Enjoying your spare time needn’t mean emptying the coffers. Despite Cayman’s reputation for being pricey, these islands are packed with cheap and cheerful ways to keep everyone entertained, helping you save up for the bigger things. As the adage goes: look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.
Round up some friends, pack a ball and head to the sandy open courts at either Seven Mile Public Beach or Royal Palms, both of which are free to the public. There’s also a league that plays on Public Beach every Sunday during the winter months.
It may seem unwise to head to a shopping center when you’re trying to save, but this open-air complex has plenty more than retail therapy on offer. You can climb the Observation Tower for a panorama of the Seven Mile Corridor, let the little ones loose to play in the fountains, or chill out with a good book on one of the waterfront deck chairs.
Hike the great outdoors
Armed with little more than a sturdy pair of shoes, a map and water, you can have a great adventure in the wilds. Follow the two-mile Mastic Trail through indigenous woodland (self-guided leaflets are available from the National Trust’s visitor center on South Church Street), meander among the mangroves in Barkers National Park at West Bay, or conquer the many trails along Cayman Brac’s bluff.
Catch of the day
Want to see an authentic, traditional slice of Caymanian culture? Visit the fisherman’s market on the waterfront in George Town, where locals haul freshly caught snapper, mahi mahi and grouper into a couple of rickety stalls on the sand.
Try being a twitcher
With more than 200 species of birds to be spotted in the Cayman Islands, including 50 resident species, Cayman is a birdwatchers’ paradise. Head to Governor Gore’s Bird Sanctuary to spy all sorts of feathered friends, as well as butterflies and the native freshwater turtle. The Sister Islands take the biscuit though, boasting the 310-acre Brac Parrot Reserve and five seabird colonies, and Little Cayman’s Booby Pond Nature Reserve, home to the largest breeding colony of red-footed boobies in the Western Hemisphere.
Explore a farmers’ market
Okay, if you want to buy some groceries you’ll need a few dollars but buying local fruit and veg means getting more bang for your buck. Head to Cricket Grounds (Monday-Saturday), Plantation Organic (Sundays) or Camana Bay Farmers and Artisans Market (every Wednesday in season) to peruse the stands of colorful fresh produce.
Feast your eyes on art
Works by Cayman’s most prominent artists are displayed for the public at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands. The permanent collection is joined by fascinating temporary exhibitions (this month: coral photography followed by fashion design), a sculpture garden and coffee shop. The gallery also organizes free events, including lectures, film screenings and student tours.
East End road trip
Cruising round to Grand Cayman’s wilder side is all about absorbing coastal scenery and historic sights rather than spending big. Pause at Lighthouse Park to spy The Wreck of the Ten Sails, the Blow Holes and Bodden Town’s Guardhouse Park, continuing up to Rum Point to laze in a hammock or on a lounger for free. Grab some cheap eats from one of the roadside jerk stands or food trucks.
Sand and sea
Cayman’s finest natural resource provides endless fun for all ages. One wonderful thing about Seven Mile Beach is that it’s open to the public, unlike the private beaches in places like Europe. Spend a few bucks on a mask and snorkel and you’ve got hours more fun, marveling at the bright and beautiful underwater life, from turtles at Spotts to tarpon and silversides in George Town.
Watch the sunset
One of Cayman’s most stunning experiences happens for free, all across the island. Simply find a quiet waterside spot and bask in Mother Nature’s magic.