Grand Cayman Vacation: A Jewel in the Caribbean

View of Seven Mile Beach from my room at Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman
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There's a number of reasons to schedule a Caribbean vacation to Grand Cayman. For West Coasters, Grand Cayman is a shorter and more convenient hop than other Caribbean islands. While there are no direct flights from Los Angeles at present, it's less than three hours to fly to Houston, with convenient connections and another two and a half hour hop to Grand Cayman. 

The airport is small and uninviting, but a major renovation is underway that will triple its size by year end. (But the small airport bar makes a refreshing Rum Runner cocktail while you wait for your flight.)

Surprisingly, the island boasts having the 14th highest standard of living in the world. No wonder the island is safe and a highly desirable choice for family vacations as well as destination weddings. In fact, there are a lot of annual repeaters that come here. There are, of course, additional reasons to visit. 

We often think of the Caribbean as a sun and surf destination. Yet globally, food is one of the highest rated factors visitors provide for coming to the region, and Grand Cayman is considered the "Culinary Capital of the Caribbean," with some 200 restaurants and the Anthony Bourdain promoted Cayman Cookout.

When it comes to surf, Cayman is renowned as a diver's paradise. With visibility up to 100 feet underwater, swimmers snorkelers and divers find these islands and their reefs a veritable delight. There's also the well known stingray city and turtle farm, along with hiking and biking.

There's a variety of accommodations from which to choose on Grand Cayman, of course, but two top-rated resorts are the Kimpton Seafire and the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman. Both sit proudly on Seven Mile Beach.

Of the two, the Kimpton is more casual, colorful and contemporary, offering a variety of room types, from apartments, suites, rooms and beach-side bungalows. The main hotel building is a ten-story high-rise. Everything here is well designed, down to the UBS ports bedside, and the fresh coconut juice. The complimentary afternoon wine and snacks and socializing in the Library is a nice touch, while Ave, the featured restaurant, offers Iberian and Moroccan twists. I never got around to trying the jerk chicken scramble for breakfast, but will save that for another visit, for sure. The staff here were gracious and eager to please.

Not far away along Seven Mile Beach is the stately Ritz Carlton resort, huge but oh, so comfortable in its own skin. While certainly fitting the needs of the upper crust, the resort is not so full of itself not to be welcoming to more casual guests and to families.  There are many reasons to come, from the comfort of the room (though the bathrooms are more than adequate but not overly large), the finely honed service, and oh my, the exquisite, mouth watering cuisine. Of the six dining venues at the resort, Blue stands out, being the only Five-Diamond restaurant on the island. The beach facilities are wonderful, and kids well pampered and taken care of too, from the wonderful Cousteau program at the resort, to the poolside kiddie chairs that always made me smile.

When you're ready to double down for some good food and good beach activities, consider a Grand Cayman Caribbean vacation.

Dan Ilves