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Cayman Islands Hotels

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The Cayman Islands - The British Crown Colony of the Cayman Islands consists of Grand Cayman and the sister islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, in the Caribbean Sea. None of the islands has any rivers, but vegetation is luxuriant, the main trees being coconut, thatch palm, seagrape and Australian pine.

The islands were first sighted by Columbus in May 1503 when he was blown off course on his way to Hispaniola. He found two small islands (Cayman Brac and Little Cayman) which were full of turtles, and he therefore named the islands Las Tortugas. A 1523 map of the islands referred to them as Lagartos, meaning alligators or large lizards, but by 1530 they were known as the Caymanas after the Carib word for the marine crocodile which also lived there.

World-famous for their underwater scenery, there are tropical fish of all kinds in the waters surrounding the islands, especially in the coral reefs, and green turtles are now increasing in numbers, having been deliberately restocked by excess hatchings at the Cayman Turtle Farm.

Grand Cayman, the largest of the three islands, lies 150 miles south of Havana, Cuba, about 180 miles west northwest of Jamaica and 480 miles south of Miami. Grand Cayman is low-lying, 22 miles long and four miles wide, but of the total 76 square miles about half is swamp. A striking feature is the shallow, reef-protected lagoon, North Sound, 40 miles square and the largest area of inland mangrove in the Caribbean. George Town, the capital of the islands, is located on the west side of Grand Cayman. Cayman Brac (Gaelic for ‘bluff’) gets its name from the high limestone bluff rising from sea level in the west to a height of 140 foot in the east. The island lies about 89 miles east northeast of Grand Cayman. It is about 12 miles long and a little more than a mile wide. Little Cayman lies five miles west of Cayman Brac and is 10 miles long and just over a mile wide with its highest point being only 40 feet above sea level. Owen Island, an islet off the southwest coast of Little Cayman, is uninhabited but visited by picnickers.

The total population of mixed African and European descent is estimated at 36,600, of which nearly 33,000 live on Grand Cayman, most of them in George Town, or the smaller towns of West Bay, Bodden Town, North Side and East End. The population of Cayman Brac has fallen to 2,000. Little Cayman is largely undeveloped with only about 120 residents and frequented by sports fishermen. The Cayman Islands are very exclusive, with strict controls on who is allowed to settle there, although the proportion of Caymanians in the resident population fell from 79 percent in 1980 to 58 percent by 1997. Consequently the cost of living is extremely high. On the other hand, petty crime is rare and the islands are well looked after (described as “a very clean sandbank”). Although Caymanians have considerable affection for Britain and do not seek independence, their way of life is Americanized. Higher education and advanced health care are usually sought in the USA and their geographical proximity influences travel choices. Many visitors to the islands never meet a Caymanian. To get to know local people you will have to get off the beach and drive into the districts. The high standard of living has deterred Caymanians from going into the hotel trade, regarding it as servitude, not service, and preferring the financial services industry. District days during Cayfest in April and Pirates’ Week in October are good times to meet people. Click here to go to Cayman Island web site.



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