Cayman Islands Dive Sites
The Cayman Islands offer great macro diving and pelagic encounters while diving the three islands with your liveaboard cruise. Marine life here seems unbothered by divers presence.
On a liveaboard cruise, guests can enjoy the Cayman Islands dive sites which are a mixture of walls and shipwrecks.
The cruise will cover the islands of Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac (weather permitting). The three areas offer a range of sites that have very clear water and easy to navigate. There is an abundance of marine life due to the marine park protection.
Larger pelagic life can be found on the easily reachable walls and drop-offs sites. They have pristine coral and sponge life with fish that seem to be completely unbothered by divers.
Shark diving enthusiasts will be delighted with the Cayman Islands dive sites.
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Cayman Islands Dive Sites - 1 LIVEABOARDS
Cayman Islands dive sites are located on the three islands that comprise this territory: Cayman Brac, Little Cayman and Grand Cayman.
Cayman Brac Highlights
Known for wall and wreck diving, Cayman Brac diving has much to offer with varied topography, sharks, swim-throughs and patch reefs.
Captain Keith Tibbetts
Captain Keith Tibbetts is a 100m Russian Koni class frigate that was scuttled in 1996 to create an artificial reef. This is the only Russian warship in the western hemisphere and is sat in 10 to 24m of water. Broke in two by a hurricane both pieces are accessible and penetration is possible, gun turrets are clearly visible. Barracuda, groupers, moray eels, southern stingrays, eagle rays and sponge life are found on the wreck.
Wilderness Wall is a pristine reef of both sponges and corals on the south side of Cayman Brac. There are gorgonian sea fans, rope and tube sponges along with hard corals. The drop off has canyons and crevices and a large pinnacle just away from it, between the two it is possible to see larger pelagic life. Look for jacks, Nassau groupers, turtles, snappers and southern stingrays on the reef, there is a sandy plateau ideal for a safety stop on the reef crest.
Tarpon Alley is coral finger reef with a large sand passage leading out to a wall. Tarpon are found between the reefs along with barracuda, and the wall is where eagle rays can be seen along with a possibility of a reef shark or occasional hammerhead shark.
Little Cayman Highlights
Dive sites at Little Cayman consist of vertical walls, beautiful coral gardens and boulder formations. A marine park area controls the number of divers per day resulting in pristine reef and walls.
Bloody Bay Wall
Bloody Bay wall is a dive area that is considered one of the best in Little Cayman, and it is split into more than 15 sites due to the large area. Depth ranges from 7m to a drop off to over 1000m that results in dramatic wall dives which are covered in diverse marine life. Sponges, corals and sea fans are providing an excellent habitat for all the macro critters. It is one of the most photographed reefs worldwide. The walls and surrounding area are a marine park which has resulted in a massive amount of undisturbed marine life. On the wall itself look for arrow crabs, moray eels, seahorses, shrimps, lobsters and nudibranchs. Fish life includes Nassau groupers, eagle rays triggerfish, and jacks away from the wall look for hammerhead sharks and turtles.
Swim-throughs can be found with holes, caves, canyons and crevices where a torch can be useful to explore.
Three Fathom Wall
This site is also known as Mixing Bowl meets Bloody Bay Wall and is where the sheer drop off meets a gently sloping reef. Fish life here is prolific with schools of Bermuda chub, goatfish, snappers and groupers. Look for Jawfish in the coral rubble with reef sharks, turtles and eagle rays patrolling the area.
Jackson’s Reef has coral heads that have a large population of French angelfish along with a resident grouper, schools of snapper and giant green morays. In the sand look for eagle rays, southern stingrays and Caribbean reef sharks as well as sail fin bennies and peacock flounders. Night dives here are popular with octopus, basket stars and many anemones along with the usual crustaceans.
Marilyn’s Cut is a wall with hard corals, sea fans and many varieties of sponge life. There is a large resident Nassau Grouper found here next to a barrel sponge that is a favourite for photographers along with trumpet fish and some reef sharks.
Nancy’s Cup of Tea
Nancy’s Cup of Tea has excellent hard corals in a shallow 12m area that then goes to a drop-off. There are two anchors found in the shallow with many vase sponges, and a large pinnacle has black coral in the deeper part. Look for French angelfish, groupers filefish and wrasse here.
Grand Cayman Highlights
The US submarine rescue ship that was scuttled in 2011 that sits in 19m of water rising to just 3m. At 77m in length, there is plenty to explore, and holes have been made in the structure for divers to penetrate the wreck easily. There is still minimum coral growth, but with her five levels, there is plenty to see. The mess hall, hospital including recompression chamber, diving bell, bridge, engine rooms and munitions lockers can be found.
Marine life includes jacks, chubs, grunts, tarpons, eagle and southern stingrays. Look for turtles, Caribbean reef sharks and the occasional whale shark passing.
Stingray City is renowned for the southern stingrays that frequent the shallow area making it one of the most famous dive sites in the Cayman Islands. Fishermen used to clean their catch in the horseshoe-shaped body of calm water that caused the vast numbers of stingrays to come to this ‘cleaning station’ for a free meal. Now the stingrays associate boats with being fed and come in huge numbers to the area.
There are two sites, one at 3m for snorkelers and the other at 12m for the divers. During the dive no movement is needed, the southern stingrays will gather around for hand feeding and ‘petting’, they are not caged or penned, and the interaction is not forced in any way.
Big Tunnels is a limestone pinnacle leading to many tunnels, following the largest one big tunnel swim through via an archway that exits the reef into the blue water at 30m. Inside there are silversides, rope sponges, whip coral. In ledges and crevices look for lobsters, fish life includes snappers, tarpon and pufferfish. As you exit, the wall and reef have jackfish, turtles, eagle rays.
Despite the name, this is not a cave system, but three canyons that converge with a vertical drop off. The site has featured in many magazines and the film, ‘The Firm”. The wide tunnels and swim-throughs have natural light filtering through them via breaks in the reefs. Starting at 12m, they emerge at 24m. The entire swim-through has great sponge life, schools of silversides, lobsters and crustaceans along with colourful reef fish.
Babylon is the most famous part of the wall that surrounds the entire island with dive sites on all sides. There is a shallow plateau to the wall with a sandy area, but the deeper water has excellent scenery. Here you find black coral, giant sea fans and barrel sponges. Look for eagle rays, barracuda, turtles and even the occasional hammerhead shark.
Ghost Mountain of the north point is a giant mushroom shaped pinnacle surrounded by schooling fish that appears in the blue water. Covered with red finger sponges and sea fans look for coral shrimp and other macro life. A vast canyon is at 30m.
Balboa wreck is a shallow night dive site with crabs, lobster, squid, octopus and many other nocturnal species to be found. She is a 120m freighter that sank on anchor during a hurricane in 1932, very broken up due to the dynamiting of the harbour entrance where she rests.
David Nicholson is a 15m landing craft in 16m of water, named after a diving icon of the Cayman Islands. Look for lobster and grouper under the stern. There is a 3m bronze mermaid statue on the site.
Translated as Green Gold, this is a liberty ship scuttled in 1980 at 18m of depth, she is 55m in length and collapsed and in sections, but covered in sponges and corals. Sat in the sand, there is a field of garden eels and on the vessel, spotted and green moray eels.
Look for barracuda, jacks, chubs, snappers and grunts circling along with groupers and angelfish.
Doc Polson is a cable laying vessel named after a doctor on the island who established the first hyperbaric chamber. Scuttled in 1991, the 20m ship sits upright in the sand. She is intact and safe to penetrate, filled with silversides, wrasse and parrotfish. Juveniles and pygmy filefish can be found here as well as fields of garden eels in the sandy bottom.
Kelly’s Cavern is one of the sites to the southeast of the island, having tunnels, caves and canyons winding in and out of the corals. Look for tarpon in the caves that can be over a metre in length, lobsters and many crabs. Ascending through one of the many holes takes you to the reef and shallow coral gardens with snappers, grunts, parrotfish and tangs among the reef fish.
Along with Cinderella’s Castle are two of the shallower sites here, a mix of sheer walls, canyons and shallow coral gardens. The usual critters are found inside the darker caves areas with jacks schooling above the reef and damselfish hiding inside the elkhorn corals that are now sadly a rare sight here after disease struct in the 1990’s.
Jack McKenney’s Canyon
Joins The Maze as a wall site offering sightings of larger marine life and stunning scenery. There is a resident group of Caribbean reef sharks, chub, creole wrasse and black durgon. Look for turtles and different varieties of angelfish.
Guests on the liveaboard cruise have time on Friday afternoon to visit Georgetown and have the evening meal on land.
Marine Park and Conservation in the Cayman Islands
Seventeen percent of the area of the Cayman Islands is designated as a marine park that was first established over 30 years ago. There is a zoning system in place that designates the use of areas within the parks.