Part of the Greater Antilles, Grand Cayman is the largest of the three Cayman Islands - it has a landmass of 76 square miles. Little Cayman and Cayman Brac are located 75-90 miles northeast, with Cuba lying 60 miles beyond. The three islands are part of the Cayman Ridge, which is an underwater mountain range that starts in Cuba and extends west towards Belize.
The islands are also on top of the plate boundary that separates the North American and Caribbean tectonic plates. Jamaica is 167 miles to the southeast, separated from the Caymans by the Cayman Trench; it is the deepest point in the Caribbean Sea, reaching depths of 4 miles. These amazing underwater formations are what make the diving around Grand Cayman so special and diverse.
Grand Cayman is a very low-lying island, with the highest point only 60 feet above sea level. The island has no natural rivers, which means it is great, year-round, for clear underwater visibility. Mangroves fringe the occasional swamp, and the island is protected by its offshore coral reef formations.
Bustling George Town is the island's capital, on the west coast of Grand Cayman. This is the center for offshore banking and investments, and has a population of over 20,000 people. 95% of the entire country's population lives on Grand Cayman. In 2003, the Cayman Islands celebrated its 500th birthday. However, it was only 300 years ago that the first settlers permanently arrived on the islands.
The culture of Grand Cayman is as diverse as its scuba diving - a constant stream of foreign travellers has resulted in an island that is progressive and modern, whilst still retaining traditional values. Crafts, art, dance and music are strongly supported on the island, with many celebratory festivals throughout the year. Beside numerous watersports, the island offers historical and sightseeing opportunities too.
Grand Cayman has a tropical year-round climate, with the months of May-August being the warmest- water temperature reaching 29 Celsius. December-February is the coolest time of year, although the water temperature is still comfortable at 27 Celsius. June-November is classed as hurricane season in this region. Average air temperatures range from 27-32 Celsius in the warm season and 23-28 Celsius in colder months. A short or long 3mm wetsuit is adequate thermal protection when scuba diving.
Grand Cayman is famous for the diverse array of scuba diving opportunities. From wall dives to cave dives, and reef dives to wreck dives, the possibilities are almost endless. Visibility is commonly between 80-100 feet, allowing for amazing underwater experiences and awesome photographs to be taken. The island offers both shallow and deeper dive sites to suit every level of scuba diver from novice to highly experienced.
Grand Cayman is surrounded by amazing wall dives. Extending out from shore, the reef system starts shallow until it meets the edge of the wall. Prepare to be left speechless by the dramatic drop offs, interesting tunnels, and fun swim-throughs. The impressive topography is perfectly complimented by the variety of marine life.
Stingrays are the first thing that comes to mind when you mention Grand Cayman. However, turtles, nurse sharks, moray eels, eagle rays, invertebrates, and a whole profusion of schooling reef fish abound on every dive. The corals and sponges are in reasonable condition on the shallower reefs, but tourism has had an impact. There are over 200 dive sites around Grand Cayman - a reason for the high return rate of vacationing divers.
Stingray City is one of the most popular sites to visit, to see southern stingrays up close. Be wary of it getting extremely busy when cruise ships are in; you may have a more enjoyable dive elsewhere.
Luckily, the island is dive-able on all sides, which is great for never having to miss a day’s diving due to adverse weather. Dive centers will choose the site based on the environmental conditions.
The north side of the island boasts a unique wall, where it is common to see squadrons of eagle rays. This area is open to the trade winds and most often dived in the calmer months of April-October. Highly rated dives here include Eagle Ray Pass, Princess Pennies Pinnacle, Lemon Reef, Roberts Wall, and Roundabout.
When conditions allow, the shallow sites of the southern side of Grand Cayman are a must. Dive sites such as Laura’s Reef, Red Bay Caves, Charlie's Caverns, Ned’s Tunnels, and Sky’s Arch are firm favorites. Topography is typically spur and groove coral formations, with limestone formed fingers creating interesting swim-throughs.
The west side of the island is the biggest crowd-pleaser. The sheer diversity of marine life that is found is astonishing; from rare blennies and nudibranchs, to larger visitors such as turtles and rays. Conditions are generally great year-round, making this a comfortable area for all levels of dive experience. A good dive is the wreck of the USS Kittiwake; purpose-sunk in 2011, this 251-foot long submarine rescue vessel commands attention. She sits upright in 55 feet of water, rising to within 10 feet of the surface - great for snorkelers as well as divers. Other awesome sites to visit include Trinity Caves, Round Rock, Big Tunnels, Bonnie’s Arch, Bolero, and Victoria’s Secret.
The east end has 55 amazing dive sites to explore. Journalists and photographers love the marine encounters that occur in this area. Caribbean reef sharks, turtles, eagle rays, tarpon, grouper, thousands of silversides, and all the tiny critters hang out here! Don't miss diving Grouper Grotto, Snapper Hole, Black Rock Reef, Babylon, and Pat's Wall.
The dive industry on Grand Cayman is well established and dive operators practice high standards due to the huge competition. Safety standards are well regarded, and there is a wide array of different dive boat styles to suit everyone. Please note that there are some "cattle-boat" diving operators, who take out very large groups. The best thing to do is enquire about the maximum number of divers when booking your trip. Smaller groups allow for a personalized service, more control, and will prevent damage to the coral reef. There is a strict "no touch" policy on the Cayman Islands - do not feed the fish or stingrays, even if you see others doing it.
Equipment rental, enriched air nitrox, and technical diving facilities are available on the island. Grand Cayman has its own decompression chamber for emergency use. PADI, SSI, CMAS, and other training agencies are represented. The full range of scuba courses and certifications are offered from absolute beginner to instructor levels. It is very popular to take the PADI Open Water Course here, due to the calm conditions.
Living the Dream Divers has a friendly and experienced team, headed by owner-operators Gary and Liz. They are well-known for their excellent personalized valet service, keeping the maximum number of people to eight per trip. They have really nice dive boats - large, custom-built Newtons with exceptional attention to detail on board. A full-service PADI 5 Star Dive Resort, LTD Divers promotes quality tuition, and tailor-made trips, for both novice and experienced divers. They run two-tank dive trips in the morning and afternoon, and are flexible with their dive site schedule, weather permitting. Highly recommended!
Ocean Frontiers, at Compass Point Dive Resort, is in the East End of Grand Cayman. A PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Center - this operation really knows how to provide amazing valet service and top quality scuba diving trips. They visit all the sites of the east end and arrange trips to Stingray City and the USS Kittiwake. Additionally, they offer special excursions such as UV glow night diving, macro mania, silverside rush, and lionfish hunting. Their boats are spacious and well equipped and maintained, with 2 crewmembers to a maximum of 12 guests. Unguided diving is permitted. Certification courses are available up to PADI Instructor levels. Don't miss out on diving with these guys!
Cayman Airways, Delta, US Airways, American Airlines, Continental, British Airways, United Airlines, and WestJet all fly into the Owen Roberts International Airport on Grand Cayman. Over 100 commercial flights land each week to service the busy tourism sector and banking industries. The majority of air travel is via Miami, with flights also originating from Canada, elsewhere in the US, the UK, Honduras, Cuba and Jamaica. Car rental is available once on the island.
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I came in on a cruise ship and was limited on time. I had read a number of positive reviews online about the shore diving just outside this shop. I was not disappointed. I did a guided tour with Amy. She was very friendly and was very accommodating. The dive was top notch.
Grand Cayman is famous for the diverse array of scuba diving opportunities. From wall dives to cave dives, and reef dives to wreck dives, the possibilities are almost endless. Visibility is commonly b...
The dive industry on Grand Cayman is well established and dive operators practice high standards due to the huge competition. Safety standards are well regarded, and there is a wide array of different...
The perfect way for a kid to learn to scuba dive is to first master swimming then snorkeling. Grand Cayman Island's George Town shore offers some of the best snorkeling I have ever experienced to learn to snorkel out into calm, clear waters. The memory of the Cayman Islands from my childhood is still fresh.
Diving in the Cayman Islands is among the best in the world! Living here, you sometimes take the excellent conditions for granted: excellent wall diving, superb shore exploration, visibility that can reach 30 meters/100 feet, colorful reefs, and a dive infrastructure that will take all stress away.