WHY WE LOVE THEM
- The option of going for a big bells-and-whistles resort or a condo on Grand Cayman or going barefoot-simple on its two sister islands, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.
- An easy trip—just an hour from Miami—to all three islands.
- A safe and civilized retreat in a prosperous British Overseas Territory, with great beaches and some of the world’s best diving.
- Many existing properties that were thoroughly and tastefully remodeled after 2004’s Hurricane Ivan and several completely new ones
- Grand Cayman’s famous Seven Mile Beach and the island’s nearby capital, George Town—full of great shopping, dining and outdoor activities (including the world’s second-biggest skateboard park).
WHEN TO GO
High season is from December to April. You’ll find the best bargains from early May through July (before the start of the rainy season, which lasts through October) and in November.
WHAT TO PACK
Bathing suits, polarized sunglasses, sunblock, camera, U.S. passport, binoculars (if you’re a birder). For evenings, "smart casual" clothing; a small number of the fancier restaurants request that men wear jackets at dinner.
WHAT TO BUY
Icoa chocolates; Tortuga or Blackbeard rum and rum cakes; jewelry made from caymanite, a striated, volcanic semiprecious gemstone.
Contact the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism in North America (800-263-5805; caymanislands.ky). It operates offices in the Chicago suburb of Oakbrook Terrace (1 Lincoln Center, 18 W. 140 Butterfield Rd., Suite 920; 630-705-0650), Houston (2 Memorial City Plaza, 820 Gessner Rd., Suite 1335; 713-461-1317), Miami (8300 NW 53rd St., Suite 103; 305-599-9033) and New York City (3 Park Ave., 39th floor; 212-889-9009). You can also call 781-431-7771 in the Boston area and 972-335-3540 in Dallas. In Canada, the office is in Toronto (2 Bloor St. W., Suite 700; 416-485-1550).
GETTING MARRIED IN THE CAYMAN ISLANDS
The Caymans have some of the Caribbean’s least-restrictive marriage requirements—you can even hop off a cruise ship and tie the knot the same day. You’ll need to head to the Office of the Deputy Chief Secretary in George Town or the District Commissioner’s Office on Cayman Brac to apply for a nonresident marriage license (US$200). To get it you’ll need your passport, proof of marital status (including the divorce decree or death certificate if you’re divorced or widowed) and a Cayman Islands immigration card (which you receive on your flight in) or a cruise embarkation/disembarkation card. You must also get a Marriage Officer to assist with the ceremony, and you’ll have to round up two witnesses for the ceremony. Visit gov.ky for a list of Marriage Officers. For more information, call the Deputy Chief Secretary’s Office at 345-949-7900.