Islands, including historical sites, nature parks, hiking trails, bird sanctuaries, underwater reefs, and, of course, the famous beaches. Each district of the Islands offers its own unique landmarks and characteristics.
In George Town the places to see include the Elmslie Memorial Church, the Legislative Assembly, the Law Courts, the Government Administrative Building and, on the waterfront, the old Courthouse building which years ago housed all government departments and is now being used to house the National Museum.
In other parts of Grand Cayman popular sights are Pedro Castle, the birth place of representative government in Cayman, and the scenic cliffland at Pedro bluff; the caves, slave wall and typical Caymanian homes in Bodden Town; the blow holes at Gun Bay and the wrecks at East End; the Cayman Kai Development at North Side; Hell and the Cayman Turtle Farm, West Bay; and the Queen's Highway, which opened up the north-east part of the Island.
Another site of historical importance is the District of East End's Wreck of the Ten Sail Park, overlooking the site of the 1794 wreck, the most famous maritime disaster in the Islands' history. On her second visit to the Cayman Islands in 1994, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II visited the lookout point, named the Queen's View, and viewed the plaque commemorating her visit and the 200th anniversary of the wreck.
Her Majesty was also the guest of honour at the official opening of the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park. The park is located in the district of North Side. Access is from Frank Sound Road, the cross-island artery about 25 miles east of George Town. The park, located on 65 acres jointly owned by Government and the National Trust for the Cayman Islands, also houses the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme.
For those interested in bird watching and nature, probably the most rewarding activity available on Grand Cayman is a trek on the Mastic Trail, in the Mastic Reserve, North Side. The Mastic trail was a traditional footpath which was important some 200 years ago as a route between north and south coastal settlements in central Grand Cayman. Originally built by backbreaking manual labour, the southern portion of the trail had to cross a neck of mangrove wetland. Rocks and mahogany logs were carried by donkeys to create a causeway, and the harsh rock pinnacles on higher ground had to be hammered to make a passable path. The trail was restored in 1993 by the National Trust with extensive community involvement.
Another excellent bird watching site is the smaller Governor Michael Gore Bird Sanctuary in Spotts-Newlands, Grand Cayman, which is a good site for wetland birds in the driest months (February to April).
While not formally protected, another important bird habitat on Grand Cayman is Malportas Pond in North Side. On the pond's banks, farmer Mr. William (Willie) Ebanks has devoted time to aiding the recovery of the West Indian Whistling Duck. Starting with a pair of ducks and seven chicks in 1990, Mr. Willie now supports over 400 wild Whistling Duck, which can be seen at his farm in the early morning and evening hours. Malportas Pond also supports hundreds of herons, egrets, Moorhens, and coots, and is an important natural area surrounded by largely undisturbed land.
On Little Cayman the National Trust protects and manages the Booby Pond Nature Reserve, where about 10,000 breeding Red-footed Boobies make up the largest breeding colony for this large seabird in the western hemisphere. Magnificent Frigatebirds also breed here. The birds can be viewed through telescopes at the reserve's Visitors Centre, which doubles as the Trust's headquarters on Little Cayman. The area has been declared a "Ramsar site" under the international convention on protection of wetlands of international importance.
Cayman Brac boasts an elevated plateau known as "The Bluff" which supports woodlands quite distinct from Grand Cayman's. The Bluff supports some of the Cayman Islands' most magnificent trees, including the Mastic and Wild Sapodilla. The Bluff woodlands can be viewed in the Brac Parrot Reserve, where the National Trust has established a small trail in the reserve, connecting to the traditional "Bight Road" footpath. The trail is accessible from Major Donald Drive, an un-surfaced but drivable road which eventually leads to a high lookout at the eastern point lighthouse. The endangered Cayman Brac Parrot breeds in the Brac Parrot reserve and elsewhere on the Bluff, as do the Red-legged Thrush, Vitelline Warbler, and many other native birds. The Brac also teems with neotropical migrant birds during the winter months.
Exploring Cayman's world-renowned underwater beauty is a popular past-time, and scuba-diving and snorkeling operations offer facilities, equipment and instruction for both novices and avid practitioners. For those who don't want to get wet, an Atlantis submarine is based in George Town harbor, and several water sports operators offer trips on glass-bottomed boats.
No trip to Grand Cayman is complete without a trip to Sting Ray City. Located on a sandbar in the middle of the North Sound, the ‘city’ and its inhabitants are visited daily by boats operated by water sports operators.
Last Updated: 2008-07-13