With 81,000 friendly locals to greet you, the Cayman Islands can be found in the most carefree corner of the Caribbean. All three of our islands have their own personality, reflected by the residents and unearthed in the landscape. From the barefoot elegance of Grand Cayman, to the adventurous spirit of Cayman Brac and the tranquility of Little Cayman, warm smiles and lifelong memories are our major exports.
In 1503, Christopher Columbus was making his fourth and final voyage to the New World when winds blew his ship off-course. It was then that Columbus first happened upon two islands that he would name “Las Tortugas” for the many turtles residing there. This pair would become the Sister Islands of Cayman.
Years later, a map was drawn showing all three islands in the area with the name “Lagartos,” meaning alligators or large lizards. By 1530, the trio was called the “Caimanas”— derived from the native word for the crocodiles that used to dwell here. The name “Caimanas” evolved into Cayman, and we’ve been calling our islands that ever since.
It was our ample supply of turtle that made Cayman a popular port for ships in need of meat for their crews. However, the earliest settlers arrived in the islands around 1658 as deserters from the British Army in Jamaica. The first colonists were named Bodden and Watler – with fishermen, slaves, sailors and refugees from the Spanish Inquisition soon to follow.
Today, the people here speak a British form of English with its own Caymanian flair. In fact, each district has a different dialect. We also have a rich heritage of rope making, with strands braided from our national tree, the Silver Thatch Palm. And, as you would expect, the customs we hold in the highest regard come from our maritime past, right up to the catboat races we host every year.
For more information about our beautiful islands visit the official website of the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism.