you're in a group of divers you always hear how great the diving
is in Grand Cayman. It's earned a reputation as one of the world's
premier dive destinations. The reef system virtually surrounds the
entire island and diving is good almost anywhere. (The red lines
on the map indicate the most popular dive areas.) There are hundreds
of dive sites, each appropriately named and most described by one
publication or another. Grand Cayman is known for its fabulous "wall"
dives. Within a short distance from shore the depth plunges dramatically
to over 6,000 feet making for some impressive wall dives. Most reefs
are to far from shore to be reached by shore diving and must be
accessed by boat, however, there are several good locations for
far the most popular dive sites are located on the west end of the
island between George Town and the tip of West Bay. This isn't necessarily
because it's where the best diving is, it's a matter of logistics.
The majority of the island's hotels and resorts are located along
7 Mile Beach and the west end dive sites are simply easier and quicker
to reach by boat from those locations. Most dive operations offer
all day trips to dive the much further away East End. There are also
dive operators on the East End that you can make arrangements with
if you prefer a shorter boat ride.
dives: Along the northern stretch of the west end you will find
some shore diving, one notable location is Turtle Reef located next
to the turtle farm, but most of the diving in this area is accessed
by boat. Just south of George Town, actually beginning in George
Town and extending to the south, you find easy access for shore
diving. Most of these locations are affiliated with one of the local
dive operations (Eden Rock) or dive hotels (Sunset House, Soto's,
etc.), and it is common courtesy to rent your tanks from them when
diving there. Diving the reefs located close to shore can be somewhat
disappointing as they have, over the years, been over-dived, and
much of the coral is dead. It's still diving though and there is
still abundant marine life to observe. While diving the reefs at
Sunset House we have spotted sharks, squid, octopus, turtles, Tarpon,
Barracuda and a variety of angels and other tropicals. While the
coral life may not be spectacular we have never been disappointed.
close to shore reefs are perfect for night diving as they provide
easy access and there is an abundance of life to observe and photograph.
dives are relatively inexpensive if all you need is tanks and weights.
Tank rentals are about Cayman $6.
dives: To reach the truly spectacular dive locations it is necessary
to make boat dives. The diving is generally spectacular along the
island's reef system with brilliant corals and lots of tropical
marine life, but it is a bit far to reach from shore with few exceptions.
Most of the local dive shops offer two-tank morning dives and one-tank
afternoon dives. The most popular sites along the northern tip by
West Bay and 7 Mile Beach can be accessed within a twenty to twenty-five
minute boat ride.
say the least I was shocked when I approached Red Sail Sports on
my latest trip and inquired about a dive package for unlimited diving
and was advised they did not offer such packages. I was even more
shocked when they told me the cost of the the morning two-tank dive
was US$ 85 per person and the afternoon one-tank dive US$ 55 per
person. Based on three dives a day (the minimum we usually make
on our dive vacations) the cost for six days of diving for my Anne
and I would have been US$ 1,680, well above what you might expect.
Tell me, does Red Sail Sports think us divers are made of money?
question if you are going to Grand Cayman on a dive vacation make
arrangements to stay at one of the local dive hotels that offers
unlimited dive packages. I'm positive the costs will be much more
in line with expectations. Checking out Sunset House's web page
you will find dive packages that include breakfast, two-tank boat
trips (except day of arrival and departure), offshore diving every
day (except day of arrival and departure), tanks and weights, a
complimentary locker to store your gear, transfers to/from airport
and several other amenities, all for 8 days/7 nights from $969 to
$1,179 per person (April to December) depending on selected room
type. Considerably cheaper than just diving with Red Sail Sports!