Compass Point Resort
Grand Cayman Island, Caribbean
Compass Point Resort
Grand Cayman Island, Caribbean
An Introduction to the Cayman Islands
Nestled in the calm, turquoise waters of the western Caribbean, lies the peaceful British Overseas Territory known as the Cayman Islands. Consisting of three islands just 480 miles south of Miami, collectively the islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman remain a little piece of paradise.
Blessed with sun-kissed beaches and waters teeming with breathtaking marine life, the Cayman Islands offer some of the best diving and snorkeling in the world.
You'll never be short of things to do in the Cayman Islands. World-class scuba diving, snorkeling, and sailing are just the beginning of your Islands' adventure. The Islands' histories are rich in exotic detail, as the Museum, Botanical Garden and National Trust clearly demonstrate. So, whether it's a trip under the sea to feed the stingrays, an excursion to the Turtle Farm for a hands-on experience of one of nature's most inspiring miracles, or a journey into the past to revisit the first landing by Christopher Columbus, a feast for the senses - and sensibilities - awaits.
Grand Cayman: Spectacular natural beauty, a wealth of activities and points of interest, and all the modern conveniences to make your stay as comfortable as possible can be found on Grand Cayman. The largest and most developed of the three Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman is the home of George Town, the capital city, which boasts some of the finest cuisine and shopping in the Caribbean. Whether you want to explore a sunken wreck, dance the night away, or simply go sightseeing, Grand Cayman is the place to start.
One of the many attractions Grand Cayman has to offer is Seven Mile Beach, a long stretch of white sand rated as one of the most beautiful beaches in the entire Caribbean. Other attractions on Grand Cayman include: the 65-acre Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park and National Trust's Mastic Trail (2 mile traditional footpath through unspoiled woodlands in North Side); Cayman Islands National Museum in George Town; Pedro St. James Historic Site in Savannah; Cardinal D's Park, a private collection of animals in a natural tropical park setting on Courts Rd; Hell, Cayman’ famous Turtle Farm; National Trust historic walking tours of central George Town and West Bay; blowholes in East End district; and historic buildings now being restored under the direction of the National Trust and National Historic Sites Committee, including the Old Savannah Schoolhouse. Rum Point is not to be missed. Imagine sipping a cocktail in a hammock on a beach, shaded by majestic Casuarina trees. Enjoy a beach snack, indulge in an a la carte meal, or simply take a dip in the crystal-clear sea. Regular ferry services operate daily from the Hyatt Dock.
Cayman Brac: Cayman's Brac's rugged 14 square miles retain the charm and friendliness of a traditional seafaring community - yet offer the country's most dramatic scenery. "Brac" is the Gaelic word for bluff, the Brac's dominant natural attraction, a limestone ridge which rises gradually from the west along the center of the island to 140 ft. at the eastern tip, plunging as a sheer dramatic cliff into the indigo Caribbean below. It sculpts the landscape into unexpected vistas carved with caves and covered with a startling variety of trees and plant life. Experience the breathtaking view on the bluff from the lighthouse. Explore the enticing caves and sinkholes, high above water. Wander through the woodlands filled with exotic flowers and plants. Bird watching on the bluff is stunning. Frigate birds, brown boobies, peregrine falcons and the rare Cayman Brac parrot can be spotted in their natural environment.
Just as rugged and fascinating are the Bracers themselves, a warm and independent population of fewer than 1300. They take pride in their homeland and enjoy sharing it with visitors. Small towns have names like West End, Watering Place, Cotton Tree Bay, Creek and Spot Bay. Tropical flowers bloom year-round in carefully tended yards surrounding charming Caymanian - style homes. The Brac's special peacefulness refreshes - but its startling contrasts will awaken your adventurous spirit! In Cayman Brac, diving is what attracts most people to this small island. The newest attraction for divers is the wreck of the 330 ft. M/V Captain Keith Tibbett’s, a Russian built Cuban naval frigate which was sunk off the island's northwest coast in September 1996. It is already the home for a variety of marine life. There are two other small wrecks off the Brac's coast.
Ashore, attractions include the Cayman Brac Museum at Stake Bay, a variety of dramatic caves, (such as Rebecca's Cave, Peter's Cave and Skull Cave), nature trails, exploration of the bluff and iron shore beneath the island’s eastern tip, and small, charming homes restored in traditional seafaring architectural styles. The delightful people of this unusual community are another main attraction. Fisherman will revel in shallow waters filled with bonefish and deeper offshore waters teeming with game fish. Those simply wanting to relax can indulge in the solitude of quiet beaches.
The National Trust chapter has activities scheduled throughout the year. A two-mile long nature trail on the bluff adjacent the 180-acre Parrot Reserve was opened in July 1996. Bird watching has long been considered an excellent, if under promoted, attraction of this tiny island.
Little Cayman: Little Cayman is the least developed of the Cayman trio. With a resident population of less than 170, most of Little Cayman remains uninhabited. Only 10 miles long and a mile wide, it still offers that rare combination of sun-blessed solitude, glistening beaches and miles of untouched tropical wilderness. Here, shy iguanas and rare birds outnumber humans. On Little Cayman, you'll find privacy and total relaxation. Bask yourself on empty beaches. Venture to remote South Hole Sound Lagoon for a private swim. Or row out to tiny, deserted Owen Island to enjoy a view of nature in its most pristine form. Here, you can truly ease the body and soul. Diving on Little Cayman, especially on famous Bloody Bay wall and Jackson Point, is the main attraction. Bloody Bay Marine Park is one of the world's truly legendary dive sites. The sheer coral wall begins at 20 ft. and plunges to 6000 ft. Colorful coral gardens, wavering sea plumes and exotic tropical fish thrive among more than 50 unique dive sites. Exceptional fishing can be done on Little Cayman, where bonefish, small tarpon and permit, particularly in South Hole Sound lagoon, challenge anglers looking for light tackle action along the coast. The 15-acre Tarpon Pond is always filled with small, but feisty, game fish.
Little Cayman also has the largest known breeding colony of the Red Footed Booby (5000 pairs) and only breeding colony of Magnificent Frigate Birds in this hemisphere. It hosts the country's first RAMSAR site, the 203-acre Booby Pond Nature Reserve now under National Trust protection. Groundbreaking took place on 22 July, 1995 for the Little Cayman Trust House, a Caymanian-style building overlooking the rookery, which opened in late 1996 and serves as the headquarters for Little Cayman National Trust activities. It also provides an observation deck with high-powered telescopes for year-round viewing of the sanctuary's bird life. Little Cayman now has its own museum, located across from the Booby Pond Nature Reserve. Little Cayman also has a resident indigenous Little Cayman Rock Iguana population estimated at 2,000. Signs painted by local artists were erected in 1995 cautioning motorists to watch out for iguanas along the main coastal road. The local chapter of the National Trust organizes outings and activities on a regular basis. The mile-long Salt Rock Nature Trail provides glimpses of Little Cayman's natural habitat.
What to Expect on the Cayman Islands
BANKS: Although Grand Cayman now has more than 692 licensed banks, only a handful are full-service "A-class" banks providing full customer banking services as visitors know it. These include: Barclays Bank, Scotiabank, Bank of Butterfield, Royal Bank of Canada, Cayman National Bank, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, British American Bank. Regular banking hours are 9: 00 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until 4:30 p.m. on Friday. In addition, Automatic Teller Machines accepting VISA and MasterCard with Cirrus affiliation are located at Cayman National Bank and other banks and at Owen Roberts International Airport. CURRENCY: The Cayman Islands has its own currency called the Cayman Islands dollar, first issued in 1972, whose basic unit is the dollar, issued in notes with denominations 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 $1 USD equals CI $.83. There is no need for visitors to exchange their US dollars into local currency. The US dollar is accepted throughout the islands at a rate of CI 83 cents. However, this can be confusing to visitors: for example, a US$20 note becomes CI$16. Banks do NOT give a better rate of exchange! Major credit cards (with the exception of the Discover Card) and Travelers checks are widely accepted. Canadian dollars and pounds sterling can be exchanged for CI dollars at local banks. CLIMATE: The Cayman Islands lie in the far Western Caribbean, closer to the equator then a lot of people realize, between latitudes 19° and 20° North. The islands are cooled by prevailing trade winds, but the sun is Hot and you can be easily sunburned. Winter - November to April: 72°F to 86°F during the day. 64°F to 72°F at night. Water temperature ranges between 78°F and 82°F. Summer - May to October: 85°F to 90°F during the day. 73°F to 85°F at night. Water temperature ranges between 82°F to 86°F. Relative humidity varies from 68% to 92%. DEPARTURE TAX: The Cayman Islands has a departure tax of $25 U.S. Dollars that is normally included in the price of your ticket. Please check with your airline or ticketing agent for details. DRINKING WATER: 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. DRIVING LICENSE: British rules apply, so please drive on the left and be extra careful on roundabouts. Visitors may use their home licenses for up to three months or may apply for an international driver's license. Pedestrians should remember to look right before crossing streets. ELECTRICITY: The Cayman Islands use the same electrical standards as the USA - 110 volts, 60 Hz. Most electronics and appliances are imported from the USA, and any travel items such as hair dryers, electric razors and travel clocks will work. ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: U.S. and Canadian citizens must have a valid Passport and a return or ongoing ticket. TOURISM SEASONS: The year divides into two seasons, the summer or "rainy" season, generally from mid-May through October, moving into the winter or "dry" season, from November to April. March and April are the driest months and May and October are traditionally the highest rainfall months. Being in a tropical zone, it is not unusual to have brief afternoon showers during the summer, and, at certain times, brief morning sprinkles too. The Atlantic Hurricane season starts June 1st and ends officially on November 30th, but the Cayman Islands have often been spared the full wrath of devastating hurricanes. VACCINATIONS: No vaccinations or preventative medications are recommended for travel to the Caymans. However, we always suggest that you speak to your family physician for a personal recommendation. WATER TEMPERATURES AND WETSUITS: Water temperatures generally range between 78 – 82°F. Most people find wearing a 1mm – 3mm wetsuit keeps them comfortable.
Cayman Islands - "Top Side" Activities and Adventures
Below are just some of the activities and attractions that await you in the Cayman Islands. We will be happy to arrange any of these and more to complete your customized itinerary. Please contact us for more information.
For the past 19 years, the submarines of Atlantis Adventures have been taking visitors to explore the most incredible marine habitat on the planet. The Atlantis fleet has grown over the years and now comprises the 48 passenger Atlantis XI Submarine, two deep diving research submarines, the Deep Explorers, and two semi-submarines, the Seaworld Explorers. These unique vessels cover the full underwater experience from the teeming shallow reefs and shipwrecks of George Town Harbour, to the coral canyons at 100 feet, all the way down the Cayman Wall to 1000 feet. These adventures are available to virtually everyone, all in air-conditioned comfort; no pressure effects on ears and you don’t even get wet.
BRAC PARROT RESERVE: The Brac Parrot Reserve is dominated by pristine, ancient woodlands on a very rough and rocky terrain. A great diversity of native trees, including species not present on Grand Cayman or Little Cayman, support breeding woodland birds such as the Red-legged Thrush, White crowned Pigeon ("Bald Pate")and Black-whiskered Vireo. Parrots are often seen and heard around the Reserve, especially in the early morning and late afternoon. In the winter months, the Reserve is filled with neotropical migrant songbirds, escaping cold northern climates. For more information contact the Cayman Brac District of the National Trust. The reserve is easily accessible with easily walkable trails and a raised boardwalk through the forest. BUTTERFLY FARM:
A visit to Grand Cayman's Butterfly Farm is an unforgettable encounter with nature in all its beauty and diversity. Step into a tropical garden teeming with butterflies from around the globe and prepare to meet some of the world's most colorful creatures. Observe the life cycle of these fascinating animals from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. Tour Guides will entertain you with commentary on butterfly habits and the miracle of metamorphosis. Arrive early and witness new butterflies emerging from the chrysalis and taking their first flight. The Butterfly Farm is a rare opportunity for photography and a sure delight for visitors of all ages. CATHY CHURCH UNDERWATER PHOTO CENTRE AND GALLERY:
Best duty free prices on digital cameras, with expert friendly help. Gallery of beautiful underwater images. World's best underwater photography instruction, located at Sunset House Resort. Underwater photography services: weddings, private video or still photos taken while you dive. CAVING:
Over the past 200 years the residents of Cayman Brac have sought shelter in these caves through some rare but severe storms that have crossed the islands. The caves also serve as home to a unique group of plant and animal inhabitants including small bats that feed on the insects. Peter's Cave offers a spectacular view overlooking the South Side bluffs. The Great Cave is an amazing formation of stalagmites and stalactites near the old Lighthouse out by the bluffs. The Bat's Cave, which is a well-lit, large cave where you may see some small bats "hanging out" in plain view. CAYMAN ISLANDS HELICOPTERS:
Cayman Islands Helicopters provides many different tours by helicopter. A guest can also rent the helicopter for charter, pictures or movies....one of its kind! CAYMAN ISLANDS NATIONAL MUSEUM:
The Cayman Islands National Museum is dedicated to the preservation, research and dissemination of all aspects of the Caymanian heritage for present and future generations. In 1990, after years of planning, artifact conservation, and exhibit design, the Cayman Islands National Museum opened to the public in the Old Courts Building. The Museum can trace its roots to the 1930's when Mr. Ira Thompson began collecting Caymanian artifacts as a hobby. In 1979, the government purchased Mr. Ira's collection which became the nucleus of the National Museum collection. Today, the Museum's collection contains over 4,000 items ranging from tiny coins to a 14 foot catboat; natural history specimens to rare documents. Established as a place of learning and enjoyment, the Museum provides residents and visitors with a rich understanding of the Caymanian heritage through its exhibits and special activities. CAYMAN ISLANDS TURTLE FARM:
Enjoy an educational visit at the world's only commercial sea turtle farm. See thousands of turtles from 6oz to 600lbs. For a great picture hold one of the smaller turtles. Visit our flora and fauna Exhibit. See flora and fauna native to the Islands. Crocodiles, agoutis, iguanas, fresh water turtles and Cayman's native parrot are all on display. CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS GARDENS:
Located on the majestic Bluff the park was the vision of the Cayman Brac Quincentennial Committee and is the home of the Wall of Honour which lists 500 names of past and present prominent people in the community “who contributes significantly to the development of the Sister Islands over the past 500 years” and a relief of Christopher Columbus. There are also several boardwalks and a gazebo constructed to fit in with the natural surrounding environment. The beautiful flora adds a special touch to this magnificent location. LITTLE CAYMAN MUSEUM:
Come step back in time as you learn about the work, hobbies, and the life of the people who lived on Little Cayman so many years ago. Private viewings can be arranged by the Little Cayman Beach Resort for groups or V.I.P.s. MASTIC TRAIL: Protected by the National Trust, the Mastic Reserve on Grand Cayman is the largest contiguous area of untouched, old growth dry forest remaining on the island. This area and other similar expanses of forest in Cayman are of international significance, as they are among the last remaining examples of the Caribbean's dry, subtropical forest. Which was the target of particularly intense deforestation throughout the West Indies. The area is home to a wide variety of animals and plants unique to the Cayman Islands, and also to large populations of trees which have vanished from more accessible places through logging in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The Mastic Trail is part of an old trail whose origins were lost in time, but we do know that at least 100 years ago William Steven Watler and his contemporaries completed a causeway of mahogany logs and beach rocks to assist passage across a deep mangrove wetland at the southern end of the trail. For a while the trail was a major thoroughfare, but later as the coastal roads and the modern Frank Sound Road were established and upgraded, the trail fell into disuse and became overgrown.
The Mastic Trail is two miles long and the guided walk takes approximately two and a half to three hours. Walkers get the chance to experience a fascinating exploration deep into Cayman's wild interior, in an area where the woodland has been evolving undisturbed for the last two million years. Special tours for small school groups and other local organizations are also available by prior arrangement.
The Seaworld Explorer semi-submarines are incredible floating observatories. Just a few steps inside and you are in a wall to wall glass viewing chamber five feet beneath the sea. On this wonderful hour-long adventure you explore historic shipwrecks, marvel at the vivid colors of the living reef and seeing a stunning multitude of tropical fish. The highlight is when your marine guides dons scuba gear and jumps into a swirling frenzy of multi-colored fish, bringing them right to your window. Great fun for the whole family. STINGRAY CITY:
One of the largest tourist attractions in the world, Stingray City is in 12 feet of water and mainly, but not exclusively, visited by scuba divers. The site was first noticed about ten years ago, when North Sound fishermen came to the calmer, shallower waters just over the reef to clean their fish. Soon they noticed stingrays, scavengers by nature, hanging around the boats inhaling any leftovers they could get their suckers on. Next, some particularly brave dive masters got in the water to hand-feed them, and before long the stingrays had become tame, almost pet-like. Today, you can swim under, over, and along with the rays. Their favorite food is squid, which you can feed them by hand. At Stingray sandbar, which is only waist deep, you can use a mask and snorkel and watch the rays swarm around you, brushing their velvety bellies against your hands and feet. Don't worry: this is the rays' way of begging for food. The rays have no teeth, but use a powerful sucking motion to draw in their food. Some are big, nearly six-feet in diameter. Their only means of defense is a barbed, venomous tail. As long as you don't lift the rays out of the water and treat them with the respect they deserve, you'll have a wonderful experience.
RED-FOOTED BOOBY BIRD NATURE RESERVE:
206 acre UNESCO designated Nature Reserve site for Red-footed Booby birds, the largest colony in the Western hemisphere. Home also to the ancient Frigate bird, Egrets, Herons, West Indian Whistling Duck, Black-necked Stilts. Cayman style visitor center with observation decks has 3 telescopes for visitor viewing of birds.