The Cayman Islands uses another version of the popular dollar currency, named after the country itself. You will often see it preceded by the dollar sign but also by the letters CI for Cayman Islands, so it is clear this is the specific dollar being mentioned.
As with other dollar currencies, the Cayman Islands version of the dollar is divided into 100 cents. The coins and notes will be familiar too in many of their denominations. As far as the coins are concerned you will find the 1, 5, 10 and 25 cent coins available to use. There are a further six banknotes available as well, and these are the 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 dollar notes.
Before the Cayman Islands started using their own dollar, they used the Jamaican dollar. This was the case until 1972 when the Cayman Islands decided to bring in their own unique currency. For a short period both currencies were used alongside each other, but the islands soon consigned the old Jamaican dollar to history (although it is still used in Jamaica itself).
You probably won’t be able to order any dollars before you arrive on the islands, but you shouldn’t have any problems getting them once you arrive. Grand Cayman has lots of cash machines although the same cannot be said of the smaller islands. Little Cayman doesn’t have any so make sure you have enough cash to get by if you visit there. Cayman Brac has just the one cash machine, but then, if it has money in it that’s the only one you’ll need!
The best currency to take with you to exchange is the US dollar. There’s a good reason for this: the Cayman Islands dollar is pegged to the value of the US dollar on a permanent basis. The current rate of exchange is $1 US dollar to $0.82 dollars in the Cayman Islands. You can also use the US dollar to pay for things quite often on the islands, so this gives you another option to consider. It’s quite handy to have some of each currency so you’re never out of cash.
It’s also quite easy to make card payments here, although you should be aware of the need to contact your card provider or bank to let them know where and when you are going there. Many providers will be alerted to purchase in the Cayman Islands (as is common in other parts of the world too) and might stop your card until they can speak with you. Alerting them to your trip ahead of time may not prevent a stop from happening, but it will hopefully lower the odds.
Finally you can also opt to use traveller’s cheques if you wish. As is the case with cash, you can swap these for the local dollar at any bank you come across.
We already know the Cayman Islands dollar is linked to the value of the US dollar, so this is easy enough to find out. If you don’t remember it you can always use your favourite currency converter to give you the answer. This is the case if you want to find out what any other currency will get you in terms of Cayman Island dollars too. Use the KYD code for this dollar to find it easily on any converter and then look for your own currency to use as well. It couldn’t be much simpler than that.
There is an embassy for the islands in London but at the time of writing there didn’t appear to be a website for it. However you can visit the official government website portal page, which you will find at http://www.gov.ky.
In case you weren’t aware, the Cayman Islands is a British territory abroad. It is also a nice place to go as there is no real threat from crime here. Of course crimes do occur but they are not that common. Most tourists pay a visit and enjoy their time there without any problems at all.
However with that said it would be foolhardy not to take steps to protect your belongings wherever you can. You wouldn’t walk off and leave your bag unattended for example, since it might disappear by the time you got back to it. Keep everything with you at all times and make sure you are smart with your cash too. Try and book into a hotel that has a room safe you can use. Keep your passport in it when you arrive and take it out again when it is time to return home. This is the best way to keep it safe. You can also keep other valuable items in there, such as cash you don’t always need to have with you and jewellery as well. It is always far better to take a few easy steps like this so you can minimise the long odds that you would be pickpocketed or have a bag stolen.
As the name suggests, the Cayman Islands are an island nation. You’ll find them miles from anywhere in the Caribbean Sea, and there are three islands in all. The main one is rather appropriately called Grand Cayman. Off to the north-east of the main island are two more, although these two are situated rather closer together than they are to the main island. Little Cayman is on the left and Cayman Brac is on the right.
The capital of the islands is a city called George Town. This is the main hub of business and activity on the island, particularly with regard to banks. You may already know the islands are a tax haven, and this is where all the action takes place in terms of the banking industry. Needless to say, if you need to exchange some currency here or get some cash out, you won’t have to walk too far to find a bank!
The undoubted highlight of George Town as far as tourists are concerned is the waterfront area. Cruise ships regularly dock here so that in itself is quite a spectacle. However there is much else to explore here, including the option to go out on a rather smaller boat with a glass bottom, to see what lies beneath the clear water you’ll see from the shore. Why not find a nice café or restaurant and stop for a snack and something to drink, so you can merely sit back and appreciate the hustle and bustle of George Town in its prime?
While you are in the area you should definitely take the time to see the Cayman Islands National Museum. It’s actually just opposite the harbour so you can’t miss it. The bright orange-red roof with the flags flying outside are a reasonable giveaway too! The museum has a variety of permanent exhibits, including lots of examples and information on the flora and fauna you’ll find in and around the islands themselves. The natural history collection contains some taxidermy exhibits so be aware of that if you’re not keen, but on the whole this is a wonderful way to discover more about the islands, past and present.
Grand Cayman is also home to the famous Seven Mile Beach. There are really no words to describe how appealing this is, and while it doesn’t quite make it to seven miles in length it is still quite easy to find your own spot of sand!
Another wonderful place to go on the island is the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park. The park is located towards the eastern end of the main island, as opposed to George Town which you’ll find at the western end. Here you’ll discover a huge park with many different areas to explore. There are paths and trails leading round the entire wood, while you can try out the Orchid Boardwalk too if you wish. Elsewhere you can see the Heritage Garden and the Xeriphytic Garden, and take a closer look at the lake at the far end.
So far we have focused on Grand Cayman but Little Cayman, while smaller, is just as engaging. If you are an experienced scuba diver you’ll want to take a look at two popular sites here, Jackson’s Bight and Bloody Bay. Indeed the second one is loved by scuba divers all over the world for its features. The island also features the Booby Pond Nature Reserve which features all manner of habitats and is the home of the red-footed booby. It’s a strange name but it is also a fantastically pretty bird, with blue colouring around its eyes (not to mention the red feet for which it is famous, of course!).
The Cayman Islands are loved by many tourists around the world and it is not difficult to realise why. Indeed the islands each have something to offer, depending on what it is you like to do while you are on holiday. Make sure you consider this getaway location for your next break – it may not be the cheapest place you ever visit but it could qualify as one of the most breathtaking.