Pros:Nice change of pace from the beach; educational; beautiful site.
Cons:The "multisensory 3-D" movie is not that technologically impressive.
The Bottom Line: This isn't an absolute must-do, but it is a worthwhile stop for those spending a little time in Grand Cayman.
One overcast morning in Grand Cayman we struck out toward Pedro St. James, a heavily advertised tourist destination, with no real concept of what it was. Actually, we thought it was a fort, and expected a ho-hum, dilapidated site of the variety featured on many Caribbean cruise port tours. As it turns out, Pedro St. James is a historic home with a lively back story and, in my opinion, a pleasant surprise as these types of attractions go.
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Know Before You Go
Pedro St. James is located in the south-central portion of Grand Cayman, about fifteen minutes east of Georgetown. Originally occupied the wealthy Eden family, this over 230 year-old home has also served as a courthouse, jail, and castle-themed restaurant. Perhaps most significantly, it is referred to as the “Birthplace of Democracy” in the Cayman Islands because it is the site where the decision was made that the islands should be governed by an elected parliament.
Hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. except on Christmas. Because this site is featured on many cruise ship tour itineraries, if you are an overnight guest consider visiting on a day with no ships or arriving after 3:00 p.m.
Admission costs $10 U.S., somewhat of a deal on this expensive island. The price includes a 15-minute movie which plays hourly. There are also clean restrooms and a fairly basic gift shop on site.
We started our time at Pedro St. James by stopping into the “multi-sensory 3-D theatre” to learn about the site’s history. As it turns out, this house has seen a surprising amount of drama, including family tragedies, unusual weather events, and economic woes. This background combined with Pedro St. James’ important role in Caymanian history makes for a surprisingly entertaining, if somewhat depressing, film. One caveat – don’t expect too much from the “multisensory 3-D” aspect of the presentation. There are no special goggles here, just a few props arranged around the video screens and a dramatic lightning storm or two.
After the movie concluded, we toured the restored house, which is gorgeous and worth the price of admission. The architectural design takes advantage of the ocean front setting with plenty of open air rooms and balconies, and the subtly tropical-inspired furnishings are beautiful. The end result is basically Swiss Family Robinson meets the Ritz Carlton. At the same time, there’s something intriguingly eerie about the place, probably because of its tragedy-filled history. While this type of feeling is exciting and delicious during the day, I wouldn’t want to spend the night there alone.
We ended our time at Pedro St. James by wandering the property and enjoying the ocean front setting. In addition to checking out the tendered cruise ships, we got some great family pictures with the ocean behind us and just generally soaked in the ambience of the site. We left Pedro St. James feeling relaxed and pleased we’d make the trek to visit this fascinating little piece of Grand Cayman’s history.
Best Suited For: Families