Most kids naturally love animals and interacting with them has numerous benefits for children of all ages. Not only does interacting with animals provide educational opportunities, it gets children outdoors and engaged in nature, and helps teach them about kindness and empathy.
Luckily for the kids in Cayman there are plenty of opportunities to meet all sorts of animals, including both land and sea creatures!
Green Sea Turtles
Get up close to Sea Turtles at the Cayman Turtle Centre. Meet some of the most majestic and ancient animals in the world from tiny hatchlings to adults weighing over 500 pounds. Kids can even swim and snorkel alongside the yearling turtles in the Turtle Lagoon! You will meet plenty of other animals during your time at the Turtle Centre including Smiley the Saltwater Crocodile plus nurse sharks, tarpon and barracuda at Predator Reef, a range of Caribbean birds in the aviary and beautiful butterflies in the Butterfly House.
A visit to Stingray City is a great experience for the whole family, including small children. Take a boat trip out to the sandbar where kids can stand in the shallow waters and meet Southern Stingrays in their natural habitat. Knowledgeable boat staff will teach the whole family all sorts of interesting facts about the Southern Stingrays, such as males growing to a width of 2.5 feet across, whereas females grow to a width of nearly 6 feet! If your little ones are feeling brave, they will even have the opportunity to feed the stingrays.
The Blue Iguana Conservation facility at the Botanic Park offers an up-close-and-personal view of the fascinating and beautiful Blue Iguanas – an endangered species in the Cayman Islands, the only place in the world where they are found. There were once tens of thousands of blue iguanas in the wild, today there are 100 of varying ages, many over five-feet long and in excess of 25 pounds, in the programme. On a relaxed self-guided tour of the facility, you will see juvenile and adult blue iguanas, view the new semi-wild habitats and learn more about the breeding programme. This unique activity is both educational and fun for the whole family.
Kids will never get tired of seeing these beautiful creatures in the wild. Pack a picnic and head to Starfish Point for a morning or afternoon. This beautiful secluded beach offers kids the opportunity to see the starfish in clear, calm and shallow waters. Bigger kids can go snorkelling and try and spot them among the seagrass further out. Remember not to lift them out of the water, not only is it illegal but starfish have a water vascular system which means they will drown when they are out of the water. Stop off at Kaibo on your way home for a bite to eat or a cocktail!
Cayman Parrots & Other Birds
The Cayman Parrot Sanctuary is home to a number of native animals including Cayman Parrots, agoutis and the ‘rasta caterpillar’. It’s also home to goats, rabbits, guinea pigs, cockatiels, snakes and lots of other reptiles. Kids will get the chance to hold and pet the rabbits and agoutis, and if they’re courageous, even hold a snake! Once they have finished meeting all the animals there are two playgrounds and a zip line to enjoy.
Tarpon are large fish, growing up to 8ft long, that can be spotted in the shallow waters around Cayman. Restaurants such as The Wharf offer nightly tarpon feeding at 7pm and 9pm (except Wednesdays). Watch as hundreds of tarpon splash around and compete for the food that is thrown into the water – it is quite a spectacle!
Cayman has two horse-riding stables where kids can enjoy a pony ride. The Cayman Riding School in Savannah and the Equestrian Center Riding School & Boarding Stable in George Town both offer pony rides every Saturday from 9am-10.30am for CI$5 per child. Afterwards kids can meet the goats, donkeys, chickens, and bunnies before climbing trees, running around and having some good old-fashioned fun in the fresh air.