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Grand/Little Cayman: possible to dive relatively shallow?

Discussion in 'Greater Caribbean and Bermuda' started by Jake, Dec 4, 2018.

  1. diversteve

    diversteve Technical Admin

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Some shallow East End sites Ocean Frontiers dives.

    Snapper's Hole - "The best shallow reef dive in the Caribbean." The mooring pin and top of the reef is at a depth of approximately 25 feet and then drops down to a maximum depth of 65 feet.

    The top of Babylon - one of the most famous dives - Babylon is a very easy dive, the top of the Cayman wall starts between 35-45 feet. There are large sand patches on top of the wall and excellent shallow reefs for those scuba divers that do not want to venture too deep. The drop down the pinnacle - considerably deeper.

    I believe, but do not know that Chub Hole is shallow. Actually there's 4-5 sites in that area that are.
    Colliers Bay (6 dive sites)
    The topography in this dive zone is unique to the East End of Grand Cayman. The zone is dominated by shallow reef cavern structures

    20- Chub Hole
    21- Cinderella's Castle
    22- Snapper Hole
    23- Dragon's Lair
    24- Lost Wall
    25- Old Wreck Head

    just an fyi, I got this from the OF website - they list others.
    55 Dive Sites on the East End of Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands

    I'm sure many of them - with videos and descriptions are on idivecayman.com as well.

    OF also dives Stingray City thru a shop in Georgetown - you drive over and meet the boat on the west side of the Sound. It's the most fun 14' dive on Cayman.

    They probably dive the Kittiwake also - the first 2-3 decks are just underwater - a recent storm tore the wheelhouse roof off. It's also a snorkel.
    I can't remember if it's on it's side now or not.

    You could drive over to Sunset House - just south of Georgetown. The Mermaid is 55' at the base (she's about 6' tall) Lots of shallower reef just off the Salt Water Pool - probably 25-35' or so. More than you can cover in one dive.

    Smith's Cove south of there can't be much deeper than about 45' - nice beach, no facilities. Get tanks from OF (if they allow that) or Eden Rock in GT or Divers Supply. Sunset House won't let you remove theirs.

    Eden Rock is also for the most part shallow, so is Devils Grotto. Downside is they're 50 yds. from a very active cruise port - there can be 4-5 ships in the harbor some days. Being the closest site for the cruise divers - it's pretty beat up No reason to go deep there - it's flat and sandy after about 40' and you don't want to get too near the cruise ships.

    If you wanted to make a "west side" day of it, you can drive back over and go past the airport - skirting Georgetown and most of Seven Mile Beach (congested with no shore diving) up the inner road (Queens Hwy) and hit the NW Point shore dives. Turtle Reef is arguably the best on Cayman, a mini-wall that doesn't exceed 40-50' - I've been in the tarpon cave at 42'. Nearby is Lighthouse Point - starts at 6' near the anchor. If her ears hold up, part of the North Wall is accessible with a surface swim - that goes 1000's of feet down in places.

    about an hour drive since you have to drive all the way around.
    mi000ke, Jake and KathyV like this.
  2. mi000ke

    mi000ke Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Massachusetts & Grand Cayman Island
    Even though the standard dives are deep wall first, usually to about 100', followed by a shallow reef dive to not more than 60', if you are buddied up, you can follow the group during the first dive by staying at the top of the wall or at whatever depth you are comfortable with. I often stay up at the 60 to 80' range during the first dive as the view seems more interesting.
    Jake likes this.
  3. Saltyhawg

    Saltyhawg Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Conway, Arkansas
    Most of our dives on Little Cayman the boat was moored in 25-40' and you were allowed to not follow the dive master and can stay on top of the wall the whole dive if you want. You can get an idea on this video. The first couple of clips are on the edge of the wall in about 50' of water and the rest is up on top at the end of the dive in 25-35'.

  4. sea_otter

    sea_otter DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: San Jose, CA
    Ocean Frontiers has detailed maps of all of their dives sites, available for download here: Downloads (click on the Green Short Challenge Scuba Log Book link). These maps all show depths, and as you'll see, there's a lot of vertical structure available to dive at all the locations.

    The dive master will likely lead the group through swim throughs and deeper sections (probably hitting 100 ft at least on the first dive of the day), but there is plenty to see on top of the reefs at shallower depths. They're really nice about letting divers go off with just a buddy if you prefer to not follow the group, and they do a wonderful job with white board maps and briefings - between that and 100 ft of vis, you'd have to try hard to get lost. :)
  5. FindingMenno

    FindingMenno PADI Pro

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
    Grand Cayman has a double wall surrounding virtually the whole island. This first wall (usually called the 'mini' wall) is roughly between 30 and 60 feet, the second wall goes from roughly 60 feet to a few thousand feet. These two walls run parallel, and are roughly a 10 minute swim apart.

    A rough preview, the deep wall is in red, the shallow wall in white.
    Most dive operators for a typical 2 tank boat trip will pick a mooring on the deep wall for the first dive, and a mooring on the shallow wall for the second dive. As mentioned by a previous poster, as long as you have a buddy most operators are fine with you staying on top of the deep wall for the first dive.
    I'm not too familiar with how Ocean Frontier's boats are scheduled, but it would be pretty similar I assume.

    But if you want to keep it shallow, best would be to focus on shore diving. Which will not really be an option on the East End as you need to head out further beyond the barrier reef.
    Best places for shore diving in my opinion is the NW corner with Macabuca/Turtle Reef and Lighthouse Point. The double wall runs just a few minutes swim from shore.
    KathyV and muzikbiz22 like this.
  6. KathyV

    KathyV ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Midwestern US
    You will see a lot of swim-throughs around Little Cayman and some of them can get a bit deep, but I am not of fan of swim-throughs because they sometimes bother my ears. My husband and I tend to stay shallow and avoid many of the swim-throughs. We either buddy up together or we follow the group and swim over the swim-throughs, and it works fine.

    The Bloody Bay Wall off Little Cayman is a deep wall but the wall usually starts shallow so it shouldn't be a problem for you. The Jackson's Bight area is a double-wall system with a deeper wall and a mini-wall. Again there will likely be options for staying shallow.

    If you were heading to the Turks and Caicos I would be concerned, but I don't think you will have much problem staying rather shallow on either GC or LC. There are some dives on GC that start a lttle deeper. Tell the dive op that you want to stay a bit shallow. I haven't dived the East End recently but I am confident that they will do their best to work with you and make sure that all their divers have good options.
    AdivingBel likes this.
  7. AdivingBel

    AdivingBel Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Missouri
    I disagree. Not that there is not plenty to see above 60 ft.. The op will be fine. With the top of the marine park wall so shallow there's lots to see above 60ft.. That along with the high viz also means there's lots of light making for a lush "vertical reef" with lots to see well down the wall. There are also some very nice swim-throughs that "pop out" into the blue around a hundred ft. or so that are worth experiencing, if you like that sort of thing (a lot of folks do). I really enjoy the view looking back up the wall from "deep" (not below rec depths :)). I find the combo of the topography and the sunlight playing over the top of the wall...well, inspiring. Anyway, not to hijack the thread, but couldn't let that one pass. :D All IMHO, YMMV. Have fun on your trip (or I hope you had fun on your trip if you're already there and back). Safe diving.
    KathyV likes this.

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