Scuba Diving Cayman Islands
Known for their amazing wall dives, beautiful coral reefs and visibility that often reaches more than 30 meters/100 feet, the Cayman Islands offer some of the best scuba diving in the Caribbean.
The Cayman Islands are a British overseas territory in the western Caribbean Sea. They are 480 miles south of Miami, just 150 miles south of Cuba and 189 miles north-west of Jamaica.
They are comprised of: Little Cayman, Cayman Brac and Grand Cayman, and all are the peaks of a massive underwater ridge, known as the Cayman Ridge (or Cayman Rise). This ridge flanks the Cayman Trough, 20,000 ft (6,000 m) deep, which lies 3.7 mi (6 km) to the south of Grand Cayman.
The Cayman Islands have prospered as one of the first offshore banking havens and they have more registered businesses than there are people. They have the highest standard of living in the Caribbean. Condos and villas are widespread.
One of Grand Cayman’s main attractions is Seven Mile Beach, site of a number of the island’s hotels and resorts. Named one of the Ultimate Beaches by Caribbean Travel and Life, Seven Mile Beach is on the western shore of Grand Cayman Island. It is public property and it’s possible to walk the full length of the beach, past all the hotels, resorts, and public beach bars.
SCUBA DIVING CAYMAN ISLANDS
The Cayman Islands have three world-class dive destinations that have attracted scuba divers since scuba diving was invented. Known for amazing wall dives, beautiful coral reefs and visibility that often seems infinite. The Cayman Islands offer some of the best scuba diving in the Caribbean. Of the three islands, Grand Cayman is the most visited by scuba divers. Grand Cayman’s North Wall plunges deeper than 6000 feet (1800 m) and offers beautiful wall diving with opportunities to see spotted eagle rays and sea turtles. Grand Cayman also offers accessible shore diving to great coral reefs with little to no current. Little Cayman has the Bloody Bay Wall Marine Park, famed for its vibrant colors and dramatic drop offs and swim throughs. Cayman Brac offers a good mix of wall, wreck and reef diving for all experience levels. From 5-star hotels on Grand Cayman to quaint dive lodges on Little Cayman, the islands provide holiday options for everyone and hundreds of dive sites to explore.
Typically most dive operators offer 2-tank dives in the morning consisting of a guided 100ft wall dive followed by a shallow 50ft buddy dive. The Cayman walls are spectacularly beautiful with brightly colored corals and sponges, aquatic life including eagle rays, turtles, tarpon, nurse sharks and a large assortment of tropical fish. Afternoon one or two tank dives plus night dives are also nearly always available.
HIGHLIGHT DIVE AREAS
Grand Cayman – Of the three islands, Grand Cayman is the most visited by scuba divers. It’s where diving started in the Caribbean. You’ll love the tropical diving. Grand Cayman’s North Wall plunges deeper than 6000 feet (1800 m) and offers beautiful wall diving with opportunities to see spotted eagle rays and sea turtles. You’ll also find the famous Stingray City adjacent to the North Wall. Diving along the West, South and East sides also include walls as well as diverse shallow dives. The West side of Grand Cayman is the home of the newly sunk Kittiwake wreck. Grand Cayman also offers accessible shore diving. Scuba divers can swim out to buoyed markers to reach the coral reef wall. With little to no current, shore dives are a unique option on this island and a great opportunity to scuba dive with diver propulsion vehicles.
Cayman Brac – Just a 40 minute flight from Grand Cayman. If you want to get away, then a visit to Cayman Brac is a must. Named for its breathtaking 140 ft. bluff, the “Brac” is a rugged and charming 14 square miles and provides adventure seekers and nature lovers with the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the islands’ most dramatic scenery, exotic flora and fauna as well as great diving. Cayman Brac is the home of the wreck “Capt. Keith Tibbits,” a Russian destroyer, and a variety of wall and more shallow dives.
Little Cayman – Some say Little Cayman has the best diving, where clear visibility and great sunlight filtering combine for a photographer’s delight. Walls start at 18 feet with coral and sponges of all types, colors, and sizes. There are plenty of smaller reef fish: horse-eye jacks, triggerfish and larger than life groupers. Bloody Bay Wall is routinely included in anyone’s list of the top dive sites of the world.
DIVING SEASON: The Cayman Islands are good for diving year round. However the rainy season starts in May but is at its worst in October. Hurricane season is June through November, but, historically, they appear most frequently in the Caymans from later September through November.
VISIBILITY: Most often visibility is in the range of 60-100 feet (8-30 m) with more appearing quite frequently.
WATER TEMPERATURE: The average water temperature is 78-82°F (26-28°C) year-round.
WEATHER: Diving is good all year. Cayman has mild air temperatures of 70-80°F (21-27°C) year-round and a little more rain during the summer months. June through October is hurricane season in the Caribbean, with hurricanes appearing most frequently in the Cayman Islands from later September through November.
SKILL LEVELS: Each island offers very different diving adventures for divers of all levels from novice to Nitrox and Tec diving.
MARINE LIFE: You can expect to see turtles on just about every dive. You’re also likely to see eagle rays, barracuda, moray eels and stingrays. There are also lots of tropical fish such as sergeant majors, parrotfish, damselfish, grunts, butterflyfish, angelfish and yellowtail snappers. Reef sharks and hammerhead sharks will appear more often around the more remote dive sites of all three islands.
CLIMATE: The best time to visit is from December to April, when the temperature averages a pleasant 75°F (23.9°C) and humidity is at its lowest. During the off-season, temperatures average 83°F (28.3°C) with July and August being the warmest months. During these times crowds dissipate, particularly on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, bringing lodging rates down. Rainfall is highest from mid-May through to October, with frequent afternoon showers that clear as quickly as they arrive. Hurricane season is most active from later September through November, but storms may appear anytime during the summer months.
LANGUAGE: The national language of the Cayman Islands is English.
ELECTRICITY: Electricity on the Cayman Islands is 110-volt AC (60 cycles), so adapters or transformers are not required for U.S. and Canadian appliances.
CURRENCY & CREDIT CARDS: The Cayman Islands dollar has a fixed exchange rate with the US dollar, generally CI$1.00=US$1.25, or CI$0.80=US$1.00. Credit cards are used widely. The charges will be made in Cayman Dollars and your bank will likely charge an additional foreign currency fee.
GRATUITIES: Gratuities are common in the Cayman Islands. 10% to 15% are still the most common amounts. Dive companies do not include tips in their charges, so be sure to tip your dive staff based upon the quality of their support and service to you.
PHONE & INTERNET SERVICE: Cell phone coverage in the Cayman Islands is wide and reception quality is good. Investigate obtaining a local sim card for your cell phone to save international cell charges. Internet is also of high quality. Most hotels have internet available, and there are several internet cafes distributed throughout all three islands.
VISA & PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS: A passport is required for all visitors to the Cayman Islands. Visitors from the US, Canada, the UK and the EU do not require visas. Nationals from other countries should check to determine if a visa is required.
CUSTOMS: Duty Free allowance; Up to 1 liter of Potable Spirits, Or 4 liters of wine, Or 1 case of Beer (not exceeding 8 liters). Up to 200 Cigarettes, Or 250 grams of Tobacco
DEPARTURE TAX: Upon arrival you must keep the immigration card given to you! Visitors are advised to keep it with their travel documents as you will be required to present it to an Immigration Officer upon your departure. Departure tax is currently $37.50.
GETTING THERE: The main passenger airport in the Cayman Islands, Owen Roberts International Airport (GCM) on Grand Cayman. Cayman Brac is served by Gerrard Smith International Airport (CYB). On Little Cayman, flights are to Edward Bodden Airfield (LYB). Direct flights from the U S and Europe can be found on: Air Canada, Air Jamaica, American Airlines, British Airways, Cayman Airways, Delta Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways
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