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Dive Review of Dive 'N Stuff/Lacovia Condos in
Cayman Islands/Grand Cayman

May, 2011, an Instant Reader Report by Mort Rolleston, DC, US
Sr. Reviewer   (11 reports)
Report Number 6679
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
101-250 dives
Where else diving
Caribbean (Bonaire, St. Kitts, Puerto Rico, British Virgin Islands), Turks
& Caicos, Nassau, Florida (Key Largo, Palm Beach, USS Oriskany), NC
wrecks, St Lawrence River wrecks, Monterey and Catalina CA, Great Barrier
Reef and Coral Sea Australia.
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

calm, no currents  
Water Temp
80   to 81    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
100   to 150    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
I don't recall anything specific.  During wall dives, you follow guide
through canyons to wall and back and then you dive rest of your profile on
your own around boat.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  2 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
3 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Separate bucket for cameras.  As good as it gets for a small boat
(liveaboards have much more room for separate camera tables, etc.)
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
Service and Attitude
3 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
4 stars   
4 stars    
When researching who to dive with on Grand Cayman, the bottom line seemed
to be that you could hardly go wrong with any of the dive shops.  For us,
it was more of a matter of trying to avoid those who cater to the cruise
ships and find a shop with smaller boats (no cattleboats), treated you like
an experienced diver (and attracted advanced divers/locals), had more
flexibility about where they dove, picked you up from your hotel, and tried
to go beyond the western coast/wall off Seven Mile Beach when conditions
allowed.  Several dive shops seemed to fit this bill based on divers
reviews based on Undercurrent and others (for example:  Divers Down, Red
Baron, Indigo, and Livin the Dream) and Im sure all would have been
wonderful.  But we ended up going with Dive NStuff (DNS) for our diving on
the West and North Walls (see separate entry for our diving with Ocean
Frontiers on the East End).  In addition to fitting the above criteria,
they emphasized getting out to the dive sites early before the masses and
had reputation of being one the most flexible operations on the island.  

We were not disappointed.  DNS, which does not operate any physical bricks
and mortar shop anywhere, keeps a boat on both Seven Mile Beach and on the
inland North Sound for quick access to the North Wall and Stingray City. 
Depending on where they are diving, they will pick you up by boat right on
your beach or by van.  They were very flexible as to where we wanted to
dive (conditions permitting) and tried to dive the North Wall when
conditions allowed.  They were very professional and gave you as much help
as you wanted/needed, but were also very fun and laid back and thus
enjoyable to hang around.  My only minor complaint was that I never seemed
to get a full tank of air (mostly around 2800 psi).  This may be on purpose
as they do keep to a schedule (though the relative deep diving keeps the
bottom times somewhat limited on their own).  I first thought it might be
my air integrated dive computer, but I was getting full 3000 psi at other
dive shops on Cayman during same trip.  When diving on West Wall, they had
an average size catamaran with a roof.  When diving North Wall, they had a
nice standard size dive boat.

The Caymans are the top of large mountains that have risen out of the
depths.  Therefore, most diving there is wall diving.  In most cases, the
diving mostly consists of a first wall dive in which you follow a guide
through large, beautiful canyons nature cut through the coral out to the
edges of the wall, fly along the wall for a little bit (at around 90-100
feet  could obviously go deeper, but no point in doing so), come back
through the next large canyon cut in the wall and then back to boat along
the top of the wall (which is still usually fairly deep at maybe 50 feet)
to finish out your dive on your own.  This is often followed by a nearby
shallow reef dive of 50-ish feet away from the wall.  Off Seven Mile
Beach, we dove Trinity Caves, Caribbean Club Sandchute, and Round Rock
along the wall and Victorias Secret, Wildlife, and Bonnies Arch in the
relative shallows.

See my separate entry for Ocean Frontiers for more details on diving on
East End.  But in general, the diving is better (though deeper and the
surface conditions often more challenging) on the North Wall and East End
than the West Wall off Seven Mile Beach.  Locals we talked to debated about
whether the North Wall or East End is better, but I would probably give the
East End a slight edge.  The difference between the North Wall/East End and
the West Wall is the quantity and quality of marine life, to include more
pelagics (mostly non-existent along West Wall) such as sharks, tarpon, and
eagle rays (we even briefly saw a marlin in the distance on a safety stop
off North Wall), variety and quantity of marine life, and healthier coral. 
This is not to say the West Wall is poor diving by any means.  Indeed, it
compares favorably with most places in Caribbean weve been.  The marine
life at Grand Cayman mostly consists of the usual suspects, but the island
does seem to have its fair share of turtles compared to many other
Caribbean islands as well as jacks and black durgeons.  While most of the
diving around the entire island is a little on the deep side (at least for
non-advanced open water divers), it is not difficult.  I dont believe we
experienced any currents the week we were there and visibility is probably
the best of anywhere Ive been (rated in books at 120 feet, though seemed
like more).  The seas off north and eastern ends of islands were a little
choppier than west end of island, but barely so (though that is apparently
not always the case).  The island does apparently have some shallow (20-30
feet) sites near coast, but they are in the minority.  There is also
apparently great shore diving north of Seven Mile Beach, though we did not
take advantage.  With DNS, we dove Eagle Ray Pass and Roundabout off the
North Wall just outside North Sound.

Of course, any discussion of diving on Grand Cayman cannot ignore the world
famous Stingray City site, which we also dove with DNS.  It is important to
emphasize there are TWO different sites to experience the famous stingrays
(something we did not understand until we got there).  The first is the
better known Stingray City, which is for divers (in 15 feet of water) that
is fairly close to the North Wall on the west side of the entrance to North
Sound (the islands large interior bay).  The second site is called
Sandbar, which is for non-divers (you can stand up in the three feet of
water) that is located near Rum Point near the opposite side of North
Sounds entrance from Stingray City.  I suppose snorkelers could do either,
but would probably get more out of the shallow sandbar site.  Driving to
Rum Point from Seven Mile Beach is a 45 minute to an hour trek, so keep
that in mind for planning purposes (though there apparently is a ferry from
Seven Mile Beach to Rum Point).  Stingray City, by contrast, is a quick
boat ride from the North Sound bay side of Seven Mile Beach.  Our travel
group of divers (including myself) and non-divers naturally divided up
accordingly and went to the two different sites.  In both cases, there is a
lot of very close interaction with stingrays, which were first fed by
fishermen decades ago while cleaning their catches at these locations
before taking them to market.  At Stingray City, we had maybe 15 stingrays
(and miraculously we were the only boat there!).  The divemasters first fed
the stingrays, offering any diver who wanted to feed them to do so (I did
not).  In our case, our divemasters had also secretly hid some squid in our
BCDs on the way out, so the rays were starting to get a bit friendly with
us with close passes trying to figure out where the squid was.  This got a
bit annoying after a while as the rays were obviously getting a bit
frustrated and a little more aggressive as the dive went on while we divers
were blissfully ignorant that we had any squid on us (though were starting
to suspect).  A local moray eel obviously very used to people also got in
on the action and my sister did a great job of wrangling it, but the eels
close proximity probably would have intimated most.  The dive was certainly
worth doing, but I probably would have enjoyed it more if there wasnt
squid hidden in my BCD (haha).  Our non-diving friends (including very
young children) really enjoyed the stingrays at the Sandbar site though
make sure you feed them with the proper technique or you might get an
unintended nibble on your hands by the rays as one did (no major damage).

As for Grand Cayman on land, it is not exaggerating that this is arguably
one of the best islands to go to in the Caribbean for a traveling group
comprising of both divers and non-divers wanting an easy to get to place
with plenty of things to do on land without it being development overkill. 
You can fly to Grand Cayman directly from many major US cities and the
airport is right next to Seven Mile Beach and Georgetown, its major town. 
Seven Mile Beach certainly earns its reputation as one of the most
beautiful beaches of the world.  The ocean there is like swimming in a
mellow lake, except it is swimming pool clear.  While there is development
along most of it, the resorts and condos are mostly small scale/low-rise
with plenty of vegetation on the properties.  Grand Cayman also has various
sites/activities on land to keep one occupied:   a nice tropical garden
park, a sea turtle farm/park, and a couple of towers.  It also boasts a
fair amount of nice shopping for those into that.   It is very safe and
family friendly.  We stayed at Lacovia Condos, which is perfectly located
in the middle of Seven Mile Beach, has its own beachfront and pool, and
rooms with full kitchens  perfect for families.  One warning:  like most
British islands in the Caribbean, prices are not cheap!  We highly
recommend going in low season like we did (i.e. in May  after the masses
are gone and before the weather gets too hot and threatened by hurricanes).
 Prices and crowds are much more reasonable and dive conditions are
excellent (as they are pretty much all year as I understand it).  For
snorkelers and beach divers, there are several recommended spots (per the
local divers) along Seven Mile Beach as well as on the north side of the
beach as well as near Georgetown.
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Other dive reports on Dive 'N Stuff

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Diving Guide to Cayman Islands
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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