A sightseeing tour is a good way to get your bearings and to experience Caymanian culture. Taxi drivers will give you a personalized tour of Grand Cayman for about $25 per hour for up to three people. Or you can choose a fascinating helicopter ride, a horseback or mountain-bike journey, a 4x4 safari expedition, or a full-day bus excursion. The prices vary according to the mode of travel and the number and kind of attractions included. Ask your hotel to help you make arrangements.
Costs and itineraries for island tours are about the same regardless of the tour operator. Half-day tours average $40–$50 a person and generally include a visit to Hell and the Turtle Farm at Boatswain's Beach in West Bay, as well as shopping downtown. Full-day tours ($60–$80 per person) add lunch, a visit to Bodden Town (the first settlement), and the East End, where you stop at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, blowholes (if the waves are high) on the ironshore, and the site of the wreck of the Ten Sails (not the wreck itself—just the site). The pirate graves in Bodden Town were destroyed during Hurricane Ivan, and the blowholes were partially filled. As you can tell, land tours here are low-key. Children under 12 often receive discounts.
A.A. Transportation Services offers taxis and tour buses. Ask for Burton Ebanks. B.A. McCurley, owner of McCurley Tours, is a free-spirited, freewheeling Midwesterner who's lived in Cayman for 24 years and knows everything and everyone on the East End. Not only is she encyclopedic and flexible, she also offers car rentals and transfers for travelers staying on the East End; don't be surprised if she tells you what to order at lunch, especially if it's off the menu.
Majestic Tours caters mostly to cruise-ship and incentive groups but also offers similar options to individuals and can customize tours; it's particularly good for West Bay, including Boatswain's Beach and Hell.
Tropicana Tours offers several excellent Cayman highlights itineraries on its larger buses, including Stingray City stops, as well as reef-runner adventures across the North Sound through the mangrove swamps.
Your hotel or villa agent can recommend and organize drivers for tours of the Sister Islands.
A.A. Transportation Services. A.A. Transportation Services 345/949–6598; 345/926–8294; 345/949–7222; www.burtons.ky.
Majestic Tours. Majestic Tours 345/949–7773; www.majestic-tours.com.
McCurley Tours. McCurley Tours 345/947–9626; 345/916–0925.
Tropicana Tours. Tropicana Tours 345/949–0944; www.tropicana-tours.com.
Cayman Custom Cycles' Harley Davidson tours allow you to go hog wild, wind in your face, exploring the East End and playing Hells Angels in Hell. Tours run $125–$250 (the full-day option includes lunch). Additional passengers can hitch a ride for 50 smackers.
Cayman Island Helicopters offers exhilarating eagle-eye views on three itineraries: $75 for a flyover of Seven Mile Beach; $115 for a trip adding Stingray City; and $295 for a thrillingly panoramic island-wide aerial tour (discounts are available if you book via the company's website, and shuttle service is free). Though the island is flat and mostly arid, the sight of waters rippling from turquoise to tourmaline is exciting enough.
Cayman Safari hits the usual sights but emphasizes interaction with locals, so you learn about craft traditions, folklore, and herbal medicines.
Cayman Custom Cycles Harley Davidson Tours. Cayman Custom Cycles Harley Davidson Tours 345/916–0088; 345/916–8319; www.caymancustomcycles.com.
Cayman Island Helicopters. Cayman Island Helicopters 345/943–4354; 345/926–6967; www.caymanislandshelicopters.com.
Cayman Safari. Cayman Safari 345/925–3001; 866/211–4677; www.caymansafari.com.