Passenger Pick of the Month
Pedro St James National Historic Site
Step back in time and experience the history and heritage that blossoms at Pedro St James! Known by locals as ‘Pedro Castle’, this Great House is the oldest surviving stone structure in the Cayman Islands. It is also the “birthplace of democracy”, and home to Cayman’s many cultural and historic tales. It was built using slave labour in 1780 by a wealthy Englishman, mariner and plantation owner, William Eden. At a time when most people lived in small thatch houses, this spectacularly built 3-storey home earned its name as ‘Pedro Castle’. The sweeping mahogany verandas, sturdy stone walls and imported slate roof, made this home the finest of its time in the Cayman Islands.
A visit to Pedro St James is always time well spent. Explore the 18th Century Great House and artefacts. Absorb the beauty of the panoramic ocean views, and 7 landscaped acres. Enjoy a 3-D multi-sensory movie that will transport you back in time, and take a guided tour by a local, for a truly authentic Caymanian experience.
As you walk through the doors of the Pedro Theater, it becomes clear that you’re about to witness something more interesting than a simple movie. To your right is a re-creation of the Pedro St. James Great House. To your left is a facade representing the steps where so many historic events occurred.
The thickly upholstered stadium-style seats provide every visitor with a clear view of the entire theatre. As you take your seat, a storm begins to brew around you and a storyteller gradually reveals the fascinating history of Pedro St. James and the Cayman Islands.
Instead of a passive, audio-visual experience, the 20-minute presentation at Pedro Theatre includes authentic artifacts and tools that permitted past generations to survive and thrive in an untamed land bordered by restless seas. Creative lighting, vapors, wind, and water are used to transport you into the lives of the early settlers.
And when the 3-D, multi-sensory presentation comes to a close, the exit doors open wide to invite you to explore the grounds of this national historic site, armed with a true appreciation for what you’re about to encounter. Presentation times are hourly from 10 a.m., every day of the week. The final show of the day begins at 4 p.m.
So what could be more enchanting than a “castle” by the sea? It’s the breathtaking view that makes Pedro St. James one of the most popular locations on the island for weddings, meetings, parties, and concerts.
The seashore is as rugged and fascinating as the people who established this gem by the sea. The view is panoramic, with the horizon stretching for miles. So, have refreshments by the sea at Cafe Pedro or simply sit and contemplate view…
Then there’s the gazebo…whether it’s being used as a bandstand or a dessert haven or a place to exchange wedding vows, the gazebo at Pedro St. James provides an enchanting touch to the fairy tale location known as Pedro St. James. The 25-foot diameter gazebo boasts a functional bell tower that can be used to announce the start of an event or the culmination of a ceremony.
Walk the gardens filled with fruit groves, vegetable gardens, cacti, and palm trees. With more than 7 acres of lush beauty and verdant abundance, the gardens at Pedro St. James also represent one of the bases for Cayman’s history.
Although the Cayman Islands lacked the big plantations of Jamaica, the earth’s bounty not only nourished the early settlers of Cayman, but also provided building materials, medicine, and even entertainment. Thatch leaves were woven into roofs, plaited into baskets, and twisted into rope. Medicinal herbs cured the sick and preserved the healthy. Trees were hewn into buildings and boats, toys and musical instruments. Nothing went to waste. The ingenious ways that the first Caymanians practiced repurposing, recycling, and restoration are lessons that modern people must take to heart in our wasteful age of disposable consumption.
Towering three stories and sporting stone walls 18 inches thick, the Great House at Pedro Point dwarfed the surrounding single-level “wattle-and-daub” dwellings that were its neighbors in 1780. Its massive size was accentuated by sweeping verandahs, large shuttered windows, and slate imported from England to fashion the roof and floors.
The elaborate construction made this Great House the Caymanian equivalent of a European castle, and the term Pedro “Castle” is used by local residents to this day.
Then on Friday afternoons, don’t miss the happy hour at Pedro St. James Castle with Cayman Spirits Company who recently re-developed the old bar site there. Now the new Outpost Bar features a new rum launched by Cayman Spirits Co. only available at Pedro.
The "1780" Rum is named after the year in which the original building was built by William Eden. The rum is blended by Cayman Spirits as well as one of the descendants of William Eden, who happens to have some rum blending experience of his own. The rum is aged in a unique barrel that is located on site at Pedro St. James.
The Outpost launched a weekly event, Sea Sessions, featuring happy hour specials, a local BBQ and live local music every Friday from 5:00pm till late. A little rum, a setting sun, and a castle by the sea! What a way to taste the only rum distilled on the island!
Since its construction more than two centuries ago, Pedro St. James has been put to a variety of uses, including a cotton plantation, courthouse, jail, Government Assembly and restaurant, before the Cayman Islands Government finally purchased the property in 1996, and restored it to its 18th Century grandeur. Surviving hurricanes, fires, vandalism, and rumors of being both jinxed and haunted, it stands today, in its restored state, as a dynamic piece of Caymanian heritage.
Perhaps best known as the “Birthplace of Democracy in the Cayman Islands”, Pedro St. James was the venue for a meeting on December 5, 1831 where the decision was made to form the first elected parliament. Later, on May 3, 1835, Robert Thompson, sent from the Governor of Jamaica, held court at Pedro St. James to issue the proclamation ending slavery in the British Empire.
This site has been at the center of pirate raids, tragedy, triumph, and political reformation. Let its history and heritage inspire you on your visit to Pedro St James.
Pedro St James also provides a stunning location for weddings, events, and photo opportunities, owing to its expansive grounds, breath-taking backdrops, and rich history. For the most important day in your life, accept nothing less than perfection. Nothing less than Pedro St. James. They can accommodate any budget.
Operating Hours & Contact Info:
Daily from 8:30AM – 5:00PM | Last movie showing at 4:00PM. (Closed on Good Friday & Christmas Day)
Adult Non-Guided Tour: $10 KYD
Adult Guided Tour: $15 KYD
Child (6-12): $5 KYD
Child (0-5): $0 KYD