- Plan Your Trip
- Research & Conservation
Our 9 foot and growing American saltwater crocodile resides here! In late 2006 Grand Cayman received an unexpected visitor, Smiley, the first crocodile seen in the Cayman Islands since the late-1950’s! She and her crocodile ancestors were originally called “Caimanas” by the early Spanish explorers, from which the Cayman Islands derived its name. Smiley is trained to jump and follow a target for food and a reward. Ask about feeding show times.
Not all of our animal friends live in the water. Stroll around the Caribbean Aviary to meet local and exotic Caribbean birds; including the Cayman Parrot, our national bird, and the colourful Scarlet Ibis. Some birds are busy making nests or foraging for food but ask about close-up encounters with the more curious of the bunch!
At the start of the Rainy Season as well as once or twice during the 6-month period, large numbers of Great Southern White butterflies swarm in mating rituals to lay hundreds of eggs, almost resembling snow flurries. The butterflies lay their eggs on a variety of native feed plants that bloom and grow profusely with the rains, including Wild Rosemary and cultivated cabbage plants- which may be how they gained their other name “Cabbage White Butterfly”. You will see them everywhere if you are visiting at the right time of year, but for an up-close encounter with these and other local butterfly species head to the Blue Hole Nature Trial where Butterfly Central is located.
The Blue Hole Nature Trail is named after the mysterious blue cave which is habitat to the only known species of an Amphipod – that is a tiny aquatic side swimming crustacean – in the world. The path winds through some of Cayman’s native trees. The Mahogany Tree is known as the ‘Cradle to the Grave’ tree because it was used for making everything from a baby’s cradle to a coffin! The Silver Thatch Tree – Cayman’s National Tree – can also be seen there. The leaves of this tree – silvery on the underside, hence the name - were at one time the source of Cayman’s only export. Cut into strips, they were woven together to form the world’s toughest marine rope. Today local artisans, selling beautiful bags and hats and baskets from the same Silver Thatch Leaves, can often be found within the park. There are also three beautiful species of wild orchid there: The Banana Orchid, Cayman’s National Flower, and delicate and beautiful ghost orchid, a rare, endangered and endemic native plant, and the Monk Orchid, which is Cayman’s only ground-living orchid. The Red Birch Tree is called the ‘Tourist Tree’ by locals because its bark looks like the skin of tourists when they have been out in the Cayman sun for too long! Sea grape trees have lovely round leaves and produce a sweet, slightly salty tasting ‘grape’ that is still used to make drinks.
If you are fortunate, you can often see several different kinds of wildlife on the nature trail, such as the Zebra Butterfly, White Crowned Pigeons, the Yucatan Vireo and Bananaquit birds, the beautiful Cayman Blue Anole Lizard, and the Agouti, a large, gentle rodent which local people call “Rabbit” because it hops like a rabbit and looks a bit like a rabbit- only with short ears.