Your first cruise to Grand Cayman is definitely a cause for celebration! The crystal-blue seas and gorgeous beaches offer plenty of relaxation, and you won’t have any trouble finding something to do once your ship docks at the port. While you’re here, make sure to explore the island’s culture, especially the food. Grand Cayman cuisine is a delicious mix of the cultures and traditions that make the island unique, and you don’t want to miss the opportunity to try something unique to this Caribbean paradise!
Not sure where to start? Try these favorite Grand Cayman foods for a real taste of island life.
1. Coconut Shrimp
You’ve probably sampled coconut crusted shrimp with a basket of fries at your local pub or nearly any chain restaurant, but you haven’t really tasted it until you have coconut shrimp in Grand Cayman. There’s simply no substitute for fresh coconut shaved that day, and you’ll be surprised at the nutty, delicate flavor. This is a great starter dish for anyone who feels a little uncertain about trying something new: familiar, yet totally different thanks to the ultra-fresh ingredients.
2. Conch Stew
Throughout the Caribbean, seafood rules. You’ll find a nearly endless variety of fish and shellfish on the menu everywhere you go. For something truly local, be sure to order the conch stew. Conch is a sea snail that lives in a pretty pink shell, and this dish serves it up in a soup packed with tomato, herbs and Cayman peppers for a little kick. The conch itself is similar to a cross between escargot and clams, but with a more delicate flavor and texture. You can find this traditional dish just about anywhere in Grand Cayman.
3. Turtle Stew
When Columbus first spotted the Cayman Islands, he called them Las Tortugas, thanks to all of the green sea turtles there. Turtle has always been a delicacy on Grand Cayman, and it’s hugely popular with both locals and adventurous tourists. Visit a turtle farm where the animal is raised for meat and give turtle stew a try. It’s often served with beans and rice, or possibly a side of plantains and cole slaw.
4. Fish Rundown
Rundown is another seafood dish that you don’t want to miss in Grand Cayman. Each country in the Caribbean has its own version of rundown, but the fish rundown you’ll find in the Grand Cayman is a rich and hearty stew made with thick fish fillets, coconut milk and plenty of aromatic herbs. Depending on the freshness and who’s making it, the stew also contains chunks of plantains, breadfruit or yams for a bit of sweetness, and perhaps doughy dumplings as a finishing touch.
5. Fruit Cake
Christmas fruit cake is a time-honored tradition in the Cayman Islands, brought here by British colonists who wanted a taste of home during the holidays. The basis of a fruit cake consists of raisins, currants, prunes and dates, which are chopped up and soaked in rum for months. The besotted fruits are then baked into a dense spice cake, which itself is pricked with a fork and soaked in more rum. The entire process can take several months to complete so if you’re lucky enough to find some, don’t pass up the chance to sample it!
6. Heavy Cake
If fruit cake isn’t your thing, try traditional heavy cake instead. It is made with cassava, a vegetable from the roots of the cassava shrub — better known as tapioca in the States. The cassava is grated, soaked, and then baked into a very dense, sweet cake that’s considered the national dessert of the Cayman Islands. Every family has its own recipe, but heavy cake is typically flavored with spice like cinnamon and nutmeg.
This cool, sweet cocktail was invented in Grand Cayman in the 1980s, and the island is still the best place to sample the original. Made with vodka, coffee-flavored liqueur, and Irish cream, the mudslide began life as an ingenious substitute for a white Russian. Since then, it’s become hugely popular in its own right. This is the perfect refreshment after a day of shopping in Grand Cayman, and you don’t want to miss the chance to sample this drink in its homeland.
Also known as Johnny Cakes, particularly in other areas of the Caribbean, fritters are a type of fried bread that has been a traditional food in Grand Cayman for as long as anyone can remember. They’re made with unleavened dough that’s similar to Irish soda bread, then fried in coconut oil. This staple can be seasoned for a savory or sweet finish and eaten at any meal, though fritters make particularly good appetizers after a full day taking in the sights of the island.
While you’re planning your itinerary of things to do in Grand Cayman, be sure to carve out some time to visit local eateries to try the food in Grand Cayman. Here you’ll find all these wonderful dishes, along with a sampling of many other traditional Caribbean foods that you can only enjoy in the tropics.