Frequently Asked Questions ( F.A.Q.'s)

Some answers to the most commonly asked questions about the Cayman Islands.

Where are the Cayman Islands?

The Caymans are an island group located in the Caribbean. They lie 480 miles south of
Miami (60minute flight), near Cuba and north west of Jamaica. The time zone is GMT -5.

How big are the islands?

The Cayman Islands comprise of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman. The latter are known as the ‘Sister Islands’ and are located about 80miles east of Grand Cayman.
Grand Cayman is 76 miles square and approximately 22 miles long by 8 miles at its widest point. Cayman Brac is 14 miles square and 14 miles long by 2 miles wide and has the most dramatic
topography of the trio. Little Cayman is 10 miles square, and 10 miles long and a mile wide.

What are the landscapes like?

The Cayman Islands are the peaks of a massive underwater ridge that stands 8,000 feet (2,400 m) from the sea floor that is known as the Cayman Ridge. There are no rivers or natural run-offs into the surrounding sea, which is why the water is crystal clear.

All of the islands are ringed by healthy coral reefs that are the home for marine life and a startling variety of tropical fish. The clear water, the coral reefs and the dramatic walls create ideal conditions for diving, snorkelling and sport fishing.

Grand Cayman’s most striking feature is the shallow, reef-protected lagoon (the North Sound) that has an area of about 35 square miles. Grand Cayman is also the home of the capital George Town. The land is generally flat and punctuated by canals and natural salt-water lagoons.

Cayman Brac's rugged 14 square miles retains the charm and friendliness of a traditional seafaring community - yet it offers the country's most dramatic scenery. "Brac" is the Gaelic word for bluff and the dominant natural attraction. It is a limestone ridge, which rises gradually from the west along the centre of the island to 140 ft. at the eastern tip, plunging as a sheer dramatic cliff into the indigo Caribbean Sea below. It sculpts the landscape into unexpected vistas carved with caves and covered with a startling variety of flora and fauna.

Little Cayman is an untouched tropical paradise with sparkling beaches and sun drenched seclusion. A high measure of natural conservation in keeping with the island's sensitive and unique environmental characteristics and the fact it is so small and exclusive means that it feels like a desert island hideaway.

Background

Christopher Columbus discovered the Caymans in 1503. They remained uninhabited until well after the 1670 acquisition of the islands by the British Crown, which has held dominion over the three islands ever since.

Its superior diving conditions put The Cayman Islands on the international tourist map in the early 1950s. Despite its diminutive size, Little Cayman quickly established itself as a top diving site. Bloody Bay Marine Park has some of the best wall diving anywhere in the world.

During the next decade, Caymanians began to draw up the tax structure that would make Grand Cayman an economic powerhouse and at the same time put in place an infrastructure that has made it the undisputed capital of Caribbean tourism. 

Who lives there?

The Cayman Islands foster one of the wealthiest and most privileged populations in the world, with the highest output per capita and amongst the finest standards of living on earth.

With a current population of 57,000 residents, the CIA World Fact book lists The Cayman
Islands as the 34th fastest growing population in the world at 2.39% per annum.

The population is a mix of the original descendants, wealthy retirees and a white-collar workforce from the many financial institutions on Grand Cayman. 

What languages do they speak?

The official language is English. 

What are they like?

Caymanians are renowned for their friendliness and are devout, church-going people. They are proud of their multiracial and multicultural origins. Approximately one in four is European, mainly descended from British settlers. A further quarter is of African descent, and the rest claim mixed ancestry.

What is healthcare like?

There are two hospitals in George Town, the government run George Town Hospital and the smaller, private Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital. Additionally, Faith Hospital is an eighteen-bed facility on Cayman Brac. The Government maintains a satellite clinic on Little Cayman.

Health insurance is handled by private insurers and a government-run company (CINICO). All employers are required under Law to provide Health Insurance for their employees (although the employee may be required to contribute 50% of the premium). Full time employees also contribute US$10 every month to the "Indigent Fund", which helps cover care for the unemployed, elderly, and other groups in need of monetary assistance. All visitors to the islands should have health insurance.

Are the islands politically stable?

The success of the Cayman Islands originates from a long-standing stable government, operating under British common law.The Caymans have cultivated a robust platform to foster continued successful economic growth to attract investors, multinational organizations and skilled personnel.

What is the government’s attitude to property development and overseas investors?

There are no legal restrictions of any kind to foreign ownership of property in the Caymans, which makes it very attractive to overseas investors. The government has also established the Department Commerce and Investment (DCI), the territory’s dedicated promotion agency
with a mandate to facilitate and stimulate long-term investments in all sectors of the economy. Premier McKeeva Bush has publically demonstrated his support to encouraging foreign investment.

What currency is used in The Cayman Islands?

The official currency is The Cayman Islands dollar (CI$) and permanently fixed at an exchange rate of CI$0.80 to US$1 (US$1 equals CI$1.25). US Dollars are accepted but change will be given in Caymanian Dollars.

Can a non-resident open a Cayman bank account?

Yes. Each bank has a different application process but its fairly straight forward although you do have to comply with the banks’ due diligence procedure. There are several retail banks in Cayman, as well as the offshore banks. These are: Butterfield Bank, Cayman National Bank, Royal Bank, Scotiabank, First Caribbean and Fidelity. Check out the Business directory for further information on Cayman Island Banks.

How safe are the Cayman Islands?

The crime threat in Grand Cayman is generally considered low. The crime threat on the sister islands is virtually non-existent. 

How to get there and get about?

Several airlines serve the Islands, which are just over one hour south of Miami. These include the national airline Cayman Airways, American Airlines, USAIR, Northwest, Delta,
Continental, Air Canada, British Airways, and Air Jamaica.

The national carrier serves Miami, Houston, Tampa, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Boston, Chicago; Kingston and Montego Bay, Jamaica; Havana, Cuba; and Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. There are direct links with other US gateways such as Atlanta, New York and Charlotte that are provided by the US carriers serving the Islands.

Regular, direct scheduled flights departing from London Heathrow to Grand Cayman’s Owen
Roberts International Airport are available with British Airways.

There is a new weekly flight from Miami direct to Cayman Brac. This has opened up the
Sister Islands to direct international travel.Cayman Airways provides an express service offering daily flights four to six times a day between the islands and allows passengers to connect with all of the airlines. Express flights are 35-45 minutes, and may include a brief stop in Little Cayman

What is the weather like?

The Cayman Islands boast an exotic, tropical climate throughout the year, with trade winds moderating high temperatures, which range from 25oC in winter to approximately 30oC in summer. High season runs from December to April where temperatures are generally cooler and more favourable for tourism. The rainy season is typically from May to October with short burst showers. 

Are the Islands affected by Hurricanes?

Like all Caribbean islands, the Cayman are affected by occasional hurricanes. Fortunately, the islands sophisticated infrastructure means that they usually pass with the minimum of disruption to daily life. The lessons learned in the past have been the catalyst for imposing strict new building regulations on any recent constructions

What tax needs to be considered when buying?

One of the major attractions of the Cayman Islands is that there is no direct taxation. There is no income tax, no property tax, no capital gains tax or other similar taxes in the Cayman Islands. However, there is an initial payment of Stamp Duty on real estate, amounting to approximately 7.5% in areas of high levels of infrastructure, and around 6% in less developed locations. There is also a small Transfer of Land fee, which equates to only approx. US$600 per transfer.

How secure is it to buy land in The Cayman Islands?


The Cayman Islands are a British Territory that operates under British Common Law. The Land Registry was created as a result of the Land Adjudication process, a UK Government-sponsored  initiative during the 1970s. The process replaced the registration of deeds (whereby the papers associated with land transactions were registered) with a registration of title system - whereby the land itself was registered.

The most important single component of Land Registration is that the Cayman Islands Government guarantees title. Land registration brought a certainty and finality to many questions of land ownership and provided confidence in land tenure that allowed for much of the economic development of the Cayman Islands in the last three decades. The Register and associated documents are public records, allowing full transparency in the ownership transactions.

Anything else we can help with ?

Simply contact the Savills Cayman real estate team on +1 345 640 6400 for a friendly and informal chat  to see how we can assist in your property plans.

 

Key contacts

Ann Baxter

Ann Baxter

Office Manager

Savills Cayman Islands

+1 345 640 6400