Swimfins in the water

Owen Roberts International Airport (GCM)

In 1503, Columbus named the Cayman Islands “Las Tortugas” (The Turtles). But when Sir Francis Drake visited the islands in 1586, he was much more impressed with its gigantic saltwater crocodiles — called Caymanas by the natives — and the name stuck. Today, this breezy British territory located about 150 miles south of Cuba is known primarily as an international offshore banking center. But it’s also celebrated for its ridiculously clear, blue waters, excellent shopping and relaxing vibe.

Grand Cayman is the largest of the three Cayman Islands. As soon as you arrive, you’ll practically feel your blood pressure drop: nobody’s in a rush here. And why should they be? This is the Caribbean!

Swimming and Shopping and Sunsets… Oh, My

The Seven Mile Beach, the island’s hub, is bustling with fine hotels, luxury shops and restaurants that serve the freshest, tastiest seafood imaginable. Just to the south is George Town, the capital city, and it’s a shopper’s paradise — you’ll pay no sales tax on everything from nice watches and jewelry to cameras.

At Stingray City, located in the North Sound, the only hustle and bustle comes from the stingrays that literally (but gently) eat out of the palm of your hand. Grand Cayman is a diving and snorkeling mecca, so if that’s your thing, visit the Eden Rock Dive Center. And if you’d like to experience the wonders of the tropical waters while staying dry, you can book an unforgettable underwater tour on an Atlantis Submarine.

Whether you swim, shop or just take in its stunning Caribbean sunsets, the hardest part of visiting Grand Cayman will undoubtedly be leaving.

Frolic in the sun and sand of the Caribbean. Explore Port-Au-Prince and St Maarten for more beach getaways.

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