Why the Cayman Islands should be your next Caribbean escape

A stunning sunset over Grand Cayman's Seven Mile Beach at the Kimpton Seafire's pool.

With direct nonstop flights from Miami to Grand Cayman clocking in at just over an hour, the Cayman Islands make for an effortless getaway from South Florida.

Occupying about 100-square-miles south of Cuba, the island group consists of Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. While the upscale getaway is famous worldwide for its offshore banking industry attracting a diverse cross section of ex-pats, the sublime western-facing Seven Mile Beach is what you’re coming for.

The November 2016 opening of the Kimpton Seafire Grand Cayman marked the island’s first new resort in a decade, creating the perfect excuse to explore the Western Caribbean island group.

Augment your itinerary by tacking on a couple of extra nights on Cayman Brac, the relatively undeveloped island 90 miles northeast of Grand Cayman. Let the world slip away at Le Soleil d’Or, a Mediterranean-inspired seaside villa set on an organic farm.

Stop 1 – Kimpton Seafire, Grand Cayman

The Kimpton Seafire poolscape.

The Kimpton Seafire is so beautifully conceived that mustering the strength to rise from your fire engine red lounge chair positioned on a strip of astroturf between the Caribbean Sea and the resort’s lagoon-style swimming pool (how can you choose between the two?) will present a serious challenge.

It will also prove difficult to tear yourself away from your comfy room with its punchy palette of fuchsia, black and white with floor-to-ceiling windows leading to the oversized oceanfront balcony and a sexy bathroom with a frosted glass rainfall shower that peeks into the room. 

Chic and colorful guest rooms at Kimpton Seafire.

So don’t fight it. Settle in. Relax. This place has got you covered.

A hallmark of the Kimpton brand is contemporary and playful design. At the Seafire, everything from nautical motif chairs upholstered in international flags to a traditional wooden Cayman catboat and prints from local pop artist Dready are found beneath the lobby’s 20-foot ceiling, grounded by natural materials, like weathered wood and polished coral stone.

Dining is a delight here and there are plenty of restaurants to choose from before you run out of options. Ave and Avecita function as a restaurant within a restaurant, the former serving coastal Mediterranean fare while the latter dishes up experimental tapas and cocktails in a chic communal setting with a chef’s counter for a special tasting menu.

Between the beachfront taco shack Coccoloba and a separate poolside bar and grill, don’t skip the fish tacos, lobster roll or the creamy piña colada.

Make sunset gazing on the soft white sands of Seven Mile Beach a nightly ritual.

Rates from $399 in summer low season, $499 in winter high. 888-226-4412

Stop 2 – Le Soleil d’or, Cayman Brac

The organic farm atop a bluff at Cayman Brac’s Le Soleil d’Or. Brac means bluff in Gaelic.

Grand Cayman is so built up with stylish seaside resorts, you may forget you’re not actually in Miami. On the other end of the spectrum, with its rugged coral bluffs and sparse development, Cayman Brac offers an off-the-grid counterpoint.

After a 40-minute puddle jumper from Grand Cayman aboard a twin prop plane (or a direct flight from Miami on Saturdays), Le Soleil d’Or is a 10-minute drive from the airport on the island’s southern shore.

The four-room boutique hotel is set inside a Mediterranean-inspired villa with private cottages spread across the 20 acre property. Situated across the street from a rocky, rugged stretch of shore, the hotel maintains an impressive blufftop organic farm, which supplies the hotel’s restaurant.

Le Soleil d’Or’s boutique hotel villa.

With so few rooms, it’s entirely possible to feel like you’ve got the entire place to yourself. The common areas include a small swimming pool, a living room with an adjacent kitchen stocked with fresh fruit, yogurt, cookies and coffee and a beach club down the road accessible by shuttle.

The only thing you need to put on your itinerary is a tour of the island with local guide Keno Dailey to explore limestone caves and cliffs and witness the native brown booby in its natural habitat. It’s also a prime destination for fishing and diving.

Otherwise, enjoy your own private paradise at Le Soleil d’Or where the service is personalized, catering to your every whim. Meals are an enjoyable affair with an attentive staff and special three-course menus that change daily based on what’s fresh and available. 

A fresh watermelon salad from Le Soleil d’Or’s garden.

Expect dishes featuring local fish and lobster, as well as steak and chicken prepared creatively with produce from the garden, including okra, eggplant, heirloom peppers and tomatoes.

Rates from $350 in summer low season; $450 in winter high. 844-861-2443. 

Don’t resist. Unwind inside the hammam at the spa at Kimpton Seafire.

Pro Tip: Schedule a deep tissue massage (or any spa treatment) at BOTH resorts. Their therapists know what they’re doing with an arsenal of tension-melting techniques from reflexology to craniosacral. The Kimpton’s spa is a luxurious, Moroccan bath-inspired sanctuary, while Le Soleil d’Or’s is a simple beachside bungalow.

If You Go

Daily direct nonstop flights from MIA to Grand Cayman’s Owen Roberts International Airport (GCM) aboard Cayman Air and American Airlines, currently from about $267. 1 hour, 30 minute flight.

Direct nonstop flights on Saturdays from MIA to Cayman Brac (CYB) aboard Cayman Airways, currently from about $325. 1 hour, 30 minute flight.

Flights between the Cayman Islands aboard Cayman Airways, currently from about $129. 40-minute flights.

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