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[sir turtle] Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)



The contents of this page is no longer being maintained here - for the latest version please go to the GoToCayman.com Wiki at http://www.gotocayman.com/index.php


[Weather]
[Entry requirements]
[Customs regulations]
[Employment/jobs/residency in Cayman]
[Living costs]
[Getting married in Cayman]
[Importing food into Cayman]
[Golf in Cayman]
[Legal age to...]
[Bringing cats and dogs to Cayman]
[Internet Access]
[Car Rental]
[Public Transport]
[Electricity/Water/Phone]
[Nightlife]
[Currency/Money]
[Bugs (Mosquitoes/ sand flies/ sea itch etc!)]
[Cayman for Cruise Ship passengers]
[Conch, Coral and Turtle products]

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Weather

Current temperature and time in Cayman: Click for Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands Forecast
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Temperature

Average
30-year
temp (°F)
Average
30-year
temp (°C)
Average
2006
temp (°F)
Average
2006
temp (°C)
Average
2007
temp (°F)
Average
2007
temp (°C)
Average
hours of
sunshine
January77.625.378.826.080.627.08
February77.625.377.925.581.027.29
March78.926.180.026.781.027.29
April80.326.881.527.581.427.410
May82.027.884.028.982.528.19
June83.628.784.028.984.729.38
July83.928.885.429.786.630.39
August84.128.985.729.885.029.48
September83.528.685.229.684.028.98
October82.327.984.329.183.328.57
November80.927.281.127.381.527.79
December79.026.181.427.480.426.98
Hottest92.233.492.033.3
Coldest68.220.165.218.4
[Temperature graph]
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Average humidity for 2007 (last year for which statistics have been released) was 77% with the highest monthly average of 81% in October and the lowest of 74% in July. The highest daily recorded humidity was 92%, and the lowest 61%.
One of the consequences of this high humidity is that wet clothes can take longer to dry than you were expecting; pack an extra set of swimming gear!
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Rainfall

Average
30-year
(inches)
Average
30-year
(mm)
Average
2006
(inches)
Average
2006
(mm)
Average
2007
(inches)
Average
2007
(mm)
January2.049.80.323.60.410.9
February1.948.31.537.90.36.6
March1.435.80.512.70.718.0
April1.742.70.616.01.610.9
May5.5140.52.666.010.8275.8
June5.7145.314.6371.98.0204.2
July5.8147.69.7245.13.692.2
August6.4161.34.9125.54.5115.3
September8.0204.211.3285.85.6141.2
October8.6217.29.9252.013.3336.6
November6.6168.44.5114.31.844.5
December3.074.95.9150.12.562.2
Most rain in 24 hours4.2106.73.282.3
[Temperature graph]
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During 2007, the most rainfall in a 24 hour period was 82.3 mm/ 3.24 ins. on October 9th. In 2007, there were 185 days free of rain, and rain was recorded on 180 days. There were 46 days on which thunder occurred. The average barometric pressure was 29.94 inches (1014.0 mb). The highest reading of 30.23 inches (1023.8Mb) on 19th February. The lowest pressure recorded of 29.65 inches (1004.3mb) was when Hurricane Wilma passed by. Average wind speed for the year was 9 knots from the East-southeast. The windiest month was March.
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Peak tourist season is mid-December to May.
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The rainy season runs from mid-May to November. It is not uncommon for it to be raining at one end of the island, but have brilliant sunshine elsewhere, so it can be worth going for a drive to see another part of the island and find the sun. Usually when it rains, it rains heavily for a couple of hours and then stays clear for the rest of the day. However, if a tropical depression settles over the island, it can rain for days on end, with flooding causing severe problems.

Hurricanes

The hurricane season runs from June to November - it tends to be the hurricanes that start in the Caribbean waters (at the end of the season) as opposed to those that develop of Africa (earlier in the hurricane season) that cause most damage to the islands. The most recent brushes with hurricanes, were Hurricane Ivan which hit in September 2004 and casued damage estimated at CI$2.8 billion - see my news reports for [hit] September 2004 onwards. The islands were also hit by Hurricane Gilbert in September 1988, which passed 30 miles south of Grand Cayman, and Hurricane Mitch in October/November 1998 passing about 200 miles to the south. Hurricane Michelle in November 2001 caused considerable damage on the south and west sides from South Sound all the way round to Northwest Point. (See my [hit] News from Cayman - November 2001 for more details.

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However, a couple of tropical storms have also caused damage in Cayman in recent years.

During the 2003 storm season, only one storm, Tropical Storm Claudette, moved through the northwest Caribbean. Claudette passed 160 miles southwest of Grand Cayman on 10th July. The storm produced cloudy skies, fresh winds and rough seas on 10-11 July and 2.89 inches of rainfall was recorded.

Even though the hurricane season was fairly uneventful, the Cayman Islands did experience some severe weather events in 2003. Heavy rain caused major flooding on 19 January and 27 June in Grand Cayman. The very high rainfall total in January was particularly unusual and included the highest 24-hour total since records commenced in 1957. This single 24-hour total on January 18th also exceeded any previous January total on record. Flooding in both cases was localized to southwestern Grand Cayman.
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During the 2002 storm season, Tropical Storm Isidore passed 9 miles north of Cayman Brac, 12:00am on 19th September. Peak wind speed was recorded at 61 knots or 67 mph in the Brac. Rainfall accumulation of 21.74 inches was recorded between 7:00pm on 18th September and 6:00pm on 19 September in Cayman Brac and 13.10 inches were recorded in Grand Cayman 17-21 September. The storm knocked down a few light poles and caused minor damage to buildings with total damages estimated at $30,000-$35,000. Isidore became a hurricane north of the Cayman Islands, eventually becoming a category III hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico.

Tropical Storm Lili passed 4 miles north of Cayman Brac 9:00am 30th September. In the Brac a peak wind speed of 51 knots or 57 mph and rainfall of 3.91 inches were recorded between 7:00pm 29th September and 7:00pm the following day. Locals also reported a few twisters. Damage costs for this system were estimated between $312,500 and $500,000, mostly in the Sister Islands. Lili became a hurricane northwest of Cayman Brac and eventually became a category 4 hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico.
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For links to weather sites/hurricane tracking information please see my [hit] Cayman Islands - Weather Resource page

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Entry requirements

US, British and Canadian citizens, and citizens of British Dependent Territories do not require passports, but must present proof of citizenship (passport or birth certificate and current photo ID). Originals of documents must be presented; photocopies are not acceptable. A driver's license or voter's registration card alone is not sufficient. You must also have a return or ongoing airline ticket.
Note: Under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative regulations, from 8th January 2007 all travellers entering the US (including US citizens) from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda by air will be required to hold a passport. Currently cruise passengers will need to have a passport by Janaury 2008, but press reports indicate that this will be postponed to June 2009. For full details see the US State Department website at [updated] http://travel.state.gov/travel/cbpmc/cbpmc_2223.html

Visitors from all other countries require a passport and return or ongoing ticket. Entry is granted for up to six months. Resident aliens of the US who show a valid US Alien Registration Card (green card) may be permitted to enter and remain in the Cayman Islands for up to 30 days. You must keep the pink Immigration slip given to you upon arrival! This is their equivalent of a tourist identification card. Visitors should keep it with their travel documents and present it when departing. Anyone who wishes to extend their stay after arrival must visit the Department of Immigration and obtain an extension and may be asked to show proof of financial resources to permit an extension.
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Visitors may have to prove they have sufficient funds to support themselves and their dependents and have tickets to their next destination. Visitors may be refused entry if their appearance or behaviour do not meet the normal social standards of Cayman.
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Visitors may not engage in any form of employment without additional authority (ie a work permit). Prohibited immigrants include the destitute, health hazards to the community, prostitutes, those living on prostitution, the previously deported, anyone sentenced to over a year's imprisonment and others proscribed as undesirable for moral or economic reasons. NOTE: From 1st November 2005 residents from Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala, and Jamaica will join some 112 other countries whose nationals are presently subject to visa requirements. Persons travelling on documented, valid work permits will not require visas for entry or reentry. The press release describing the new rules is at [hit] http://www.gov.ky/pls/portal30/docs/Folder/SITE83/PRESSRELEASES/200510PRESSRELEASES/VISA.PDF. The document at [hit] http://www.gov.ky/pls/immigration/docs/NOTICES/VISA+REQUIREMENTS+2.DOC lists those countries who's citizens do not require visas.

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Customs regulations

In addition to personal effects for use while on vacation, Visitors over 18 are allowed a duty-free allowance of one litre of alcohol or four litres of wine or one case of beer (not exceeding eight litres) and 200 cigarettes, or 50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco. This limit should not be confused with the Customs forms which state that returning residents are allowed CI$300 worth of goods duty free. This privilege does not apply to visitors.
there are a number of liquor stores on the islands, but the licensing laws are very strict; they have to shut by 7pm on Mondays to Saturdays and are closed on Sundays.

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Employment/jobs/residency in Cayman

If you think you'd just like to live on the islands then check-out the information on residency at [hit] http://www.cayman.com.ky/reside.htm. Attorneys at law Myers & Alberga have a comprehensive write-up on the topic at [hit] http://www.myers-alberga.com/features/residence.html.
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The Cayman Islands government has just launched an Immigration web site at [hit] http://www.gov.ky/immigration/immigration.home. It is intended primarily for local businesses to help them through the new immigration laws, but all of the Immigration Forms for Work Permit Applications are available online. The main part of Government web site at [hit] http://www.gov.ky/ also has information on permanent residency.
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Note that for any work permit applications for over 6 months, the prospective employee should be off the islands whilst the permit is being processed.
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The best bit of advice that I can give is to get a subscription to the daily local newspaper - the Caymanian Compass. The rules mean that all jobs have to be advertised to make sure that there are no Caymanians to fill them before a company is allowed to appoint an ex-pat. The paper is published by the Cayman Free Press - they can be contacted on [hit] , or by writing to them at P. O. Box 1365, George Town, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands BWI, Tel: (345) 949-5111, Fax: (345) 949-7033.
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There are also a couple of commercial sites that may help you. Firstly, I can sell you the GoToCayman Guide (previously sold as the Hot-Life Guide) to help you find a job and relocate to the islands. It's 90+ pages feature:
  • Employers and contact information for businesses and industries that hire most from overseas,
  • Detailed and clear explanation of immigration rules and the work permit system,
  • Lists of required documents for employers and immigration,
  • Methods for finding a job in the Cayman Islands,
  • Starting salary and experience expectations for the most common jobs,
  • Housing information - including the cost of rent,
  • Transportation options and costs,
  • How to get there and what to bring,
  • Start-up costs,
  • Tips for saving money, and much more.
I have recently revised it and am now selling it at the bargain price of US$5. If you are interested in purchasing the Guide, please e-mail me at [hit] , Check out my page on emplyment agencies at [hit] http://www.gotocayman.com/index.php?DirectoryE#Employment_agencies

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Living costs

Below are some approximate guide figures as to how much it would cost to live on Cayman: (in CI$ per month). Allow about 3 months costs for deposits
1 bed apartment: $800 - $1,500
2 bed/2 bath apartment: $1,200 - $6,000
3 bed: $2,000 - $5,000
TV: $50 - (depends on package of channels)
Water: $30 - $80
Electricity: $100 - $250 (for a 1-bed apartment, more if you run the AC)
Telephone: $40 - (mainly local calls, internet extra, $400 deposit)
Medical Insurance: $100 - (bare minimum - very limited benefits)
PO Box rental: from $75/year depending on size
Food: $500 (for a family of three)
Car: $2,000 + insurance ($500) + car tax ($180) (for a very basic runaround!)
Schooling (Government Run): $250 - $500/term plus $50-$150 book rental
Schooling (Private): $4,000 - $5,500 per year

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Prices for basic items (January 2009)
ItemApproximate
Price (CI$)
5lb bag white potatoes $2.99
3lb bag yellow onions $2.49
1lb jumbo slicing tomatoes $2.99
1lb Red Delicious apples $2.29
1lb fresh cabbage $0.69
4lb bag sweet oranges $5.69
Jumbo seeded red grapes $3.29/lb
Beef loin T-bone steak $11.99/lb
Salmon fillets $8.99/lb
Boneless/skinless chicken breasts$5.29/lb
Uncooked bone-in turkey breast$1.79
Smoked Shoulder Ham $1.79/lb
12 oz sliced bacon $2.69
Pork loin chops $2.59/lb
Lean ground beef $2.39/lb
#2 lobster tails $21.99/lb
Salad shrimp $6.99/lb
Lender bagels $2.39
Nature's Own 100% Whole Wheat bread$2.39/loaf
5lb Pilsbury All Purpose Flour$3.55/bag
Dozen large eggs $2.29
Kraft 8oz Strong Cheddar Cheese$3.99
64oz Tropicana Homestyle Orange Juice$5.49
8-pack 12oz Pepsi etc $4.98
10.5oz pizza $4.69
18oz Kellogg's Corn Flakes $4.35
Paper Towels $1.05/roll
Charmin 12 Big Rolls - Ultrasoft Tissue
$11.39
63oz Gain powder detergent $9.09
Milk $6.19/gallon
8oz Nescafé Classic $8.45
Tylenol Extra Strength 24 caplets$5.15
Gas $2.99/imperial gallon (1.2 US gallons)
Beer $36.00/case
Cigarettes $30.00/200
Postal Rates
Postcards (to US) $0.25
Postcards (to UK/Europe) $0.25
Letters per half ounce (to US)$0.75
Letters per half ounce (to UK/Europe)$0.80
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Check out the [hit] Weekly Specials at Foster's Food Fair

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Getting married in Cayman

Check out the information on getting married on Cayman at [hit] http://www.caymanislands.ky/services/weddings.asp. Firms that specialise in arranging weddings include:
[hit] Cayman Weddings Ltd
[hit] Celebrations Ltd
[hit] Heart of Cayman
[hit] Elder Noel Johnson - Marriage Officer


If you are based in the US, you may want to consider [hit] The Wedding Experience who can arrange a complete package for you.

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Importing food into Cayman

Some discussions group encourage people to take their own pre-packed (sealed) food to Cayman in freezer bags or ice chests. The Tourist Board advise that visitors are allowed to bring meat into the islands, but you may be charged duty if the value is over US$35 per person, or the quantity exceeds what customs consider to a reasonable amount for personal consumption. Meat should be preferably be packed and sealed as sold in supermarkets, and may have to be inspected by an official from the Department of Agriculture.

[updated] The ban on the importation of US bone-in meats imposed in December 2003 following a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or 'mad-cow disease') has been lifted. Personal imports of meat up to 5kg for personal consumption will now be allowed providing the original packaging is intact and the packaging bears the USDA inspection legend.

When I checked with the Department of Agriculture ( [hit] ) on the general rules for importing foods, they sent me three Word 97 documents. The first was an application form for the importation of plants and the other two were the rules and regulations on the importation of plants and plant products and meat and meat products. Here are the links to these documents:
[hit] Importation of Plants and Plant Products
[hit] Importation of Meat and Meat Products
Check under Employment/jobs/residency in Cayman above for the price of some basic foodstuffs from the supermarkets on the island.

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Golf in Cayman

There are three golf courses on the island to choose from.
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The Links at SafeHaven is a 6605 yard par 71, 18 hole championship course, designed by Roy Case. It was awarded "1997 best golf course in the Caribbean" by Caribbean World Magazine. Practice and learning facilities available.

The course in now owned and operated by The Ritz-Carlton and is (in theory) only for the guests of the hotel.
Services: On-Site: Equipment Rental, Golf Carts, Golf Club Rentals, Golf Lessons Available, Golf Pro, Golf Pro Shop, Driving Range
Contact details
P.O. Box 1311 George Town, Grand Cayman
Phone: (345) 949-5988, Fax: (345) 949-5457
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Jack Nicklaus has created a masterful golf course for Britannia and the Hyatt Regency Grand Cayman. Reminiscent of legendary courses such as Royal Troon, Turnberry and Royal Birkdale on the other side of the Atlantic. The Britannia course features grassy mounds, rolling dunes, lakes and oversized bunkers. On the fifth shot hole, the tee shot must carry over the Caribbean Sea while on the breathtaking 562-yard Hole 9, three different shots are over water.
There are two courses at the Britannia/Hyatt; a 9-hole and an executive 18-hole. The course being played changes each day, so best to check with the club-house. Approximate cost: US$50-100.
Services: On-Site: Golf Carts, Golf Club Rentals, Golf Lessons Available, Golf Pro, Golf Pro Shop
Contact details:
P.O. Box 1588 George Town, Grand Cayman
Phone: (345) 949-8020, Fax (345) 949-8528

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The newest course is the Blue Tip, a Greg Norman-designed nine hole golf course at the Ritz-Carlton. The 3,515-yard, par 36 course offers five sets of tees for varied play. Blue Tip features five long Par Fours and a 600 yard Par Five. Water comes into play on eight out of nine holes. Carved along a serpentine waterway with sweeping views of the North Sound, Blue Tip at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman is the first course to be constructed on the island in 10 years. The website says that the course is only open to Ritz-Carlton guests and Residence owners of The Ritz-Carlton.

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Legal age to...

The legal age to drink on the islands is 18 - you may be asked for identification. The legal age to drive is 17, but be aware that nearly all of the car rental agencies will only hire out vehicles to drivers over the age of 25.

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Bringing Cats and Dogs into Cayman

The rules on importing pets (and cats and dogs in particular) are very strict - The Department of Agriculture has updated the rules/regulations and now includes a "Pet Passport" scheme. They have supplied me with two Word documents:
[hit] CONDITIONS GOVERNING THE IMPORTATION OF DOGS AND CATS INTO THE CAYMAN ISLANDS The Animals Law (2003 Revision)

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Any queries on bringing in pets should be sent to the the Department of Agriculture Veterinary Officer, who can be contacted on [hit]

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Internet Access

Currently, the main telecommunication provider is Cable & Wireless. Visitors can access the Internet by dialing 976-4638 or 266-6328 and connecting with username "easy" and password "access". The rate is CI$0.12 a minute which will be charged to your phone bill. See [hit] http://www.cwinternet.ky/internet/products/visitor-services/easy-access/ for details

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There are a number of Internet Café's on the Island; Shooters Billiards Lounge and Internet Cafe, [hit] Café del Sol by the Cinema in West Bay Road, PD's Pub in Galleria Plaza, Dickens Coffee shop in Galleria Plaza, Chelsea's Sports Bar in Queens Court, Big Daddy's on West Bay Road, the West Bay Polo Club, PC Powerhouse in the West Shore Centre on Walkers Road, Ye Olde English Bakery in the Dockside Building in Mary Street, and Sunset House. If you staying in the East End area, then [hit] The Thirsty Surfer located in the Reef Resort has an internet Café. Cable & Wireless also have an office in George Town across from the harbour where you can access the internet. However, the cheapest internet access I have found is two terminals in the "Coffee and Bite" store just behind the Post Office in George Town; CI$6/hour.
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If your ISP is a member of the iPass scheme, then you should be able to use Cable and Wireless; see the details at [hit] http://www.cwinternet.ky/internet/products/broadband-services/ipass-global-roaming/. Cable and Wireless have also set up an Internet Service for visitors staying at some hotels; details can be found at [hit] http://www.candw.ky/Tourist/internet/intetour.html

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[update] For those looking for a wireless network, then the Grand Cayman Beach Suites (ex Hyatt) was the first hotel to offer a Wi-Fi network that covered all of the resort; guest rooms, poolside, on the beach and on the golf course, as well as meeting rooms. Charges are US$6 per hour or US$17.99 per day. Guests need to register with the front desk to obtain a username and password.
I have also received a report that the Marriott have an unsecured wireless network access point in their lobby that is therefore open to all!

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Check my Businesses Page for links to [hit] Cyber Cafés that have their own web site.

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Car Rental

Remember that they drive on the left in Cayman! Seat belts must be worn by the driver and all passengers. Visitors must buy a temporary Cayman driving licence (for each driver) from the Police Station or Rental Agency Desk at CI$5.00. You have to be over 21 to rent a car in Cayman, but some agencies won't insure renters under 25.
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Traffic to/from George Town can be very heavy in the morning and evening rush hours.
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Whether you need a car for your whole trip will very much depend on where you are staying; if based in the Seven Mile Beach area you may want a car for a day or two to explore other parts of the island, but if you are staying somewhere remote (North Side), then you'll need a car to do your shopping etc.
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There are a wide range of cars available, and they can be in a range of combinations of left/right hand drive and automatic/manual (shift stick). If you have a preference check with the rental agency in advance and make it clear what combination you require. There have been occasions reported when there are no rental cars available at any agency (this is especially true in peak season), so at these times it is probably best to book in advance. Having said that, there have been a number of reports on the various message board where visitors have got a walk-in rate better than anything advertised. If you are prepared to be flexible and don't need a vehicle for your whole trip, this may be the best option.

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There are various rental agencies with a presence on the islands, see my Car Rewntals page.
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Some visitors believe that if they book the car hire on their credit card it gives them the legal and insurance protection they need; please check the conditions of use of your credit card carefully as often these perks only apply when hiring a vehicle in your home country and not when you are abroad on holiday.

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Public Transport

Taxis are available at the airport and the fares from there are regulated - check with the dispatcher at the kerbside (should cost about CI$20 to most hotels/condos). Note that hotel vans are not allowed to collect visitors from the airport. There are taxi ranks outside the main hotels and at the cruise ship dock.
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There are eight minibus routes in operation each with a distinctive colour (coloured circles on the front and back with the route number) and blue license plates. The routes are: 1 (yellow) & 2 (lime green) go to West Bay with service about every 15 minutes and operates from 6am to 11pm. Route 3 (blue) goes to Bodden Town, (service every 30 minutes from 6am to 11pm). Route 4 (purple) goes to East End, 5 (red) goes to East End and North Side, 6 (dark green) goes from North Side to West Bay (service every hour from 6am to 9pm. Route 7 (dark green with white numbers) operates in the George Town area and 8 (orange) runs to Hutland in North Side. Maximum fare is about CI$2.
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All routes run to/from/via the depot in George Town situated beside the library. There are a few designated bus stops, but just stand my the side of the road and wave one of the buses down as they approach.

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Electricity/Water/Phone

Cayman runs the same electricity system as the US/Canada - 110/115v with 2-pin plugs.
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Most of the water supply comes from the de-salination plant and is perfectly safe to drink. In some more remote areas of the island, well water is sometimes used for the toilets and washing - it apparently tastes quite brackish but makes a lovely cup of tea when boiled!
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Cayman uses US-style telephone sockets.

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Nightlife

Cayman isn't renowned for it's night life; there are a limited number of night clubs (Sharkey's, Legendz, The Matrix and BoBo Iguanas in the Islander Nightclub). The Chameleon Nightclub, located in The Strand, opened in May 2003. This two-storey club features three bars and has a capacity of 350. There are links to some of the nightlubs on my [hit] Businesses/Organisations page under the Restaurants/Bars and Food-related links. Also worth checking out: Royal Palms on the Friday or Saturday night (island music/reggae/soca), Sunset House for Friday Happy Hour (popular singles bar), Bed, Lonestar Bar and Grill, Hard Rock Café. For something more laid back, check out Barefoot Man at Royal Reef Resorts in the East End.
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Buy the Friday issue of the Caymanian Compass; at CI$0.75 it may be your cheapest expense on the island. The Friday edition has lots of adverts for Happy Hours and Sunday brunches.
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There is some general info about nightlife at [hit] http://www.caymanislands.ky/to_do/nightclub.asp
There is a new website that has lots of information on Cayman's nightlife: [miss] AccessCayman.com
Offering all the best information about Cayman's hottest nightspots
[hit] PartySurfers.ky
advertised as Cayman's Entertainment E-zine

One general bit of advice when eating out is to go where the Caymanians go. The easy way to identify this is to look at the car registration plates in the car parks - the meaning of the various colour combinations are in the table below.
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ColourMeaning
Black numbers on Yellow BackgroundPrivate vehicles
Black numbers on Orange BackgroundCommercial vehicles
Black numbers on White BackgroundHire/Rental vehicles
Red numbers on White BackgroundTaxis
White numbers on Blue BackgroundMinibuses
White numbers on Red BackgroundTour busses
Dark blue 'DV' numbers on a White BackgroundDisabled Vehicle

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Even though the Quincentennial celebrations are over, and vehicles are meant to be re-registered, there may still be some vehicles sporting the Quincentennial celebrations number plate; these are white numbers with a Q prefix on light blue/dark blue background, or the newer dark blue numbers on a light blue background.
There are a number of personalised number plates (I've seed "RS" and "GORDON"), but these also follow the above colour scheme.

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Currency/Money

The Cayman Islands have their own currency - the Cayman Islands Dollar (CI$). However, the US$ is accepted everywhere at the standard exchange rate of US$1 = CI$0.80. The official bank rate (if you want to bother queuing up to change your money) is US$1 = CI$0.82 - you will only be able to do this when on the island as most banks in the rest of the world won't hold Cayman currency. Some shops also offer this rate (notably Kirkconnell's supermarket). You will usually be given your change in CI$.
I once tried to change GB Sterling into CI$ on the island; the bank first of all converted my Pounds into US$ at the current market rate, and then from US$ to CI$ and then charged me two lots of commission! Moral of the story is to bring US$ only!
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The main ATM networks have machines on the island - as most of the banks are in the George Town/Seven Mile Beach area, this is where the majority of machines are located. You may also find machines outside some of the bigger supermarkets and at some petrol/gas stations. Note that you may be charged a fee for using these.

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Bugs (Mosquitoes/sand flies etc!)

Mosquitoes

The Cayman Island's used to be famous for their mosquitoes. 36 different species have been recorded on the islands, and back in 1971 a record of 600 bites per minute on one arm were recorded (I pity the researcher who volunteered for that!).

Mosquitoes tend to be a problem around sunrise and sunset. At these times it is probably best to stay indoors, or make sure that as little skin as possible is exposed if you are out and about, or use Deep Woods OFF! spray or similar. An alternative is to take a daily dose of 500mg of vitamin B1, starting two weeks before you go on holiday and continuing throughout your stay; this will stop the mosquitoes from biting you.

Where you stay on the islands and the time of year you are visiting also has a bearing on how bad the problem is. The Seven Mile Beach area isn't as bad as some parts of the interior or around Rum Point, West Bay or East End. The problem is worse during the rainy season (May to November)

Many of the open-air bars/restaurants burn Citronella candles to keep the mosquitoes away. The Cayman Islands Government's Mosquito Research & Control Unit [hit] http://www.gov.ky/mrcu/ is responsible for carrying out preventive sprayings using their crop-dusting planes and a number of vehicles. Their web site also contains details of the mosquito breeds, where they breed, insecticides used in spraying, etc. Unfortunately their home page which is meant to show their spraying schedule hasn't been updated since February 2004 :-(

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Sand flies

Sometimes called no-seeums (You don't hear em and you don't see em), but you'll know when you're being attacked as you'll feel lots of itchy bity things on your scalp, arms, legs, etc. They are tiny, easily go through window screens, and love to bite. Again tend to be bad at sunset - take the same precautions as with dealing with mosquitoes.

NOTE: The number of bugs/mosquitos increased dramatically after Hurricane Ivan and it is taking time for the situation to get back under control. [crlf]

Cockroaches

You may be used to these at home, but out in the tropics they are BIG! As one of the oldest species on the planet, they can make their home just about anywhere. Their presence doesn't necessarily indicate dirt as I've seen them on a building site for a new home. [crlf]

Thimble Jelly Fish/Sea Lice (Sea Itch)

Sea Itch is caused by the larvae (nematocysts) of the Thimble Jelly Fish (Sea Lice) and is an intensely itchy red rash which affects exposed areas of skin. Found in Caribbean waters from March to September, it is especially bad in Cayman waters around April/May. At these times it is best to wear a full skin wet suit when in the water and cover exposed skin with suntan oil or one of the specialist oils/preparations including Lands End Oil, WipeAway Jelly Fish Sting Medicated First Aid Gel and Sawyer Products Itch Balm Plus (all of these should be available from good dive shops). SeaSafe brand suntan oils are based on natural secretions of the clown fish. In scientific studies this has shown to greatly reduce, and in many cases completely prevent jellyfish stings.

Because the larvae are so small, they often manage to work their way under swimming costumes/wet suits. When the swimmer leaves the water, their garments press against their skin, causing the stingers to fire. Remove said garments as quickly as possible when leaving the water and rinse it thoroughly - preferably in warm water and detergent. Aquatic Wetsuits make a special Sea Lice wetsuit that has dry suit seals at the wrists and neck and special hood with a "neck dam" which further prevents water from flowing in with sea lice. If using a normal wet suit another suggestion is to apply vaseline around the wrists and neck and the hairline at the back of the neck where they get trapped into your hair. After leaving the water wash all swimwear thoroughly; let the water run for a couple of minutes to make sure that the nematocysts have been washed off. Avoid rubbing as this may 'fire' and larvae attached.
If you get stung, wash/rinse thoroughlt in hot soapy water, applying as little frictions as possible and dry with heat in a dryer (or drip-dry!). Putting on an unwashed swimsuit may mean that your are just reapplying more larvae to your skin. The standard treatment consists of application of steroid creams to the skin and taking antihistamine tablets. However, these tablets can cause drowsiness, so there is an increased risk of nitrogen narcosis if diving. Hydrocortisone cream can limit the itching. Alternative remedies include calamine lotion, gently blotting with amonia spray (such as Windex - the window cleaning spray), white vinegar, rubbing alcohol or urinating on the affected areas! Take a little Benadryl. If the symptoms get bad, go to the doctor and he will give you an effective "jab" to relieve the irritation. [crlf]

Cruise ship passengers

Definite nuisance if you are trying to get around George Town. On some days there can be up to ten ships disgorging over 20,000 passengers. You can check cruise-ship movements at the Cayman Islands Port Authority web site at [hit] http://www.caymanport.com/

Tourists

Invariable look the wrong way when crossing the roads, or drive on the wrong side of the road. Ask residents daft questions like "Do you live here, or do you fly in every day?".

Local residents

Clog the roads to/from George Town in the morning (7am to 9am) and afternoon (4pm to 6:30pm) rush hours. A journey that would normally take 10 minutes can take an hour at these times.

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Cayman for Cruise Ship passengers

Top attractions/sights:

Stingray City

There are two sites that often get confused - Stingray City (the best 12 foot dive in the world), and Stingray City Sandbar (where the water is only waist deep). Both sites are just inside breaks in the barrier reef in the North Sound. These shallow waters provided shelter to fisherman, who would anchor here to clean and gut their catches. The waste would be chucked overboard, thus attracting the rays. With all this feeding, the rays have now become very tame, and can be petted and fed - for more information check out this resource: [hit] http://www.cayman.org/divesite/stingray.htm
How to get there? Don't ask a taxi driver to get you there! The cruise lines will try to sell you a package to go to Stingray City Sandbar, but be aware that you are likely to be on a boat with several hundred other visitors. Much better to make your own arrangements to get there. Both Captain Dexter's ([hit] http://www.dexters-fantaseatours.com/) and Captain Marvin's ([hit] http://www.captainmarvins.com/) have good reputations (check some of the trip reports). Please tell them you were recommended through the GoToCayman.com web site! There are links to other watersports operators on my Businesses pages under Watersports operators. [crlf]

Botswain's Beach (Cayman Turtle Farm)

The only commercial turtle farm in the world. Set towards the north end of Seven Mile Beach. Thousands of turtles from hatchlings to 600lbs. It is also occasionally possible to take part in their turtle release program. Check out their web site at [hit] http://www.boatswainsbeach.ky/ If you want to try turtle meat, then visit the Cracked Conch by the Sea Restaurant next door.
Some of the turtles that were released in 2003 were tagged - you can check their progress at [hit] http://www.seaturtle.org/tracking/index.shtml?project_id=3

Seven Mile Beach

Six and a half miles of beautiful sand! Firstly, everything below the high water line is "public" under Cayman law. However, that doesn't count for much of the beach area, so cruise ships will sell you packages to make use of the beach facilities at a number of hotels/resorts. Some of the hotels seem to patrol their areas asking if you are a resident, or other proof of your right to be there - this is especially true if the beach area looks crowded! [crlf]
I think you have in effect three options:
1) go with the cruise package
2) gate crash one of the big hotels (the Westin has good beach facilities). Take your own towels, as they will ask to see your room key or get you to sign against a room number for any hotel towels.
3) go to Public Beach. This is an area about half way along Seven Mile Beach. It has rest rooms and there are usually a few stalls selling food, but obviously there will be no beach beds, so bring your own towels. [crlf]
Best way to get to any of these is to use the Public Minibus service - see the FAQ under Public Transport. [crlf]

Hell

A village in the West Bay area famed for it 'forest' of ironshore. A bit of a disappointment really, except for the ability to say you have been to Hell and returned! The Post Office franks cards and letters with a "Hell" postmark. If you want to see what ironshore looks like (and save yourself a few dollars), then check out the area around the blowholes, or the north coast of West Bay.

Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Garden

65 acres of flora and fauna including examples of the Cayman Blue Iguana and Cayman Parrot. For more information, check out their web site at [hit] http://www.botanic-park.ky/

Pedro St. James

Considered to be the birthplace of democracy in Cayman. Includes a number of buildings in a 19th century style and multimedia theatre presenting a twenty-minute film on the history of Pedro St. James and the history of the Cayman Islands. For more information, check out their web site at [hit] http://www.pedrostjames.ky/

Other information

Cayman is a British Crown Colony, and as such follow the many laws and standards of the UK. In particular, take care crossing roads as all vehicles drive on the left-hand side.
If you want some one to organize your shore excursions, check out [hit] http://grandcaymancruiseexcursions.com/ or some of the [hit] Tour companies on my Businesses Pages

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Conch, Coral and Turtle products

All of these are covered by CITES - the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and, in theory, an application should be completed before any such products are taken out of Cayman. Application forms are available from the Department of the Environment (DoE) website as an html page at [hit] http://doe.8m.com/doewebsite/CITES%20Permit%20Aplication.htm and as an Adobe Acrobat form at [hit] http://doe.8m.com/doewebsite/CI%20CITES%20Permit%20Aplication.pdf.
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The completed application form should be submitted to the Department of Environment at the Marco Giglioli Building, 580 North Sound Road (see the map at [hit] http://doe.8m.com/doewebsite/JPG%20MP%20Maps/A%20Map%20to%20the%20Department%20of%20Environment.html), by Fax to (345) 949-4020 or by e-mail to [hit] . It usually takes up to a week for the permit to be issues, but it is then valid for up to six months. There is no fee for the permit.
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Traditionally, CITES Permits are more often requested by the Customs agencies of the destination country than in the country of export. [crlf]

Conch (CITES Appendix II)

Conch shells taken from Cayman waters and sold (or given) to tourists as souvenirs are obtained as a by-product of fishermen collecting the conchs for their edible (and very tasty) meat. Because the shell is incidental to this activity, and because there are currently laws in place to limit the amount of conchs taken from the wild, the use of shells as souvenirs is not considered to be a very great threat to the local conch populations.
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Some countries, such as the United States, understood this and normally did not request CITES Permits for a tourist returning home with one or two shells from their holiday in Cayman. Some other nations, however, are not as nuanced in their application of CITES Permitting requirements and require a Cayman Islands CITES Export Permit for any amount of conch product being brought into their countries. Because of this the DoE still recommend that, except for three or fewer shells, people apply for a Permit for the transport of any conch products to or from the Cayman Islands.
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There are a couple of instances where the need for a permit does not fully apply. The first is instances of transport that do not involve "trade". If a Cayman resident were to transport conch products from Cayman to another country for non-commercial purposes and as a part of their personal belongings. This exclusion clause is sometimes applied on a case by case basis, depending on the circumstances. However, the DoE normally recommend people to apply for an Export Permit anyway, so that there will be no confusion upon their arrival in the other country.
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The second class of exclusion is for the transport of three or fewer conch shells, regardless of owner, again for non-commercial, personal, purposes. This is applied most frequently in the case of tourist souvenirs but would apply to Cayman residents as well. This is a fairly commonly applied exclusion, as you can imagine. If you have three or fewer shells per customs declaration as tourist souvenirs, you do not need CITES Permits for them.
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I guess that if you know you want to collect (more than 3) Conch shells to take home, then e-mail the Department in advance with your details as per the form and the number of conch shells that you expect to take home for the whole party travelling. The DoE can then have your permit ready for collection. [crlf]

Coral (CITES Appendix II)

It is illegal to take coral from Caymanís waters and, for this reason, no local coral is used in the jewelry business. The coral jewellery sold in stores all use coral from other countries. Sometimes this jewellery is imported already made, but more often the raw coral is imported and turned into beautiful jewellery by skilled local artisans. However, a CITES permit is still required for any jewelry/sculpture/art work made from coral
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For raw coral, such as might be picked up by beachcombing, a permit will not be issued as the DoE wish to discourage the collection of local coral in any manner. [crlf]

Turtle (CITES Appendix I)

CITES also applies to turtle products, and currently no CITES permits will be issued for any Turtle products. The Management Authority of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland tried in 2002 to get the Turtle Farm to become a CITES registered Captive Breeding Facility, which would allow some of their products to be exported, but their campaigning was unsuccessful. Because of this, no turtle products are sold at the Turtle Farm. However, you can try turtle steaks and fritters at a number of local restaurants on the island, including the Cracked Conch by The Sea next door to the Turtle Farm.
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Should you want clarification on any query relating to CITES and souvenir/ purchases from the Cayman Islands, please contact: [hit] .
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I have also uploaded a copy of the current (as of February 2004) [hit] Marine Park Regulations & Marine Conservation Laws. This Adobe document has a map showing the marine parks and various protected areas, and the rules on fishing/catch limits.

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Date last updated: 3rd June 2009
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