Our second family-friendly stop during our Cayman Islands complimentary press trip was a visit to the Cayman Turtle Farm. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but it ended up being one of our favorite activities on the island. On our family’s second trip to Grand Cayman, we made sure to stop by – especially for my turtle-obsessed son. If you are cruising to Grand Cayman, the Cayman Turtle Farm can also be booked as a cruise excursion.
Disclosure: This post is part of a complimentary trip to Grand Cayman. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. A purchase/click through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us. We paid for our own admission to the Cayman Turtle Centre on our second visit.
Review of the Cayman Turtle Farm – Grand Cayman
The Cayman Turtle Centre: Island Wildlife Encounter is one of the most popular tourist attractions on Grand Cayman, attracting both cruise ship passengers and guests who are staying on the island. The Centre, which was formerly known as the Cayman Turtle Farm, offers several different areas that families will enjoy visiting.
focused on turtle conservation, showcasing Cayman wildlife, and educating guests about sea turtles. The Turtle Centre greets about 200,000 visitors each year. Turtle releases are done annually from the breeding program at the farm.
Guests can drive to the farm if you have a car – free parking is available. There are also shuttles offered. On our second trip, we booked the complimentary shuttle right to our hotel. If you are arriving to Grand Cayman on a cruise ship, you can either book your visit as an excursion direct from your cruise line, or take a cab and purchase your own tickets. It’s really up to you and your comfort level. Personally, I would book an excursion from the cruise line, just to make things easier.
During our first visit, we started out with a visit to the restaurant – Schooners Bar & Grill, where turtle soup, burgers, and steak were on the menu (I went with the delicious jerk chicken instead). The restaurant overlooks the snorkeling area, and the kids enjoyed watching the fish and turtles in the pond. We arrived earlier in the day on our second visit, and instead visited the restaurant toward the end of our day.
From there, we got a tour of the breeding pond and the touch tanks. The larger turtles (think Crush from Finding Nemo) have some huge teeth and aren’t incredibly friendly, but the younger ones are adorable. My daughter happily jumped in one of the touch tanks, while I decided to hold the turtle on dry land. We didn’t get a tour during the second visit, but did do a self-guided tour.
It was difficult getting the kids out of the touch tank, because they couldn’t get enough of the turtles. They really are a beautiful animal.
We didn’t get a chance to visit the turtle lagoon the first time, but did on the second visit. This was my son’s favorite spot. It’s a great option for families with younger kids who aren’t as familiar with snorkeling, because the water is so calm.
Snorkeling equipment, as well as the required life vests, are provided (but towels are not). I think my kids would have happily spent our whole day at the turtle lagoon, because they really enjoyed it. If you want to swim with sea turtles in Grand Cayman, this is really a great option.
The big surprise of the Cayman Turtle Farm is the Breakers Lagoon. It features a zero-entry entrance, two waterfalls, and a water slide. The pool is the largest on the island. There’s also an underwater viewing area of the predator tank area. The kids had a wonderful time, and I really wish I’d brought along a bathing suit. Bring along your own towels, however, because none are provided at the farm. You’ll also want the towels for the turtle lagoon.
The Cayman Turtle Centre includes the following exhibits in addition to what I’ve mentioned:
- The Green’s Breeding Pond, home to green sea turtles who are near or at breeding age
- The Education Center, where you can learn more about turtles, and see baby turtle hatchlings during the breeding season
- Smiley’s Saltwater Lagoon, home to Smiley, the first crocodile seen in the Cayman Islands since the 1950s
- Predator Reef, where you will find nurse sharks, barracuda, and more. You can also see their feedings.
- Caribbean Aviary where you can walk among birds of the Caribbean
- The butterfly garden, with 18 species of butterflies
- The Blue Hole Nature Trail, where you can walk among Cayman wildlife
When purchasing your tickets, there are two different ticket options available. The Turtle Centre Exploration Tour includes admission to the Green’s Genesis Pond, the Turtle Touch Tanks, Smiley’s Saltwater Lake, Stingray’s Playground, and The Education Centre & Hatchery.
If you want to snorkel and swim in the lagoon, you’ll want to book the Turtle Adventure Tour. That includes everything from the Exploration Tour, plus the following: the Turtle Lagoon, Predator Reef, the Caribbean Free Flight Aviary, Breaker’s Lagoon, the Blue Hole Nature Trail, and Cayman Street. Cayman resident tickets are also available.
The Cayman Turtle Centre is open every day, except for Good Friday and Christmas Day. Animal feeding shows are generally held during the week, but not on weekends.
Overall, I was so pleasantly surprised with how much there is to do at the Cayman Turtle Centre, and I definitely recommend a visit. You can learn more on their website.
Originally posted in 2012, updated in 2018