Cayman Islands travel guide
About Cayman Islands
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.
260 sq km (100 sq miles).
60,764 (UN estimate 2016).
215.7 per sq km.
British overseas territory and parliamentary democracy.
HM Queen Elizabeth II since 1952, is represented by Governor Martyn Roper since 2018.
Premier Alden McLaughlin since 2013.
Last updated: 26 November 2019
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
The hurricane season normally runs from June to November. You should monitor the progress of approaching storms and follow the advice of the local authorities.
As the Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory, there’s no formal British diplomatic or consular representation. The local authorities deal with all requests for emergency assistance.
Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in the Cayman Islands, attacks can’t be ruled out.
Safety and security
Crime rates are low, but you should take sensible precautions to protect your personal safety and belongings:
- don’t leave valuables lying about.
- use a hotel safe or a safety deposit box where possible.
- take particular care of your passport as this can’t be renewed or replaced in the Cayman Islands.
- report the theft or loss of your passport immediately to the police (from whom a written report must be obtained).
In a genuine emergency, the Cayman Islands Passport Office may be able to issue an Emergency Passport.
Minibuses are the only form of local public transport. They run only on the main routes. For other journeys, taxis are available or you can hire a car. Driving is on the left, as in the UK. Observe the speed limits, wear your seat belt at all times and don’t drink and drive. It’s illegal to use a mobile phone while driving, offenders face a mandatory fine of CI$150.
Airlines require earlier check-in times for passengers and luggage. Both hold-loaded and carry-on luggage is subject to being hand-searched. Allow extra time at the airport and check the recommended check-in time for your flight with your airline. Travellers must ensure they comply with local immigration requirements, eg, retention of immigration card issued on arrival for departure.
The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory so doesn’t have formal British consular representation. All emergency assistance needed by British nationals is delivered by the Cayman Islands government.
In an emergency dial 911.
If you’re a victim of crime, contact the Royal Cayman Islands Police on 911.
Birth and Death registration enquiries:
Telephone: + (1 345) 946 7922
You can get information about marriage requirements in the Cayman Islands from the Passport and Corporate Services Office:
Telephone: + (1 345) 943 7678
Telephone: + (1 345) 949 4579
Passport Information: telephone: + (1 345) 943 7678
telephone: + (1 345) 949 8344
Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in the Cayman Islands, attacks can’t be ruled out.
There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
Local laws and customs
The Cayman Islands is a separate legal jurisdiction to the United Kingdom and has its own laws.
There are harsh penalties for those caught with drugs of any kind. The possession or importation of weapons (including air pistols and catapults) or ammunition (including empty magazines) is illegal. Those caught will be subject to severe penalties.
Observe customs regulations on the import and export of agricultural products and the protection of marine and animal life. There are a number of marine and animal specimens that may not be taken from the islands. If in doubt, check with the customs office before buying, or attempting to import or export such items.
Same-sex partnerships, legally binding or otherwise, aren’t generally recognised in Cayman law although there is now some recognition of partnerships for immigration purposes. A recent judicial ruling legalised marriage between same sex couples but the Cayman Islands Government has appealed the decision. Until the Court of Appeal delivers its judgement, same sex marriages cannot be celebrated. Hotels and resorts are generally welcoming, regardless of sexual orientation. Local attitudes can be conservative and some people may not approve of public displays of affection between same-sex couples. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each overseas territory page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.
General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in overseas territories. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the local territory government.
While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).
There are three well-equipped hospitals on Grand Cayman, two in the capital George Town and one in the Eastern part of the island. A smaller facility, Faith Hospital, on Cayman Brac, which can cope with most routine medical and dental problems. Treatment is expensive and more serious cases will normally be stabilised in the Territory before being transferred to Miami.
Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad. Your insurance should include air ambulance, third country (USA) medical treatment and repatriation.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 911 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
For information on visa requirements, please consult the Cayman Islands Government website.
You must hold a valid passport to enter the Cayman Islands. Your passport should be valid for at least the duration of your intended stay in the Cayman Islands. Check the Cayman Islands Government website for further details.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from the Cayman Islands.
The hurricane season in the Cayman Islands normally runs from June to November. Monitor local and international weather updates from the Cayman Islands National Weather Service and the US National Hurricane Centre, and follow the advice of the local authorities including any evacuation orders. See our tropical cyclones page for advice about what to do if you’re caught up in a storm.
A number of earthquakes have struck the Cayman Islands in recent years. The largest, of magnitude 6.8 and with an epicentre 20 miles south-southeast of the capital George Town, struck the Cayman Islands on 14 December 2004, but caused no serious damage or injuries.
There was an earthquake of magnitude 5.8 in Grand Cayman on 19 January 2010. The epicentre was 32 miles east south east of Bodden Town, at a depth of 33 kilometres, but caused no damage or injuries.
All major credit cards are accepted in hotels, restaurants and local shops. The local currency is the Cayman Islands Dollar (CI$) but transactions using non domestic credit cards will be charged in US$. The US dollar is widely accepted throughout the islands. The CI$ is fixed to the US dollar at $1.25 US Dollars to $1.00 Cayman Islands Dollar.
Travel advice help and support
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCO travel advice
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.
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