Sure, there are the sparkling blue waters, white sand beaches, and stingray tours, but Grand Cayman also has a thriving art scene. Thanks to a tight-knit art community and the recent opening of its new National Gallery, the Caribbean island is having a creative boom.
First stop is the Sandon Feat Gallery (Da Vinci Centre Building, 7 Mile Beach Road; 345-949-7263), which showcases CE Whitney’s large-scale oceanscapes. Next is dinner at Blue by Eric Ripert (the Ritz-Carlton, West Bay Road; 345-943-9000). Helmed by the same chef behind New York’s Le Bernardin, the restaurant’s Blue by Eric Ripert tasting menu offers dishes like wahoo with braised vegetables, crispy romaine spears, and warm coriander vinaigrette — Ripert’s flair mixed with local ingredients. Roam through the Ritz-Carlton’s (7 Mile Beach; 345-943-9000) gallery, which features the work of local artists husband-and-wife Nasaria and Randy Chollette, before sleeping in one of the rooms with an ocean view balcony, so you can wake up to the sea.
The next day take a morning snorkel from the Ritz’s private beach before heading to the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park (Frank Sound Road; 345-947-9462) and learn about the island’s most valuable endangered species: the majestic Blue Iguana. Run your toes through the sand while eating lunch at Rum Point – be sure to try the conch fritters – and then take a dip in the crystal clear waters. Afterwards, go to Pure Art (South Church Street; 345-949-9133) and check out the selection of gifts like island shells and Cayman Island sea salt, or snag a piece of artwork like M. Shane Aquart’s Dready Art. In the evening, dine waterside under the stars at Ortanique (the Crescent, Camana Bay, George Town), where Caribbean dishes like West Indian-Style Bouillabaisse will satiate your appetite.
The following morning take a boat to the must-see Stingray City (contact Red Sail Sports), a shallow sand bar where stingrays congregate and visitors can interact with and swim alongside the typically docile creatures. Then go to Grand Cayman’s stunning new gem, the National Gallery (Esterley Tibbetts Highway; 345-945-8111), and walk through its sculpture garden before heading inside to see works by Caymanian artists like Bendel Hydes, whose large-scale abstract paintings are the subject of a current exhibition. Relax and regroup with a decadent caviar facial at Silver Rain, a La Prairie Spa (the Ritz-Carlton, West Bay Road; 345-943-9000). Top off the night with dinner at Luca (Caribbean Club, West Bay Road; 345-623-4550), the finest Italian restaurant on the island. Select a wine from its extensive list and try the linguine with lobster, rock shrimp, calamari, scallops, and cannellini beans in a chardonnay sauce. Be sure to get dessert; the chocolate aubergine mousse was a pleasantly surprising delight.