ExploreCayman iPad App Review

When N and I visited Grand Cayman for the very first time (which was just a one day visit on a cruise route), we immediately sensed Cayman was unlike most other Caribbean locations. From the large houses along the canals to the clean downtown to the well-maintained roads, we knew this island was different. Everything felt more advanced and modern than other islands we'd visited. We later learned that Cayman boasts a high standard of living for most of its inhabitants due to the concentration of banks, hedge funds, captive insurance companies and the like that are domiciled and serviced in the Cayman Islands. After moving to Cayman, we discovered places like Camana Bay--the modern town center eat/work/play neighborhood in the middle of Seven Mile Beach--designed to service tourists and residents alike.

So it should come as no surprise that in this up-to-date, modern island environment in which we live that there is a comprehensive iPad app covering Cayman activities and promotions. ExploreCayman is a free app that has hit the scene recently and is creating some excitement among iPad users. Just look at these gorgeous photos on the app's home screen!

This app has been designed by the same folks that publish Cayman New Resident, Good Taste, and Explore Cayman - three free publications that have helped me become more informed about setting up our lives, getting involved in various outdoor activities, and enjoying many restaurants since moving here. In particular, the Explore Cayman publication is designed to service Cayman's tourism industry, with loads of details and tidbits about businesses and activities in the Cayman Islands. To have all of that information at my fingertips in a single iPad app? What a convenient way to interact with the many options this island has to offer!

I decided to use the app initially to look up my alternatives for horseback riding in Grand Cayman. We live near a couple stables here in West Bay, and I'm never quite sure what to recommend to guests when they ask about the differences in the tours. As you can see in the app's screen shot above, once I drilled down in the "Things to Do" section, I selected "Land Based", and horseback rides started popping up.

Through using the Explore Cayman app, I learned about a stable I didn't even know about: Spirit of The West.  I also learned that this stable offers moonlit horseback rides - now that's something new I can start suggesting! 

I found out that this stable, like the others I've used, also operates out of West Bay, and based on the app's built-in maps, it looks to be located in Barkers National Park

Below is a screen shot of a map displaying the locations of all activities. The maps are interactive and will give point-to-point Google directions, which is super helpful for visitors, new residents, or long-term residents like me who still can't find her way around George Town. (In my defense: The roads are twisty! And roundabouts pop up out of nowhere! I'll be keeping this app handy.)

After selecting an activity, all the details relating to that activity are provided in one screen: A description, the location, contact details, a reservation feature, the opportunity to write a review, and of course, the price. An especially useful feature is the app's built-in currency converter. So if you're visiting from the UK and would like to know how far your pounds will stretch, select the GBP option and budget away!

As I poked around the app's menus, one thing that stuck out to me was how often I saw a little red flag beneath each listing that indicated a deal or a coupon associated with the activity.

For example, I started out by looking in the "Health and Fitness" section, since 'tis the season for some extra exercise. I got a little excited when I saw that a Couples Massage was the first activity on the list. 

But since I probably won't undo the holiday feasting with massage, I kept going.

Under "Business" (middle tab on the screen shot above), Bliss Living and Yoga popped up, and that's where I noticed the 10% discount. Wanting to know more (is it just on the clothing, or are services also included?), I clicked through to get more details.

10% off everything! Valid through all of 2013! That's a deal worth knowing about, and I certainly wouldn't have heard about it without this app. Now that's the kind of information even a long-term resident needs access to.

Other useful features included in the ExploreCayman app:

  • Offline usage: All of the business information and maps and promotions are available 24/7, whether or not the iPad is connected to the internet.
  • Reservations: Requests can be made offline, and are then accepted once the app comes online. I know of an exact scenario when this would have been helpful: I was flying back to the island from a recent business trip, and I was sitting next to a couple who were coming to vacation on the island. They had an iPad, and although the airplane offered WiFi, we all know those charges are steep, so of course they were limited to offline use. Had they downloaded the app prior to boarding, they could have selected a restaurant for dinner and requested a reservation while sitting on the plane. Once on the ground and within a WiFi signal, the reservation would have been made official, and dinner would have nearly served itself!
  • Search functionality: A great way to find information you need without flicking through several menus. I used this feature (accessible via the little bubble in the upper right-hand corner) to see what the app had to say about kitesurfing.

I searched for "kite", since kiteboarding and kitesurfing are used almost interchangeably around here. Above, you can see some of the results I found. Scrolling down, I found a link called "Exploring West Bay", which provided all kinds of information about what to do, see, and eat in our area.

The description of Barkers National Park is pretty accurate: Horses, kitesurfers, and getting "away from it all on a deserted beach". That pretty much sums up why we moved here!

So do yourself a favor: Download the free ExploreCayman iPad app from the iTunes App Store and start exploring the Cayman Islands. With a little help from the experts, I reckon you're in for a wonderful trip!