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My Top Dive Sites in Grand Cayman

30 April 2015

Diving in Cayman is great, with visibility usually stretching to at least sixty feet, the water temperature rarely needing a wetsuit (although I have more natural insulation than some) and the dive sites rarely being too busy.  Dive sites in the East are generally quieter (it’s hard to justify a fifty minute drive when you can just go five minutes down the road) but for shore diving, the West is better serviced.

The following is a general overview of some of my favourite sites (not THE top sites, just some of the top ones in my opinion) in Grand Cayman, where I will personally invariably try to take visitors and would suggest that anyone could come away happy from a trip having ticked these boxes: 

1. Sunset House 

Okay, so this is a bit of a cheesy shore dive, with a nine foot mermaid, it’s always nice to know that you can show the guests something definite and the mermaid is easy to find following the coral fingers out from the easy access rock pool which can be useful for settling into gear for the first dive of the holiday.  Further out is an old naval landing craft – the wreck of the Nicholson which provides an intro to wreck diving in shallow water and can form a nice circuit for a 40 minute dive, even if you don’t manage to catch sight of a turtle (probably a 40% chance based on my visits).

2. Macabuca (formally Turtle Reef) 

This is a great first shore dive or night dive, easy to navigate following a mini-wall into the current and coming back along the top of the wall to return and octopi can frequently be spotted at night.  Turning left, there are usually resident tarpon and turning right there are overhangs in which can be found lobsters, eels and the occasional Lionfish (although satisfyingly few are seen during the day, a family of them normally torment me on night dives), whereas turning right leads to overhangs and coral outcrops with plenty of life to explore.  There is then a welcoming bar with a decent burger for the après-dive, allowing the gear to dry whilst rinsing your throat with a cold beer.

3. Eden Rock / Devil’s Grotto 

This is one of the most famous dive sites in the world, Eden Rock on the North (right from the shore) and Devil’s Grotto on the South (left from the shore).  A series of interconnected caves and caverns are easily navigated on a relatively shallow and exciting dive.  You must try to go when the Silversides are in town – small inch long fish that gather in the caves in swarms during the day (I’ll upload a video shortly).  The dive shop have a good map of the tunnels which is worth studying before hand, but these are not dangerous tunnels and you are never far from an easy exit.  Just don’t lead a nervous girlfriend down one of the narrower ones and you can always get a guided dive your first time.  The major downside?  There’s not a bar to relax in afterwards.  Also, free divers like to test themselves in the tunnels and can be a distraction from a relaxing dive…

4. East End 

You start feeling like you’ve lived on an island for too long when you think a fifty minute drive is a long way to go for a dive, but a trip out to the East End is certainly worth it.  Although there are reportedly a few shore dive spots, boat diving is a must out here, my favourite being Ocean Frontiers for a full service, although RedSail’s Tortuga divers are a slick operation that may be more cost effective.  The East End is more remote and less busy, the dive sites more pristine and less affected by boat traffic.  There is also a much better chance of seeking reef sharks and occasionally a hammerhead shark (which I have never been fortunate enough to see!).  See some sample photos from an east end dive on this page.

5. The North Wall 

Reminiscent of “The Wall” featured pf George Martin’s novels, the North Wall (also accessible on certain dives from the East End) is where the reef just drops thousands of feet to a depth well beyond recreational diving.  The wall is so vast that the fish and coral treat it as “down” swimming and growing along it as though it is the bottom of their world.  It’s easy to lose track of your depth here (particularly if you spot a Lionfish that needs culling) but the vast wall is an impressive sight if you swim out about for a few kicks.  For a great North Wall dive, get a group together and go out with Nat and Art on their former Navy Rib, with Indepth Watersports.

6. The Kittiwake 

The Kittiwake is an ex USS Submarine Rescue vehicle that was sterilised and sunk as a tourist attraction in 2011.  Sitting in relatively shallow water (slightly deeper after being disturbed by a passing hurricane) it is an easily accessible wreck with simple routes through and fun features like a diving bell (don’t breathe the air…) and a water cannon where fun poses can be made.  The wreck is a little more sterile than I would have liked but the fish are settling in, coral is beginning to grow and this site is only going to develop.

7. Wreck of the Oro Verde  

This is a fun dive site with another wreck, the Oro Verde, a banana transportation vessel.  The wreck is not a complete vessel as has deteriorated over the years and been to be blown apart to prevent hazard to shipping, but the area is teeming with diverse sea life and I have seen turtles, eels and rays.  Also enjoyable, there are usually a couple of old bicycles which make for fun camera poses.

Of course, that doesn’t even cover the Sister Islands or Stingray City (the actual city, not the sandbar… because I haven’t dived it yet) and with 365 dive sites across the island, I could keep going, but these are a sample of some of my favourites so far.  I will try to upload some photo galleries and more indepth descriptions in due course.  Let me know if you have a favourite dive in Cayman and I will check it out.

  1. Reblogged this on Tubbyman Tales and commented:

    Some of my favourite dive sites in Grand Cayman

  2. Really appreciate you sharing this post.Much thanks again. Fantastic.

  3. Mike permalink

    Reading your blogs invited me to sign on to a week-long dive excursion to Little Cayman next week. Really stoked!

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