Souvenirs from the Cayman Islands
The most popular souvenirs from the Cayman Islands are the items found in duty free shops, such as high end fashion and jewelry, crystal drinking ware and electronics. If you are seeking something slightly more unique, black coral jewelry is a specialty of the country. These striking pieces are a dramatic touch to your wardrobe, and will nicely accent colorful cotton sundresses, skirts and sarongs. Antiquities from centuries old shipwrecks are signature items, as well, and can be a delicate glass bottle, steering wheel or interestingly aged piece of metal. Caymanian souvenirs are sunny and tropical, with brightly printed T-shirts and post cards reminding the recipient of the islands' warm sands and soft breezes. Wood carvings, shell and bead jewelry, local spices, richly scented lotions, and smooth rums are a welcome addition to any suitcase, but make sure to leave room for all the key chains and refrigerator magnets to give to family.
A Brief History of the Cayman Islands
First recorded on Christopher Columbus's final voyage, they were originally known as Las Tortugas, for all the sea turtles sighted by the crew. When Sir Francis Drake visited in 1856, he named them the Cayman Islands, a regional name meaning alligator. There is no archaeological evidence of any native tribes, but an odd assortment began calling the islands their home in the 1600's. Pirates, deserters, and refugees all lived here freely until 1655, when the English invaded. A permanent settlement was established in the 1730's, and the region was under the same administrative control as Jamaica until 1962, when it became its own Crown colony. The story behind the Cayman Islands' tax-free status is quite interesting, if not entirely reliable. IN 1794, 10 English ships ran aground on a reef in high seas. One of the fortunate survivors was Prince William, son of King George. The Caymanians claim that the King was so grateful to have his son, that he declared them to be forever tax-exempt.