Diving and Snorkeling in Little Cayman
Diving and Snorkeling
A gaudy, voluptuous tumble of marine life—lumbering grouper to fleet guppies, massive manta rays to miniature wrasse, sharks to stingrays, blue chromis to Bermuda chubs, puffers to parrotfish—parades its finery through the pyrotechnic coral reefs like a watery Main Street on Saturday night. Gaping gorges, vaulting pinnacles, plunging walls, chutes, arches, and vertical chimneys create a virtual underwater city, festooned with fiery sponges and sensuously waving gorgonians draped like come-hither courtesans over limestone settees.
Expect to pay around $95 for a two-tank boat dive and $25–$30 for a snorkeling trip. The island is small and susceptible to wind, so itineraries can change like a sudden gust.
Dive and Snorkel Sites
Snorkelers will delight in taking Nancy's Cup of Tea or "scaling" Mike's Mountain, as well as enjoying Eagle Ray Roundup, Three Fathom Wall, and Owen Island. The areas around the East End are difficult to access from shore due to the jagged ironshore (boats are often preferable) but are worthwhile: Mary's Bay, Snipe Point, and Lighthouse Reef (which has stunning Brac vistas).
Among the many superlative dive sites are the Great Wall, the Meadows, the Zoo, Coconut Walk Wall, School Bus Stop, Sarah's Set, Black Hole, Mixing Bowl, Charlie's Chimneys, and Blacktip Boulevard.
Bloody Bay Wall. This beach, named for having been the site of a spectacular 17th-century sea battle, has been declared one of the world's top three dive sites by no less than the maîtres Jacques and Philippe Cousteau and forms part of a protected marine reserve. It plunges dramatically from 18 to 6,000 feet, with a series of staggeringly beautiful drop-offs and remarkable visibility. Even snorkelers who are strong swimmers can access the edge from shore, gliding among shimmering silver curtains of minnows, jacks, bonefish, and more. The critters are amazingly friendly, including Jerry the Grouper, whom dive masters joke is a representative for the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism. Little Cayman.
Jackson Wall. Adjacent to Bloody Bay, Jackson Wall and reef are nearly as stunning. Conditions are variable, the water now glassy, now turbulent, so snorkelers must be strong swimmers. It's renowned for Swiss-cheese-like swim-throughs; though it's not as precipitous as Bloody Bay, the more rugged bottom results in astonishing rock formations whose tunnels and crevices hold pyrotechnic marine life. Little Cayman.
Conch Club Divers. This is a personable, experienced outfit that often customizes trips on its 42-foot Sea-esta. at Conch Club Concos, Blossom Village, Little Cayman, KY3-2501. 345/948–1026. www.conchclubdivers.com.
Pirate's Point Dive Resort. This popular resort has fully outfitted 42-foot Newtons with dive masters who excel at finding odd and rare creatures, and encourage computer diving so you can stay down longer. Pirate's Point, Little Cayman, KY3-2501. 345/948–1010. www.piratespointresort.com.
Reef Divers. Little Cayman Beach Resort's outfitter also offers valet service and a full complement of courses, with Nitrox one of the specialties; their custom boats' state-of-the-art outfitting includes AEDs (defibrillators). At Little Cayman Beach Resort, Blossom Village, Little Cayman, KY3-2501. 345/948–1033. www.littlecayman.com.
Southern Cross Club. The Southern Cross Club limits each of its boats to 12 divers and has its own dock. It's particularly good with specialty courses and mandates computer diving. 73 Guy Banks Rd., at Southern Cross Club, South Hole Sound, Little Cayman, KY1-2503. 345/948–1099 or 800/899–2582. www.southerncrossclub.com.
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