Ask any dive master what the “best dive site” in Cayman is and you will not get a straight answer. Because there isn’t one. With 365 marked dive sites, the appeal of any one site will vary depending on conditions on any given day, the diver’s level of experience and the preferences and interests of the diver: are they avid wreck divers, depth junkies or macro photographers? Rather than listing specific dive sites, we provide a broad overview of the types of dives you will encounter in different areas of the Cayman Islands.
The North Wall, which runs parallel to the north shore, plunges dramatically from around 40ft down many thousands of feet, just a hundred yards or so from shore. There are great wall dives all along the north shore of Grand Cayman with coral gardens at the top of the wall, convenient for safety or decompression stops following a deep dive. There is an abundance of healthy hard and soft corals, including black coral, plenty of overhangs and swim throughs on the wall and always a chance of seeing some pelagic fish out in the blue. Conditions here are best during the summer when seas are calm and you will have a greater chance of seeing schools of spotted eagle rays and perhaps sharks.
The reefs and walls off the west coast, from North West Point to George Town are the most frequently dived sites, as this the leeward shore so conditions are favourable for diving year–round. All the wreck dives are in this area, including the Wreck of the Oro Verde, Doc Poulson and the Kittiwake. There are also some outstanding wall and reef dives, as well as a number of accessible shore dives including Turtle Reef, Eden Rock and Devil’s Grotto. From April to September look out for huge schools of tiny silversides hiding in caves, and the resident tarpon and grouper who feast on them.
The dive sites along the south coast are most often dived during the winter, as they remain calm during nor’westers. The drop offs on the southern side typically start at greater depths than in other areas and there are some spectacular canyons, coral encrusted arches, swim–throughs and caves in this area.
Here you will find the most remote and unspoilt diving on Grand Cayman. Significantly fewer divers come out this far, and with 55 dive sites to choose from in this district, you can easily escape the crowds. A good mix of walls, with drops offs starting at around 45ft, and shallower reefs with soaring pinnacles and canyons can be found in this area. There is good chance of seeing sharks and millions of silversides gather in caves and under overhangs during the summer.
Perhaps best known for the wreck of the Capt. Keith Tibbetts, a 300ft Russian warship, Cayman Brac also has some superb reef and wall dives and visibility typically exceeds 100ft. Diving here is uncrowded with just one dive operator on the island.
Little Cayman offers possibly the best diving in the Caribbean, with pristine corals, abundant marine life and outstanding visibility. The jewel in Little Cayman’s crown is without doubt the legendary Bloody Bay Wall, rated by the likes of Jacques Cousteau and David Doubilet as one of the most dramatic wall dives in the world. It has a perfect vertical drop–off starting at less than 20ft and descends to around 3,000ft with pristine corals and superb visibility.