Christopher Columbus is credited with discovering the Cayman Islands in 1503, although he never stopped there. Cayman is a word of Carib-Indian origin meaning crocodile. In 1655, Admiral William Penn was sent from Britain by Oliver Cromwell to take Hispaniola from the Spanish. That failed but they did manage to seize Jamaica. Shortly thereafter, Cayman became a possession of the United Kingdom. The islands were renowned for the vast herds of turtles that served as sources of protein for visiting ships. Columbus thus named these islands "Las Tortugas" after the abundant sea turtles. It is fitting then, that today a sea turtle in pirate garb, dubbed "Sir Turtle," is the official logo of the Cayman Islands. The legal system is based on English common law. Visitors from the US may be surprised to find that barristers in court wear wigs and gowns. In 1962, Jamaica chose to become independent, but the Cayman Islands remained a British colony, with local elections but a Governor appointed by Great Britain.
The Cayman Islands is a British overseas territory and are located in the western Caribbean Sea. The country includes three islands- Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman, located 150 miles south of Cuba, 180 miles northwest of Jamaica, and 480 miles southwest of Miami. The economy is based on two major industries-- finance & tourism, with an average per-capita income of around $42,000, the highest in the Caribbean. There is also an absence of direct taxation on individuals and corporations based on income or wealth. The population is around 55,000, with 56% Caymanians and many British, American and Canadian permanent residents. One of Grand Cayman's main attractions is Seven Mile Beach on which a number of the island's hotels and resorts are located.
In researching The Fifty Best Restaurants on Grand Cayman, I realized that I could only eat in a few during my stay, so I reached out to many sources to compile the list. First, the concierges at the Ritz-Carlton gave me their recommendations. I asked several cab drivers for their “local” favorites, where they would eat with their family. Finally, I met 6 people who live part or full time on the islands and were originally from Bermuda, Canada, Great Britain and the United States. I was also given a few choices by the public relations firm representing the Cayman Islands.
Here are the results. Arranged alphabetically. Enjoy.
- Ron Kapon
The Fifty Best Cayman Islands Restaurants