A legend begins
The sea is among the most influential characters in Cayman’s history, as it was a brisk sea breeze that blew Columbus’ ship off-course in 1503, leading to his discovery of the islands.
Originally named “Las Tortugas” for the abundance of turtles, they were to become known as ‘Caimanas,’ derived from a Carib Indian word for the marine crocodile that lived in the islands at that time. While still uninhabited, the islands were frequented by sailors, needing fresh water and food, or pirates in search of refuge. In 1670, the land became a British colony, with the first permanent settlers arriving from Britain via Jamaica in 1741.
The royal favour
The Wreck of the Ten Sail, considered Cayman’s most famous incident, occurred in 1794 when a convoy of British ships hit a reef. Legend has it that a royal personage was among those saved by the locals and in gratitude, King George III granted Cayman freedom from taxation. From the earliest days, Caymanians have enjoyed a kinship with the sea, as sailors, boat builders, and today, as gracious hosts to visitors who arrive from all over the world to discover the crystal-clear waters and beautiful coral reefs of the legendary Cayman Islands for themselves.