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What Should I Know About the Cayman Islands?

As many as 22,000 cruise ship tourists visit the Cayman Islands per day.
The Cayman Islands are a great place for snorkeling.
A portrait of Christopher Columbus, who visited the Caman Islands in 1503.
Resorts in the Cayman Islands are located right on the beach.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 August 2014
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The Cayman Islands are at home in the western portion of the Caribbean Sea. These islands include Cayman Brac, Grand Cayman, and Little Cayman, which are collectively a British territory. The motto of the Cayman Islands is “He hath founded it upon the seas.” The islands are considered one of the top destinations for scuba diving in the entire world.

The recorded history of the Cayman Islands extends back as far as the 16th century. In 1503, Christopher Columbus found the islands on one of his journeys to the New World. Having found sea turtles on the islands, Columbus decided to name the region after them, calling the islands Las Tortugas. Later, in 1586, an Englishman named Francis Drake journeyed to the islands and gave them their current name. He named them after the word caiman, which is the Neo-Taino word for crocodile.

In 1670, England captured the Cayman Islands, taking control of them, as well as Jamaica. Through the Treaty of Madrid, the islands ceded to England. The English governed the Cayman Islands and Jamaica as one colony until 1962, when Jamaica became independent. At that time, the Cayman Islands became separate, gaining the status of a British Overseas territory.

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Today, the Cayman Islands boast one of the best standards of living of any other island region in the Caribbean. This is due, in large part, to the region’s popularity among tourists, as well as its thriving banking industry. Millions of people visit the islands each year, with about 99 percent of them choosing to vacation on Grand Cayman. George Town, located on Grand Cayman, is the capital of the islands. It is a popular cruise-ship port, seeing as many as 22,000 tourists in just one day.

Grand Cayman is famous around the world for its Seven Mile Beach, which is considered one of the nicest beaches anywhere. It is on this stretch of beach that some of the most popular Cayman resorts are located. However, its sister islands are not without their own brand of charm. For example, Cayman Brac has a collection of museums that attract tourists, as well as a lighthouse, and Little Cayman is known for its Red-Footed Booby Bird Nature Reserve. Like Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac are popular destinations for scuba diving; they also offer multiple locations for snorkeling.

Most people travel to the Cayman Islands from December through the middle of April. However, hotel rates can be quite high during the peak season, and the beaches tend to be crowded. As such, some people choose to travel to the islands in the summer, as hotel stays are about 40 percent cheaper, and there is less competition for the island's fun. The summer does bring more rain, but it tends to end quickly.

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