Ask people to define their idea of paradise and they may well describe the Cayman Islands, a Caribbean archipelago renowned for its beautiful beaches, world-class diving and incredible food.
Mere specs in the Caribbean Sea, the Caymans are made up of three islands in all: Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. These British Overseas Territories are home to around 50,000 people, a significant number of whom are British expatriates working in everything from finance and property to scuba diving and services.
A trip to the Caymans is all about switching off. The extraordinary beaches on all three islands are perfect for whiling away lazy days, whilst the surrounding waters are a treasure trove of marine life, making them a hit with divers.
The financial industry looms large over the islands and there’s no income tax, leading many to believe that paradise really does exist here. Still, the high duty on consumer goods, food and fuel makes the cost of living sharply felt.
If you've got the cash, there’s an exceptional selection of high-end restaurants scattered across the archipelago – more than 200 on Grand Cayman alone. Island cuisine is also celebrated at Cayman Cookout, an annual culinary jamboree that attracts chefs from around the world. If that’s a bit highfalutin for you, then drop in at Taste of Cayman, which is a far more accessible food festival.
The jamborees come thick and fast throughout the winter months. Pirates Week celebrates local culture and the archipelago’s swashbuckling history, while Heritage Days allow visitors to sample local food, entertainment and history of the island in even more detail.
Another noteworthy jamboree is Batabano – the Cayman Islands’ own version of Carnival, complete with floats, extravagant costumes, steel bands and all the dancing you can muster. So pour out a glass of the local brew, Swanky, grab a spot on Seven Mile Beach, sit back and enjoy the show.