Welcome to the Cayman Islands, the tropical paradise I have called home for the past two years. If you are like me, you will be counting down the days in quarantine to hit these Cayman Streets! Fret not, I’ve put together my list of the seven things you must do in your first seven days on the island. Or post Quarantine! This is a great list to prepare for your arrival so you can hit the ground running. However if you are already here and in quarantine, don’t let that quarantine time go to waste.
Planning is everything, and if you are reading this post, you are already off to a great start! Here is your pre-prep to fill up those quarantine days.
- Decide on the bank you want to do business with and what the requirements are to open a bank account and try to arrange to get these together ahead of time.
- Decide how you will get around for the first few days – if you plan on renting a car, this can be arranged ahead of time with one of the local rental agencies, some will even pick you from your location to get to the agency.
- Review bus routes, read the road code booklet.
- Browse house listings and set up viewings – virtual viewings. Housing will be your priority, so I would dedicate day 2 to view listings.
- Get familiar with the places you want to visit post quarantine.
Your first business day on the island should be a trip to the bank. You want to set up your new bank accounts as soon as possible. Depending on the bank you choose, it could take up to two weeks to get your new debit card. As a result, my advice would be to travel with some cash and a valid credit card. This will keep you going until you are able to use your new local bank account.
Also, you will need your work permit and, in some instances, a reference letter or a job letter to open your new account. Lastly, verify with the bank ahead of time what is required. This way you are prepared to smash this chore on your first day. I found the folks at Butterfield Bank were easy to talk to and very helpful.
Depending on your preference, you will have a few options when deciding on your mode of transportation. You can rent a car (highly recommended if you are comfortable getting behind the wheel on your first few days). The road system is straightforward, and there is Google maps for easy navigation to go on your apartment search. If you plan to purchase a car, please refer to my post of getting your local driver’s license.
Another option is to take a local private taxi, however, for frequent long term use the costs for this can add up quickly. Fortunately, the island has an exceptionally good public transportation system. And if you are living on the western side, you will have the option of a public bus at least every 15 minutes or less. One other good thing about the buses is that they will pick you up anyplace on the route if it is safe to do so. So don’t worry if you don’t see a bus stop close by.
Now that you have sorted out your banking details, it’s time to look at apartments. You would have decided with your realtor or prospective landlord on times to view apartments, so this should be a straightforward exercise. I would recommend giving yourself ample time in-between visits as traffic can get crazy, especially if you are traveling during peak times. Consequently, this activity may take more than a day for you to find your perfect home. Therefore, be patient and use the time to familiarize yourself with the island and traffic flow.
If you wan to skip this process (it can be stressful), some realtors offer virtual house tour. And if you are inclined, you could sign your lease and move straight from quarantine into your new home. I wouldn’t recommend this approach unless you are super chill, or the apartment is close to work and play. Hence, more time for the beach! When I arrived on the island two years ago, the island was experiencing a huge housing shortage and so getting an apartment sometimes would involve a bidding process. Fortunately, since the pandemic, there is more availability and lots more options.
There are plenty of opportunities to check out the sunset and have a drink to celebrate the end of your first work week. The waterfront has many locations to suit all tastes and styles with great happy hour prices on food and drinks. Did you know that the island closes at midnight on Saturdays? Well, Friday night is your chance to paint the town red, should you desire. Bars and clubs are open late, and well into the morning. If this is not quite your speed, then I would recommend catching the sunset, perhaps an evening swim and a cocktail or two! But don’t forget your insect repellant if you plan to be outdoors after 7 pm.
Is it Saturday yet? I arrived on the island in late June, and I could not wait for the weekend to hit the beach. Fortunately, I stayed within walking distance of the 7 Mile Public Beach and had a rented car to get around. A brisk walk or a quick swim is a must-do within your first week on the island. I may be biased, but we do have some of the best beaches in the Caribbean here, so enjoy every bit of it.
The Cayman Islands is quite religious and steeped in Christianity. With almost every denomination and other faith-based groups represented. As a result, there are plenty of opportunities to worship. You can easily find worship times and days online with most denominations possessing a webpage or website. You also have the opportunity to worship online from the comfort of home. The United Church has a congregation in almost every parish.
R & R
It has been a very busy first six days. Whatever R&R means for you, don’t forget to give yourself some time to recover and prepare yourself for the week ahead. Today, you can check out the local gyms for a quick workout (most gyms will offer a free first-class or up to a week to try their classes for free. Opting for a spa treatment to reward yourself for all your accomplishments this week is always a good idea.
Depending on your arrival (quarantine release) date, you may get to the weekend faster than this list order prescribes. And your apartment search can take weeks to find that perfect home. I do hope you found these recommendations helpful and that they helped to get your time in Cayman off to a great start.