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

Dive 'N Stuff/Lacovia Condos, May, 2011,

by Mort Rolleston, DC, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 11 reports). Report 6679.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food N/A
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments 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: Diver’s Down, Red Baron, Indigo, and Livin’ the Dream) and I’m sure all would have been wonderful. But we ended up going with Dive N’Stuff (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 Victoria’s Secret, Wildlife, and Bonnie’s 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 we’ve 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 don’t believe we experienced any currents the week we were there and visibility is probably the best of anywhere I’ve 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 island’s 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 Sound’s 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 eel’s close proximity probably would have intimated most. The dive was certainly worth doing, but I probably would have enjoyed it more if there wasn’t 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.
Websites Dive 'N Stuff   

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 80-81°F / 27-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 100-150 Ft/ 30-46 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
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.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 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 N/A
UW Photo Comments Separate bucket for cameras. As good as it gets for a small boat (liveaboards have much more room for separate camera tables, etc.)
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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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