DIVE SITES: GRAND CAYMAN ~ LITTLE CAYMAN ~ CAYMAN BRAC
All dive site descriptions compliments of Reef Divers.
Grand Cayman Dive Sites
The Cayman Islands have a long history of recreational diving in the Caribbean. Pioneer Bob Soto opened Grand Cayman's first dive shop in 1957. Now, there are more than 40 dive operators and 200 sites marked with mooring buoys.
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Their warm, calm waters with 100 foot plus visibility offers an amazing variety of marine life and coral. Each island offers very different diving adventures for divers of all levels - from novice to expert diving with Nitrox and tech diving available. There are several wrecks scattered throughout the islands like the Caribbean's only diveable Russian shipwreck, the 330 ft. M/V Captain Keith Tibbetts on Cayman Brac.
As the resorts located to the south and north of Seven-Mile Beach are on rocky shorelines, world-class shore diving is steps from your hotel room. The Sunset House has shore diving on great reefs, the Nicholson wreck and even a statue of a mermaid (great photo opportunity). From the Cobalt Coast you can access the incredible North Wall. Either use fin power or rent a scooter to zip out to the wall.
When diving in Grand Cayman, most dive operators can take you diving on the north, south, west and sometimes east sides of the island so you can almost always find calm water.
Little Cayman and Cayman Brac are famous for incredible wall diving. Since these island receive relatively few visitors, the reefs are pristine and virtually untouched.
The Cayman Islands observe strict conservation laws. They ask you to observe the following simple rule when diving - look, but don't touch! Coral reefs are extremely sensitive to being touched by divers and you may create more damage than you ever imagined. Some coral grows less than an inch per year and breakage by careless divers can take decades to be repaired.
STINGRAY CITY This is one of the world's most famous dives. Interact with the the friendly Southern Stingrays in a shallow 12-15 foot dive. A great place for snorkelers join the divers and play with the friendly rays!
NORTH WALL The North Wall is famous for its sheer drop off and its series of canyon ways and chimneys. Frequent schools of Eagle Rays and Horse Eye Jacks circle and play in the clear water, ever watchful for the cruising Hammerhead or Black Tip Shark. Explore canyon ways lined with sponges and towering coral formations with lobsters, crabs and moray eels watching you. Visit sites such as Eagle Ray Pass, Black Forest, Tarpon Alley, Chinese Wall and No Name Wall…to name but a few! A great morning’s diving for the experienced wall diver.
EAST WALLS As the east side of Grand Cayman is not very populated with few diving resorts, these virgin walls don't see a lot of divers. Some of the most pristine diving in the Caymans, you can dive rarely visited sites including "Babylon", named after the hanging gardens of folklore and famous for its huge trees of Black Coral and incredible coral and sponge life.
SOUTH WALLS This side of Grand Cayman offers an array of life unlike any other of the wall dives available. Soft corals fan out into the nutrient rich water and huge pinnacles are covered with reef fish and a huge variety of sponges and coral. The South side of the Island is the deepest side, with the top of the wall starting as deep as 80 or 90 feet and falling away seemingly endlessly. Join us at Hole in the Wall, The Sisters or Chinese Wall. The shallows are amongst the prettiest on the Island, with a maze of twisting canyon ways and swim-throughs. Stag Horn and Elk Horn coral provide a unique silhouette on your dive as you explore ledges and caverns. Sites such as Kent’s Caves, Japanese Gardens, Exotica and Della’s Delight are just a few of the sites you may visit.
Little Cayman Dive Sites
Cayman Brac Dive Sites
Cascades: This is the first and most northern site in the Jackson Point area. Once you've entered the water and started down you will understand the meaning of Cascades. This is the area where it all cascades down to "La La Land". You will find turtles, sharks, Eagle and Sting Rays on this far out site, as well as conch. The coral heads in this area look like small mountain ranges. Makes for great wide-angle photos.
Paul's Anchors: This site is known for its majestic, gently sloping drop-off. You will find in and around the rubble Sand Tile Fish, octopus and Yellow Headed Jaw Fish. There are many anchors located on this site. One of interest is about 10ft.tall with a large rope ring at the top. Makes for a great photo backdrop. This site is also known for its abundance of sea life, turtles, sharks and Green Morays, not to forget the Spotted Eagle Rays.
Nancy's Cup of Tea (aka Magic Roundabout): This site is named after Nancy Sefton, author of Caribbean Reef Invertebrates. From this site you can visit Mike's Mount to the south and Paul's Anchors to the north. The wall reef and inner reef abound with marine life. The main point of interest is an outcropping from the wall. There are several species of Black Coral to be found in and around this outcropping. Eagle Rays, Sting Rays and sharks, as well as turtles, are among some of the large critters to be seen here. A Bat Fish has been seen at this site, as well. Yellow Headed Jaw Fish and Sand Tile Fish will be found among the rubble, along with conch.
Mike's Mount: There's a lot to be found, starting with this dive site. As you move in a northerly direction out towards the Cascades site, you can take a look at some history. The first thing to be found is a small cannon on this site. Moving on north, there are many anchors to be seen. You will have to look for these artifacts, for they have been transformed to look like their surroundings. There are tunnels through the wall (to "La La Land") as well as a cannon in the shallows. We've seen sharks, turtles, Spotted Eagle Rays, Sting Rays, eels, etc. There are friendly Queen Trigger and French Angels, as well as Grouper.
The Meadows: This site affords both deep and shallow diving. You can take the drop-off to "La La Land" or cruise through many canyons and sand flats. You will find friendly French Angels and Queen Triggers. In among the rubble areas you will find Jaw Fish, Sand Tile Fish and many other small dwellers of the reef. You may also find sharks, Spotted Eagle Rays, Sting Rays and turtles swimming here. There are some great tunnels that open onto the wall. Makes for a great backdrop for pictures of your friends with wide angle or standard lens. Great video, too!
Eagle Ray Roundup: This site is a large sandy area typical of Jackson Bay. Occasionally we find more than one or two Eagle Rays, here. The area is surrounded by large coral head formations and bordered by the wall reef. You will find large Parrot Fish munching on the sand, as well as Sting Rays and Hog Snapper. There are also friendly French Angels and Grouper, here.
Jackson's Reef and Wall: This site abounds with marine life. During the day you will find some very friendly French Angels that will be more than willing to have their pictures taken. Eagle Rays, Sting Rays, Yellow Sting Rays and Moray Eels (both Green and Black and White), are frequently seen here. In and around the rubble area, you will find many small fish such as Yellow Headed jaw Fish, Sand Tile Fish, Sand Divers and a variety of juveniles. For the night diver there are a lot of night dwellers to be seen- Octopus, Basket Starfish and Orange Ball Anemones to name a few.
Cumber's Caves: The main feature of this site are the four tunnels that go through the wall reef. They all start at about 45ft. to 50ft. and exist on the outside of the wall at about 100ft.. There is an anchor at the entrance of one. In the sandy area you will find Garden Eels, conch, as well as Eagle Rays and Southern Sting Rays. Along the base of the mini-wall you will find among the rubble many smaller fish like the Yellow Headed Jaw Fish. This area is also a great night dive, and affords a photographic range from wide angle to macro, as well as video.
Bus Stop: This site gets its name from the remains of a school bus on the shore. You will find a large sand wash inside the wall reef that runs through the wall and dumps into "La La Land" This chute opened up in December 1989 during a northwester. You will note the dead zone from where the sand originally was- about 20ft. or so. Along the wall east of the mooring point there is a large Barrel Sponge that has a large hole in the side. Makes for interesting photos.
Sarah's Set: This site affords both deep and shallow diving. You can take the drop-off to "La La Land" or cruise through many canyons and sand flats. You will find friendly French Angels and Queen Triggers. In among the rubble areas you will find Jaw Fish, Sand Tile Fish and many other small dwellers on the reef. You may also find sharks, Spotted Eagle Rays, Sting Rays and turtles swimming here from time to time. There are some great tunnels that open onto the wall. Makes for great backdrop pictures of your friends with wide angle or standard lens. Great for video, too!
Blacktip Boulevard: This site is named for the number of sightings of Blacktip Sharks. The mooring is set at the inner edge of the wall reef. The reef itself is a gentle slope to the drop-off. There are many sand grooves to explore in this area. In the sand you will find Yellow Headed Jaw Fish, along with Sand Tile Fish and many other small fish. In the sand area you will find Garden Eels, Southern Sting Rays, conch and Eagle Rays.
Mixing Bowl (3 Fathom Wall): The name "Mixing Bowl" comes from the local divers, so named because this is where Jackson's Bay and Bloody Bay share a common border. The site is also known as "3 Fathom Wall" (6' / fathom x 3 = 18'). Also known as Bloody, Jackson and Ball's Bay. There is much to be seen here, and you will notice a great difference between both areas: Jackson's with its gentle sloping to the wall and Bloody Bay's vertical drop into dark depths below. Sharks, Eagle Rays and Turtles are commonly found cruising the Wall in both bays, along with Queen Angels, French Angels and Gray Angels. On the Bloody Bay side, you'll find Sailfin Blennys and large schools of Stoplight Parrot Fish, Scorpion Fish and many others. Great for video, both macro and wide angle still photography, standard and close-up, wide angle (20mm and 15mm) and macro. On the Jackson's side you will find Yellow Headed Jaw Fish, Sand Tile Fish, Southern Sting Rays, turtles and more.
Marilyn's Cut: Marilyn's Cut is made up of a modern day Danforth anchor. This site is within easy distance of both Mixing Bowl to the east, and Donna's Delight to the west. The shallows are a very gentle slope to the drop-off that starts at an average depth of 25ft.. On the wall you will find a variety of sponge and corals. The east cut has Black Coral on both sides and a very large Barrel Sponge on the west side. The shallows abound with a variety of fish- some small, some large. Potholes abound with many juveniles.
Donna's Delight: Donna's Delight is very much like Marilyn's Cut. One thing that seems to be abundant on this site are Flamingo Tongue shells. Nurse Sharks are frequently seen along these sites. You may find Flying Gurnards in the shallow areas, too. Sailfin Blenny are common, but you really need a trained eye to find them. They are only about 1-1/4" to 1-1/2" long. They dance above their burrows and fleet back into them when approached.
The Chimney (Randy's Gazebo): The chimney and archway are the greatest points of interest, here. The chimney entrance starts at about 75ft. and exits vertically at about 40ft. on the top of the wall. The arch is east of the mooring, approximately 100ft., opening on the blue waterside at about 75ft.. This makes for a great backdrop for photos of divers coming through from open water. In the shallows, as with most of the sites, you will find an array of juveniles. Sharks and rays are seen cruising to these areas as well. The wall offers great views as well as wide angle and standard lenses. The top of the wall offers the same as well as good macro.
Great Wall: There is one word to describe this site -- AWESOME! In the shallows you will find many large coral heads abundant with small reef fish. You may find cleaning stations here, as well. Scorpion Fish are found frequently around their base structure. You will also find the Sailfin Blennys in the shallows (hard bottom area with algae growth) dancing above their burrows. The wall is almost vertical. It will leave you in awe when you find your way off the wall and turn around to look back. Black Coral is abundant in this area and makes a great backdrop for photos. You may see Eagle Rays and/or sharks cruising the wall. Big game fish have been seen at times. There are also many different types of sponges in an array of colors.
Lea Lea's Lookout: Lobsters, Spider Crabs, Scorpion Fish, Jaw Fish and Sailfin Blennys are among some of the critters that can be seen, along with turtles, sharks, Eagle Rays, Green Morays and Black and White Morays. Sailfin Blennys live in holes on the hard bottom. Jaw Fish live in holes among the rubble and sand. Both of these critters dance vertically above their dens.
Coconut Walk: Coconut Walk is the island name for Coconut Grove. The main point of interest on this site is a large stand of Pillar Coral. It is one of the few hard corals, here. Polyps are extended from it to feed during daylight hours. This coral is very slow growing and is extremely delicate, so please- DO NOT TOUCH! There are many tunnels through the outcroppings with sand and rubble shoots. You will find large Barrel Sponges at depths of 60ft.+. They are best photographed with a wide-angle lens and someone alongside or above to give non-diving people an idea of how large these sponges can be. The shallows in this area afford the same array of marine life that is found along Bloody Bay and Jackson's Bay.
Barracuda Bight: This is the next to last site in Bloody Bay. We have in this area fingers or outcroppings from the wall. You will find in the shallows the Sailfin Blennys and many juveniles and small fish. There are many crevices and overhangs to explore, here. Lobster and Spider Crabs are found here, quite often along with Nurse Sharks, Green Moray and Black and White Moray Eels.
Joy's Joy: This is the last dive site in the Bloody Bay area. The area is much the same as Barracuda Bight with its many outcropping fingers. From the mini-wall or ridge, starting at about 25', there is a gradual sloping to the drop-off. There are lots of nooks and crannies to explore. You may find lobsters (Spiny, Rock and Slipper) hiding in this area, along with octopus and Flamingo Scallops. You may also sight Eagle Rays and sharks cruising this area.
Russian Frigate 356 - MV Capt. Keith Tibbetts: Sunk in September 1996, this 330 foot vessel is an amazing dive. The bow sits in 110 feet of water, with the stern in 65 feet. The radar tower starts in about 15 feet so this is an excellent dive for snorkelers as well as divers. Over 100 species of marine life have been documented in the short time she has been down. The wreck has been made diver friendly and portions of it are penetrable.
Tarpon Reef: This medium depth spur and groove area along the Brac's south side is home to several dozen Tarpon that spend their days clustered in groups among the tunnels and crevices. These shimmering, silvery fish, some reaching up to five feet in length, will remain fairly calm and still when approached slowly, providing great photographic opportunities. Another inspiring photo subject is a nearby stand of Pillar Coral, rising along a knoll looking somewhat like a tall cactus towering over the seascape. Tarpon Reef features several of these formations as well as Elkhorn Corals, Star Corals and abundant soft corals. The sand gullies between the large ridges of Tarpon Reef reach a depth of about 50 feet while the crests of the ridges may rise to within 20 feet of the surface. Visibility at this site tends to be quite variable. Nurse Sharks are sometimes seen in the undercuts, and along the tops of the ridges your find the usual assortment of colorful tropicals, an occasional Barracuda and a variety of Parrotfish
Wilderness Wall: One of several pristine wall sites along the Brac's south side. Wilderness Wall evokes a feeling of the mystical and primordial. This dramafically plunging drop-off is nearly virginal in its presentation, with an abundance of healthy corals, sponges and a wealth of marine life to captivate even the most jaded diver. Canyons and crevices cut through the wall all along the drop-off, some plunging far beyond the reach of earthly visitors. An immense pinnacle rises away from the wall to within 100 feet of the surface (forming a corridor along the reef for pelagics up from the abyss), while the wall itself begins at about 50 feet. Wilderness Wall attracts a large following of Nassau Groupers, stingrays, turtles, schooling Horse-Eye Jacks, Snappers and Angelfish. Delicate gorgonians hang along the sides of the crevices and promontories, accented by rope sponges, hard corals and large, bulbous tube sponges. The sponges in this area reach enormous proportions and come in brilliant shades of red, yellow, orange, purple and green.
Bert Brothers Boulders: The Bert Brothers are a family of Brackers long involved in local dive operations. Their namesake is appropriately one of the most beautiful dive spots off the island. A medium depth reef at 40 feet, this north side site is dominated by tightly spaced spur and groove ridges that form mountains of coral heads between the intershore sands and the offshore wall. The tops of the ridges are graced with beautiful Elkhorn Corals, the narrow gullies between feature soft corals, tube sponges and hard corals. Swim-throughs and large undercuts provide hiding places for a large Green Moray Eel that has been in residence here for some time. The sponge-trimmed openings are also perfect framing for wide-angle photography, with filtering sunlight pouring down through the gaping chasms to the sandy floor.
Greenhouse: Greenhouse is not just an ordinary medium depth dive site. Here, among the spur and groove formations, you're likely to find all sorts of creatures. Marine life at Greenhouse may include Sharptail Eels winding through crevices in the gullies looking for a meal, friendly Angelfish darting in and out of the soft corals and turtles cruising over the tops of the coral ridges. With its proximity to the Brac's shallow north shoreline, Greenhouse also has frequent visits from schooling Squid, hovering in groups of a dozen or more near the mooring or lining up in formation near the surface. Macro photographers will sometimes find Flamingo Tongues perched on the large purple seafans at 20 to 30 feet as well as Arrowcrabs, Longspined Sea Urchins and Bristleworms hiding among the cracks. The coral ridges are adorned with abundant hard and soft corals, Tube Sponges and Barrel Sponges.
East Chute/Cayman Mariner: East Chute, one of the Brac's most popular sites, features not only the exhilarating wall, but also a small wreck along the inshore sand area. East Chute begins at about 65 feet, marked by a large, sand-filled canyon spilling over the ledge into the abyss. The wall is decorated with Red Rope Sponges, Yellow Tube Sponges and large Barrel Sponges. A short distance inshore, in 55 feet on a sand bottom, the Cayman Mariner rests upright and intact, with a modest growth of soft corals and sponges along her exterior and inside the hull. Sunk in 1986, she now attracts exciting marine life such as turtles, Green Moray Eels and schooling Barracuda.