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Etiquette in The Cayman Islands

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 27 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Etiquette In The Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands consist of the islands of Grand Cayman Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, and are located in the western region of the Caribbean Sea. Grand Cayman is by far the most populated island, and due to its beautiful beaches, superior scuba diving, tropical climate and high urban standard of living, the Cayman Islands attract many tourists each year.

Public Behaviour & Greeting

The Cayman Islands remain a self-governing British crown colony, and as such the residents tend to have retained a conservative attitude, where politeness, courtesy and “proper etiquette” prevail. Churchgoing is also perhaps more frequent in the Cayman Islands than in Britain, and so the prevalence of Christianity on the island has too had an impact on slightly more reserved and conservative attitudes towards what is considered correct conduct. Unlike in Britain, homosexuality is actually an illegal activity in the Cayman Islands, so any public displays of affection between men in particular could attract the attention of the authorities and should be completely avoided.

Common courtesy is upheld, so you should always make a point of saying please, thank you, and taking the time to acknowledge shop assistants or those in “service” industries such as taxi drivers, hoteliers, bar staff or porters.

The Cayman Islands are still a somewhat matriarchal society, where family and respect for authority and seniority are very much commonplace. Because of this, when greeting someone on the Cayman Islands, you should make a point of introducing the most senior people present first.

Handshakes between men and women are the most common form of greeting, and bear in mind that you should allow for some personal space. Hugging and exchanging of kisses tend to be reserved for friends and family. When referring to or addressing a person, interestingly the most common ‘proper’ etiquette is to use the Christian (given or first) name in conjunction with the formal title of Mr or Miss – e.g. Mr John or Miss Emily. This is partly due to the high proportion of people with the same family name, notably Bush, Bodden and Ebanks.

British Ties!

The conservative and modest attitudes of the islanders should also be taken into account when considering appropriate dress codes – for instance, dining out will require smart casual or formal wear. Likewise the proper etiquette for any visits to a Church will require “Sunday dress” – a summer dress, skirt and smart top, or lightweight suit for a woman and a shirt (no tie is really required) and trousers for a man. Shorts are not really acceptable attire in this instance for either men or women.

Beachwear such as swimming trunks for men, and all-in-one swimming costumes and bikinis for women are perfectly acceptable on the beach. However, if you intend on venturing off the beach, you should always change of out your swimwear. Walking around in shorts and a bikini top would be frowned upon and seen as disrespectful and inappropriate. If you plan on taking a trip to shops or tourist attractions after a visit to the beach, you should always make a point of taking a complete change of clothes, or planning to go back to your hotel room to change. You should also be aware that topless sunbathing is actually illegal in the Cayman Islands.

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