Sometimes the best way to feel recharged is by jetting off to the most remote corners of the globe, where the only thing you’ll need to connect to is nature. With five-foot-long blue iguanas, starfish-lined sandy beaches and some of the best dive sites in the Caribbean, Grand Cayman offers everything you need for an exotic island getaway without ever having to leave home. As temperatures start cooling down for Fall, take advantage of the Island whilst it’s still quiet with a retreat at one of these five resorts lining Grand Cayman’s shores. The hardest decision you’ll have to make? Whether you’d rather sip rum cocktails on a hammock or at a seaside cabana.
Endless Summer at Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort
You may live in Cayman, but the beach house–style experience you’ll have at Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort probably isn’t what you’re used to at home. Here it’s all about disconnecting and reconnecting with those you’re with — whether it’s family, friends or even quality alone time if you’re staying solo. Spend your days switching between the pool and beach, where dedicated “ambassadors” will ensure your sun lounger and umbrella are set up just the way you like. Stay hydrated sipping on cocktails and refuel with beachside snacks served straight to your patch of sand so you won’t have the need to have to get up and wait at the bar.
Turn the staycation into a family holiday with activities that will get everyone involved, from morning sessions with dolphin trainers to feeding sea turtles. The kids will feel like they’re at summer camp taking part in pool games and water balloon wars, stopping to indulge in summery snacks like cotton candy and popcorn. The fun also slips from day to night with s’mores over beach bonfires and beachfront movies under the stars.
If you’re looking to use this holiday to have a little “me time,” start the day with sunrise yoga overlooking Seven Mile Beach before cycling around the Island Brigitte Bardot–style on 1960s French-inspired bikes, pausing for a picnic with a personally packed basket courtesy of the kitchen — bubbly included.
Watersports Haven at Wyndham Reef Resort
Half the fun of staying on an island is reaping the benefit of those beautiful ocean views. All 152 of Wyndham Reef Resort’s rooms show off perfectly framed vistas of the water, so the only choice you’ll have to make is whether you’d like a beachfront studio or villa. Since this is your staycation, make the most of your home away from home watching the waves from the comfort of your beachfront balcony or soaking in your oversized jet tub. Travelling with the family in tow? Opt between the one- or two-bedroom villas with room for up to six and a full kitchen that will make you feel like you’re really at home (whilst still getting all the benefits of hotel living).
When it comes to how to spend your days, the options can be as leisurely as you’d like. Lounge at the Beach Bar sipping on an island-inspired cocktail (daiquiri anyone?) or get under the water for a dive with the hotel’s new official operator, Ocean Frontiers. The 20-year-old, award-winning company offers snorkel trips, but if you happen to be a diving enthusiast, these are the guys for you. Since the Island sits right above the Cayman Trench — which dips down 6,000 feet — the area is home to some of the world’s most spectacular walls. Set off on a boat dive trip to a few of Cayman’s scenic spots, from the sunken USS Kittiwake ship in Seven Mile Beach to Stingray City — a 12-foot dive that’s great for both scuba and snorkelling, since families can swim with the kids amongst the rays in water as shallow as four feet deep.
Island Time at Margaritaville
Key West may have inspired singer Jimmy Buffett’s hit, “Margaritaville,” but his island mentality rings just as true in Florida as it does on Grand Cayman. After a multi-million-dollar renovation, the 285-room Margaritaville Beach Resort Grand Cayman has opened its doors, making it the first Caribbean locale for the Buffett-themed brand.
But don’t think that the name means it’s an adults-only escape, either. Suites are large enough to fit the entire family, and when Mom and Dad want a little alone time, the kids won’t be able to run fast enough to the complimentary Parakeets Kid’s Club. Children also have their very own activity pool with water slide, whilst adults can escape to a pool that has their name written all over it. This is also where you can sip on the resort’s namesake margarita at the aptly named poolside bar, 5 o’Clock Somewhere.
When you’re ready to kick back for the evening, start with pre-dinner craft cocktails at the License to Chill bar before lingering over a leisurely dinner at YARA The Global Steakhouse, complete with its own electronic- and Latino-influenced soundtrack spun by live DJs and an eclectic menu of popcorn lamb sweetbreads, miso-baked oysters and prime cuts served with the eatery’s signature seasoning.
Luxurious Retreats at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman
Whether it’s golf, shopping or sunset sailing you’re after, The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman seems to have something for everyone. Sitting on 144 acres along the sea from the Caribbean to North Sound, the resort is essentially a destination within itself, with everything from a local art gallery and boutiques to a nine-hole golf course and tennis centre.
If learning how to sail has been one of your bucket list items for a while, now’s the time to learn the basics from the best. Rather leave the heavy lifting up to the pros? Charter a 27-foot Boston Whaler or power catamaran, spending the day cruising the waters off North Sound, stopping for a dip at the Stingray Sandbar and nearby reef. When you head back to land, take your pick of private cabanas lining Seven Mile Beach for the ultimate escape from reality as you bask on a chaise lounge under canopies shielding the sun.
Once kids catch a glimpse of the water slides and splash pool at Starfish Cay, it’ll be hard getting them to leave this playground. The only other way to steal their attention is with the resort’s renowned Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment programme, which treats Cayman’s ecological beauty as a natural classroom with activities like underwater videography snorkelling, shipwreck explorations and seafloor submarine adventures.
After a packed day exploring by land and sea, head back for a bit of pampering with a tropical-inspired treatment at the prestigious La Prairie spa, heralded as one of Cayman’s best. Take this time to yourself to enjoy a full-body treatment or to zen out in the sauna or steam room, followed by a glass of bubbly in the lounge.
Boutique Living at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa
You may have heard all the buzz surrounding one of Grand Cayman’s newest hotels, and now’s your chance to check it out first-hand. The boutique Kimpton Seafire’s 266 rooms feature trendier touches like modern chandeliers, whilst still putting the focus on the star of the show: the sea. Floor-to-ceiling windows show off panoramic views of the water, with the best coming from the 10th floor presidential suite’s wraparound balcony, where you’ll be able to take in 360-degree views over Seven Mile Beach.
It’s not hard to feel like you’ve escaped to an entirely different island here, with a sanctuary in the form of beachfront bungalows tucked between tropical pools. Whilst you may never want to slip away from this little piece of paradise, it’s worth it for a seat at Avecita, the resort’s “restaurant within a restaurant.” Reserve a spot at the 10-seat open counter as the chefs work their magic whipping up customised, seasonally inspired tapas straight on the wood-fired grill and plancha.
Dive bags, golf bags and travel bags of up to 55 pounds are all part of Cayman Airways’ free checked baggage allowance, so you can bring everything you need for your activity-themed holiday.