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Grand Cayman is small enough that you are always within an hour or less from everything on the island, that is, unless you get stuck in George Town traffic at rush hour, but even that is not so terrible. Deciding which part of the island is best for you depends, of course, on what you enjoy and what you want to do. Of course, Seven Mile Beach, extending northward along the western coast of the island from George Town, is the busiest part of the island. Depending upon how you define "busy," however, it may still be rather quiet and sedate. A busy day on Seven Mile can sometimes be like a slow day in Miami or Southern California. Beach quality varies from location to location along Seven Mile, so travelers should research the comments about the beaches at any locations that sound interesting to them. Even though all of the beach is available to the public, there are some stretches of beach which provide public (free) parking. Most of the big resort hotels are located on Seven Mile Beach, along with numerous condominium rentals of all prices and qualities. The vast majority of dining options are located here as well
West Bay is the most westerly section of the island. It is predominately a residential area with a few dive lodges, condo complexes, and guest houses located along the water. Located a few minutes drive to all the amenities of Seven Mile Beach it can be a good alternative for those looking for slightly less expensive lodging options, or for a quieter experience. There is a mix of dining options in the area along with full a service grocery, liquor stores, post offices, gas station and pharmacy. The Barkers National Park is located at the tip or head of the island here and is a truly deserted area of beach.
Bodden Town and Breakers are located half-way between the East and West sides. There are a few inns, Bed and Breakfasts and villa rentals in these quiet areas. The area is more like how the island was 20 years ago. This is a good destination for "local" food (especially jerk) and fresh from the farm roadside produce. The water is better for snorkeling than swimming and the beaches are small and tidy.
The Eastern Districts of the island (North Side and East End) are most remote and tranquil, and lodging in those areas offer the greatest chance at solitude and affordability. The diving and snorkeling in these areas is generally considered the best on the island. Winter weather can be hit or miss, but be advised that, when a nor'easter blows (which it sometimes does for days at a time during the winter and spring) you won't have much fun in the water. During such windy times, Seven Mile is sometimes the place to go for the day, since it is protected from the strong NE wind. Beaches along the north side of the island can be quite nice and practically deserted. There are a few resorts and condo complexes on the north and east sides, but there are also many private beachfront residences available for rental in such areas as Rum Point and Cayman Kai. Staying on the north or east sides will require renting a car if you want a larger choice of dining options, rather than self-cater, since the dining options become fewer outside of the George Town and Seven Mile Beach areaa. Most of the usual activities, such as fishing, diving and sight-seeing charters, and trips to Stingray City are all managed out of George Town for the cruise ship crowd. So hiring a charter of booking a trip to Sting Ray City on this part of the island usually results in a more intimate experience. You will have to drive across the island for golf and major shopping excursions. The north and east sides are best suited for those who simply want to sit and relax in and around their accomodation, and enjoy the beach/water without the company of cruise ship visitors and other tourists.
The south side offers limited accomodations except Sunset House, which is great for divers. Most of the south side is inhabited by locals, with the population density becoming thinner, as you travel east, away from George Town. Smith Cove offers locals and visitors alike a "local swimming hole" which is also great snorkeling. Beaches are less prevalent along the south side but are quiet and good for beachcoming and walks. Several shops offer unique local experiences as you head south from town: Cathy Church's Underwater photo gallery/shop, The Cayman National Trust's gift shop by the playground/park a mile from town, and Pure Art Gallery & Gifts for great local gifts and art. Dr. Carey's Black Coral is also about 2 miles from town, and is interesting and offers limited but very nice black coral jewelry. Beach Bubbles provides hand-made soaps and lotions. South Sound also features the local tennis, squash, and rugby clubs for exercise or watching matches, as well as rentals of kayaks in the mangroves.
Many people planning their stays on the island are concerned about the crowds from the cruise ships which are in port most days. There are certain areas that do get a lot of traffic - George Town itself, three locations on Seven Mile Beach (Royal Palms, Tiki beach, and Public Beach/Calico Jack's) get busy, but the rets of the beach is pretty much overnight visitors and locals only, plus Rum Point. All other parts of the island you will struggle to find large numbers of cruise ship folks.