With clear, warm water, almost no current, walls, wrecks, coral garden, caverns, almost 365 moored dive sites and more, the Cayman Islands have dominated the dive scene for years. The list of world class and world famous dive sites among the three islands — Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, Cayman Brac — that comprise the Cayman Islands is almost daunting, and professionals and novice divers each have their favorites. And, each island has its unique vibe. Grand Cayman is a cosmopolitan hub offering everything from McDonald’s on the beach, to 5-star dining and superior nightlife. Grand Cayman also has a quieter side in the East End. Little Cayman, however, is all about diving the famed Bloody Bay Wall. Divers make yearly pilgrimages to this precipice. Cayman Brac offers a little more infrastructure than Little Cayman, as well as a Russian Warship to dive.
With only 110 full time residents, most of whom work in a dive-related job, Little Cayman is a pure, true diver’s island. You’ll share this bucolic paradise with seabirds and iguanas, but all talk will be focused on the day’s dives on Bloody Bay Wall.
Named after the 33-meter/110-foot bluff on the east end of the island, the Brac offers a nice variety of wall, wreck and reef diving, as well has opportunities for bird watching and rock climbing.
When to go:
Year-round, however, the hurricane season and the rainy season last from June through October; calmer (and dryer) weather in the winter months of November through May.
Marine Life Seasons:
Silversides pack the caverns at many sites from early August through September. Coral spawning takes place just after the full moon in September.
When to Get the Best Deals:
Generally the low season coincides with the hurricane season. But, if there are no storms, the diving can be the most spectacular of the year.
What to Pack:
In summer, generally board shorts, bikini's or rash guards are sufficient. In winter, a 3/2 mm wetsuit is comfortable. Sunscreen is always essential, and light, but nice, summer clothing for going out to some of the nicer air-conditioned restaurants. Grand Cayman also has great nightlife, so dress accordingly. DAN card.
Seasonal averages: 25°C/78°F in winter and up to 30°C/86°F in summer.
Seasonal averages: 24°C/75°F in winter and 30°C /86°F in summer.
The official currency is Cayman Islands Dollar (KYD). Credit cards are widely accepted.
Valid passport; check with local immigration office for visa requirements.
A departure tax of $25 USD is part of the cost of your ticket.
None recommended for travel to Cayman.
What to Eat:
With hundreds of restaurants, you can find almost anything you want in the Cayman Islands. Local food takes conch, coconut, plantain, cassava, breadfruit, yams, rice, beans, fish, tropical fruits and Caribbean spices (to name a few ingredients), and blends them into a variety of sumptuous dishes - fried, stewed and baked or Run Down (mixed into a soup). Try Heavy Cake or a famous Tortuga Rum Cake for a sweet treat.
What to Drink:
There are also hundreds of bars in Cayman, many on the beach or overlooking the water, perfect for your after-dive relaxation. The Cayman Island Brewery makes the popular Caybrew along with several other beers, including a light option. Seven Fathoms is the local rum aged down at, you guessed it, seven-fathoms. Don't miss having a creamy mudslide - a milkshake for adults - allegedly invented on Grand Cayman.
Stop at Mahogany Bay on Little Cayman to see the island's most populous local, the Cayman iguana; on the Brac, go bird watching or rock climbing; on Grand Cayman, you can shop for duty free jewelry downtown, wander through the gardens of the Queen Elizabeth II Botanical Gardens, or lounge the beach with a drink at Rum Point.
Customs and Culture:
Caymanians are renowned for their friendliness and are devout, church-going people, which means that most of Cayman's commerce shuts down on Sundays. They are proud of their multiracial and multicultural origins, and are happy to share that with visitors.
Pirate's Week, which last six weeks in the fall, brings out the brigand in the locals; the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame Induction takes place each November.
Electricity and Internet:
Electricity on the Cayman Islands is 110V, 60Hz. Internet is widely available.
Drink the water?
The water is safe to drink.
Amazing Marine Life
Both gray and French angelfish can be seen with frequency on Cayman reefs.
Silvery schooling fish with striking yellow tails.
Spotted Eagle Ray:
Gentle giants which can reach up to 5 meters/15 feet in length, although most of that will be tail, these rays soar like flying carpets through open water, and are mostly seen along the walls.
A big fish with bright orange eyes, they are learning to eat the invasive lionfish.
Brown and white striped grouper. One of the Caribbean's last spawning sites is off Little Cayman.
Common throughout the Caymans, especially at favorite hangouts such as Tarpon Alley off Grand Cayman.
A smaller relative of the eagle ray (and the shark), these rays often hang out on sandy bottoms, but can also be seen swimming around the reefs.
Hawksbill, loggerhead, and green turtles can be found swimming in leisurely fashion or napping under ledges on most reefs.
These predatory pelagic fish are often seen on the reefs. They can can grow up to two meters/six feet in length and frequently hang out under the dive boat.
Most often found in holes, caves, and wrecks, moray eels sometimes venture out so divers can see their entire slithery length.
Top Dive Spots
Stingray City, Grand Cayman:
Known as the world's best 4-meter/12-foot dive. Divemaster's hand feed southern stingrays.
Devil's Grotto, Grand Cayman:
Coral grottos and a small wall at this site are populated with sea fans, sponges, colorful reef fish, and tarpon.
The Maze, Grand Cayman:
Bring your compass to navigate the winding coral ravines of this site. Look for sponges, soft corals, Caribbean reef sharks, green turtles, and spotted eagle rays. Watch for migrating pilot whales in the summer, as well as manta rays and whale sharks during plankton blooms.
Snapper Hole, Grand Cayman:
Amid this network of tunnels and caverns, look for schools of snapper and tarpon, as well as lobster and eels. During August, the caverns are packed with silversides and all the fish that like to eat them.
Tarpon Alley, Grand Cayman:
Coral formations and canyons shelter astounding numbers of tarpon at this site. Look also for hawksbill turtles, barracuda, stingrays, and yellowtail snapper.
Kittiwake, Grand Cayman:
This newly sunk wreck sits in 20 meters/65 feet of water, comes to within 2 meters/7 feet of the surface and sits upright on the sand.
Ghost Mountain, Grand Cayman:
This underwater wonder features sponges, soft corals, giant fans, creole wrasse, spotted eagle rays, and green sea turtles.
The Mermaid, Grand Cayman:
Off Sunset House, this 3-meter/9-foot bronze mermaid is a must dive.
Wreck of the Captain Keith Tibbetts, Cayman Brac:
This sunken Russian frigate houses barracudas, green moray eels, big groupers, scorpionfish, yellow tube sponges, and nudibranchs. Watch seaward for schools of yellowtails and snapper.
Bloody Bay Marine Park, Little Cayman:
The protected status of this outer reef (that plummets below the diver to almost 2,000 meters/6,000 feet) promises a myriad of marine life, where the deep meets the reef. Look for grouper, horse-eye jacks, triggerfish, and intriguing invertebrates.