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Like almost anywhere, Grand Cayman has many distinct neighborhoods where people live their lives and carry on with life's daily activities. If deciding where to stay or if just up for a bit of exploring, hopefully this information will help you in getting to know a bit more about the composition of Grand Cayman.
Starting from the western end of the island and working eastward across the island some of the major neighborhoods are:
West Bay: Mainly a working class residential neighborhood of typical sized homes (by Cayman standards) and smaller community focused retail business bordering the Seven Mile Beach area. There are some tourist attractions like the turtle farm, dolphin captivity centers, along with shore diving located on the waterfront areas. The area is serviced by the public mini-bus system. Tourist lodgings consists mainly of smaller condominium properties, dive lodges, boutique hotels, guests houses and bed and breakfasts. Tourist lodging here is generally less expensive than the main tourist area along the Seven Mile Beach corridor. The far northwestern tip of the neighborhood is home to Barkers National Park, an undeveloped stretch of shoreline and mangrove. Some popular restaurants are located at Morgan's Harbour on the North Sound and a full service grocery store is located at the entrance to the neighborhood. Most of the shore line is comprised of Iron Shore (very dense and jagged rock) with a few pockets of sand. The West Bay Public Beach and Dock is one of the ends of Seven Mile Beach and home to a weekend BBQ.
It is away from the fray and there are few amenities within walking distance, so if you are one who appreciates going for an early morning walk to get a coffee and/or likes to be surrounded by a higher energy level, you will be better to look at Georgetown, Camana Bay or Seven Mile Beach.
Seven Mile Beach: The center of tourist activity and retail enterprise for the island. The world famous beach is lined with condominiums and hotels that cater to both overnight guests and full-time residents. The area has the largest amount and diversity of dinning and shopping options. Several beach clubs sprinkled along the beach cater to cruise-ship visitors. The "inland" side of the narrow strip of land features residential apartment and condominiums along with a few hotels. The island's golf courses are located here along with the main charter boat launch. Seven Mile Beach is the most expensive location in terms of real estate and tourist lodging on Grand Cayman. The area is served by taxis and the public mini-bus system.
George Town: The capital city of the Cayman Islands and center of its financial industry. The downtown area is a bustling hub of modern office buildings; predominately housing the many banking, financial and legal firms that service the world's off-shore banking needs. The waterfront is where the cruise ship terminal is located and many of the retail businesses that cater to their many visitors and overnight tourists as well. The island's port is also located here. Outside of the downtown area is the working industrial center of Grand Cayman. The area surrounding Owen Roberts Airport is comprised of a mix of homes and apartments and the everyday industrial and retail operations that make the island run. The new lifestyle town center of Caymana Bay is located on the shores of the North Sound. There are a few tourist accommodations located on the waterfront outskirts of down
North Side/Old Man Bay/Rum Point/Cayman Kai:
Located on the north shore of the island, North Side is one of the five geographic districts on Grand Cayman. It is considered one of the Eastern Districts. The local inhabitants are known for their independent attitude which has carried over from when the settlements were isolated from the more developed areas of the island. The area has not experienced the development which has given way to the George Town and Seven Mile Beach areas many visitors know of today. Having no large resorts, shopping centers or busy streets, it retains some of the look and feel of the Cayman of old. With few inhabitants and slower pace of life, it along with the East End district, is known by locals as the Quiet Side of Grand Cayman.
The district is home to the villages of Old Man Bay and North Side, along with the tourist destinations of Rum Point and Cayman Kai. The majority of private vacation homes and villas on Grand Cayman are located here.
Some popular tourist sites and activities located in North Side are: Sting Ray City, Star Fish Beach, the Mastic Trail, Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, The Blue Iguana Recovery Program, Rum Point Beach and the Bio-luminescent Bay. With most of the north shore being a reef protected marine sanctuary, the North Side is regarded as having some of the best from shore snorkeling on the island. Most beaches are in their natural state and better for sunning, shelling and searching for washed up floatsam than swimming.