Cayman Islands - Financial Offshore with White-Sand Beaches

The Cayman Islands is the most exotic place I've visited so far. Unlike more popular Maldives or Bahamas, many people have hard time fi...

The Cayman Islands is the most exotic place I've visited so far. Unlike more popular Maldives or Bahamas, many people have hard time finding it on the world map. However, the Cayman Islands has some interesting features that I'm about to show you which will make you add the Cayman Islands on your bucket list.

The Cayman Islands is a small country which comprises of three tiny islands. It's located not too far from Cuba in the western part of the Caribbean Sea. It turned out that the Cayman Islands is not even an independent country, but the British Overseas Territory.
Our cruise ship stopped at Georgetown, the capital of the Cayman Islands, on the biggest of the three islands - Grand Cayman. 
Like most of the islands in the Caribbean Sea, the Cayman Islands' economy is primarily driven by the tourism. Also, Caymanians grow sugar cane, produce sea salt, raise sea turtles and make the famous rum "Tortuga". 
But those are not the only ways how Caymanians make money. The Cayman Islands is one of the biggest financial offshores in the world. In 2008, 279 banks were incorporated in the Cayman Islands. Most of them do business with foreign clients. But why does the Cayman Islands attract so many bankers from around the globe? You guessed it right - no tax. There is absolutely no tax on income for persons and corporations including capital gains. The Cayman Islands became a huge tax shelter where the number of incorporated businesses surpassed the number of local people. Even Mitt Romney, a candidate for President of the United States in the 2012 election keeps his money here. 
But you may ask: if there is no tax, what does the country make money out of? The answer is customs duties. There is a duty on almost everything excluding baby food, books and, oh boy, cameras. For example, a duty for a car is going to be 30-40%. And because of the duty, the gas here is almost three times more expensive than in the United States. One gallon (3.79 liters) costs over 4.4 Cayman Islands dollars as of May 2015 (1 Cayman Islands dollar = 1.25 USD).
There is local legend that explains why they have no tax and why they will never have one. On February 8th, 1794, 10 merchant vessels crashed into the coral reef at the Cayman Islands due to the storm. Locals helped save sailors and passengers from these vessels. And one of the survivors happened to be a member of the royal family. In gratitude to Caymanians, King George III exempted people of the Cayman Islands from all taxes.
The Cayman Islands is the wealthiest country in the Caribbean and number 14 per capita in the world. I wonder if this old man who sells coconuts and sea shells knows that.
Similarly to the United Kingdom, people drive cars at the left side of the road. As our bus driver (originally from Canada though) said - Left side is a right side, and right side is a suicide. 
If you like a tropical marine climate, the Cayman Islands is for you. Unlike most of the United States, Canada and Europe, there are only two seasons here - dry (November - April) and wet (May - October). While the temperatures remain the same year around, chances of a hurricane greatly increase from June to October. 
In 2004, the damage caused by the Hurricane Ivan to the Cayman Islands was estimated at 3.4 billion dollars. Almost 88% of the islands' property was broken or damaged. Nevertheless, everything was rebuilt and repaired in only 2 years. The offshore money did the magic.
Local souvenirs await their new owners.
I didn't find anything interesting in downtown Georgetown. It looks like a regular North American tourist trap with souvenir shops, restaurants and liquor stores. I kind of figured that out ahead of time, so I purchased a boat excursion.
Our boat is up to a quick ride off shore where we're going to visit two places.
Did you notice a blue iguana? 
It can grow up to 2 1/2 feet (76 cm) plus the tail (can be the same length).
Mangrove trees that live along shores can survive in salt water. Not only do they filter the water, but also provide important habitat to many animals and plants.
Star fish probably realizes that it's out of rich for boats like ours, so it lays still. 
Big bucks work. Some examples of waterfront real estate in the Cayman Islands.
20 minutes and we're about to make our first stop. But wait a second - what is it? Boats anchored right in the middle of the sea.
Let's look a little bit closer. Can you see those dark spots in the water?
It's a stingray!
We've anchored tn the Stingray City. It's a shallow sand bar a few miles off shore where in 1980s divers started to feed stingrays with squids. Since then stingrays associate a boat engine with food and come here.
These stingrays are not electric, but obviously can sting. While they are relatives of sharks, these ones are very peaceful. 
Everyone on our boat had a chance to feed a stingray with a squid. It was fun, but a little bit scary.  
The water was so clear, so it looked like this boat was flying over it.
The second stop is only a couple of minutes from the Stingray City. 
This is the Coral Garden - the most beautiful thing I have ever seen under water. It's about 10 ft (3 m) deep and inhabited with lots of fish and other sea creatures. Sometimes I regret I don't shoot underwater, otherwise I would have shown you this beauty.  
Let me introduce you to the tarpon fish. These are about 3 ft (1 m) long. Not the kind of fish you want to swim with.
Final views of Georgetown from the cruise ship before we head west to Cozumel, Mexico. 

My other posts about the Caribbean Cruise:

Cruising the Caribbean Sea
Key West - Home of the Sunset
Chankanaab Park In Cozumel

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