Cayman's Tourist Friendly Roads
Worried about driving on an island - AND especially on the wrong (left) side of the road? The following pointers should allay your fears.
You will be pleased to find one of the best maintained road systems in the Caribbean with clear signage and courteous drivers (yes, folks here will actually stop and let you into traffic with a wave). Getting around Cayman is easy. Whether it's your first visit or you are a seasoned Caribbean traveler you will find that the island boasts one of the best-maintained road systems of any tropical vacation destination. Cayman motorists are known for their courtesy so you'll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to get a break when trying to turn into traffic. Nevertheless there are some significant differences between driving in Cayman and back home. (More on that below under DRIVING TIPS). If you want to be extra sure about local Laws and Regulations, checkout the Legislation page from the Cayman Islands Department of Vehicle and Driver's Licensing, with downloadable pdf versions of the pertinent laws.
For now, here is the minimum you need to know.
THE LEGAL STUFF
You must be 21 years old to drive a rental car and possess a valid "Full" driver's license with at least one year driving experience.
You will need a Visitor's Driving Permit if you intend to drive in Cayman (one-time charge, valid for six months or duration of stay, whichever is shorter). These mandatory driving permits are issued for US$20 each from police stations and rent-a-car companies to holders of valid driver's licenses. If you have a valid International Driver's License you are exempt from this requirement.
No Drinking and driving. The legal blood alcohol limit is is 0.100% (100mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood). Expect generous fines or perhaps a day in court. Play it safe: add a designated driver to your rental agreement or skip the extra beverage.
Buckle up! Definitely no texting or using your cell phone while driving. It can wait. If not, pull over and have that urgent conversation. The police are especially strict on these offenses and tickets are issued liberally.
FRIENDLY TIPS FOR DRIVING AROUND THE ISLAND
1. Look right, DRIVE on the LEFT. Being part of the British Overseas Territories, we've kept the English habit of driving on the left. No worries, just think of it as driving in the fast lane of the highway all the time. Easy. (And to make it easier we have little reminders in all our vehicles.)
2. Go LEFT at Round-Abouts. Cayman has gone green! Roundabouts not only improve traffic flow (by keeping everyone moving) but they reduce emissions by limiting the amount of time cars are idling at stoplights, and they take no power to run. Like everything else, these are well marked with clear signage, but an easy tip is simply to keep left when approaching a traffic circle. Once inside the circle simply use your indicator (i.e.. turn-signal or blinker) to indicate where you are going. Easy! View instructional video produced by the Cayman Islands Roads Authority detailing the proper procedures for safely entering and exiting a Roundabout.
3. Speed limits in MPH. Again, just like the British we've kept our posted speed in Miles Per Hour. No conversion necessary.
4. Follow the Coast. A quick glance at a road map of Grand Cayman reveals that the main road simply follows the coast. Of course, there are other interior arteries and bypasses, but the simplest way to get around is simply to keep the coast in sight. Staying on 7-Mile Beach and want to head to Rum Point, simply keep the coast on your right and drive until you see signs for Rum Point. Staying in East End and want to do some shopping in George Town, keep the sea on your left and you'll be there in no time. (Of course, if you want to venture off the beaten track we provide complimentary maps.)
5. Most places you want to visit are "nearby", but not necessarily quick or easy to reach. Grand Cayman is only 22 miles long and 8 miles wide. However, the main road runs through many little towns (locally called Districts) where the speed limit is only 25 mph. So, if you need to drive to George Town from East End you should give yourself about 40 minutes, 30 minutes from Bodden down and one hour from Rum Point. But, no worries, it's a beautiful drive and you'll be on island time, 'mon'.