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Famously known as a tax-free zone, the Cayman Islands are considered one of the most popular locations for the wealthy to invest their offshore accounts. It’s brought wealth and prosperity to the island chain and in particular to George Town, the capital city. Although it’s not very large by either population or size, it boasts over 600 banking institutes of its own. Real estate is expensive but shopping is cheap, and that’s good news for the 1.6 million cruise passengers that disembark there every year.
George Town is a pretty, clean coastal city with a real island feel. The buildings nearest the port and harbour are colourful and reflect an element of traditional island architecture. Exploring the city by foot is the best way to enjoy the original colonial buildings as well as discover its hidden gems, including the tiny Penny Black stamp shop on Harbour Drive, a dedicated store for followers of philately. While you’re enjoying your cruise stopover in George Town, here are a few attractions you might want to visit:
Cayman Islands National Museum: This is one for history lovers, although most tourists will find it interesting. It’s the only museum on these islands entirely dedicated to the history, flora and fauna of the region. It chronicles the changing landscape and unique past through a series of exhibits that are all housed in an old colonial villa.
Seven Mile Beach: One of the first locations you’ll spot before your ship comes in to port is the beautiful Seven Mile Beach, named after the length of its striking golden sands. This is the place to head if you want to spend time relaxing in the Caribbean sun. The curved bay slopes gently into impossibly blue waters, the beach is lined with palm trees and lizards can be spotted scampering through the undergrowth. The only thing you’ll need here is a cocktail, and happily there are plenty of bars serving freshly shaken specialities.
Sporting Fun: Grand Cayman as a destination is a great choice for fun. On the island visitors can choose between go-karting, horse riding, golf, crazy golf and a whole range of water sports, most of which can be reached on foot. The only difficulty might be deciding what to try first.
Thanks to its tax-free status, shopping is what George Town does best. For such a small place it is littered with shopping malls and high-end designer stores. There’s even a Harley Davidson shop located close to Seven Mile Beach. Some of the best shopping can be found close to the port, at the harbour itself. This is where tourists will find a cluster of boutiques, art galleries and gift shops selling local and international products. It’s a great place to hunt for a bargain, with a pretty boardwalk to explore and some cafes to break up the day.
To add to the already enjoyable tax free shopping, do most of your souvenir and gift hunting in the duty free shops before you board your cruise ship again. You can enjoy bigger discounts on products you might well have bought anyway.
As you might expect from a luxury destination, many of the restaurants in George Town offer high-end dining with exciting menus and fresh, locally-grown produce. There’s a very cosmopolitan air to the restaurant scene and tourists can choose cuisines from around the world to try. Seven Mile Beach is a good spot for menu hunting, with a choice of seafood, steaks and Italian lining the oceanfront. When you step off your cruise ship in the port of George Town, why not try hunting for something local instead? Conch is an edible snail whose shells are coveted for jewellery and decoration, but the creatures themselves are delicacies and can be turned into everything from stews to fritters.
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