My method of trip research is to talk to friends whose opinions I trust and blend together advice from multiple sources; anything that is mentioned multiple times rises to the top of the must do list. My husband prefers the TripAdvisor research method so between the two of us we have our basis covered. So THANK YOU to everyone who reached out with advice, you guys provided the best recommendations, I have to give a special shout out to Nicole who is a fellow Hobart Alumni. She got married on this island five years ago and travels down frequently so her restaurant and kid friendly tips were invaluable! Why Grand Cayman? If you are already settled on the Grand Cayman Islands you can skip this section but if you are trying to find the perfect warm destination I would highly recommend this island. First travel from the East Coast (unless you’re traveling in a snowstorm & government shutdown) is super easy. From Vermont it was an hour flight to JFK, and then a 4hr flight to GCI. It is a small island filled with amazing locals, gorgeous beaches and very temperate weather. We felt very safe and easily navigated the entire island using an old fashioned paper map. Unlike other islands I have visited, you are not resigned to a single resort in Grand Cayman. It is super easy and fun to travel around to discover new beaches and restaurants.
Random Cayman Island Travel Tips:
Bring a pen in your carry-on. You’ll need it to fill immigration and customs forms on the flight into Cayman and they don’t hand pens out on the airline.
When you get to the immigration line at Grand Cayman airport there is a “special needs” line which you can use with kids. We did and it was a life saver. Not sure why the US side doesn’t have something similar! [MORE TIPS FOR TRAVELING WITH KIDS]
Liquor stores and grocery stores are closed on Sundays. Prepare beforehand!
Most of the restaurants add 15% gratuity to your check, if you felt the service was outstanding be sure to add a little extra, but make sure you are not tipping an extra 20% on top of added gratuity!
Turtle’s Nest Inn We stayed off the beaten path in Bodden Town and absolutely loved it. The Turtle’s Nest Inn is a small family run Inn right on the ocean. We chose this location on the recommendation of a co-worker and loved that our beachfront accommodations featured a two-story townhouse with 2 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, kitchen, and Livingroom. When traveling with kids this extra space allowed us to spread-out and accommodate nap and early bedtimes while not sacrificing adult relaxation and beach time. The accommodations were not luxurious so if you are looking to be pampered I would recommend the Ritz or Weston on Seven Mile Beach. We tend to focus more on relaxation and outdoor adventures when choosing our locations and this condo was perfectly appointed for a family of 4-6 people. For our active Lil’ Vermont Adventures the Inn included Snorkel gear, two paddle boards, a kayak, and pool house full of sand toys and even two lacrosse sticks for the boys! The sunrises were spectacular and we literally felt like we had a private beach many of the days 🙂 Bodden Town also happens to be located in the middle of two of the best areas, Rum Point and 7 Mile Beach so it was nice to be able to visit both ends of the island. My one word of caution about this Inn is that the patios are essentially linked with one another so your enjoyment of the outdoor space overlooking the pool and ocean is somewhat contingent on your neighbors. The group next to us for the first two days was not the most respectful which was pretty disappointing, everyone else we met was lovely so I am guessing they were an anomaly but such is life you can’t pick your neighbors.
Lighthouse Restaurant Located 5 minutes from Turtle’s Nest Inn this was my FAVORITE meal of the trip. When you combine impeccable service, a fancy amuse-bouche, delicious seafood, and gorgeous sunsets you really can’t go wrong. Dining with kiddos in the early evening has its perks as we witnessed the most amazing GCI sunset just as dinner was arriving. I had a lobster tail over ravioli and Bob had a salmon special, for the boys they offered gourmet pizza options. One thing that I loved about the GCI service is that they bring the kids meals out first. This allowed us to help them eat their meals before actually savoring ours. Do not miss this stunning seaside location.
The Wharf This is where my friend got married and Bob’s favorite meal of the trip. She warned us it’s not super impressive when you pull up so I am including a shot of the front but once you enter this place is pure magic. The restaurant is right on the water and the food is delicious! Plus kids can play on beach if they get antsy and feed the tarpon at 7pm! I had the Scallops which were to die for and Bob loved the blackened Mahi Mahi.
Cracked Conch/Macabuca We went to this seaside restaurant for lunch on our 2nd full day and it was the official turning point of our trip. It always takes us a day or two to settle into vacation mode and this was the point at which we shifted into full vacation mode. This restaurant is located up by the Turtle Farm which I will share below as a fun kid’s activity so I highly recommend visiting both in one trip. The restaurant has 2 areas, the Cracked Conch (their nicer restaurant, and Macubuca (more casual Tiki bar/restaurant directly below). We ate at Macubuca and loved it! The Conch Fritters, Mudslide, and seared tuna taco are beyond fresh and amazing!!
Calico Jack’s This is a fun beach bar on seven mile beach! There is a cute playground outside the beach bar, so we enjoyed the playground, swimming at the public beach and then rolled up to Calico Jack’s for lunch to complete the perfect day. The food was nothing to write home about but I’ll take cocktails in the sand any day! Sunshine Suites Restaurant A Hotel restaurant that came highly recommended and did not disappoint. We stopped here for lunch on the way to the airport and sat poolside (the boys found it hard to understand why they couldn’t swim in the pool prior to flying home.) They have the most AMAZING fish tacos and bring around complimentary ice cream at the end of the meal!
Kid Friendly Activities
7 mile beach When I asked Parker is favorite part of the trip it was “7 mile beach where the water moooved my body.” This beach is pristine; it has the blue blue water that makes the Caribbean famous. We loved the public beach access just north of the Weston, I just wish we had brought our beach shade because the sun gets pretty intense and there are no umbrellas to rent in this location. We stayed away from the hustle and bustle of this area but when we travel here again I’d consider staying 3 nights on seven Mile Beach and 3 nights at Turtle’s Nest Inn.
Rum Point Beach Super kid friendly beach area with gradual shallow entry, lots of natural shade, restaurants, bathrooms, and small shops all located close to the water. This beach is located on the opposite side of the island from Seven Mile Beach and gets nice filtered afternoon sun, I would recommend getting here for lunch as the food is better appointed for that meal and then staying until cocktail hour and sunset. We went here on our last evening and the boys literally played together in the water for an hour while we watched them from our beach chairs…if that is not travel euphoria I don’t know what is!! 🙂
Starfish Beach Located 5 minutes past Rum Point, ask any of the locals and they will tell you how to get there. The numbers of starfish have declined since tourist started hearing about this spot so please do not remove the starfish from the water. You can look and touch them in the water but photographing them outside the water hurts them. We went here on the same day as Rum Point and experienced calm waters and you can see/touch really big starfish.
Cayman Turtle Centre We visited the turtle farm with the boys which was really fun. Kids under 4 are free and adults are only $18. A friend recommended going right when it opens at 8am because they had the place to themselves, we went close to 10am and there were lots of tour buses so I would do earlier if possible. Parker and I both nervously held turtles and the “lifeguards” were super kind and helpful. The Turtle Farm is located at the top of 7 mile beach so a perfect day would be starting at the Turtle Farm, hitting the public beach and then having lunch at the Cracked Conch from the list of casual restaurants above!
Sting Ray City This was the #1 activity recommended by my Instagram family but we skipped stingray city this time as Dawson is still young and it seemed like it may be pretty overwhelming for kids…scratch that it would be overwhelming for me 🙂 I am a fair weather water girl, I like to see my toes in the water and know there is nothing swimming around me so this would be my living nightmare…so many of you loved it and recommended it so if you like being in the water with fish and animals this would definitely be a must see!
Thank you so much for reading!! Please hit me up with any questions you have or additional recommendations below!