East End is one of the quieter tourist draws on Grand Cayman Island, part of the British-controlled territories called the Cayman Islands, located directly south of Cuba and to the northwest of Jamaica. Many English-speaking expatriates live here, bringing foreign investment into “offshore banks”, but the island culture shines through Caymanian-Creole food dishes offered on local menus, in football matches and in the government’s dedication to conservation.
Staying in East End puts you in fabulously close proximity to several shipwreck dives, which, given the proper training, allows you to see up close the remnants of centuries-old downed vessels. Admittedly, snorkeling opportunities are more present on the western side of Grand Cayman, but nearby gear rental companies will provide equipment to at least get your bearings on safe, shallow beaches. Just west of town, enjoy the fruits of high tide by watching ocean water explode through the rocks at Blow Holes, a cluster of natural geysers. If you enjoy cycling and sightseeing, sign yourself and a traveling companion up for a reasonably-priced bike tour with ECO Rides, an outfit that leads two- to five-hour rides around East End (some include cave exploration and views of lesser-known points of interest.
Grand Cayman Island is just 75 square miles of land, but there’s no shortage of activities and sightseeing within its boundaries. Drive from East End to West Bay, an hour-long drive to the island’s northernmost and westernmost corner; you should first stop in Hell, the name for a large deposit of black limestone formations along Hell Road, which is surrounded by quirky, photogenic signs and eclectic souvenirs at the nearby gift store. In West Bay, there are plenty of opportunities to try out kiteboarding (check out Hurricane Kiteboarding at Barker’s National Park) or swim with friendly sea creatures at Dolphin Discovery Cayman, though this area does function as a sort of “tourist trap” for cruise ship vacationers—prepare for crowds. Finally, the Cayman Turtle Farm lets you see crocodiles, nurse sharks, barracudas and many varieties of sea turtle, some of which are in human-friendly swimming pools and touch tanks.
Any rental in East End will make for a wonderful vacation setting: even if your villa isn’t literally on the beach, local businesses, powdery sand and island flavor are well within walking distance. It’s a great neighborhood in which to unwind and avoid the noise from cruise-ship tourists, go snorkeling and get some reading done. Houses and apartments around here come drenched in colorful shades of paint, have private terraces and balconies looking out towards the sea and, for the most part, come with fun extras like jacuzzis and full-sized pools. Keep in mind that owners usually require renters to stay a minimum of five consecutive days.
All flights inbound to the Cayman Islands arrive at Owen Roberts International Airport (GCM) in George Town, with the most flights served by Cayman Airways. To reach East End, take the hour-long Purple Line bus from the city’s main terminal to the route’s last stop. Around town, ride a bike or hail a meter-free taxicab (prices are calculated by the number of passengers, traffic and weather conditions).
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