Our Gear Was Packed For Diving In Grand Cayman
There was no doubt that we were going scuba diving in Grand Cayman. On several visits to Grand Cayman in the past we found lots to see and do. But we missed out on the opportunity to get under the crystal blue waters. So on this visit to the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, we packed our dive gear and were all prepared to scuba dive.
We always debate what scuba gear to pack when we travel. It is a balance between adding baggage versus the cost and availability of good dive gear at our destination. For this trip we took our masks, snorkels and fins because we knew we would snorkel if we did not dive. And we like our own snorkel gear.
Even though we are Canadians, we are wimpy Canadians. So we take both thin full body rash guard suits and our 3mm scuba suits with us. There is nothing worse than having to leave the water because your teeth are chattering. I spent a lot of time picking the perfect ladies BCD so if I think we are scuba diving more than once, I like to take my own BCD with me. We recently purchased good dive computers, so they were in the bag too.
The rest of the gear we rented. We expected that weights, tanks and maybe regulator costs would be built into the dive price. That was not always the case for all dive locations we checked out. That meant we would always have to rent one BCD for David and sometimes would also pay for other gear. That cost does add up over several days scuba diving in Grand Cayman. So think about taking your own gear if you think you are doing several dives on your visit to Grand Cayman.
We Found Options For Scuba Diving In Grand Cayman
There were over 320 dive sites around Grand Cayman. And that does not include the awesome diving in Little Cayman or Cayman Brac. There is a deep wall just offshore, several underground statues, many great wrecks to dive and a large number of shore diving sites. There may be as many dive shops as there are spots to dive around Grand Cayman.
We checked out several of the dive operations. We were looking for both the dive sites we wanted to visit as well was operations for a smaller number of divers. Our experiences in big cruise port locations both diving in Mexico and in the Red Sea was that cruise ship scuba diving meant not getting the better dive sites. So we looked for posted dive sites and probed on this when we talked to operators.
When we scuba dived in parts of the Caribbean with large dive boats, the conga line experience was disappointing. We loved the smaller boats when we went diving in St Lucia with Sandals Resorts on several different visits. And our visit to Grenada to scuba dive was wonderful with a smaller number of people. When we got connected with Shaggy’s Diving, we knew we found what we were looking for on this visit to scuba dive in Grand Cayman.
Starting With A Shore Dive At Coconut Bay
After we packed our scuba gear for the day, we made the long trek to the lobby and called a cab. It was a short drive to Coconut Bay to meet Shaggy. Our first scuba dive was a shore dive to shake out the cobwebs and refresh my skills.
There was a spot right on the lawn for scuba setup. We geared up and the stuff we left behind was taken to the spot where we would get out. Shaggy explained the we would walk down to the water, climb down the ladder and scuba dive from there.
A short swim through the current took us to the top of the reef at about 40’. It was an easy swim for about 50 minutes. While it was a bit cloudy when we first went in, the seas soon cleared. There was lots to see as we swam along.
We followed the slope down and did most of the dive at about 60’. Shaggy led the dive. And every now and then he stopped to point out something. There was a good supply of typical Caribbean fish that ignored us as we slowly went past.
It was a great return to underwater. The skills and familiarity came right back to me. It was amazing to find a great reef just down the stairs.
A Great Spot To Finish Our Shore Dive
When we surfaced, right ahead of us was the Macabuca Tiki Bar. It was easy to exit up the ladder in the rocks.
The Sundivers dive shop operated out of this spot. There was a great covered area to get gear on and off. Large water tanks were available to rinse out our gear. After we had our gear off, we stopped to have a beer and lunch. David and Shaggy talked shop. But I was distracted.
We scuba dive with a Canon G12 in an underwater housing. It lets us get great underwater shots and has a built-in underwater mode. On this trip, we bought a knock-off action camera to test if we might want to add an GoPro to our underwater kit. The knock-off was a piece of crap that we dumped after the first test on the beach.
Unfortunately, I took my iPhone in the water and the underwater case leaked. So I spent most of my lunch watching water drip out of the phone and hoping it was not ruined forever. When I finally turned it back on 6 hours later, it seemed to be ok. But over the next few days, the phone deteriorated. It made this a very expensive scuba dive in Grand Cayman. I learned what really happens if your iPhone gets very wet!
It was great to start our scuba diving in Grand Cayman with an easy shore dive. And the exit at the Macabuca Tiki Bar let us re-fuel and debrief. If you are looking for a great spot to shore dive, this is a spot to consider.
Oro Verde Was Our First Wreck Scuba Dive in Grand Cayman
Our second day of scuba diving was a boat dive. Shaggy had a couple of other people booked. So after he loaded them at the dock, he brought his boat right up the the beach where we stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman. We handed over our gear and climbed aboard. And then we were off to the reef just offshore.
The boat was tied up to the buoy line and Shaggy did his briefing. We were heading down to dive on the Oro Verde wreck and then head down along the reef. The Oro Verde wreck was a boat loaded with marijuana that had been sunk – thus the name – green gold!
Before we even started scuba diving, a spotted eagle ray was visible from the surface underneath Shaggy’s dive boat. It was almost like it waited for us to descend. We rolled back off the boat to enter the water. As soon as we sunk down, we hit more scuba diving gold. There was a nurse shark circling over the wreck. One of the divers made the shark signal and we all came in for a look. It was an exciting start. We explored the pieces of the reef spread over a wide area.
We were quite excited when we started our boat dive when scuba diving in Grand Cayman.
Swimming Along The Reef
The spotted eagle ray and shark were not the only big things we saw scuba diving that day. A turtle swam lazily by.
As we headed down along the reef to about 60’, we saw lots of Caribbean fish, coral and sponges. Several times Shaggy called us over to show us lobsters hidden in the rocks. And David had lots of opportunities to find tiny macro things.
The group was all pretty experienced and we did well on air. It was a great 55 minutes swim and we saw so much scuba diving in Grand Cayman.
The Kittiwake Wreck Was The One Dive We Wanted To Do
When we arrived in Grand Cayman, David had only one dive he really wanted to do. That was to dive on the Kittiwake. It was a very popular spot for scuba divers. When the sea was calm and clear, the wreck was also fully visible from the surface when snorkelling. Luckily for us, we went scuba diving on the Kittiwake on a day when there were no cruise ships in port and the water was calm and clear. We had the wreck all to ourselves. It was the perfect day to see the Kittiwake.
The ex-USS Kittiwake is a de-commissioned US naval ship that is 251 feet long, 44 feet wide and had a draft of 19 feet when fully loaded. The ship has a solid steel hull and superstructure. The single screw propeller is still visible today underwater.
In 2011, the Kittiwake was the first U.S. military vessel purposely sunk in foreign waters on the North end of Seven Mile Beach as a dive site. It sat upright when it was sunk. But in 2017, the waves from Hurricane Nate moved the ship closer to the wall and turned it on the port side. That is how we explored the ship underwater on our scuba diving in Grand Cayman.
Scuba Diving On The Kittiwake
Shaggy moved the boat slowly to the Kittiwake site and we all relaxed for our surface interval. Everyone dove with dive computers so we watched the decompression dive time because this second dive would also be a deep dive. When we were ready to go back in, Gary gave us a briefing before we descended.
We sunk down into the coral so that we would first swim through a tunnel. When we exited, it was amazing to get that first view of the Kittiwake wreck. We spent a little time swimming around the outside. It was so amazing to see the wreck in the clear water.
We then headed inside to swim through a few decks of the ship. It was a large ship and much of the inside pieces had been removed to allow easy scuba diving. Once we exited, we looked at the propeller and the name on the ship.
Then we headed to steer the ship. The helm was still standing. So we took turns posing for pictures. When David handed me the camera, I caught him playing superman across the deck.
We spent a little more time on the wreck before we checked our computers and headed up for a stop at 15’. As we hung around for our 3 minutes, we saw the wreck clearly below us. We were so happy we got to the Kittiwake when we went scuba diving in Grand Cayman.
Such A Good Time Scuba Diving In Grand Cayman
We enjoyed scuba diving in Grand Cayman with Shaggy’s Diving. Shore diving was a great way to get back in the water. The two boat dives gave us a great view of two underwater wrecks. And the diversity of the fish and coral in the sea. Seeing a few bigger things made our dive perfect. It was too bad I learned what happens when my iPhone gets very wet!
There were so many different spots on Grand Cayman for shore diving. On our drive around the island, we stopped at the Sunset House to check out cameras at Cathy Church’s Photo Centre. And we wish we had brought our gear so we could scuba dive on the Amphitrite mermaid statue. We also missed the Guardian of the Reef statue commissioned by Divetec and sunk off Lighthouse Point. Both statues were created by Canadian artist Simon Morris.
We loved seeing the underwater statues in Grenada and snorkelling on the Ocean Atlas statue in Nassau, Bahamas. So missing the underwater statues in Grand Cayman just gives us good reasons to head back to Grand Cayman to scuba dive.
With over 320 dive sites, there is no shortage of places to catch your interest when you go scuba diving in Grand Cayman.
Have you gone scuba diving in Grand Cayman? Did you dive the Kittiwake? Did you have another favourite dive site?
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Linda and Dutch, I am so happy you enjoyed your experiences with Shaggy! What a fantastic article, Linda! I’m glad to hear the underwater statues are still on your list so that you’ll be back diving in Grand Cayman again one day! The photos are wonderful!!
~ Kelley from the Ritz
Kelley, We are so glad we met you when we were in Grand Cayman. We did enjoy our scuba diving. And will definitely want to return again. There is so much to see underwater. Linda
I’m glad that you got to experience the non-conga line of scuba diving, a bit removed from the crowds. That shore dive in Coconut Bay is a great spot for a beginner or to refamiliarize yourself with diving. Grand Cayman is obviously a great spot for diving. I haven’t dived for about 20 years as I find I get too claustrophobic now. A weird byproduct of becoming a mother!
Claudia, We wish we had the chance to do more shore diving. But it was great to start at Coconut bay. When I first started scuba diving, I was worried about claustrophobia. But luckily it never did materialize. So glad we get to explore great underwater worlds like in Grand Cayman. Linda
The Kittiwake looks a little kittywampus. We so need to go out to Grand Cayman. The water looks extraordinary. I both of your positioning in the water, very flat and level.
Jenn and Ed, We were so glad we had the Kittiwake all to ourselves. And had a clear day. It make the dive perfect. Thanks for the comment on our underwatering positioning. David is a professional diver. And when I took up scuba diving, he make sure I focused on perfect buoyancy. Worth it for sure. Linda
I have never been scuba diving, I have only snorkeled but I’d love to learn how to. Grand Caymen is beautiful I went there on a cruise before. So cool you had the wreck to yourselves. What an experience thanks for sharing!
Dylan, Our scuba diving days were perfect. The waters were just so clear and there was so much to see underwater. Hope you get this experience one day. Linda
This was such a vicarious thrill. I’d love to dive the Cayman Islands and see the underwater statues in Grenada. Wonderful pictures too.
Elaine, I am so glad this post spoke to you. We did love scuba diving in Grand Cayman. And will definitely go back to do some more. I hope you get to see the underwater statues in Grenada too. Linda
You guys seem to have fully enjoyed scuba diving at Grand Cayman. The Kittiwake wreck is so interesting and happy to know they have removed the partitions to make it easy for divers. Your pictures are amazing and underwater life is so beautiful.
Suruchi, Thanks. We did indeed have an amazing time scuba diving in Grand Cayman. I can’t wait to go back! Linda
I see you like the Aqualung fins! I love to scuba dive and need some new equipment. This is such a great option and fabulous that you were not in a huge group too. Love the spotted rays!
Nicole, We really did love that we got to scuba dive in Grand Cayman. The small groups made all the difference. Especially when we went on the Kittiwake. Hope you get to scuba dive in Grand Cayman some day. Linda
Wow, this post really inspired me to try diving! You saw so many magnificent creatures! I haven’t been to the Cayman Islands yet and also didn’t know that it was such a premiere diving destination. It’s too bad you missed out on the statues but now you have a reason to come back!
Francesca, I am so happy to hear that this blog post inspired you to think about scuba diving. We do love exploring underwater on our travels to warm destinations. Always happy to go back to great destinations. Linda
Just LOVE your underwater shots! Isn’t it an amazing underwater world?! I’ve never been scuba diving, but I have been snorkelling many times and in many different places. It’s so incredible. The Caribbean was one of the best places! And just curious…what is a BCD?
Tami, Thanks for the feedback on our underwater shots. We were so glad we got a new underwater camera. I should not have used the acronym without explaining. A BCD is a Buoyancy Compensator Device – it is the vest you were to fill with air to help with your buoyancy. Linda
Whoa a beautiful world down there! Looks so colorful. What an experience for you!
Kittiwake Wreck looks exciting too.
Indrani, The world underwater is a great new world. I was so happy that we got the wreck all to ourselves to explore. Linda
FIRST – YOUR pictures are just BRILLIANT. I can never keep that steady to capture the still while diving. But then, I am still a newbie in the scuba world. Having said so, I am in awe of the creatures you have capture. However, my favorite – the wreck. I have been itching to try one out and you got two of them . Sigh!
Ami, I am glad that you liked the underwater photos. We love to share our underwater discoveries. I was quite thrilled with our wreck dives. Having the Kittiwake all to ourselves was so great. Hope you get to do a wreck soon. Linda
Love wreck diving. Looks like those islands are a perfect location for this kind of thing. great post.
Stefan, We were so glad we planned scuba diving in Grand Cayman. Glad you liked the post and found it helpful. Linda
You’re lucky to have a diving partner. MOH doesn’t mind snorkelling but he won’t dive. So I have to go wandering off on my own to join another group so that I can explore the depths. It’s an amazing experience that so difficult to explain to a non-diver. I can’t imagine packing all your diving gear to take with you, that must weigh a ton … but if you’re going to do a lot of diving at your destination, I’m sure it makes sense.
Jay, I am indeed lucky to be able to dive with David as my dive partner. We don’t haul all of our gear but some things are critical for me. I spent a lot of time finding the perfect BCD for my chest size and invariably dive centres will put me in an XL mens and I float out of it. And ankle weights keep me perfectly trimmed. Fins and snorkel always go with us to warm destinations. The rest we rent. Linda
Loved this & your photos are fantastic. I need to go diving again & you have whet my appetite, especially wreck diving which I find totally fascinating. I didn’t get chance when I was in Cayman but weirdly I visited my friend when I was there & think I met her friend…Shaggy! Small world indeed.
Sue, That is too fun that you met Shaggy. He was certainly the reference we got. And he did a great job of showing us different sites with no crowds. Hope you get to go back and dive one day. Linda
Wow this looks like so much fun. I’d love to do a shipwreck dive. I didn’t realise there were so many dive sites in that area.
Nicole, We were surprised with how many dive sites we found in Grand Cayman. A good reason to keep going back. Linda
What a lovely experience! Your pictures are simply beautiful and the underwater shots are stunning and so clear. The Kittiwake wreck looks interesting. 🙂
Jan, Thanks for the feedback on our underwater photos. We do love to share these views! Linda
I’m not scuba diving, however, I love to snorkel. So I get to see all those beautiful fishes and corals that you are introducing in your pix just from the top – good enough for me.
I really love the Caribbean and would love to go back asap – especially after this extensive travel diet.
Renata, We do love to get in the water any way we can. We too are itching to return to the Caribbean. Linda
I haven’t tried scuba diving, but I do snorkel. We were only in the Caymans for a couple of days, so only has a chance to snorkel a bit, but I would love to go back and experience it more.
Larch, I hope you do get to go back and explore more in Grand Cayman. We were glad we finally booked a stay there. Lots above and below the water. Linda
Wow what a beautiful experience! I would love to dive in Grand Cayman. I love diving in the wrecks as I feel there are more marine life at the wrecks than the normal underwater. I have definitely added this to my list now.
It was an amazing week scuba diving in Grand Cayman. We loved the chance to do a mix of shore and boat dives. And the wreck was a fun experience. Hope you get to visit one day.
What an adventure! I always admire the underwater world in movies and watch scuba divers with admiration. But so far, I haven’t dared to try scuba diving. I have only snorkeled a few times. But I could try. Diving In Grand Cayman seems a perfect idea, as it’s over 320 dive sites around Grand Cayman. For sure, some of them are for beginners.
It was great to stay on Grand Cayman for a longer stay. It gave us the chance to scuba dive several times. And it was fun to connect with a local and get his insight for our diving. Can’t wait to go back.