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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