Each major diving destination has its “sweet spot;” that delicious area that is rich in bio-diversity and like a decadent chocolate keeps you coming back for more. You know what I mean. Indonesia has Raja Ampat, the Philippines has Anilao, and the Caribbean has the Cayman Islands. Grand Cayman, in particular has so much to offer, it is like the creme brulee of the archipelago.
One of Grand Cayman’s attractions is the opportunity to scuba dive or snorkle with turtles. The turtles are protected under Cayman law and the turtle even appears on the Cayman Island’s flag, currency, and seal. On the Northern tip of Grand Cayman, is a turtle farm where you can learn about turtles, and even wade into their habitat and pick them up. There is also a snorkeling pond. Each year, turtles that are produced on the turtle farm are successfully released into the waters around the Cayman Islands helping to sustain the Island’s population.
Scuba divers get to enjoy diving on the wreck of the Kittiwake, a popular artificial reef that was sunk off of Seven Mile Beach in 2011. The wreck is shallow enough that snorkelers can also enjoy seeing the wreck. Each dive is guided, and the area is strictly protected.
Another popular activity that is taking place in the Cayman Islands is Lion fish Culling. The Lion fish is an invasive species in the Caribbean and although they are a beautiful fish, they are rapidly depleting the native reef fish population. The Lion fish has a voracious appetite and can reproduce every five days. It can potentially lay 2 million eggs a year, and has no natural predators in the Atlantic. I have heard it is delicious and there are organized Lion Fish Derby’s if you are interested in spearing them for yourself. The Lion fish on the spears in the above image were fed to the fish in the picture. Authorities are trying to teach grouper, sharks, tarpon and other large fish to prey on the Lion fish to help naturally control the population.
Perhaps one of the best things about Grand Cayman Island is Sting Ray City. In the shallow waters of Grand Cayman’s North Sound is a bay where hundreds of sting rays gather to interact (and by interact, I mean get fed squid) with tourists. Dozen’s of excursions are offered daily out to “Sting Ray City,” where you can snorkel with or wade in the shallow waters with the sting rays. Most operations provide food for their customers to feed to the sting rays. The sting rays are accustomed to many visitors every day and are not afraid to come up and give you a hug.
The water around Grand Cayman is known as some of the clearest water in the world. Scuba diving here is popular because of the beautiful scenery, topography, and warm Caribbean water.
The coral is typical of that found in other parts of the Caribbean, but the blue water seems to be the truest blue of any in the world.
There are plenty of little critters, too. The beautiful Flamingo Tongue is a cowrie (snail) that can be found on the Gorgonians around the islands. It has a plain yellow shell, but when its foot is extended and wrapped around the shell, you can see it’s beautiful spots and markings.
One of my favorite critters that is plentiful around Grand Cayman Island is the Conch. These large snails have the craziest eyes that they extend out from their shell so they can see where their next meal is.
One thing is certain; Grand Cayman has the best the Caribbean has to offer when it comes to enjoying the beautiful waters surrounding the island. It is definitely a place where you get to have your cake and eat it too.