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Dive Review of Various in
Cayman Islands/Grand Cayman

Various, May, 2008,

by James Heimer, TX, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 10 reports). Report 4096.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 4 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments Grand Cayman Shore Diving
With the cost of a two tank boat dive in Grand Cayman north of $100, my wife and I have limited our diving on the Island to the shore facilities for $25 per dive for both of us. This year, we used the facilities at three places with a dive shop on the premises to rent tanks and weights – or anything else you might need to rent or buy.

My wife and I are both photographers, so we did our first dive at the Sunset House, home to Kathy Church and her well equipped photo studio and shop, as well as a very friendly dive shop and great Oceanside bar / restaurant, “Our Bar” for between dive snacks and post dive cocktails. This is the site of the mermaid statue. You gear up in the (sparse) shade of some palm trees beside the restaurant, then make your way a few yards to one of two ladders for entry. There is a short swim across the hardpan to the beginning of the finger reefs that extend toward the main wall and really deep water, but you can comfortably dive between 40 and 60 feet, visiting a very delapidated small wreck, as well as the statue, or just explore the reef and the sandy areas in between the fingers. The reef is noticeably improved in the years since Hurricane Ivan, and we found a profusion of soft corals and fish – french and queen angels, mutton, dog and yellowtail snapper, the odd barracuda, and all of the usual tropicals. When you return, there is a good size rinse tank for gear, a shower, and – as might be expected – a generous camera rinse tank. All-in-all, it is a very good place to make your first shore dive.

Eden Rock is just up the road from the Sunset House near the cruise ship landing. It has a well equipped dive shop, but more Spartan facilities. Gearing up is done on picnic tables alongside the shop, and if the sun is high and the umbrellas are not up, you will be grilled as you put on your stuff. Again, it is a short walk to the ladder for entry and a somewhat longer swim across the shoreside hardpan to one of two dive sites – Eden Rock to the north and Devils Grotto to the south. Both have scattered clumps of coral rising from about 45 feet to near the surface, and these coral “islands” are riddled with swim-throughs and nooks and crannies that house fish and other sea creatures. Large tarpon make there homes at both sites, and we encountered and impressive green moray on one dive on Devils Grotto. There is a rinse tank for gear, a hose to rinse off cameras, and a shower. You can walk next door to the Paradise Restaurant for lunch or post dive libations. Because it is near the cruise ship terminal, you will sometimes have to share the gear area with snorkelers, but the few divers from the cruise ships that frequent this location are not on the packages (Bob Soto has that franchise), so they tend to be more experienced.

In our opinion the gold standard for shore diving is currently the Sun Diver operation at the Cracked Conch Restaurant on the north end of West Bay north of Seven Mile Beach. Sun Divers has spruced up the small dive shop and constructed a covered area with benches and a table for gearing up. It is also lighted for night diving. The dive operation is located below the Cracked Conch restaurant and alongside the outdoor Macabuca Bar, through which one migrates after suiting up to get to the ladder entry to a small inlet leading to the 60 foot mini wall and Turtle Reef. You can go left or right down the wall – left takes you to the Tarpon “cave” occupied by a school of the appropriate fish, and right takes you along the wall to small coral outcroppings. The main wall is within swimming distance of the more adventurous (and athletically inclined). Aside from the tarpon, we have seen multiple scorpion fish, peacock flounder, angelfish of all varieties, white spotted filefish, large grazing schools of midnight parrotfish, green, spotted, and golden-tail morays, turtles, lobster and the usual tropicals, of course. There is plenty of space to dry gear after rinsing them off in the rinse tank and showering down. The camera rinse facilities are a little on the spare side, one moderately sized plastic bin that will hold a single DSLR housing, but Sun Divers is working on this.

Dive Tech used to operate here, but they are building a resort about a mile away. They have a tent set up at the construction site for renting tanks and weights, but their accommodations and pier are still under construction. Entrance is by a ladder on the side of a very narrow slot in the rocks, which makes it impractical for anyone with a large camera rig, but you are on an area that has rarely been visited by divers before, and they have placed buoys and underwater lines to lead to the main wall.

There are other shore dive possibilities on Grand Cayman to keep one occupied for a week of diving. Unless you want to dive the main wall off the north side of the island or some of the shallow wrecks off Seven Mile Beach, save your CI dollars for food, drink, and gasoline – all of which will come at a premium.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Tahiti, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hawaii, Mexico (both coasts), California, Texas, Bahamas, BVI, Cayman Islands, USVI, Bonaire, Aruba, Australia
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 82-85°F / 28-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50-100 Ft/ 15-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Shore diving; diving was not supervised
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities 3 stars
UW Photo Comments Shore diving operations generally had separate camera rinse tanks of varying sizes or hoses for rinsing cameras. Tables were available for setting up, storing cameras between dives.
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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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