Grand Cayman is truly a Caribbean gem. Honestly, Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman is the most beautiful beach I’ve visited. Clear water. Soft, white sand. It’s truly what postcard dreams are made of.
I’ve visited Grand Cayman twice in the past two years. It’s a weird island, especially since American dollars and Cayman dollars are accepted there. Due to its popularity as a cruise ship port, everything seems to be for a price there – from beach club admission to overly priced jerk chicken.
However, as a budget traveler and a mom-to-be, there’s not much money in my bank account to splurge on beachfront condos, jet ski rentals and snorkel excursions. If you’re a budget traveler that also wants to swim with dolphins and spend good money looking like an idiot doing that water propel boots thing (apparently it’s called fly boarding), well my advice isn’t going to help you much. However, if you’re here to just chill on the beach, then you’re my people and welcome.
My sister-in-law and I visited the island in June. We are two frugal (and broke) ladies, so splurging wasn’t really in the cards for us. So here are my 5 tips that helped us successfully accomplished a budget-friendly trip to Grand Cayman.
1. Consider a Vacation Rental
If you just can’t afford a luxury hotel, condo or all-inclusive resort right on the beach, then the most affordable option for lodging in Grand Cayman would be to book a vacation rental (like the ones found through Airbnb.com). A vacation rental will not only have more space than a hotel room, but also certain amenities that hotels rooms just don’t have, like access to a full kitchen.
Keep in mind that what I’m about to say may not be the best advice ever. However, we actually saved money with our vacation rental by booking outside of Airbnb. Yep, we didn’t book through the site like we intended to. Due to site issues or user error on behalf of our Airbnb host, we couldn’t book through the site. We not only saved money by booking the day of, but since we booked directly from the host instead of on the site, the host was able to offer us a cheaper nightly price because they didn’t need to pay fees to Airbnb.
Like I said, this 100% seems like a sketchy thing to do. I actually had to call our host while we were at the airport (thank you Whatsapp) to confirm that we had a place to stay.
We ended up staying at Paradise Pointe, which is not off Seven Mile Beach but it is an ocean front stay within walking distance to a beach, found along the bus line, and is within walking distance to restaurants and a grocery store too. Highly recommend!
2. Eat Out Less
If you do end up staying at a vacation rental with a kitchen, then you’ll have the amenities to cook your own meals. Eating out in Grand Cayman can get very pricey. All the beachfront restaurants are expensive – expect to pay at least $15 USD for a meal. However the portions were large, so that definitely made up for the price.
If you don’t want to cook during your vacation (and I don’t blame you), then consider buying lunch from one of the jerk chicken pop-up stands regularly found operating in various public beach parking lots. It’s local, it’s cheaper and it’s better than a sit-down place. Just follow the smell of barbecue.
3. Take the Bus
Renting a car in Grand Cayman is actually quite affordable. However, for our trip, we didn’t feel like adding the stress of driving on the “wrong” side of the road. So we decided to just take taxis and buses instead. Now the taxis aren’t cheap. However, the buses are very affordable at $2.50 USD for a ride.
When I say “bus,” I really mean van. Grand Cayman doesn’t have massive buses like we know in the States. The buses that operate here are mini buses aka vans. The routes are fairly straight forward.
I used this resource to understand the bus system.
4. Relax on the Beach
Grand Cayman is home to not only one of the best beaches in the Caribbean but one of the best beaches in the WORLD! We could not get enough of Seven Mile Beach. The water is clear and calm. It’s perfect for swimming and snorkeling too. As with many popular public beaches, there are things you can splurge on, like snorkeling tours, jet ski rides, beach clubs, and private cabanas. However we were happy with a $10 umbrella rental and cheap inflatable floaties!
Lounging on the beach is the cheapest thing you can do on the island, and you won’t regret it. Also, don’t get wrangled into purchasing a “day pass” from a beach club. There are plenty of free public beach spots.
Do keep in mind that if you intend to rent a chair or umbrella, that the time you have those items isn’t “all day.” Since the cruise ship crowds hit the beach in the mornings and need to leave by early afternoon, the rental people start stacking the chairs up after the cruise crowd leaves around 2 p.m., since the majority of the people renting these things are cruisers.
A perk of hitting Seven Mile Beach later rather than earlier however, is that you can enjoy a nearly vacant beach in the afternoon since the cruisers must return back to the ships relatively early.
5. Visit From a Cruise Ship
One of the biggest costs of Grand Cayman is the transportation to the island. The airfare is not cheap. Flying to Grand Cayman can get pricey, easily exceeding $1,000 USD for a round trip ticket during the tourist season. I am lucky enough to fly standby with United since my sister-in-law is a flight attendant. I fly for nearly no cost to me. I know, you hate me.
However, the first time I visited Grand Cayman wasn’t by plane but by cruise ship. A cruise may be a more affordable way to visit the island. Although you’ll only get a few hours to enjoy Grand Cayman, it will still be unforgettable.
If you’re looking for a more in depth guide to visiting Grand Cayman on a budget, then I highly recommend this blog post by Happily in Pursuit!
Scroll to check out all of the pictures of this trip to Grand Cayman!