The islands were sighted by Christopher Columbus in 1503, but were colonized by the British beginning in the 1800s.
After 1863, Jamaica supervised the Islands; they became a separate British crown colony when Jamaica became independent in 1962. Emigrants from England, Holland, Spain, and France then arrived, as did refugees from the Spanish Inquisition and deserters from Oliver Cromwell's army in Jamaica; many brought slaves with them as well. The native people of the Islands are called Caymanians. They have been known for their mastering of the seas as fisherman; in the early 1900’s many men took to the seas as sailors aboard merchant ships which sailed the Caribbean, to North America and Central America. The tradition continued until well into the century and Cayman sailors sailed to many countries including Japan, Saudi, Arabia and Venezuela.
The Cayman Islands have for many years enjoyed a thriving economy with literally zero unemployment; which has created an extremely diverse population. Out of a population of 40,000 there are over 10,000 persons there on work permits. The tourism sector supplies thousands of jobs in the hotel and condo field, from managerial positions to simple room services and in all facets of the water sports industry, from dive instructors to submarine pilots. Also, the construction of new homes, hotels and condominium projects keep developers busy, and land sales increase almost every year. In order to keep pace with the development requires the importation of foreign labor.
The cost of living may be about 20% higher here than in the United States (one U.S. dollar is worth only about 80 Cayman cents), but you won't be hassled by panhandlers or feel afraid to walk around at night. The reason being, it is one of the safest islands in the Caribbean. The crime rate is very low because there are no guns allowed; solicitation is against the law; and strict drug laws are enforced. Add political and economic stability and you have a secure environment for the whole family.
The Islands are kept beautiful and clean by their strong anti-littering approach. The air is fresh and the water has been purified to drink. The islands have a modern infrastructure with paved roads. This makes transportation easily accessible and very convenient to the locals and tourists. There is a reason why tourism is the main source of the economy in the Islands. The Caymans have some of the most beautiful beaches. They are very clean and the water is always crystal clear. The best known is the Seven Mile Beach. This is a long stretch of powdery white sand along the West Bay. In order to preserve the natural beauty there are extensive marine park laws. The weather is another important factor to many who come to visit. From May to October, the average daily high reaches 85°F (29°C). This is also the rainy season but the showers are brief. From November to April, it is drier and much cooler, with average daily highs of 75°F (24°C).
The Cayman Islands offers an enjoyable variety of nightlife and recreation. Upon your arrival you can find local publications with nightlife information. This includes Friday's edition of our local newspaper, the Caymanian Compass; Key To Cayman; What's Hot; What to Do; and Destination Cayman.
There are a variety of nightclubs, bars, and comedy clubs. The Matrix nightclub and Bobo's Iguana attract a younger crowd of locals and tourists alike along the Seven Mile Beach. Each night, DJ`s at both of these clubs spin sounds of Hip Hop, Disco, Calypso, Reggae, Salsa and Meringue. Occasionally there are live performances by bands. If you are interested in live music, the popular clubs and bars include Illusions, Legends, XTC, Jungle, Club Inferno, Bed Lounge, West Bay Polo Club, Lone Star and Next Level. For laughs, the Coconuts Comedy Club at Captain Morgan's in the West Shore shopping center and Chuckles at West Bay Polo Club.
The Lions Centre in Red Bay on Grand Cayman is the location for an assortment of special events throughout the year, from concerts by top names in Caribbean music and stage productions to country, pop and rock artists from the US. The Harquail Theatre on West Bay Road is a state of the art, 330-seat facility, and the venue for cultural events including stage productions sponsored by the Cayman National Cultural Foundation, including plays by Caymanian and other West Indian playwrights. Also featured are drama and comedy by Caribbean performers and special events such as art exhibitions and concerts. The Prospect Playhouse in Red Bay features year-round regular performances of comedy, drama and musicals by the Cayman Drama Society.
The Cayman Islands offers a variety of natural amenities to explore. Coral-encrusted trench walls, year-round warm, clear water, and little or no current make the Caymans one of the best places to dive in the Caribbean. West Bay's Victoria House Reef, just off Seven Mile Beach, features sea fans, parrotfish and brilliant orange tube sponges. The North Wall off Jackson Point on Little Cayman hosts sting and eagle rays, turtles and masses of coral. Cayman For a more interactive diving experience, you can go for a kiss from a ray at Stingray City. Stingrays gather at this North Sound sandbar, where they know they'll get fed fish food, not snorkelers, and there are lots of operators who will take you out for the half day trip. Those same private operators are able to take you fishing. Though no license is required for deep-sea fishing, regulations require the fisherman to keep only that which can be consumed. Tarpon and bonefish are for sport only, all must be released.
With nearly 200 native winged species, the islands offer stunning bird watching. Cayman Brac has a Parrot Preserve. Little Cayman is home to the Booby Pond Nature Reserve, where red-footed boobies, herons and egrets are common sights. Meagre Bay Pond, on the southern coast of Grand Cayman, features grebes, plovers, shovelers and snowy egrets. The National Trust has produced self-guided walking tour booklets for George Town and Central West Bay, easing your passage to the past with explanation and anecdote. The Botanic Gardens on Grand Cayman have a carefully laid-out educational trail through acres of orchids and flowering fruit trees.