Most any novel or movie about corporate bad guys somehow always has shady types furtively wiring funds off shore to the Cayman Islands.
Truth is, the three islands that make up the Cayman archipelago are so much more than temples of high finance, regardless of John Gresham's books.
Little Cayman and Cayman Brac are specks of places about a 45 minute puddle jumping ride in a 12 seater that feels more like flying on an Avatar bird than a plane.
Little known, and less traveled to, "The Brack" is an unbeautified, just-as-I-am 12 mile long and two mile wide island surrounded by healthy reefs and stained-glass fish, and home to about 1,600 people, all of whom love the place, and none of whom seems to want to leave. Sister island, Little Cayman is even smaller with maybe 300 people, lots of chickens and Iguanas wandering mostly unpaved roads. And lots of tranquility.
Just south of Cuba these are not lush tropical islands. They are valued diving destinations, and havens for marine reptile life, and anyone looking for a Caribbean island experience far from the hip hop, pina colada-drinking Caribbean crowd will love it.
Each has its secrets. Brac's cenote is a crystal-clear swimming cave carved out of the coral with slow-moving fish for great snorkeling. It's where the old Buccaneer Hotel used to be. Ask around. There's Aunt Sha's soft-talking, 6-table restaurant, an island favorite where you can watch migrating butterflies fill the air and eat fresh fish and try to follow the local gossip in that wonderful mix of Caribbean patois and British accents. Stay at the Brac Reef Resort.
On Little Cayman, nights at Pirates Point are as native as it gets. It'll set you back a few years and get you looking up at the starry, starry nights and dodging the resident iguanas . The island is about diving pristine reefs, elegant egrets silhouetted on one of the many nature ponds and eye-popping shades of blue water.
Big sister Grand Cayman is another story. It's busy, but carefully controlled. Classy. The romantic seven-mile beach with its well manicured hotels lining huge swath of blue Caribbean water is family friendly and world-famous. Especially the Westin Causeria. Grand Cayman pays more attention to its beauty and ecology than its bars. The Blue Iguana sanctuary, for example, is the word's only protective habitat for the nearly extinct reptiles. A swim with the velvet Stingrays is memorable. But so are the seaside restaurants.
The Caymans are a real Caribbean experience where blue water beats big banking.