Widely regarded as the friendliest and most welcoming of all Caribbean destinations, the Cayman Islands are becoming a firm favourite for families with children of all ages. In addition to the promise of year round sun, sea and sand, Turquoise can arrange a holiday with enough activities and attractions to keep children from pre-school age right up to late teenage years happily occupied for the duration of a holiday.
The direct four-times-weekly British Airways service flies into Grand Cayman from London Heathrow, and the easy and efficient nature of the Caymanian people is obvious from the moment of arrival at the Owen Roberts International Airport.
Self-drive is the most sensible way for families to get around Grand Cayman, with several car rental companies within a short stroll of the arrivals hall. Driving is on the left hand side, and the roads are well maintained and clearly marked. Across the majority of the islands, the maximum speed limit is 30mph.
Seven Mile Beach is just a 15-minute drive from the airport, and it is in one of the resorts that line the beach, ranging from self-catering to five star luxury, that most visitors with families choose to make their base. Possibly one of the finest beaches in the Caribbean, Seven Mile Beach provides miles of wide, soft white sand, lapped by warm, shallow waters.
Many resorts have direct access to the beach, with others just a short stroll away. The newly opened five star Caribbean Club is perfect for families and groups of friends with children, as each spacious apartment has three ensuite bedrooms, and huge kitchen/dining and living areas, with all the facilities you would expect from a hotel, as well as a stunning pool and beachfront location. Cafes, restaurants supermarkets and water sports facilities are all close by. A notable absence of beach sellers and hawkers means that families can relax and enjoy the surroundings, without unnecessary hassle or disturbance. There are also a number of excellent accommodations to be found dotted around the island.
There are over 100 beachfront private villas to rent around the Cayman Islands for those families that like to be entirely self contained with the added luxury of a private pool. Many have gardens with tennis courts and jungle gyms, and the kitchens can be fully stocked with food and supplies ranging from nappies to baked beans, fresh fruit and meat prior to arrival, through Cayman Shoppers.
Elsewhere on Grand Cayman, the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park provides acres of stunning colourful floral grounds, with an abundance of trees, shrubs and plants, both indigenous to Cayman and from elsewhere. The park is roamed by the prehistoric looking Blue Iguana – rare, but thankfully growing in numbers due to the Blue Iguana Recovery programme. Children will delight in their dragon-like appearance, and with no fear of their two legged voyeurs, the Blue Iguanas put on a proud display.
The turtle, after which the Cayman Islands were originally named, can also be seen up close at Boatswain’s Beach. Having helped save the species from extinction, it is now home to 16,000 green turtles, a snorkel lagoon, nature trail and a typical Caymanian street with craft stores.
The Butterfly Farm, one of the few in the Caribbean, is also a family favourite. Here children step into a tropical garden teeming with butterflies from around the globe. They can observe the life cycle from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly and even witness new butterflies emerging from the chrysalis and taking their first flight.
Cayman is renowned for its marine life, and children from as young as four can enjoy snorkelling off the beaches, with stunning coral reefs and brightly coloured fish just yards from the shore. There are a variety of glass bottomed boats and submersibles, perfect for families wanting to explore the underwater world and view the pristine coral reefs and marine life without any need to get wet.
Stingray City is one of the Caribbean’s top wildlife attractions and a natural phenomenon that will have children and adults alike shrieking in delight. Wild but friendly stingrays gather on a shallow sandbank of the coast of Grand Cayman and happily and safely interact with human visitors.
There are several programmes that aim to teach and engage children in a fun way about the importance of respecting and caring for the environment, both on land and under water. The Ritz-Carlton’s Ambassador of the Environment programme, designed by Jean Michel Cousteau, is one such programme. Children and teens from four to eighteen can participate in morning, afternoon or evening programmes that entertain and educate about nature and the Caymanian culture, with walks and trails on beaches, through woodlands and mangroves, swimming, snorkelling and much more.
The Black Pearl Skate & Surf Park is a fantastic day out for confident youngsters and teenagers. Skating lessons and camps are available for children, and the spectacular freestanding wave machine creates a wave ranging from three to 11 feet in height making it exciting and safe for beginners through to veteran surfers.
Eating out ‘en famille’ in Cayman is a joy. There are innumerable restaurants and cafes dotted around the island, serving local Caymanian fare, children’s favourites, fresh seafood, as well as international cuisine of the highest standard. Even the fussiest child will find a dish to please, and those in self-catering accommodation will find shopping in the local shops and supermarkets a speedy and satisfactory experience.
A visit to the Sister Islands of Little Cayman and Cayman Brac is a very special experience, although the rugged and unsophisticated nature of both makes staying on either more suited to older children and adults. However few will fail to have their imagination caught by arriving on a dusty airstrip on Little Cayman, and a day trip will certainly enhance any holiday experience.
The overwhelming impression of Cayman is one of a tropical island that exudes quality and friendliness, combined with pristine beaches and attractions that will make any family holiday a resounding success, and a holiday scrapbook to be proud of at school.
Contact Turquoise Holidayas on www.turquoiseholidays.co.uk or call Johanna Bromiley on 01494 678400 to find out about a family holiday in the Cayman Islands.
Images of the Cayman Islands are available to download, free of charge and copyright from www.fotoseeker.com
For further information on the Cayman Islands please visit the official UK dedicated website at www.caymanislands.co.uk or call the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism on their main switchboard number ++44 (0) 20 7491 7771