Seven Reasons to Visit Seven Mile Beach

For many travelers, Grand Cayman is synonymous with Seven Mile Beach, a stretch of powdery sand lined not just with palms and casuarina trees but also with enough fun to keep even the most restless traveler busy. The heart of the Caymanian tourism business, this is one of the most popular beaches in the Caribbean. Regardless of your interests, you'll find plenty of reasons to recommend Seven Mile Beach.

1. Great Resorts

Grand Cayman is known for its condominiums, but the island is also home to several grand resorts. Travelers looking for full service accommodations with amenities ranging from business centers to spas to fitness facilities will find them along Seven Mile Beach.

The 309-room Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort (345/949-0088, fax 345/949-0288), formerly a Radisson, has also undergone extensive renovation. The Marriott is known for having the largest guest rooms on the island; 80% of the rooms feature king-sized beds. Oceanfront rooms include private balconies with good beach view. Facilities include casual and fine dining, pool and hot tub, dive shop, wave runners, windsurfing, shopping arcade, and spa. The Westin Casuarina Resort (345/945-3800, fax 345/949-5825), the newest hotel in Grand Cayman, offers 343 guest rooms with breathtaking views of the sea from step-out balconies. Facilities include beachfront, casual and fine dining restaurants, pools, whirlpools, tennis, fitness facilities, beauty salons, masseuse and masseur, and 24-hour room service.

2. Scuba Diving and Snorkeling

Grand Cayman is a capital in the world of scuba diving and Seven Mile Beach sits at the hub of the action. Here dive enthusiasts of all levels will find instruction, equipment rentals, and dive operations to explore sites around the island. Several good dive sites are found right in the area including the Wreck of the Oro Verde, used by drug smugglers and scuttled in 1980. The site is a favorite wreck for beginning divers because of its shallow position.

Numerous dive operations are found along Seven Mile Beach.

From Seven Mile Beach, numerous snorkel excursions are also offered by many operators, the most popular being the excursion to Stingray City. Typically these trips include drinks and often lunch following the snorkeling adventure. Complimentary shuttle services are available from some hotels and condominiums.

3. Shopping

Although not as extensive as the shopping in George Town, even the most dedicated shopper will find plenty of diversion along West Bay Road heading up Seven Mile Beach. Coconut Place, West Shore Center, and Galleria Plaza are some of the top shopping areas. Travelers can look for duty-free liquor, jewelry, island clothing, and other vacation purchases along this strip. The Marriott, Westin Casuarina, and Treasure Island Resort each have numerous shops featuring jewelry, resort clothing, and gift items.

Jewelry lovers will find several excellent shops including Chests of Gold offering numismatic jewelry set in 18 karat gold. Venture Gallery, in the West Shore Center, also has an enormous selection of rare coins and coin jewelry. Mitzi's, in Bay Harbor Center, specializes in fine jewelry including beautiful gold work by Carrera y Carrera, all in 18 karat gold. 24-K Mon Jewelers, with locations at Treasure Island Resort, Buckingham Square, and Cayman Falls (across from the Westin), offers coins, diamonds, gemstones, and gold jewelry. Black coral, pearls, hand enameled cloisonné, and custom creations are other specialties.The largest selection of books can be found along Seven Mile Beach at The Book Nook in Galleria Plaza. This shop also has a large children's section including toys for those restless young travelers. Cigar aficionados will also find several shops that feature both Cayman Crown and Cuban cigars. Churchill's Cigar Store, located inside De Bag Man shop in Galleria Plaza, and LaHavana Restaurant and Cigar Emporium in Queens Court are good stops.

Cayman liquors are another excellent buy along Seven Mile Beach. Blackbeard Liquors at The Strand sells 10 flavors of locally produced Blackbeard Rum. Tortuga Rums at West Shore sells Premium gold, 151 proof, 98 proof dark rum, and coconut rum as well as Rum Cream and Rum Liqueur. Tortuga Rums also makes a popular rum cake made with gold rum.

4. Golf

Golfers are challenged at several courses on Grand Cayman.

5. Fine Dining

After a day of shopping, watersports, or beach fun, many travelers look to the island's fine dining as the evening's entertainment. Caymanian cuisine reflects the riches of the sea and Seven Mile Beach offers several fine dining options.

One popular choice is the Casa Havana Restaurant (345/945-3800) at the Westin Casuarina. This is the hotel's signature restaurant, complete with white glove service and a romantic atmosphere. Reservations are suggested for this eatery.

Benjamin's Roof Seafood Restaurant (345/947-4080) at Coconut Place on West Bay Road serves clams casino, marinated conch, turtle steak, lobster, shrimp, crab, scallops, and a full line of meat and pasta dishes including NY strip, lamb chops, chicken cordon bleu, and fettucine alfredo. This restaurant is open for dinner from 5:30 to 10:30; an early bird menu is available 3 to 5:30.

Some of the island's most innovative cuisine is found at Lantana's Restaurant and Bar (345/947-5595) on West Bay Road. The chef offers an excellent menu featuring spicy Cuban black bean soup, jerk pork tenderloin, grilled yellow fin tuna with cilantro linguine, and more, followed by tropical coconut cream pie with white chocolate shavings and mango sauce or frozen Cayman lime pie with raspberry sauce and whipped cream.

Feeding the guests isn't the only attraction at The Wharf (345/949-2231), located at the start of Seven Mile Beach on West Bay Road. A school of huge tarpon linger below the deck, waiting for scheduled handouts following dinner most evenings. The Wharf is a good recommendation for couples. Located right on the water's edge, the open-air bar and restaurant offers an uninterrupted view of the setting sun.

6. Sunset and Dinner Cruises

Another good option for romantically-minded travelers are the many sunset and dinner cruises that sail along Seven Mile Beach. Red Sail Sports (345/945-5965) offers a sunset cruise from Rum Point on Sundays and other days from Seven Mile Beach. The two-hour sunset cruise departs at 5 during the winter months and 5:30 during the summer. Complimentary appetizers are served; a full cash bar is available. Dinner cruises are also available with three courses.

The Jolly Roger (345/949-8534) is another option and a favorite with couples. On Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays this replica of a 17th century galleon sails at dusk. Admission includes complimentary rum punch and appetizers; a full bar is also available. The Jolly Roger also offers dinner cruises on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings. The evening includes complimentary rum punch and appetizers, Caribbean entrees with wine, dessert and coffee. Reservations must be made by 2pm the day of the cruise.

7. Nightlife

Mention Cayman and nightlife in the same sentence and Seven Mile Beach's best-known performer comes to mind: the Barefoot Man. George Nowak, AKA the Barefoot Man, has been entertaining Cayman audiences for years and his music was heard in The Firm. You'll find him performing several times a week on the island.

Seven Mile Beach is also home to several nightclubs, favorites with young, energetic travelers. In The Falls Shopping Centre, Legendz (345/945-5288) features the sound of live rock. Sharkey's Niteclub (345/945-5366) in Cayman Falls Shopping Centre is known for its dancing with live rock and roll Tuesdays, comedy on Wednesday, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays , and big screen music theme nights.

Sports buffs find several bars to catch up on sporting action. At the Lone Star Bar and Grill (345/945-5175) all major games are televised in the bar. West Bay Polo Club Sports Bar and Grill (345/949-9892), located in Seven Mile Shops, has over 15 television screens broadcasting just about any sporting event available. Pizza is served nightly until midnight.

Photo by Lauren Bigley

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