When travelers think of summer vacation, they don't often conjure images of the Caribbean, but in the case of Grand Cayman, they should.
The temperature and humidity doesn't spike during summer months the way it does in many other islands. Thanks to Grand Cayman's position tucked within the northeastern trade wind belt, summer is not all that different than weather at any other time of year. Cool nights and hot tropical days dominate, though it's true that it does rain more often from June through November. However, showers don't tend to linger.
Since summer is technically off-season for travelers, prices dip on this notoriously expensive island during the summer, making it especially attractive for long family stays. Deals abound everywhere from luxury properties like Caribbean Club and the Ritz Carlton on Seven Miles Beach to quiet West Bay cottages at the Cotton Tree to beachfront condos at Planata. This small island, just 22 miles long by eight miles wide and a population of about 52,000, it's easy to explore and to navigate.
With a slower pace and fewer crowds, summertime is when visitors can experience the rhythm of true island life. One of the best places to do that is at Camana Bay, the defacto new town center, where locals flock to shop, dine, work and even live, thanks to 61 apartments woven into the development. This summer, the Discovery Centre is giving away free $10 gift cards, which can be used at any of Camana Bay's 40 shops and restaurants.
Summer 2014 also marks the debut of Starfish Village, a day (and night) care center that caters to kids from babies to tweens. Open to visitors and locals alike with by-the-hour service, it will stay open late on Friday and Saturday nights so parents can sneak in a romantic dinner and maybe even a stroll along the waterfront.
Another family-friendly addition to Grand Cayman is Imagination Playground, an interactive space that's free for all children. Open until 8 p.m. at night, kids can get creative with of foam, mats, crates and fabric.
Families spread out blankets for alfresco picnic dinners while watching movies like "Monsters Inc." and "Ratatouille" every Tuesday. Admission to Moonlight and Movies is free and draws a big local crowd, so come early.
Another way for visitors to get a feel for the way people live on Grand Cayman is to visit the Farmers' Market, which is held every Wednesday. In addition to stalls selling fresh fruit and produce, there are prepared local foods and handmade crafts. This is a great place to meet residents and learn more about their way of life on the island.
The carefree, laid back vibe of this chic little island shines brightest during the summer months. It's hard to beat the allure of scampering through the crystalline waves, chasing feisty land crabs, lounging on sugary Seven Mile Beach, horseback riding at the edge of the Caribbean, kissing stingrays in what may be the world's only spot that stingrays actually cotton to this in the wild, learning to standup paddle, scuba diving in the reefs and watching sundown with the back beat of a calypso-infused Cayman band on the sand.