You might know Cayman Islands for its turquoise waters, pristine white sand beaches and lush bluffs and foliage. But its thriving food scene also deserves your attention. Known as the culinary capital of the Caribbean, the country’s three islands – Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman – host a diverse offering of eats, from the world-famous annual Cayman Cookout festival to world-class wine lists, from fresh, succulent seafood to an old-fashion fish fry.
There are plenty of local food and drink traditions to indulge in. The boozy Mudslide, a blend of vodka, Kahlua and Bailey’s Irish cream, dusted with cinnamon, is a Cayman creation. Conch is an island specialty, and restaurants like Miss Vivine’s, the Heritage Kitchen or Grape Tree Café known exactly how to prepare it using authentic Caymanian flavours. For fine dining, there’s the seafood-focused Blue, at the Ritz-Carlton on Grand Cayman; a AAA five-Diamond restaurant started by three-Michelin star chef Eric Ripert. Here, a guide to Cayman’s culinary scene for every food personality, from locavore to luxury diner.
Cayman Cookout, Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman
The biggest culinary celebration in the country and one of the most prestigious food and wine festivals in the world, Cayman Cookout is hosted by chef Eric Ripert, who bring many of his celebrity chef colleagues (Daniel Boulud, José Andrés) to the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman for a deliciously memorable weekend. Expect to find exclusive tastings and meals, interactive cooking demonstrations and wine tastings. The access to some of the world’s most famous chefs is unmatched.
Le Soleil d’Or, Stake Bay, Cayman Brac
An inn on a farm, this Cayman Brac gem boasts a 20-acre organic garden perched above the majestic Caribbean Sea. Le Soleil d’Or’s beachside restaurant naturally features seasonal ingredients grown on site, and this one-of-a-kind space is a unique way to experience the island and local flavours.
Grand Old House, Georgetown, Grand Cayman
Once a plantation house, now a historical waterfront landmark in George Town, the Grand Old House was Cayman’s first fine-dining restaurant. The seaside seating offers unmatched views and means this is a perfect spot for a sunset dinner. The award-winning kitchen specializes in international dishes made with local ingredients – and, of course, the catch of the day is always fresh.
The Brasserie, George Town, Grand Cayman
Serving seasonal menus that change daily depending on what’s in season and what the restaurant’s own boats catch while out on the water that day, The Brasserie is a favourite of locals and visitors. Don’t forget to ask for a tour of the on-site apiary and edible garden.
The Farmers & Artisans Market at Camana Bay, Grand Cayman
Every Wednesday, from noon to 7 p.m., makers, farmers and artisans gather to share their goods with this community at The Farmers & Artisans Market. Over 30 local farmers and vendors gather at this market each week offering everything from local produce to cooked meals, handmade jewellery to expertly made pepper jelly. You’re sure to find some souvenirs here.
Prime Food Tours, Grand Cayman
A great way to get to know Cayman flavours and tour the island with insight from a local, Prime Food Tours offer several options on Grand Cayman. The Island Essential tour is two hours exploring three local spots and three classic dishes, including real jerk. The Grand Tour will have you criss crossing the island from west to east to get a sampling of Cayman flavours for an in-depth understanding of the culinary traditions here.
Luna Del Mar, Kaibo Restaurant and Beach Bar, Grand Cayman
Once a month, to celebrate the full moon, Kaibo, a restaurant and beach bar on Grand Cayman, hosts the water-side dinner experience Luna Del Mar. On the Friday closet to the full moon, and under the rays of lunar light, guests enjoy a three-course feast on the beach, as well as a live DJ and dancing. And the night ends with the chance to light and float your own lantern into the night sky.
And there’s more…
Cayman Cocktail Week
A week-long celebration of the islands’ talented mixologists, Cayman Cocktail Week includes pop-up bars, spirited brunches, crafting and cocktail events and exclusive meals with cocktail pairings. Expect to find the mixologists using fresh local ingredients as mixers, flavour enhancers and garnishes.
Distillery and brewery tours
Whether your tastes run to rum or craft beer is more your speed, Cayman has options to sate both options. Home to the first-ever undersea rum maturation site, Grand Cayman is home to Cayman Spirits Co., maker of Seven Fathoms Rum. The hand-crafted rum is inspired by the flavours of island cuisine, and distillery tours include a behind-the-scenes look at the manufacturing process as well as a stop in the tasting room for some sampling (naturally!). Cayman Islands Brewery, which makes 10 different types of award-winning beer, hosts tours that walk guests through the sustainable production and bottling process before some sampling.