The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory in the western Caribbean Sea. The nation is known for its islands, tourism, but also for being a tax-haven… interesting.
George Town, the capital of the Cayman Islands, is the main cruise ship for those going on a cruise ship to the Cayman Islands. It also has the national museum and the famous Seven Mile Beach.
Rum Point is great for snorkeling and jet skiing. West Bay has turtles and dolphins, and East End is lovely for scuba diving. The Cayman Islands is for the adventurous peeps among us.
What may be an unpleasant adventure is dealing with an expensive roaming bill you will get from roaming with your provider in the Cayman Islands. Roaming can be expensive in many cases, which is why many travelers prefer to buy local SIM cards, like a Cayman one.
In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in the Cayman Islands. Let's get started.
Telecom Providers in the Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands has 2 telecom providers: Flow Cayman and Digicel Cayman. Both operators have 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE networks. However, Digicel Cayman is planning on shutting its 2G network down on the 1st of July 2020.
Luckily, 2G is basically useless for data usage, so you will not be affected by it if you have a modern phone (one that is at least less than 10 years old).
What SIM card should you buy when visiting the Cayman Islands? If you want to buy a SIM card in the Cayman Islands, I would recommend going with either Flow or Digicel. Both providers have good coverage and speeds throughout the Cayman Islands while offering a variety of packages.
Do note that the market share and coverage of both providers are almost identical, although Flow has an upper hand while Digicel is cheaper. Many locals have a SIM card from both operators so that they do not have to pay any off-net fees (a fee for texting a Flow Cayman number while being a Digicel Cayman customer and vice versa).
Unlike most countries in the Caribbean, you do not have to show your passport when buying a Cayman SIM card.
The Cayman Islands Dollar, KYD, is pegged 1:1.20 to the US Dollar, meaning that 1 KYD is 1.20 USD.
With that being said, let’s see what the Cayman Islands have to offer to us.
Video Guide for Buying a SIM Card in the Cayman Islands
Flow Cayman, just Flow, is the original telecom operator in the Cayman Islands. They had a monopoly until Digicel barged into their backyard. Now, both operators have a market share of around 50/50 because Caymans like to have a SIM card of both operators.
Flow SIM cards are sold for 11 KYD in Flow stores. Ask for a 4G SIM card if you want to take advantage of Flow’s 4G/LTE network. Top-up vouchers are sold in various stores throughout the country, but you can also top-up online with a credit card or with PayPal. To check your Flow credit balance, dial *120# or use the Flow app.
Flow has several Prepaid Combo plans, which come with data, minutes, and unlimited SMS:
- 10 KYD: 1 GB and 250 minutes for 5 days. Activation: dial *140*8#
- 20 KYD: 2 GB and 500 minutes for 7 days. Activation: dial *140*16#
- 50 KYD: 2 GB and 1000 minutes for 30 days. Activation: dial *140*50#
Only need data and are staying in the Cayman Islands for less than a week? You can get one of Flow’s short-term Data Only plans:
- 3 KYD: 250 MB for 1 day. Activation: dial *146*50#
- 8 KYD: 1 GB for 3 days. Activation: dial *146*250#
- 15 KYD: 2 GB for 7 days. Activation: dial *146*1007#
Staying in the Cayman Islands for a bit longer? Then these long-term Flow Data Only plans will be interesting:
- 20 KYD: 1 GB for 30 days. Activation: dial *146*1030#
- 30 KYD: 5 GB for 15 days. Activation: dial *146*2000#
- 40 KYD: 5 GB for 30 days. Activation: dial *146*4000#
- 50 KYD: 15 GB for 30 days. Activation: dial *146*10000#
Digicel Cayman, just Digicel, is the cheaper option in the Cayman Islands. The “downside” is that the coverage is slightly worse than the one of Flow. Remember, Digicel will shut down its 2G network on the 1st of July 2020 to make room for 3G and 4G/LTE coverage.
Digicel SIM cards can be purchased at Digicel stores. Recharge cards are sold in various stores throughout the country, but you can also top-up online with a credit card.
Digicel has a few Quick Pick Bundles, which are their combo packs that come with unlimited on-net minutes:
- 6 KYD: 250 MB and 20 anywhere minutes for 2 days
- 22.50 KYD: 1.5 GB and 100 anywhere minutes for 10 days
- 50 KYD: 3 GB and 300 anywhere minutes for 30 days
Anywhere minutes include calls to Flow Cayman and Digicel Caribbean numbers, which include:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- British Virgin Islands
- French Guiana
- St. Kitts and Nevis
- St. Lucia
- St. Vincent and Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Turks and Caicos
You can activate a Digicel Quick Pick Bundle online or on the My Digicel App. Unused data and minutes will roll-over to the next month if you renew your bundle.
Only need data? Then the Digicel Prepaid Data Packs should be interesting:
- 2 KYD: 100 MB for 1 day
- 5 KYD: 500 MB for 3 days
- 10 KYD: 1 GB for 7 days
- 25 KYD: 2 GB for 30 days
- 30 KYD: 4 GB for 30 days
You can activate a Digicel Prepaid Data Bundle online or on the My Digicel App.
Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in the Cayman Islands
Now you know everything about buying a SIM card in the Cayman Islands, but what are your other options? Although buying a local SIM card is almost always the cheapest option, the cheapest option would be using free WIFI connections in the Cayman Islands, but you can also roam with your provider in the Cayman Islands, use an international SIM card in the Cayman Islands, or use a mobile hotspot in the Cayman Islands. Let’s see what our options are.
Using Free WIFI hotspots in the Cayman Islands
Using something free is always better than paying for something. However, sometimes, free stuff may be of bad quality. Sure, you do not have to pay anything for using a free hotspot (unless you are required to purchase a beverage or meal at an establishment), but it may be a challenge to find a free hotspot. Moreover, the connection may be so slow that it is practically useless.
In the case of the Cayman Islands, you can mainly in the tourist areas.
Do note that public hotspots are unsecure. Hackers love to steal sensitive information on unprotected connections because it is apparently easy to do so. That is why I use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when using a public hotspot, and I would encourage you to do so too.
What a VPN does is creating an encrypted tunnel between your device and the hotspot so that your data will stay private. I use NordVPN, and you can get up to 70% off when you get a NordVPN subscription. Get your NordVPN subscription now!
Roaming with Your Provider in the Cayman Islands
Roaming is a term used in wireless telecommunication that indicates a mobile device is outside the range of its home network and has connected to a different, available cell network. Let’s say your provider is Digicel Grenada, then you would be roaming with Digicel Grenada in the Cayman Islands.
Roaming may be the most convenient way of using your phone abroad. You do not have to buy a new SIM card, which, in turn, means you do not have to swap SIM cards. As a result, your friends and family from home can easily reach you on your cell. With many providers, the only thing you need to do is to turn on the data roaming setting on your phone, and you are good to go.
No idea how roaming works? I made this comprehensive guide about what roaming is and how it works. It is worth the read – promised!
Although roaming with your provider may be the most convenient way of staying connected in the Cayman Islands, it can also be the most expensive option. There have been many horror stories where people have racked up roaming bills up in the thousands and even more than ten thousand.
Luckily, many providers have affordable roaming plans, allow you to roam for free in some destinations like the Cayman Islands, or allow you to use your plan’s allowance in the Cayman Islands. For example, with Virgin Mobile Canada, you can use your plan’s allowance for 12 Canadian dollars per day. This may be affordable in some destinations for a small number of days, but it will be expensive for prolonged periods.
If you are unsure about the roaming options of your provider, I have written many articles about roaming with various operators around the world. I analyze them in-depth and give you my advice on whether you should roam with your provider or not. If yes, I also state for how long you should roam to take the most advantage of the offer.
One thing that should be avoided at all costs is to Pay As You Go roaming where you pay per minute, SMS, or MB. This is how many people get expensive roaming bills because the roaming prices for data are usually extremely high.
If you want to roam, make sure to get a roaming plan. Unless your provider offers extremely low Pay As You Go roaming rates, which is only a handful of providers, then you can consider doing so. Furthermore, if your provider lets you roam for free in the Cayman Islands, then you should go for it. Just note that your speeds will be lower as a roamer than if you were to buy a Cayman SIM card.
Using an International SIM Card in the Cayman Islands
International SIM cards are SIM cards that work internationally. Most SIM cards do work abroad, but then you have to roam with your provider. International SIM cards, however, let’s you use one SIM card in many destinations around the world for, often, the same price. This way, your friends and families can still reach out to you while traveling.
International SIM cards are, however, much more expensive than buying a local SIM card in many cases, but they are often cheaper than to roam with your provider. There are many international SIM card providers out there, but a few providers I can recommend are OneSimCard, SimOptions, Surfroam, BNESIM, and SimCorner.
International SIM cards are useful for those who frequently travel for leisure or for business. That way, everyone can reach you on one number instead of a handful of local numbers scattered around the world.
Moreover, many destinations in the world require you to register yourself before you can buy a local SIM card. In some countries, the process is quick, while others require much more of your time. Furthermore, the registration process may be cumbersome in countries.
Finally, the language barrier may be off-putting to some. It can be a challenge dealing with a salesperson who does not understand you. They may try and sell you the most expensive option out there. Luckily, you know the prices of SIM cards and packs in the Cayman Islands, so you cannot be taken advantage of.
My recommendation, however, is to get a local SIM card if you are only visiting one destination. If you are visiting multiple destinations in one trip, an international SIM card could be handy. If you want to learn more about international SIM cards, check out my international SIM card comparison article, where I analyze 10 international SIM card providers so that you do not have to.
Using a Mobile Hotspot in the Cayman Islands
A mobile hotspot is a portable, battery-powered wireless router that allows you to connect your phone, laptop, or tablet without needing multiple SIM cards for those devices to be connected to the internet. They are compact and lightweight so that you take them along with you whenever you need internet access on the go.
Many companies have created mobile hotspots (just have a quick search on Amazon, for example, you will find many). Skyroam, Vision Global Wireless, and Travelwifi are reputable pocket WIFI providers I know. You can get a discount if you rent a router through Skyroam by using coupon code PHONETRAVELWIZ. Cellular access with Skyroam starts at $8 a day while using a Vision Global device starts at $2 a day. Travelwifi offers Teppy, the name of the pocket WIFI, starting from $7 per day. All these services cover more than 130 destinations around the world.
I often recommend mobile hotspots to those who are traveling in groups or with families. They can save groups a lot of money if they are visiting destinations where buying multiple SIM cards would become an expensive endeavor.
I recently wrote an article analyzing the 7 Best Mobile Hotspots for Travelers like yourself, which should be an interesting read if pocket WIFI is something you are considering. I do reviews of individual devices every now and then, so check out my mobile hotspot category to stay up to date.
The Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in the Cayman Islands
Getting a SIM card from either Flow or Digicel would be your only when considering a Cayman SIM card. Be sure to explore the roaming options your provider offers you, as they may offer free or cheap roaming bundles.
You could also consider getting an international SIM card or using a portable hotspot. International SIM cards like OneSimCard, SimOptions, Surfroam, BNESIM, and SimCorner are attractive for those visiting multiple destinations at once or within a year. Portable hotspots like Skyroam, Vision Global Wireless, and Travelwifi will be useful when traveling with multiple people so that not each individual has to get a SIM card but can use the hotspot.
Visiting other countries in the Caribbean? Check out my Caribbean SIM card buying guide covering the other Caribbean destinations, such as Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, the Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Bonaire, the British Virgin Islands, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, French West Indies, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin (French) & Sint Maarten (Dutch), Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, and Turks and Caicos. Going to other places around the world? Then you should also check out my sim card buying guides for other destinations around the world.
What is next?
Looking for the best companies and gadgets to enhance your travel experience? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! Save money on plane tickets, bus rides, cruises, and accommodation. Besides that, I also list services and items I use to make my life easier – and I believe they will help you too!
Book Your Flight for the Cayman Islands
It is time to book your flight. Find cheap flights with AirWander so that you can add free or cheap stopovers in destinations you have not considered yet before going to the Cayman Islands. If you are not ready to take off yet, set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog, and they will notify you once ticket prices to the Cayman Islands drop.
Book Your Accommodation for the Cayman Islands
I am a huge fan of Airbnb because it allows me to live with a local or get a local place for myself. Staying in someone’s house or apartment feels much different than being in a ho(s)tel, especially in the Cayman Islands. At least, that is how I see it. Moreover, Airbnb can often be much cheaper than staying in a Cayman hotel.
Get Your Travel Insurance for the Cayman Islands
You will regret not having travel insurance once you actually need it and “forgot” to get it. Nowadays, travel insurance is cheap and comprehensive unlike back in the days. World Nomads is by far the best travel insurance for adventurous travelers like yourself. You can even get insured WHILE already traveling in the Cayman Islands, which is not something many insurance companies allow you to do.
Get a Travel Debit Card
Travel Cheques are outdated. Paying with your credit card or debit card can be expensive because of all the exchange commissions banks charge you. TransferWise allows you to convert your main currency to the local currency for a small fee (up to 8 times less than with your bank!) Getting a Transferwise Borderless account is FREE, so you will get an instant return on your investment.
Enjoy your trip!