The island country consists of Grand Cayman, largest and most populous of the trio; and the Sister Islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, which lie approximately 89 miles east-northeast of Grand Cayman and are separated from each other by a channel about seven miles wide.
The Cayman Islands is a British Crown Colony located in the western Caribbean, 480 miles south of Miami, 150 miles south of Cuba and 180 miles northwest of Jamaica.
The total land mass of the three islands is 100 square miles. Grand Cayman occupies 76 square miles; Cayman Brac, 14 square miles and Little Cayman, 10 square miles. Grand Cayman is approximately 22 miles long and 8 miles at its widest point, reaching a maximum elevation at East End of 60 ft.
Between the Cayman Islands and Jamaica lies the deepest part of the Caribbean, the Cayman Trough, which is over four miles deep. South of Cayman is the Bartlett Deep where depths of over 18,000 ft. have been recorded. All three islands are surrounded by healthy coral reefs which lie at the top of dramatic walls and drop-offs close to shore, creating ideal conditions for diving and sportfishing.
The three islands are outcroppings, the tops of a submarine mountain range called the Cayman Ridge, which extends west southwest for the Sierra Maestra range off the southeast part of Cuba to the Misteriosa Bank near Belize. The islands lack rivers or streams because of the porous nature of the limestone rock. It is this lack of runoff which gives the surrounding Caribbean Sea exceptional visibility, often well over 120 ft.
The three islands are limestone outcroppings, the tops of a submarine mountain range called the Cayman Ridge, which extends west southwest for the Sierra Maestra range off the southeast part of Cuba to the Misteriosa Bank near Belize. The islands lack rivers or streams because of the porous nature of the limestone rock. Is it this lack of runoff which gives the surrounding Caribbean Sea exceptional visibility, often well over 120 ft.
With a year-round temperature between 72° F and 88° F, leave your sweater at home. Water temperatures range from 78° F - 82° F and the winter and 82° F - 86° F in the summer. The rainy season is from May to October with May/June and September/October usually being the wettest months. The hurricane season runs from June to November and usually peaks in August and September, but of course, no one can accurately predict if we'll get a hurricane in any given year. The last hurricanes to directly impact the Islands were Gilbert in September of 1988 and Mitch in October of 1998.
The Cayman Islands are on Eastern Standard Time year-round and do not observe Daylight Savings Time. We are 5 hours behind Greenwich Meantime.
Most restaurants require shoes and shirts, but shorts are generally acceptable. Some of the upscale restaurants may require slacks for evening dinner. Please do not wear bathing suits or "skimpy" beach wear beyond the beach or cruise ship. Note that there are no nude beaches in the Cayman Islands and that public nudity and topless bathing are prohibited by law.
The Cayman Islands use the same electrical standards as the USA - 110 volts, 60 Hz. Most of our electronics and appliances are imported from the USA, and any travel items such as blowdryers, electric razors and travel clocks will work.
The Cayman Islands has its own currency and the basic unit is the dollar. It is issued in notes of CI$100, 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 and coins valued at 25 cents, 10, 5 and 1 cent. The CI dollar has a fixed exchange rate with the US dollar of CI$1.00 equals US$1.25 or US$1.00 dollar equals CI $0.80. The US dollar is accepted throughout the islands and as an example, a US$20 note converts to CI$16. Banks do NOT give a better rate of exchange and the rate does not fluctuate! MasterCard, VISA and American Express cards as well as travellers checks are widely accepted. Canadian dollars and pounds sterling can be exchanged for CI dollars at local banks. Automatic Teller Machines accepting VISA and MasterCard with Cirrus affiliation are located at most banks and at the airport. Regular banking hours are 9:00 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until 4:30 p.m. on Friday.
A mandatory Government room tax of 10% is standard and is will be added to your room charge. A departure tax of CI$10.00 or US$12.50 per person is also payable at the airport if not already included with your ticket.
Liquor Law - Drinking Age
The legal age for drinking alcoholic beverages on the Cayman Islands is 18 years. A licensee may lose his license or be fined for serving alcoholic beverages to any underage person.
Gratuities and Services Charges
Many restaurants will automatically add a charge of 15% to your total food and drink bill. In this case tipping is not required and you should check your bill before leaving extra. Your food and beverage server receives only a portion of the gratuity, and you may tip extra at your discretion.
The piped water in the Cayman Islands is completely safe to cook with or drink. All hotels and condos and most restaurants and private homes are connected to the city water supply. The water is originally pumped from the sea and then purified by reverse osmosis.
Radio and Television
The Cayman Islands is served by 4 FM radio stations offering a mix of local and international music and programming. Most hotels and condos have a variety of television programming usually including ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CNN, HBO, ESPN and others. Cable TV consists of approximately 35 channels and is available in most rental accommodations.
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