Grand Cayman's 10 Great Shore Dives | Sport Diver

Grand Cayman's 10 Great Shore Dives

Sunset House 1

Ty Sawyer

Grand Cayman is blessed with more than 364 identified dive sites that are marked with environmental moorings. They are all excellent dives, with clear water, warm temperatures and living corals. Some are vertical walls, while others are shallow coral reefs, shipwrecks, coral caverns, narrow canyons and fascinating tunnel & cave systems. What sets the Cayman Islands apart from many other Caribbean islands is the remarkable access to reefs, wrecks, and walls, directly from shore. Here is shore diving at its finest, with safe, easy entries and exits, 82-degree average water temperatures and crystal visibility that can often exceed 100 feet. Because shore sites are so abundant, most Grand Cayman dive operators & resorts offer unlimited shore diving as part of their vacation package, which means visiting divers can get more dives per day and more dives per travel dollar. Here are some popular ones:

1) COCONUT HARBOUR RESORT - One of the best known shore dives lies directly off a small divers hotel, south of George Town, on Grand Cayman's west side. The entry point is a concrete pier with dive ladder set into the ironshore. The site is called Waldo's Reef, named after the first friendly green moray discovered in the 1970s. Successive generations of green morays have take up residence and live side-by-side with black groupers, yellow coneys, barracudas and a variety of friendly reef fish. Diving depths range from 30 to 50 feet on this fringing coral reef.

2) SUNSET HOUSE - Grand Cayman's most diverse shore dive is located off the island's largest dedicated dive resort. Access is from a concrete pier with diveladder set into the ironshore. Known as Sunset Reef, this fringing coral reef begins at 30 feet and slopes down to 50 feet, where it flattens out onto a white sand bottom. A 9 foot tall bronze mermaid statue stands at the base of the reef, providing a unique photo opportunity. A short swim out from the reef brings you to the wreck of the LCM Nicholson landing craft, set on the sand in 60 feet of water. The reef is loaded with friendly fish and if you time your dive right, you may even see the Atlantis touring submarine cruising past the wreck.

3) SEAVIEW HOTEL - A site that is popular with both resident divers as well as visitors lies directly off a small dedicated dive resort just south of George Town. The parking lot and dive center are situated close to the shoreline and access is provided by a concrete pier with two dive ladders. There are actually two sites here - Seaview Reef for new divers and Seaview Wall for experienced divers. The shallow reef system is in close to the shore and ranges from 20 to 35 feet, consisting mostly of spur and grove formations. Further out is the drop-off which starts at 60 feet and slopes to 100 feet and is covered in an impressive array of giant basket and barrel sponges. Underwater visibility frequently exceeds 100 feet.

4) EDEN ROCK DIVE CENTRE - This popular dive site is located on the south side of George Town Harbour. A large scuba and snorkeling center lies in-between two very popular shore sites known as Devil's Grotto and Eden Rock. Access to the dive site is from a concrete pier and dive ladder set into the ironshore. Devil's Grotto is a high profile coral formation honeycombed with a system of caverns, caves and inter connecting tunnels. Diving depths range from 20 to 50 feet and schools of silverside minnows are often encountered in the caves. Adjacent to Devil's Grotto is Eden Rock, a similar coral and cave system that is perfect for snorkelers, scuba divers and underwater photographers.

5) ABANKS DIVE CENTRE - Another shore diving facility that offers access to Eden Rock is located on the edge of George Town Harbour. They also have a concrete pier with a dive ladder for easy access to Eden Rock as well as a slightly longer swim to Devil's Grotto.

6) DON FOSTER'S DIVE CAYMAN - Located on the north side of George Town Harbour, this dive facility offers a unique opportunity to dive an ancient shipwreck as well as the surrounding coral reef. The dive center is close to the water and provides access from a concrete pier with a dive ladder. This facility is the home of the Cali Wreck, a 225 foot long four-masted schooner that sank during a storm. Her steel hull and machinery are scattered across the bottom in 20 feet of water.

7) BOB SOTO''S REEF DIVERS PIER - Located just north of George Town Harbour, this popular dive site is located directly off the Bob Soto's Reef Divers dive boat pier at the Lobster Pot restaurant. Access is from a long wooden pier with a dive ladder. Directly out from the pier is a coral reef system comprised of high profile coral heads that rise up from a flat sand bottom. The coral formations are honeycombed with large caverns, caves and winding tunnels. Known as Soto's Reef, this area is a favorite haunt for giant tarpon that hang almost motionless at the mouth of the caves and in between the coral channels. Diving depths range from 20 to 50 feet.

8) CEMETERY - This shore diving site is located at the north end of Seven Mile Beach, just off West Bay Road. A narrow path next to an old cemetery takes you to a white sand beach and shady pine trees. It is one of the few beach dives off Grand Cayman. Known as Cemetery Reef, this fringing reef is a system of spur and grove coral formations with depths ranging from 50 to 60 feet. The area is loaded with small marine life that is excellent for macro photography.

9) DIVETECH PIER - Located on the north shore of the West Bay region is a site directly off Divetech, a dive center specializing in nitrox, rebreather and mixed gas training. It is almost next door to the Turtle Farm and is often called Turtle Farm Reef. Access is from a concrete pier and dive ladder set into the ironshore. Directly out from the pier is a mini wall that begins in 40 feet and drops to 60 feet, leveling off on a white sand bottom. The mini wall runs parallel to the shoreline and provides endless opportunities for exploration. It is loaded with sponges, corals and all types of tropical reef fish, including a school of large tarpon. Divetech rents underwater scooters for cruising the mini wall.

10) COBALT COAST RESORT - A brand new shore site is located directly off the new Cobalt Coast Dive Resort, on West Bay's north shore, west of Divetech. Access is from a long concrete pier with a dive ladder. A short swim brings you to a mini wall with depths ranging from 20 to 50 feet. Further out is a vertical wall dive with superb marine life. The area is almost virgin, and loaded with tarpon, turtles and nurse sharks. The ten sites described are just a small sampling of the unlimited shore diving offered in the Cayman Islands. Other Grand Cayman shore sites include Mitch Miller Reef, Spanish Anchor, Bonnie's Arch, Royal Palms Ledge and more.

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