By Taxi: Cabs without meters are available at the dock. Rates are fixed and posted, but be sure to confirm the fare before the driver takes off. New cabs have meters. Most cabs are actually van-sized, and drivers may require a four-passenger minimum before they'll take you anywhere.
By Bus: You can hail minibuses that shuttle passengers along the main routes. To hail one, respond with a wave when the driver toots his horn. The bus depot is next to the library (across from the Hero's Square Fountain). There are stops next to popular attractions like Dolphin Discovery and Hell, but you may be taking the "scenic" ride when using the public bus (a good way to see the island).
By Car: Cico Avis offers one-day specials to cruise passengers and runs a courtesy shuttle between the port and the rental office (345-949-2468). Out at Seven Mile Beach, Andy's Rent A Car (345-949-8111) has good Internet discounts. Americans are required to purchase inexpensive driving permits, but you can buy them at the rental office. Remember, Grand Cayman is a British overseas territory, so drive on the left.
BeachesBest Beach Overall: Often named one of the best beaches in the Caribbean, Seven Mile Beach offers everything from beachfront bars to rows of umbrella-shaded lounge chairs and water sports. Among the placid and clear waters, you can find fine snorkel spots right off the beach - the artificial reef in front of the Marriott is a particularly good one. Stretching 5.5 miles (not seven), the beach is public, so you can walk the length of it.
Best Secluded Beach: Most cruise passengers head to the beaches on the western part of the island. For seclusion, head northeast of George Town to Cayman Kai, Rum Point or Smith Cove. The drive will take 30-40 minutes, but the exclusion is worth it. There are beachside amenities available, including restaurants, beach resorts and water sports.
Best Beach for Water Sports: The best windsurfing is found off of East End, near Morritt's Tortuga Club. Cemetery Beach, off West Bay Road (just north of Seven Mile), offers excellent snorkeling and a reef that's close to shore - as well as good shade.
Best Beach/Shopping Combo: Governor's Beach is a stone's throw from Governor's Square Mall, making it an ideal destination for people who want to chill out on a beach but get anxious about sparing enough time to shop, too.
LunchingLunch spots are divvied up between downtown George Town and the various beaches. You'd expect them to be jam-packed, but we've found it easy to get a table if you go slightly earlier and slightly later than the peak lunchtime hours (say, 11:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m.). Typical menus spotlight the same ingredients found on other Caribbean islands: beans and rice, steamed fish and coconut, though the Caymans are particularly known for conch-based dishes.
Michael's Genuine Food & Drink is the sequel eatery of James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz. (His first place is in Miami.) Schwartz is also the brains behind the 2011-12 menus at the chic specialty restaurant 150 Central Park aboard Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas. With his new restaurant on Seven Mile Beach, Schwartz crafts menus daily, based on the availability of locally sourced ingredients. Lunch offerings include crispy triggerfish sandwiches, rock shrimp salad with starfruit and avocado, and grilled pork chops with local mango chutney. Wash it down with homemade ginger-lemongrass soda. (47 Forum Lane, on Camana Bay; 345-640-6433; lunch served Monday through Saturday, noon to 3 p.m.)
The Grand Old House, located in an old plantation house, is full of atmosphere and ideal for a gourmet lunch. The building was shipped from Boston and reassembled in George Town more than a century ago. Reservations are highly recommended. (648 S. Church St.; 345-949-9333; Monday - Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.)
Near the Turtle Farm, the Cracked Conch features its namesake ingredient in an assortment of appetizers, including fritters, soup and ceviche. And, of course, you can order your conch "cracked" (pounded thin, dredged in egg, then flour, and fried); the dish is accompanied by pickled fennel and curried tartar sauce. Jerked meats (pork, chicken and burgers) are popular, too - as are the sweeping sea views. (North West Point Road on West Bay; 345-945-5217; lunch served daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. December through May only)
Champion House is a favorite with the locals. It features popular island dishes like curried goat, braised oxtail and turtle stew. If you're there on a Saturday, don't miss the themed lunch buffet, featuring even more Caymanian and West Indian dishes. (43 Eastern Ave.; 345-949-7882; open 6:30 a.m. to midnight daily)
Where You're Docked
All ships are currently required to anchor in the harbor and tender passengers on to the island. Ships tender passengers to one of two George Town docks (North or South), both of which are right in downtown George Town.