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Lyn writes about how to fly nearly free on Southwest on her GotoTravelGal.com blog and has a free guide that walks you step-by-step through how to earn the awesome Southwest Companion Pass, which lets 1 person fly almost free with you for up to 2 years.
I’ve asked her to share her tips on free things to do on Grand Cayman after her family’s recent trip to the Caribbean.
Lyn: My family and I just returned from an amazing spring break on Grand Cayman Island, which was our first trip to the Caribbean. I’ll now be adding the Cayman Islands to my list of favorite destinations!
Because we’re just back and it’s all still fresh in my memory, I thought I’d share with you some of the free and cheap family-friendly activities we enjoyed on the island.
How We Got to Grand Cayman
When Southwest ran a super cheap sale in February for flights from Fort Lauderdale to various tropical destinations, we decided this would make the perfect spring break, as we’d never been to the Caribbean.
The cheapest flights were ~4,300 points per person round-trip (plus ~$90 in taxes and fees). With our Companion Pass, we booked 4 of us for ~12,900 points total or ~3,225 points per person (4,300 points X 3 tickets / 4 people).
The points were more than we wanted to redeem right now to fly from Indy (where we live) to Fort Lauderdale. So instead of making the 2-day drive, we opted for a cheap flight on Allegiant (~$260 per person) to get us there. Here are even more options for flying to Grand Cayman.
While on Grand Cayman, we divided our time between the gorgeous Kimpton Seafire Resort & Spa (an IHG hotel), which sits on the popular Seven Mile Beach, but away from most of the cruise ship craziness, and a HomeAway vacation rental on the super-quiet East Bay side of the island.
7 Free Things to Do in Grand Cayman
While you could certainly spend a boat load (no pun intended 😉 ) of money while visiting the Cayman Islands, there are also plenty of ways to enjoy its immense beauty for free or cheap. Here are some of our favorites:
No surprise, right? I knew we would go snorkeling, but I didn’t realize how often we’d snorkel and how much we’d enjoy it!
Pretty much anywhere on Grand Cayman, you can just walk right into the water with your snorkel gear. We started off on Seven Mile Beach, though there wasn’t too much to see around our hotel.
Next, we drove to a couple of spots north of Seven Mile Beach along the West Bay, which were more interesting. We popped in the water at Macabuca restaurant, which has a ladder where you can step right in, and at Lighthouse Point where there is a submerged statue.
Two other great spots for first-timers are Starfish Point (where you can see lots of starfish, but don’t remove them from the water or turn them upside down), and the stunning Rum Point with plentiful restaurants and a lovely public beach.
Finally, during our time on the quiet East End of the island, we enjoyed the BEST snorkeling just off our HomeAway rental at Morritt’s Resort. We saw squid, purple coral, lots of colorful fish and interesting rocks, and nooks and crannies to hide all sorts of sea life.
Most hotels either give you snorkels and fins, or allow you to rent them for a small fee. You could also bring your own or purchase at a local dive shop (there are plenty!).
2. Chickens, Chickens Everywhere
If you have kids, they will absolutely love that the island is populated with wild chickens. We literally saw a hen with her chicks in the airport parking lot as soon as we got off the plane. Then we continued to see them everywhere – on the golf course, in trees, by the side of the road, at restaurants. You name it, there they were! But my boys got a big kick out of watching for chickens and especially looking for all the babies newly born this spring.
We asked locals – what’s with the chickens? The most common answer we received is that chicken coops have been let loose during past hurricanes, which resulted in a wild population of chickens. The only problem? There are a lot of roosters crowing first thing in the morning (and really all day 🙂 ).
3. Amazing Iguanas
Along the same lines are large iguanas running wild, as well. My youngest, who loves sharks, snakes and most wily creatures, loved watching for iguanas as we drove around the island. We saw several big ones and had fun watching them climb trees and blend right in!
4. Rum Point
You can visit Rum Point by car or by boat, and either way it’s ~45 minutes from Seven Mile Beach, but well worth it. We stopped there after a trip to Stingray City by boat (a definite splurge I’d recommend, giving you a chance to swim with wild stingrays) and boy, was it gorgeous!
Named for the barrels of rum that once washed ashore from ships in the Caribbean Sea, this beautiful free public beach has the classic Caribbean crystal clear blue water, shallow swimming for kids, and lots of water sports like stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, and jet skis. There are also a few reefs in the area that make for fun snorkeling.
There are lots of great restaurants to choose from, but while in the area you have to drink the famous “mudslide” frozen drink made from vodka, Kahlua, Baileys, and chocolate syrup. Yummy!
5. Camana Bay
Camana Bay is a fairly new shopping district on Grand Cayman not far from Seven Mile Beach and Georgetown, the main city on the island. You’ll find American stores, as well as plenty of restaurants where you can dine along the bay.
Yes, you can visit “hell” while on Grand Cayman. This touristy spot is named for its black limestone formations that have been created over 24 million years, which I suppose look how some people might envision hell?
While there, you can send a postcard from “hell” and take your picture as an angel or devil. 🙂
7. Macabuca Restaurant
While this is one isn’t totally free (at least if you eat there!), it is inexpensive and well worth it. This is a lovely little outdoor bar and restaurant perfectly situated along West Bay. You can head there for dinner and watch the sun set over the Caribbean Sea.
There is also a scuba diving and snorkeling entrance into the water nearby, and we loved watching scuba divers come in and out and listen to the stories of what they saw as we ate our meal.
Be sure to have the conch fritters (a Cayman specialty), coconut shrimp, fresh catch, and a rum cake for dessert! There are also kid-friendly choices, as we found at most restaurants around Grand Cayman.
I highly recommend a trip to Grand Cayman, and there’s no need for it to break the bank. Using Southwest points, we were able to get there for relatively cheap!
You don’t have to spend a lot of money while you’re there. There are plenty of awesome free activities for kids and adults alike. We especially loved the many beautiful snorkeling spots.
Have you visited Grand Cayman? What did you like best?