Scuba diving in Cayman Islands
Cayman Island scuba diving is ideal for all levels of divers. Several wrecks can be found here including the USS Kittiwake and the larger MV Captain Keith Tibbets. Bloody Bay Wall was described by Jacques Cousteau as, “The best dive site in the world,” for its amazing corals, sponges, groupers, turtles and lobsters.
Scuba diving in Cayman Islands really is a must for any diver, the islands are home to miles of crystal clear waters, friendly stingrays and jaw-dropping wrecks. The Cayman archipelago is made up of three islands, Grand Cayman, Little Cayman & Cayman Brac, that although separated on the surface are all part of the same underwater mount. These beautiful, often steep walls that drop down sometimes only a few hundred meters from shore. The beautiful corals and spectacular marine life found on these walls are one of the reasons that diving in the Cayman Islands is so popular.
It’s not just the reefs that attract so many people to the Cayman Islands scuba diving though. There are a number of famous wreck sites at various depths and levels including the famous USS Kittiwake. One of the fortunate things about diving in the Cayman Islands is that there are dives for complete novices and the most experienced divers. There are numerous beautiful, shallow dive sites with pristine reefs and some very friendly stingrays. The Cayman Islands relies heavily on tourists coming here on dive trips and so marine protection on the islands is excellent and the waters are full to the brim with life.
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Marine Life in the Cayman Islands
The excellent marine protection programs in place here has meant that scuba diving in the Cayman Islands can be enjoyed for years to come. Whilst the rest of the Caribbean is suffering from the loss of its coral reefs, the reefs around Cayman are actually increasing in size. Surveys show that the volume of coral has been growing for many years meaning bigger, better reefs every time. The reefs are home to huge sea fans and gorgonians growing all around the swim-throughs as well as huge red sponges full of critters.
On the reefs and the shallow sandy bottomed dive spots sharks and rays are no strangers either. Caribbean reef sharks can be seen hunting across the reefs for fish and cephalopods. These beautiful dusky grey beasts can reach up to three meters in length and are rarely shy of divers. There are bigger sharks around some of the dive sites too with some of the deeper walls acting as hangouts for hammerhead sharks.
Stingrays and eagle rays are also a big attraction at many of the dive sites in the Cayman Islands. They can be found in huge numbers on the sandy bottoms around Seven-Mile-Beach. The rays in these dive sites are often unusually tame due to controversial feeding activities in the area. Turtles are also abundant in the Cayman Islands; it is possible to see several in one reef dive. The turtles here are primarily hawksbill turtles which can be seen grazing on the reefs.
Best Dive Sites in the Cayman Islands
There are a few really good wrecks for scuba diving in the archipelago but one of the most famous dive sites Cayman Islands has to offer is the USS Kittiwake. This decommissioned navy vessel was bought and deliberately sunk by the local government to act as a top dive spot. The wreck is in fantastic condition with various levels to be investigated although don’t expect too much life as it is a rather new wreck. Also purposely sunk near Cayman Brac is the much larger wreck of the MV Captain Keith Tibbets. The wreck was broken in half by a hurricane but there are still huge gun turrets and fantastic life on the dive site.
When Cousteau calls a dive spot ‘the best dive site in the world’ you know it has to be something really special. The world famous scuba pioneer said this about Bloody Bay Wall marine park in Little Cayman. You can see why, visibility is reliably over 30 meters and the steep wall is caked with fantastic corals and sponges. Fish life is plentiful with groupers, turtles and trigger fish grazing and lobsters poking out of many of the hiding places, it certainly is one of the best Cayman Islands dive sites.
No dive trip to the Cayman Islands would be complete without a visit to Stingray City. Whatever your diving level this is a spectacular experience with huge tame rays swimming close to divers in a few meters of water. The site is close to seven-mile beach and the crystal clear waters, shallow sandy bottom and huge numbers of cheeky rays make for a relaxing dive that is pure fun.
Best Time to Dive in the Cayman Islands
Although there is year round diving in the Cayman Islands, from June until October is the hurricane season in the Caribbean. There is a small difference in water temperature also with a range of 21-27 degrees and a little rain during the summer period.
Experience Level for Diving in the Cayman Islands
One of the best things about Cayman Islands scuba diving is that there are sites for every level from those who have never dived before to the most experienced technical divers. The conditions are normally picture perfect and both very shallow and very deep dives are on offer.
How Do I Get to the Cayman Islands
Getting to the Cayman Islands is relatively easy with Owen Roberts International Airport offering flights from numerous US airports and London. There are also some smaller inter island flights to the other islands or you can charter a private boat. It is also possible go to the Cayman Islands by cruise ship but there are no public ferry boats between the islands. Many of the hotels on the Caymans have their own dive resorts with equipment, but a Cayman Islands liveaboard will allow access to the dive sites on all three of the islands.