The history of the Cayman Islands spans centuries from its days as a pirate's haven, to its days as the center of the slave trade, to the diving and banking center that it is today.
If you were to see the Cayman Islands today, with its top-notch diving and international banking, you'd be hard-pressed to think of it in terms of pirates and scallywags, slaves and traders. Who knew that's what would become of the Cayman Islands when Christopher Columbus first spotted the 99 miles of coastline back in 1503. He didn't settle here. No one did, until around the 1660s--making it only around 40 years younger in terms of European settlers from when the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock. And as for as stunning as what you'll find under the water--amazing how the first dive shop didn't show up in the Caymans until 1957.
Things move slow here in the Caymans, don't they? Except for the Fast Food joints that have managed to pop up. They're also really formal, as its not uncommon to be addressed as Mr. or Ms. in conversation. And it's a religious island--did you cruise ships aren't allowed to dock in port on Sundays? What's really remarkable that since the Caymans got their start as a stop for marauding pirates, the island has practically no crime. When the pirates were here the Cayman Islands were popularly known as Las Tortugas, for its large tortoise population. This is why the national dish is Turtle. Um, I'll stick to the Jamaican influenced cuisine instead. I sure wouldn't mind an off-shore Cayman Islands bank account though. Who wouldn't--this is a huge banking center. The best part? You don't have to pay the taxes in the United States for what you've got hidden (I mean, deposited) here. Ahhh, no one tell the IRS I said that, OK? I joke around, but the natural beauty of the island is stunning--and all 54,000 Caymanians enjoy one of the highest standards of living around. It must be all the sweet potatoes and melons grown here. Too bad a lot more has to be imported to sustain all the divers and sun-worshipers that flock to the islands. There doesn't seem to be any shortage of rum on the island--and that's a very good thing. What's even better is how the island has gone from its slave trade days (slavery was abolished in 1835) to a leader in tourism and eco-tourism. Now instead of pirates and slave ships--you've got condos, villas, and camping. I wonder if former visitors like Sir Francis Drake (who came here in 1585) and Oliver Cromwell (he was here in 1655) would be just as impressed with today's Cayman Islands. Heck, they probably would've have stashed some of their booty in one of the island's off-shore accounts. Columbus was broke--so I'm not too sure about him. Joking. Just joking. One thing to take seriously is the Cayman Island's love of nature and all that comes with it. The mammals, birds, and reptiles were here during these guys' day--but it wasn't known as the Red-Footed Booby Bird Nature Reserve back then. No, I'm not making the name up. Just as I'm not kidding when I say don't go looking for any casinos on the island. You can hide what ever you've won on one of the other Caribbean islands here though. Again, kidding. A lot of interesting and unique experiences have happened to the Cayman Islands over the last 300+ years--and I only wish I could be around in another three centuries to see what happens to it.