Into the wild: Explore the Cayman Islands’ eastern districts

Grand Cayman

If you consider Grand Cayman and Seven Mile Beach synonyms, you’re in for a sweet surprise. Savannah, Bodden Town, East End and North Side lie to the east of the fabled beach and hold scenic, eclectic and memorable adventures.

Raft on beach of Cayman Islands

Trek through swamps and trails
Walk through mangrove swamps and ancient woodlands on the rugged Mastic Trail. You’ll spot native birds of every color—including parrots and bananaquits—and native plants as well. The southern section, which starts near the Botanical Park, is only 2.3 miles long, but it passes through several ecosystems. Wear sturdy hiking boots because you’ll be hiking over jagged limestone. You can explore the trail on your own or take a guided tour organized by the Cayman Islands National Trust.

Wooden path in woods

Kayak With Blue Parrots
Imagine gliding silently through the mangroves to see Grand Cayman’s pristine ecosystem up close and personal. Kayak tours make a great day-trip away from Seven Mile Beach, as they take you deep into the undeveloped northern areas of the island. Pick a day tour if you hope to see the wildlife, and keep your eye out for bright-blue parrots, sunbathing iguanas, young sea turtles and more.

Raft on beach of Cayman Islands

Spot native reptiles and orchids
Orchids are the leading ladies of the Queen Elizabeth II Royal Botanical Garden. The 59 acres of woodland—off Frank Sound Road, North Side—are rich in orchids and bromeliads native to the Caymans. An easy trail takes you by wetlands, dry thickets and mahogany tree stands. Keep a sharp eye out for chickatees—native freshwater turtles—parrots and the blue-throated anole lizard. Tour a model of a traditional Caymans home at the Visitor Center.

Orchids garden in Grand Caymans

Encounter reef sharks and tropical fish
The ultimate rush for any scuba diver is to glide out and have the sea bottom drop away beneath you. Thanks to its geology, Grand Cayman accomplishes this better than just about anywhere else. The island rises almost straight up from the ocean floor, giving you addictive wall-diving on all sides. The east end walls offer exciting diving with dramatic coral formations and encounters with reef sharks.

You can also find some great snorkeling in the eastern districts. Explore the shallow waters under the dock at Morritt’s to spot brightly colored fish.

Pink house on water

Go on a mission
Unless you can time travel, the best way to catch a glimpse of the Grand Cayman of yesteryear is to visit the Mission House, which sits on both wetland and dry woodland. Spot various birds, waterfowl and freshwater turtles lurking in and around the nearby pond. Tour the traditional Caymanian house at the historic site, complete with artifacts from the past two centuries. You’ll also learn the stories of the missionaries and teachers who occupied the home over the years.

Mission House in Grand Caymans

Electrify the night
Picture this: A protected bay, a dark night, water coming to life in electric hues of blues and greens. This is the magic of bioluminescence, the emission of light by living organisms. A small bay near Rum Point is one of the best bio-bays on the planet. Tour it at night to see an astounding light show as millions of glowing micro-organisms light up the dark water. Cayman Kayaks runs a great tour there.

Bioluminescent algae Noctiluca Scintillans