A Thorough Guide to the Cayman Islands

Discover everything you need to know for your trip to Cayman Islands. A fun overview, and essential tips, to ensure your trips success. This vacation guide includes factual information such as Entry & Exit Requirements, fun tips like popular landmarks, and essential advice about emergency and medical contacts.

The Cayman Islands are in the Caribbean and consist of three islands; Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Throughout the islands is flat land except for The Bluff on the eastern side of Cayman Brac.

The Cayman Islands have a marine tropical climate. The wet season is warm and rainy while the dry season is temperate with daily averages of 25C (77F).

Caymanians have the highest standard of living in the Caribbean. The Cayman Islands' GDP per capita is the 12th highest in the world.

Vacation Information for Cayman Islands

Entry/Exit & Customs
Taxes & Fees
Medical
Crime
Getting Around Culture
Landmarks
Safety

Anthem: God Save the Queen Capital: George Town Time Zone: UTC -5 Languages: English Currency: Cayman Islands Dollar (KYD) Credit Cards: All major credit cards accepted. Traveler Checks: Traveler checks accepted. Side of road to drive on: left Legal Drinking Age: 18.

: : ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS

American citizens as of January 23rd, 2007 entering the Cayman Islands will require a valid passport, for more information on this visit: http://travel.state.gov/travel/passport.

Canadian citizens do Not Require passports, but must present proof of Citizenship. Proof of Citizenship include:
-Passport or Birth certificate with a raised seal & Photo Id (i.e. Driver's License).
-Photocopies of Birth Certificates need to have the copy notarized by a Notary Public.
-All those entering the Cayman Islands who require a passport should ensure that the passport is valid for six months after date of return.
-All other visitors will have to present a valid passport, proof of sufficient funds and a return ticket.

: : CUSTOMS INFORMATION

Restricted/Prohibited Materials
-Any controlled or illegal drugs or utensils is prohibited.
-Obscene publications and articles are prohibited.
-Any goods or items depicting or bearing any reference to ganja (marijuana) or the plant is prohibited.
-Counterfeit coins and notes.
-Instruments and appliances for gambling.
-Unless they are transit goods, the export of Lobster, Conch or conch meat in any form is prohibited.
-The import and export of Turtles, turtle meat and other turtle products are prohibited.
-Firearms, Ammunition, Bullet proof Vest and Gun powder are prohibited unless accompanied by an import permit and license signed by the Commissioner of Police.
-Bows, pellet guns, catapults or other manually operated weapons which are capable of projecting arrows or other missiles are prohibited unless accompanied by an import permit and license signed by the Commissioner of Police.
-Spear guns, Hawaiian slings and parts etc. is prohibited.
-Any other goods that are prohibited under any other law or that may be prescribed by the Governor in Cabinet from time to time.

Customs Information:

Free import by passengers over 18 years of age:
- 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos, or 25 cigars or 250g of tobacco;
- 1 liter or spitis or 4 liters of wine or 1 case (not exceeding 9 liters) of beer.

Pets:

Birds, cats and dogs need a permit from the Cayman Islands Dept. of Agriculture.
Cats and dogs will only be permitted to enter when aged ten months or older.

Prohibited:

-No animal of any description may be imported from any country in Asia, Africa, Central and South America, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti and the Dominican Rep.
- the following breeds or cross-breeds of dogs, including genetic material:
Mallanois, Rottweiler, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brazileiro, Chinese Shar-Pei, Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Akita, Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Bull Dog, Dogue de Bordeaux, Mastiff (all types).

Declaration Form:

On arrival into the Cayman Islands, whether by Air or Sea, a Cayman Islands Customs Declaration form must be completed for Customs processing. Each passenger or the head of a family traveling together must complete this form. The declaration form sets out what the passenger is required to declare and gives details of the duty free allowances to which different categories of passengers are entitled. These forms are issued by the passenger's carrier or can be obtained from Customs on arrival.

Failure to make a full declaration is an offense and can result in the forfeiture of the goods, fines and/ or imprisonment.

: : SALES TAX AND FEES

Sales Tax:

The Cayman Islands is a tax-exempt destination. On February 8th, 1794, the Caymanians rescued the crews of a group of 10 merchant ships, including the HMS Convert. The ships had struck a reef and run aground during rough seas. King George III rewarded the island with a promise never to introduce taxes as compensation for their generosity.

Airport Taxes:

There is a US$25 (CI$20) departure tax for the Cayman Islands; this is usually included in the price of your airline ticket.

: : MEDICAL INFORMATION

Every Cayman citizen is required to have health insurance. The government requires all employers to cover their employees from the first day of work.

Emergencies:

The emergency number in the Cayman Islands is 9-1-1.

Hospitals:

There are two government run hospitals in the Cayman Islands:

Cayman Islands Hospital
Hospital Road
Grand Cayman
244-2632

Faith Hospital
215 Dennis Foster Road
Cayman Brac
345-948-2243

There are several clinics as well. For more information you can call Public Health Services at 345-948-2243 ext: 134

Bringing in Prescriptions:

If you are bringing prescription medication into the Cayman Islands, place them in your carry-on luggage and be ready for customs inspection. The best way to avoid any confusion with customs inspectors is to bring both your written prescription and a note signed by your doctor indicating your need for the medicine.

Vaccinations:

The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that no vaccinations are required for international travel to the Cayman Islands. However there are routine immunization schedules for children and adults that local doctors recommend: For example tetanus toxoid is recommended, as is the MMR vaccine and Hepatitis B. However, currently none of these are required for entry into the Islands.

: : CRIME

The crime threat in Cayman Islands is generally considered low, although travelers should always take normal precautions when in unfamiliar surroundings. Petty theft, pick-pocketing and purse snatchings occur. Police in the Cayman Islands rigorously enforce laws against illegal drugs.

Accused of a crime in the Cayman Islands:

Persons violating Cayman laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the Cayman Islands are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.

Victims of Crime:

If you are the victim of a crime in the Cayman Islands you should contact the local police and your embassy and or consulate for help. This includes the loss or theft of a passport. The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends, and explain how funds may be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime are solely the responsibility of local Caymanian authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

: : TRANSPORTATION

Car Rental:

Cayman has many of the top car rental companies, as well as a few very good local ones. To rent a car, drivers must have a credit card, be over the age of 21 years and have a Cayman driving license, an International driving license or be issued (at the time of rental) with a Visitor's Permit (CI$6).

Taxi:

Taxis in the Cayman Islands are regulated by the government and have set fares. All cabbies should have the government rate sheet. Despite that fact it is still best to agree on the fare before entering the vehicle.

Public Transportation:

All the buses are individually owned and have to follow very strict rules. There are seven bus routes, and the buses each have a distinctive colored circle on the front and rear with a route number in the middle. All routes run to and from the Bus Depot in central George Town. There is a Public Transport Inspector on duty from 6am until 8pm at the Bus Depot to supervise all bus operations. There are a few designated bus stops on the Island, but you can also hail or wave a bus down from the side of the road. Most buses carry between 14 and 25 passengers so if it is full it won't stop. If you hear a bus beeping as you walk along, it is the driver checking to see if you need to be picked up.

Drivers License Info:

You are allowed to drive in Cayman using an International driver's license which is valid for 12 months from the date of issue. You will not have to obtain a Visitors' Permit.

If you have a domestic driver's license from abroad you must obtain a Visitors' Permit (CI$6), which is valid for the duration of your stay, or a maximum of six months, or you will be deemed to be driving illegally. These can be obtained from a car rental agency, but only if you rent a vehicle from them. If you are going to use a privately owned vehicle you must obtain the visitor's permit from the DVL office.

: : CULTURAL INFORMATION

Motto: He hath founded it upon the seas

Wardrobe: The conservative and modest attitudes of the islanders should be taken into account when considering dress codes , for instance, dining out will require smart casual or formal wear. Likewise the proper etiquette for any visits to a Church will require “Sunday dress” – a summer dress, skirt and smart top, or lightweight suit for a woman and a shirt (no tie is really required) and dress pants for a man. Shorts are not really acceptable attire in this instance for either men or women. Beachwear such as swimming trunks for men, and all-in-one swimming costumes and bikinis for women are perfectly acceptable on the beach. However, if you intend on venturing off the beach, you should always change out of your swimwear. Walking around in shorts and a bikini top would be frowned upon and seen as disrespectful and inappropriate.

Smoking: The Cayman Islands has banned smoking in all public places including bars, restaurants, stores, and bus terminals.

Etiquette: The Cayman Islands remain a self-governing British crown colony, and as such the residents tend to have retained a conservative attitude, where politeness, courtesy and “proper etiquette” prevail. Churchgoing is also perhaps more frequent in the Cayman Islands than in Britain, and so the prevalence of Christianity on the island has too had an impact on slightly more reserved and conservative attitudes towards what is considered correct conduct. Unlike in Britain, homosexuality is actually an illegal activity in the Cayman Islands, so any public displays of affection between men in particular could attract the attention of the authorities and should be completely avoided.

Common courtesy is upheld, so you should always make a point of saying please, thank you, and taking the time to acknowledge shop assistants or those in the service industries such as taxi drivers, hoteliers, bar staff or porters.

Tipping: Restaurants usually add gratuities to your bill however verify beforehand because not all do. It is customary to tip 15% for service and more for excellent service.

: : POPULAR LANDMARKS

Boatswains Beach - Cayman Turtle Farm

Meeting the turtles in Cayman Islands
Boatswains Beach/Cayman Turtle Farm is a Cayman Islands government owned facility and a division of the Ministry of Tourism. Here people can come and see the infamous sea turtles and learn all about them as well. It is in West Bay on Grand Cayman Island.

Sting Ray City

The rays are friendly on this ocean excursion
You have probably heard about Sting Ray City, and if you are thinking of skipping it, take our word for this, don't. Half of the experience relied on the guide you choose, so make sure it is one that has an un-crowded boat, and knowledge of the fascinating rays.

Cayman Islands National Museum

From the street, Cayman Islands National Museum
The Cayman Islands National Museum is in the historic Old Courts Building in George Town, one of the island's few surviving 19th century structures. This courthouse has survived countless hurricanes during its 150 year history. It has been used over the years not only as a courthouse but also as a jail, a meeting place for Sunday worship and dances.

Pedro St James National Historic Site

Pedro St James Plantation House in Cayman
This plantation house is one of the oldest structures in the Cayman Islands. It was built in 18th century by a wealthy Englishman and the government has restored the three storey house with furniture from that period.

: : TRAVEL AND SAFETY TIPS

-Always walk like you know where you are going, even if you don't. This means keep your back upright and eyes straight ahead. When asking for directions keep your voice low so others don't know you are lost.

-Take precautions. Do not wear a lot of jewelry or conspicuous clothing while travelling to avoid being a target of crime.

-Be cautious when taking a taxi and always look for the appropriate documentation which should be posted in eyes view. Never take a cab from the airport that is off by itself.

-If your hotel or resort recommends staying on their property you should follow these precautions.

-Never leave valuables in a soft material. The seam can easily be cut. Often the crime takes place long before it is noticed. This applies to purses, bags and luggage.

-Do not invite strangers to your hotel room.

-Do not agree to meet strangers by yourself. Even those you consider new friends and fellow tourist's.

-Plan for the unexpected, this includes extra money and medication that is required should your stay be extended.

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