cayman islands culture
Who you fa?
Different districts, different traditions, one people

Who You Fa

cayman islands culture and tradiitions

With a population of about 55,000, the Cayman Islands are often regarded as the safest islands to visit and  its people, the friendliest in the Caribbean. Each island and its residents take on their own personality and will make your visits to any of the three Islands a unique experience. From the modern, cosmopolitan energy on Grand Cayman to the adventurous and warm residents of Cayman Brac, to the tranquil atmosphere on Little Cayman, you can always count on warm hospitality and genuine concern for your personal enjoyment.

Our streets and beaches are hassle-free which means that your visit will be as peaceful and pleasant as you could wish for. You will have the freedom to just wander around and after spending just a few hours on our beloved islands, you’re bound to fall in love with its natural beauty and the Caymankind-ness of its people.

Traditionally, Cayman is a tight-knit community of natives and long-term residents who have integrated seamlessly into the local population. While most Caymanians have lived on the islands for several generations, many of our long-term residents have come to reside here because of their love for the islands and its people. Over the last 3-4 decades, the Islands’ centuries-old tradition of Caymanians all knowing each other has given way to a melting pot of diverse nationalities. Due to this diversity, whenever a Caymanian meets someone he is unfamiliar with, he is bound to ask the ever-popular question:

"Who you fa?" (hoo – yoo – fah) a.k.a. “Who you belongs ta?” Definition: 1. Who are you, and who are your parents, siblings, grandparents, etc.? 2. To which family do you belong?

Who you fa? is a question most commonly asked by older Caymanians who have lost touch with family members due to marriage, migration to other districts, islands, and even countries around the world.  To some people, being asked “who you fa?” may appear as an invasion of privacy, but to the locals, it’s a conversation opener motivated by genuine curiosity. The individual asking the question is simply curious about your nationality, your family history, and your connection to other Caymanians and residents throughout the Islands. Some are even concerned that you may be related to them or to someone they know.

Once you have spent enough time in the Cayman Islands (3-4 vacations), you may eventually find yourself asking those who are unfamiliar to you “who you fa?” by default. It may seem strange at first, but as you become more familiar with the Caymanian people, you will find it no stranger than asking someone for the time of day.

So ask us, Who you fa? Just be prepared to sit a while under the shade of a palm tree while we tell you.

cayman islands magazineLearn more about the culture, heritage and upcoming events in the Cayman Islands by downloading our quarterly SOUL Only in Cayman magazine

history, cayman islandsHistory

On May 10, 1503 Christopher Columbus sailed along his final voyage to the New World when a wind blew his ship off course.  Intending to sail to Hispaniola (present day Haiti and the Dominican Republic), he was thrust westward toward "two very small and low islands, full of tortoises (turtles)...Click here to read more about the history of the Cayman Islands

traditions, cayman islandsTraditions

The splendor of the Cayman Islands goes deeper than the scenery.  Look around and you’ll see one of the most inviting cultures in the world. When you’re not enjoying the serenity of your Caribbean beach vacation, listen to the local music sweetly filling the air. Stroll through George Town at any pace you like. Click here to read more about the traditions on the Cayman Islands

cayman islands foodFood

Anything you can make with conch, coconut, plantain, cassava, yams, rice and peas, tuna, snapper, mangos and mahi, has been prepared in the Cayman Islands.  Traditional dishes include conch stew, Cayman-style beef, and an old fashioned fish fry. Many of these traditional dishes have inspired unique recipes that can be found in our restaurants. Click here to read more about food in the Cayman Islands

cayman islands musicMusic

Enjoy a nice walk on your Cayman Islands vacation and you may be surprised when your hips start to swing to a soothing rhythm.  What you hear is a traditional Cayman Kitchen Band, ringing out warm notes in step with the Caymankind spirit.  The soul of jazz is important to the music here, as is the happiness of calypso and the message of reggae. Click here to read more about music in Cayman

Art, Architecture, CaymanArt & Architecture

Cayman’s artistic traditions are strong and growing.  For ages, the superb art exponents have strived to explore the vibrant people and the beauty of the seas in simple, yet appealing paintings based on various hues of the Cayman beach life.  Many independent galleries dot the islands, offering a mosaic on the influences that create the spectrum of Cayman style. Click here to read more about the art and architecture of the Cayman Islands

ayman islands martime heritageMaritime Heritage

Completely surrounded by some of the deepest waters in the world, the sea was an intrinsic part of life for early Caymanians.  For almost 200 years, many Caymanians survived on the fruits of the sea. Bordered by gorgeous reefs teeming with marine life, Caymanians made catboats to go fish at these nearby reefs. Their efforts were tireless; eventually Caymanians were recognized as master shipbuilders. Click here to read more about the maritime heritage of the Cayman Islands

Hints & Tips

  • Not sure where you are going? Ask a resident - they will be happy to provide directions or show you themselves.
  • Dominoes is a popular past time in Cayman and extends well beyond matching numbers. Outwit your opponent with good natured trash-talking. 
  • Use the word UNNA (un-nah) in conversations - it is similar to y'all or everyone