December 9, 2023

9 best hikes on the Cayman Islands

The stunningly beautiful Cayman Islands in the Caribbean are well-known for their sun ‘n sand, seafood, snorkeling, diving, boating, fishing, and all the fun that you’d associate with a place that has some of the best beaches and blue seas to be found anywhere on earth.

But do you know that Cayman Islands also offer some excellent treks, hikes, and walks. Walking around these islands is the best way to experience its beauty. Most of these trails are short, yet exhilarating. This is in sharp contrast to the many, much longer, yet glorious trails you’ll find in the USA.

So, if you wish to get a closer look at the terrestrial natural beauty that abounds here, then plan a trek or two when you’re vacationing in the Caymans.

Here are the 9 best hikes on the Cayman Islands

  1. The Lighthouse Footpath – This is a great trek, that ends atop a 140 feet high bluff, on the island of Cayman Brac, it is a must-do for bird lovers. You’ll get to see nesting brown boobies at the edges of the cliff. The route passes through the Parrot Reserve, so there’s more avian life that you can check out. The entire trek is of 2.5 miles. Carry water and be ready to click some great photos of the panorama that unfolds once you reach the top. Stick around to catch the sunset. Or, if you want to avoid the sun, do the trek early in the morning. You can spend some time exploring the numerous caves that dot the landscape. Check out the architecture of the two lighthouses at the top, one’s old and the other one is a modern construction.
  2. The Parrot Preserve – The walk to the preserve is a very easy one; but once inside you have 180 acres to explore. Entry to the preserve is free and you can easily spend a day with your family sighting birds, such as the Cayman Parrot, which is endemic to the region, and other birds. Early mornings or early evenings are the best time of the day to visit the preserve, if you wish to sight and click photos of the jovial but elusive parrots. If catching a glimpse of these fabled birds is your objective, then August is a good month to visit this preserve. You’re not likely to run into many people here but you will view old agave plants, beautiful butterflies, and massive hermit crabs.
  3. Mastic Trail – This is perhaps the most popular trail in the Cayman Islands, so named because of the mastic trees found along the route. It’s an easy trail because there are no elevations to tackle. But be prepared for the sun and carry sufficient water. Again, as with other trails on the islands, this is best experienced before the sun starts beating down. Here too, you’ll be able to experience nature without running into too many of your fellow humans. It is possible to enjoy a guided walk along this trail. This adds to the fun, experience, and knowledge that you can gain about the flora, fauna, and history of this 2-mile trail that cuts through swamps, savannah grasslands, and rocky terrain.
  4. Crystal Caves – Not really a hike in the conventional sense of the word, but then the Crystal Caves in North Side are not regular caves, really. These three caves, carved out over millions of years, contain beautiful and fragile stalagmites and stalactites formed over time. A 90-minute guided tour of the caves, which were once underwater, and the surrounding forests, is a treat for the senses. Balsam trees, bats, parrots, tree frogs, bananaquit birds, and other lifeforms, many that are endemic, make the time spent here extremely pleasurable. You get an additional 20 minutes on a viewing deck to take in the sights, munch on snacks, and perhaps buy a memento or two.
  5. Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park – Located in Northside on Frank Sound Road, this botanical garden affords visitors hours of leisure as they stroll through gardens bursting with myriad colors, a two-acre lake, and much more. The lake serves as habitat for many species of reptiles and birds. This is a great place to sight the Cayman Blue Iguana that is native to the Caribbean. Walk along the nearly mile-long woodland trail to sight the rare Cockspur Tree or view a cluster of Bull Thatch Palms. The land that can be accessed through this trail covers nearly half the flora native to Cayman Islands. Orchid lovers may want to be present for the Annual Orchid Show, a beautiful showcasing of local and imported orchids.
  6. Salt Water Pond Hike – Salt Water Pond is on the southern end of Cayman Brac and a one-hour hike from this point takes you to the northern end of the island. You may want to explore Rebecca’s Cave near the pond before you begin the hike, which is rather more than a walk. It’s a bit strenuous, but a great way to work up an appetite for lunch. It’s a coast-to-coast trail.
  7. Salt Rock Nature Trail – On Little Caymans, this is an enjoyable hike on flat terrain. In the 1840s, this trail was the path from Blossom Village to the Salt Rock dock. Great rock formations, iguanas, butterflies, crabs, flowers, and unfortunately mosquitoes as well are aspects of nature that you can hope to find here.
  8. Deadman’s Point Bluff Road – On Cayman Brac, Deadman’s Point Bluff Road is not a difficult climb. What little effort that you have to put in, is richly rewarded in the form of breathtaking views of the Marshes Herbaceous Wetlands below. You’ve also got the chance to sight birds that include the Zenaida Dove and the White-crowned pigeon.
  9. Hemmington Road Hiking Trail – A slightly more difficult hike than Deadman’s Point hike, this trail begins on the bluff’s steps on the north coast. This hike takes around 90 minutes and you’ll traverse endemic woodlands before arriving at Songbird Drive.

In the Cayman Islands, winters are mild and dry. This is the best time to visit these islands, particularly if you’re into trekking, hiking, and outdoor activities. Hikes are best begun either early in the morning or in early evening. Mosquito repellents, cotton clothing, water, and sunscreen are items that you want to carry along.

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