Grand Cayman’s North Side and East End offer peaceful villas and gorgeous private views of the Caribbean, but that’s not all! This side of the island is also home to wonderful parks and natural formations that are absolutely worth your time. When you’re ready to leave your comfortable retreat and go exploring, here are five top sites for you to see.
QUEEN ELIZABETH II BOTANICAL PARK – Frank Sound Road
Opened by Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1994, this world-class facility features a 40 acre Woodland Trail that is home to more than half of the native flora of the Cayman Islands and boasts more endemic plants than may be found in the Galapagos. Cayman’s Blue Iguanas may be seen lolling in the grass or among the island’s national tree, the Silver Thatch palm. Fruit trees are abundant in the Park’s Heritage Garden. If you’re on-island in late February, and an orchid lover, you cannot miss their annual Orchid Show. It’s a big fundraiser for the Park and an amazing display of exotic beauty. The park is open every day from 9am to 5:30pm. Guided tours are only available on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2pm Contact: 1-345-947-9462 or email@example.com
THE BLOWHOLES – East End
Located just 3.9 miles from Frank Sound Road in Cayman’s East End, ocean water pressure surging through underwater caverns creates a geyser spray reaching heights of over 20 feet. The effect is most pronounced during periods of brisk easterly winds. A steady stream of visitors drive from all over the island to visit the Blow Holes. They’re a “blast” to behold!
GUN BAY – East End
Just down the street from the Blowholes is Gun Bay, a memorial to Cayman’s biggest maritime disaster, “The Wreck of the Ten Sails.” Occuring on February 8, 1794, ten ships sailed from Jamaica on their way to the U.S. and the U.K. and wrecked on the surrounding reef during a terrible storm.
Local residents braved the stormy elements and rescued all but eight of the ships’ crews and passengers. In 1994, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited the site on the 200th anniversary of the wreck and dedicated a memorial with plaque. Remnants of the wrecked ships have eroded in the salt water over time and are almost non-existent. There is however, a beautiful panoramic view of the ocean and surrounding reef from the memorial’s viewing platform.
THE MASTIC TRAIL – North Side
Cayman’s Mastic Trail is a 200 year old path that cuts through the center of the island through a native mangrove swamp and two- million-year-old woodland area. Officials of Cayman’s National Trust offer guided tours of the Trail every Tuesday through Friday morning for a cost of about $30 per person. Plan on wearing comfortable walking shoes and clothing as you will need a few hours to take it all in. The Northern entrance is located on the inland side of North Side Road just a few miles past the soccer arena and before Over The Edge restaurant. Contact: 1-345-749-1121 or firstname.lastname@example.org
CAYMAN CRYSTAL CAVES – Old Man Bay
Also located on North Side Road in Old Man Bay, are Cayman’s Crystal Caves. Newly opened in 2016, they are rated by Trip Advisor as one of the top “Things To Do In Grand Cayman.” After parking and purchasing your tickets at the office window, you will take a short bus ride to an attractive, shaded welcome center and gift shop
A tour guide will collect your party at the welcome center and begin the trek through amazing natural formations. It is interesting to note that hundreds of years ago pirates used the caves as hideouts from government officials. The caves also provided shelter from fierce island hurricanes. Legend has it there is undiscovered pirate treasure still buried in the caves. Tours last approximately 90 minutes and cost US$40 for adults and US$30 for children. Contact: 1-345-949-2283 or email@example.com