Grand Cayman Snorkelling: Your Essential Guide
Discovered in 1503 by Christopher Columbus, the Cayman Islands used to be a pirate haven, but today, it’s so much more than just an island paradise, it might just be heaven on earth for snorkelers from all walks of life.
If you’re planning a snorkelling trip out in the Cayman Islands, then this guide is exactly what you need. We’ll tell you more about the best snorkelling sites, sharing information which will help you see and do as much as possible while you’re out there enjoying the islands!
Are the Cayman Islands Good for Diving and Snorkeling?
Although the Cayman Islands offer excellent opportunities for scuba diving as well as snorkelling, there’s a big difference between the skill-sets you’ll need to successfully master the art of doing both out in the waters of the islands.
There are a lot of dive shops on the islands which may be able to sell some snorkelling equipment to you for as little as $20 but do make sure that you’ve enquired with the resort you’re staying with whether they offer the equipment free of charge as part of your accommodation package.
Why it’s Best to Snorkel in the Cayman Islands
The reasons why so many people prefer snorkeling over diving in the Cayman Islands can be due to a few different reasons. A lot of snorkelling sites are accessible from the beaches, which eliminates unnecessary costs and boat rides out to dive sites.
Another reason why folks love snorkelling here is that the waters surrounding the islands are crystal clear and, for the most part, free from currents, making it a safe sport for even the youngest family members. The final reason why so many people opt for snorkelling over scuba diving in the Cayman Islands is due to the depth of the dive sites. Most reefs and wrecks lie very shallowly in the waters, making them very accessible and easy to explore.
Where to Go Snorkeling in the Cayman Islands
Snorkelling in the Grand Cayman is probably done at its best when you have the opportunity of exploring the west coast of the islands. These bays feature very active marine life, some as close as one hundred yards from the shoreline.
There are also a lot of shipwrecks and artificial reefs to discover under water. As far as Grand Cayman is concerned, Stingray City is probably the most popular diving spots. Let’s have a look at some of your options for snorkelling in the waters of Grand Cayman.
The mini-wall at Turtle Bay is accessible almost all year, and since there aren’t a lot of snorkelers here (it’s mostly only a scuba diving site), it can be a real treat exploring these waters with your fins and snorkel! These waters are home to an abundance of juvenile fish, soft sponges, sea fans, and colorful octopus. Massive parrot fish schools can be spotted between the entrances of the spot as well as at the mini-wall.
A lot of folks head off to Cemetery Beach for great snorkeling opportunities, so keep in mind that the site might be a little crowded at times, especially during the peak tourist season. Why? Well, snorkelers love the idea that the site is accessible from the beach and then there’s the abundance of marine life on display in the pristine waters.
These waters are home to the renowned ‘Cayman Piranhas,' also known as Sergeant Majors, which swarm snorkelers carrying some fish food with them, all for the sake of snatching a bite to eat.
Wreck of the Gamma
The Wreck of the Gamma is a diving site which might not be around for much longer because it's currently crumbling away from rust damage, so if you have the opportunity of seeing it, you’d better jump on it!
When visiting the wreck diving site, you’ll be snorkelling around the wreck, which sticks out of the water. The waters around the Gamma are home to an abundance of sea life, especially for such a small area.
Cheeseburger reef was aptly named after the 30-feet of water which ‘protects’ larger coral formations found in the water of a mere 10-feet in depth. Entering the site couldn’t be easier: all you have to do is take a sand walk and enter the shallow waters. The great thing about Cheeseburger Reef is the fact that the fish seem to love human attention, they’ve been fed by humans for years and are definitely not camera shy!
Wreck of the Cali
In George Town, there’s another great wreck site to discover, the Wreck of the Cali. What makes this wreck so great to explore is the fact that it lies on the ocean floor, ribs exposed, which makes an ideal home for an incredible variety of marine life including octopus, sea urchins, hundreds of fish species, and fascinating eels.
Some call it the Devils Grotto while others refer to it as Paradise to Eden Rocks, but whatever you want to call it, just make sure you don’t miss out on seeing this diving site. The spot is home to a range of little caves perfect for free diving, but that’s best left to the guys with air tanks and proper scuba gear. Still, the Devils Grotto is a beautiful spot for seeing some impressive coral formations and feeding an abundance of fish. It’ll feel almost like jumping into an aquarium!
On the East End of Grand Cayman, you’ll find some of the best-kept secrets as far as snorkelling sites are concerned. The area is vast, but one of the best locations to head off to is probably Colliers. There are also a lot of cool spots to explore by the Tortuga Club’s reefs, which is home to thousands of Tarpons, Lobsters, schools of fish, sea fans, and conch.
Rum Point seems to have it all: the substantial snorkelling opportunities, the secluded beaches, the bars, and the fantastic restaurants. It’s a must visit the site for any visitor to the Cayman Islands. Since snorkelling here is mostly done in the barrier reef, the sites are accessible throughout most of the year.
Alternative Snorkeling Sites around the Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands are a haven for snorkelers, which mean that there are a lot of brilliant dive sites scattered around the islands. Here, we’ll discuss some of the most popular sites after the Grand Cayman.
Little Cayman is a great island from where you can snorkel since the sites are in plentiful supply, with access straight from the beach. Taking a boat trip to Bloody Bay will lead you to a beautiful 18-foot wall which meets a lush coral garden. On offer here is the opportunity to explore some amazing shoots, caves, and of course, see the diverse marine life in the area.
Pro Tip: You’ll need to be a strong swimmer who can hold your breath long enough to explore some of the deeper sites if you plan on exploring Bloody Bay.
A little rockier than Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac is yet another great diving site around the islands. Since this site isn’t as popular as Grand Cayman, the waters here offer you the opportunity of seeing some truly unique marine life and natural groupings. Try to head out to the surrounding coral reefs and the MV Captain Keith Tibbetts shipwreck for a real treat!
Pro Tip: Ensure you’re equipped with aqua socks or swim shoes if you plan on exploring the rocky ridges of Cayman Brac.
Things to Keep in Mind for a Snorkeling Trip in Grand Cayman
It’s possible that a few ships will dock on the same day when you’re arriving in Grand Cayman, which can really create a hectic scene. You can use a Trip Arrival planner to see how many ships will be arriving on the day you are due to arrive in Grand Cayman, and then arrange your planned activities around that schedule. If you’re planning on visiting Stingray City, you ahead and book the earliest trip possible just to ensure you’re not overwhelmed by the huge tourist crowds.
As a final word of warning: do not make the local on Grand Cayman feel threatened. Some of them are still very conservative and will frown upon barely-dressed people and those who portray wild behavior.
Is There a Bad Time to Visit the Grand Cayman Island?
The Cayman islands are a great, year-round destination, but just keep in mind that hurricane season runs from June through November If you’re visiting the islands during this time, be prepared for some torrential rains and windy conditions.
We hope that you have enjoyed reading through this post and that it has armed you with all the information you’ll need to make your snorkeling adventures out in the waters of Grand Cayman some of the most significant times of your life!