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Dive Review of Ocean Frontiers/Lacovia Condos in
Cayman Islands/Grand Cayman - East End

Ocean Frontiers/Lacovia Condos, May, 2011,

by Mort Rolleston, DC, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 11 reports). Report 6680.

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

Weather sunny Seas calm, no currents
Water Temp 77 to 81 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 100 to 150 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions None. For a couple of sites in which you dive out to the wall through a canyon, fly along wall, and return back via the next canyon, you follow a guide. But once you return to boat, you dive rest of your profile. For other dives, you dive your profile with option of following guide.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Separate water buckets for cameras (standard fair for smallish boats).

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food N/A
Service and Attitude N/A Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments As I discussed in my separate entry for DNS Divers on Grand Cayman, when researching our trip to Grand Cayman, a widespread recommendation was to spend at least part of the trip diving the far less populated East End of the island for better and more pristine marine life. And the dive operation that always came up in the discussion was Ocean Frontiers, apparently where the local divers flock (even the dive instructors and guides from the other side of the island when off duty). It has a beautiful property with nice, casual facilities and places to stay. But I would probably only recommend staying out there if diving on the East End is your only planned activity on your trip and you want to isolate yourself from the civilization on the other side of the island (nothing wrong with that, of course!). Otherwise, East End offers little else and most of the restaurants, beaches, things to see/do, etc. are 45 minutes away (depending on traffic). By contrast, we stayed at the wonderful Lacovia Condos halfway up Seven Mile Beach and commuted out to East End a couple of our days to dive, which worked out well. Ocean Frontiers does provide free transport.

I discuss diving on West and North Walls of Grand Cayman in a separate entry for DNS divers. But as I note there, while the diving is solid everywhere on the island, the East End is a step up compared to West Wall in the variety, quantity, and quality of marine life, to include more pelagics (mostly non-existent along West Wall) such as sharks, tarpon, eagle rays, barracuda, and jacks as well as healthier coral (to include more soft coral, staghorns, and Tolkien-like hard coral that reminded me somewhat of Bonaire). The North Wall is pretty comparable to East End in quality (the locals we talked to debated about which wall they prefer). We dove eight sites with Ocean Frontiers: River of Sand, Grouper Grotto, The Maze, Maggies Maze, Jack McKinneys Canyons, Little House on the Prairie, Barrel Sponge Wall, and Chub Hole. Some of the sites were wall dives like the West Wall, where you dive through a large beautiful canyon out to the wall, fly along wall, and return back to shallows through the next canyon to the boat. Others were more standard spur and groove reef systems, though with quite a few swimthroughs. The reefs and top of the walls were around 50-ish feet. We were allowed to dive our profiles without restrictions. Ocean Frontier dive masters actively hunt lionfish with divers as spotters (they have special spearfishing permits to do so) and the dive shop hosts lionfish Bar-B-Qs in the evening. The only negative diving experience in the East End was the Chub Hole site, where algae is starting to take over.

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 island were a little choppier than west end of island, but barely so (though that is apparently not always the case as East End tends to be choppier and currents a little stronger than the docile West End). Therefore, while beginners can and will certainly enjoy the East End if they are comfortable and don't mind diving 50-60 feet, I would not go to the East End for your first dives.

Overall, any trip to Grand Cayman should include at least a couple of days diving on the East End with Ocean Frontiers.
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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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