Visit the Turtle Farm at Boatswain's Beach. 

Boatswain's Beach Cayman Islands - at the Turtle Farm in West Bay, Grand CaymanThe silver lining of the devastation of Cayman Turtle Farm during Hurricane Michelle in November 2001 is the massive re-development of the turtle farm. Boatswain's Beach is an ambitious, multi-million dollar project covering 20 acres, located across the road from the old Turtle Farm. This premeire attraction incorporates fresh and salt water swimming lagoons, predator tanks, aviaries, a nature trail, fresh-water pond and traditional Cayman-style architecture. "It will be a showcase for our culture," says farm managing director Kenneth Hydes, "and will function both as a farm and research center, as well as an attraction where, rather than making a brief visit, people will want to spend the day."

The Cayman Islands are one of the most serene and peaceful vacation spots in the Caribbean. While the primary cultural influences are from the United Kingdom, North America, and Jamaica, 113 nationalities are present on the three islands. 

One of the most striking aspects of culture on the Cayman Islands - and an indicator of the predominant British and American influence - is the prevalence of Christianity. Denominations represented on the island include Roman Catholic, Baptist, Anglican, Church of God, and Presbyterian, among others. Churches are ubiquitous on the islands, and many residents reserve Sundays for churchgoing. Religion is taken so seriously that ports on the Cayman Islands are closed to cruise ships on Sundays and other religious holidays such as Christmas. 

British influence is also seen in the language of the Caymans, which is English with a lilting combination of accents from English, Scottish, and Welsh settlers. Jamaican settlers also brought their unique patois to the islands; it is still detectable in the accents of select residents today. Jamaican influences are also undeniably present in the cuisine of the Cayman Islands. Jerk seasoning is used to add flair to many traditional Caribbean dishes. The Cayman National Cultural Foundation works to promote the art and culture of the islands through dance, theatre, and the visual and literary arts. 

World class scuba diving is among the many alluring features that draw vacationers to the Cayman Islands. It is also an important part of the local culture. The Caribbean's first dive shop opened on Grand Cayman in 1957. American culture also influences the culture of the Cayman Islands, particularly in the tourist areas frequented by travelers from North America. American dollars are widely accepted. 

Caymanians are respectful and friendly. Greetings and pleasantries are common and expected, and most islanders use titles of respect, such as Mr. and Miss, when addressing other islanders. 

Although the Cayman Islands are primarily influenced by British and American culture, they are a popular playground for expatriates of all nationalities. 

Much has been written about the Cayman Islands being tax-free and whilst this is not exactly true there are definitely benefits to be had for people moving to Cayman in the areas of investments, property and duty-free shopping. The reality from an individual's perspective is that, apart from your payment contributions to compulsory medical insurance and your pension, there will be no deductions from your salary and no Cayman taxes on profits and gains from investments. Moreover there are no sales, goods and services taxes or VAT and many luxury goods in Cayman are either virtually or completely duty-free. (See the information on Duty-Free Advantages later in this chapter). Also if you decide to live out the rest of your days in Cayman, there are no inheritance taxes or death duties. 

The Cayman government raises the money needed to run and improve the infrastructure of the Islands from customs duties, fees for local work-permits and licences, tourist accommodation tax and fees raised from the financial services industry and tourism. Typically import duty is 20% on any item imported into the Cayman Islands, although some goods like vehicles, wines, spirits and some food items are charged at varying rates. 

If new residents import their used household and personal belongings (which they have owned for more than six months) within six months of their arrival, then they will not be charged import duty. After this time normal tariffs will apply. (See the Preparing to Move chapter for more information.) 

In addition, each individual resident has a Customs allowance of CI$350 for personal goods each time they enter Cayman. 

Imagine walking on a seven mile long beach, sand rubbing against your bare feet with a loved one close next to you, or visiting designer stores that sell goods that you take home duty free, or even taking a bite into a luscious piece of chocolate rum cake. These are only some of the things you can do in the Cayman Islands. With so many of us looking for a new place to go on vacation and relax, I definitely recommend the Cayman Islands.  

First of all, the Cayman Islands is rich with beaches that feature crystal clear water and grainy brown sand that gives your feet a free and natural massage. While at the beach there are many activities for people of all ages. Some like to sunbathe while reading a novel, take a dip to cool them off in the cold waters, or even engage in water sports. These water sports include, fishing, scuba diving, and jet skiing, and even surfing. 

The Cayman Islands are famous for two of its main assets. The first is duty free shopping. In the Cayman Islands there are many brand name stores to cater to your shopping needs, including Cartier, Omega, Rolex, Luis Vuitton, Chanel, and many more. The best part of all this shopping is that it is all tax and duty free. Another great asset of the Cayman Islands is its famous rum cake, and other rum products. These rum cakes are made fresh daily and are available in a variety of sizes and different flavors. 

If you are looking for a relaxing vacation, a getaway with a loved one, or a culturally enriching experience then the Cayman Islands is the place for you. From sunrise with a beach view to sunset with a cold pina colada, you will not regret your visit there. 

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This section provides detailed information on how to find a home in the Cayman Islands. We give an overview of the residential areas of Grand Cayman. We talk about renting or buying a property in the Cayman Islands and we even give you insider wisdom on what pitalls to avoid. Finally we list temporary accommodation to tide you over for your first few weeks in Cayman. 

Overview of The Cayman Property Market 

The real estate market in Cayman is simple and straightforward. Apart from a one-time stamp duty, there are no annual property taxes or restrictions on foreign ownership by individuals and title is granted and guaranteed by the Cayman Islands Government. Title to land is recorded in a modern, reliable and centralised land registry, where every plot of land is mapped and given a descriptive title number based on its location. Any encumbrances such as mortgages, rights-of-way and cautions pending contract are recorded on the title register of that parcel of land. Vacant land can be owned and held for future investment potential. To date, Cayman real estate has proved to be an attractive and profitable investment. Most law firms in Cayman have attorneys who are experts in property law and it is recommended to consult one before signing a contract. Fees are negotiable, but usually less than 1% of value. Owning land in the name of a corporation is possible, but there are strict rules to be followed and a lawyer's advice will be essential. 

Buildings are subject to planning controls and are required to be constructed to high standards: These are monitored by the Cayman Islands' Building Control Department, which carries out inspections on such things as building sites, plumbing and electrical work. Construction companies now have to follow the guidelines of the newly gazetted Builder's Law. Construction materials have to be imported and are subject to duty on the landed value, usually at 20%. Consequently, the cost of building is considerably higher than in places where materials are more readily available. Houses, apartments, condos and townhouses are available for purchase, as are time-shares. Prices vary depending upon location, size, design and other features. Water and beachfront properties, particularly those on Seven Mile Beach, command high prices. 

The Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association 

Buying and selling properties in the Cayman Islands in the 1970's and 1980's used to be a bit of an ordeal: All real estate companies kept new listings to themselves; some realtors were better trained than others; some charged higher commissions than others, and not everyone followed the highest standards of business practices. In 1987 a number of realtors agreed to form The Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association (CIREBA) which is based on the North American style of relationship between realtors. 

Today the association has 187 sales associates from 30 member companies- 80% of all realtors in the Cayman Islands. All CIREBA listings are kept in a central database, known as the Multiple Listing System, or MLS, that can then be accessed by any member agent. The MLS encourages close working relationships between customers and individual realtors, indeed, most realtors say that it is important that customers pick a good realtor that they can work with and then stick with them exclusively, as all members have access to the MLS database. 

One of the associations founding aims was to "improve and elevate the general knowledge of persons engaged in the real estate business". They have a customized training course that all realtors must pass before they can start working with customers and clients and gain membership of the association. The programme takes into account legislative matters, business ethics and due diligence requirements (which are among the toughest in the world). 

Current Overview of the Property Market (Stats from CIREBA) 

Currently in the Multiple Listing System there are 2,030 active listings totalling US$1.62 billion. The average amount of time a property is on the market is 259 days. There are 111 three bedroom homes on the market at an average price of US$666,250. There are 458 two bedroom condominiums listed Island-wide with an average price of US$525,000. There are 567 residential/agricultural parcels of land for sale island-wide at an average of US$388,000. To date so far this year (June 2007) 259 listings have been sold, amounting to US$175.2 million. There are 373 properties that are under contract and scheduled for closing amounting to US$184.6 million. This is mainly from sales that were done last year and pre-construction properties that have not yet completed. Over the last year the association has seen the average movement in price from listing price to sales price to be at 6% for the 317 sold condominiums with average days on market of 417 days. Residential homes have seen an average movement in price from listing price to sales price of 12% for the 86 homes sold, with an average days on market of 301 days. Residential/agricultural parcels of land have seen a 12% movement for the 194 parcels sold and they have been on the market for an average of 439 days.

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