Airport: The main passenger airport in the Cayman Islands, Owen Roberts International Airport (Airport Code: GCM), is located on the largest of the Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman. Our sister island of Cayman Brac also has its own airport, Gerrard Smith Airport (Airport Code: CYB). These two airports serve as the Cayman Islands main ports of entry for visitors. Little Cayman is served by daily inter-island flights.
Currency: The Cayman Islands has its own currency, first issued in 1972, whose basic unit is the dollar, issued in notes with denominations of CI$100, 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 and coins valued at 25 cents, 10, 5 and 1 cent. The CI dollar has a fixed exchange rate with the US dollar of CI$1.00 equals US$1.25. Or, the US dollar equals CI $.80.
Climate: The year divides into two seasons, the summer or “rainy” season, generally from mid-May through October, moving into the winter or “dry” season, from November to April.March and April are our driest months and May and October are traditionally the highest rainfall months.
The average temperature in the winter is 75 degrees Fahrenheit and 85 degrees in the summer. Winter or summer, the temperature generally stays within the range of 70 – 90 degrees. The months with the least humidity and lowest temperatures are December through April, February occasionally recording night-time temperatures in the mid 60′s, and March probably being the most “temperate” month of the year. We should also point out that most properties offer air-conditioned rooms, and the seasonal trade winds in our region help to make our islands even more enjoyable.
Water Temperature: Water temperatures in Grand Cayman range between the high 70′s Fahrenheit in winter to the mid to high 80′s Fahrenheit in the summer and fall months.
Language: The official language of the Cayman Islands is English, spoken with an accent reflecting the British Isles. Jamaican patois is also widespread.
Dive Landscape: There are a lot of reasons why the diving is so good in the Caymans. First of all we aren’t mountainous and don’t have rivers, so we don’t have run-off into the oceans, inhibiting reef development. Second, all three Cayman Islands are actually submerged mountains tops so we have incredible walls all around the islands, reaching in some areas 20,000 feet or more in depth! Third, we have always been very conscious of our precious resource and guarded it by establishing Marine Parks, limiting fishing, virtually all spear fishing, outlawing anchoring, educating divers and self-policing the behavior of our dive operations.
Signature Dive Sites:
Noted as one of the Top 10 wall dives in the Caribbean. Just mention the word Babylon to any Cayman Divemaster and you will notice a sparkle in their eye. This is the kind of dive is saved for their day off or to really impress experienced divers. Babylon is one of the most remote sites on Grand Cayman and is located on the North Wall, half way between Rum Point and East End. Babylon is most frequented by dive boats on 3 Tank Safaris around the island or by live-a-board vessels. Do not confuse all the hype about the beauty of this dive site and its remote location as to making it an advanced dive. Once you get there, 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. For scuba divers who want a true vertical experience, they will find it on the wall at Babylon. The wall topography changes from a sheer plunging wall face to cascading sheets of plate coral and large pinnacles jutting in to the crystal clear waters of the Cayman Trench. While you are captivated by the pure vistas of Babylon do not forget to witness the Cayman reef inhabitants. The wall teems with schools of Chromis, often interrupted by Barracuda, Stop-Light Parrot fish or Queen Angels. The wall is decorated with thick outcroppings of Black Coral, Purple Sea Fans, Barrel sponges and a great variety of other tropical marine life.
“Anchor Point” on most maritime charts of the Cayman Islands is noted as a partially sheltered cove on the North coast of Grand Cayman. The cove is a historical anchoring ground where old sailing ships used to rest before dropping off cargo for the early settlers of the Cayman Islands; however to scuba divers, Anchor Point is the name of a classic North-East wall dive. One of the signature features of this dive site is the unusually formed red sponge affectionately known as “Pumpkin Face”. This unique sponge is attached to the Cayman wall at 97 feet deep. Other features of this dive site include a vertical canyon running from the top of the wall and out to the winding and sheer drop-off. This canyon serves well as a perfect entrance or exit to the wall. Anchor Point is a great site to witness Turtles and Eagle Rays along with a plethora of other tropical fish and corals. The top of the wall and patch reef slopes from 45 feet down to 60 feet and then drops off into the Cayman trench several thousand feet deep. Anchor Point is accessible most of the year and is best visited when prevailing winds are from a Southerly direction. This site boasts excellent visibility year round and is suitable for all divers.
Black Rock Reef
This shallow coral reef dive gets it’s name from a ‘Black Rock’ sitting on the beach directly inshore from the dive site. This very black rock was used by Cayman boat captains to locate the dive site before mooring buoys were in stalled in the late 90′s. The mooring pin and the depth under the boat is only 20 ft, which provides a very easy and shallow ledge to start the dive from. The ledge runs East to West and slopes down to approximately 50ft. There are also large coral fingers that span out from the reef slope all the way to the Cayman wall. The overall essence of Black Rock Reef is about a diverse and alive reef habitat- many different types of tropical fish darting around a variety of hard corals, soft corals, sponges and other critters. Black Rock Reef is truly a delight for photographers, who often run out of space on their memory card before it is time to return to the surface. Visibility is always good, 80-120 ft and this area almost never has any current. This site is also more protected that other dive sites on East End and suitable for all experience levels of divers. This site is located on the North side of the East End district close to The Reef Resort and Morritt’s Tortuga Club. The best way to dive this site is via a dive boat. Shore diving this site is difficult due to the fringing barrier reef between the site and the shoreline.
Valley of the Dolls
Located on the North East Corner of Grand Cayman and named after the famous book by Jacqualine Susanne because everything is beautiful and dream like. Probably one of the most photogenic dive sites on the East End with an excellent sponge variety and lots of tall soft corals, especially the 8ft Feather Plume just North of the mooring pin. The main navigation feature of this site is a huge canyon that splits the main coral buttress. This canyon serves as a perfect entrance on to the wall, check out the Black Corals and don’t forget to take a picture. As quoted from a diver at the site: “My favorite swim through is The Valley of the Dolls. The reason is that little lip that causes divers to swim up as they exit onto the wall. The sensation is acrophobic!”
Barrel Sponge Wall
Named by the abundance of Giant Barrel sponges. Barrel sponges are more predominant on the North facing sites – this site really stands out with 17 Giant barrel sponges over 15 years old. Watch them closely and you can see them filtering the water and venting out of their natural chimneys – don’t forget to take your measuring tape on this dive… ps- No climbing into the sponges.
Located directly off shore from one of the known nesting sites for Turtles. This and the adjacent 3 sites are the number one locations for spotting turtles.
Located to the South of Colliers Channel. This dive site features large ledge or mini-wall with lots and lots of canyons and passageways. Bermuda Chubb and Snappers gather on the corner of the exposed areas of the ledge, while large Tarpon and Groupers gather in the shade of the canyons….. see how close you can get to them! Also a good site for Turtles and Eagle Rays.
Located North of Tortuga Tunnels is this sunken palace of passageways, pillars and windows filled with tropical fish. Another ‘Must see!’.
Snapper Hole has been named by many as “the best shallow reef dive in the Caribbean”. This signature dive site is located just off shore from The Reef Resort in East End in Grand Cayman. The site consists of a labyrinth of tunnels and caverns filled with snappers, tarpon and silversides, and draped with lush corals on sponges. 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. Snapper Hole also features a large 1872 historical Spanish anchor with chain and a rare formation of pillar coral. You can even find lettuce leaf sea slugs here and lots of other marine critters hiding under ledges or in small cracks and crevasses. This site is not to be missed. Snapper Hole has been named by many as “The best shallow reef dive in the Caribbean.” This signature dive site is located just off shore from The Reef Resort in East End. The site consists of a labyrinth of tunnels and caverns filled with snappers, tarpon and silversides, and draped with lush corals on sponges. 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. Snapper Hole also features a large 1872 historical Spanish anchor with chain and a rare formation of Pillar coral. You can even find Lettuce Leaf Sea Slugs here and lots of other marine critters hiding under ledges or in small cracks and crevasses. This site is not to be missed, in fact it is recommend diving it twice if you get the chance.
Old Wreck Head
Located ½ mile to the North of the 1962 ‘Ridgefield’ wreck, and just past the East Channel. A East End Classic reef dive; Caverns, Canyons, Swim-throughs, windows, overhangs… you name it! And if that’s not enough, it’s packed full of every type of fish life. But, this site is very exposed to the currents and wind, therefore is only safe to dive occasionally.
Parrot Fish Caves
Located about ½ mile South East of the 1962 ‘Ridgefield’ wreck. This site has very unique geology in relation to other shallow reefs in the area. The feature of the dive site is a long and wide cavern with a very low ceiling, making a home for Midnight and Rainbow parrotfish.
The Grand Central Station of the underwater world. Grouper Grotto in any particular Summer month (and not necessarily the same month each year) transforms in to a mixing bowl of the fish food chain. Sliver Sides, locally known in Cayman as ‘fry’, are the main menu attraction for Tarpon, Grouper, Jacks and Snappers. Divers are simply innocent by-standers, observing the indulgence of the well fed inhabitants of Grouper Grotto. The Silver Sides pour themselves in to the canyons opting for a ‘safety in numbers strategy’. The large fish snap through these massive bait balls, punching through a visual hole, that magically seals up behind them as they forge ahead. The most noticeable predators are the Tarpon, like aircraft waiting to land, they hover in formation waiting for their turn to dive bomb the Silver Side buffet. Grouper Grotto is an East End classic and is located on the South East Corner of Grand Cayman. The reef is formed of a shallow ledge with canyons, archways and overhangs carved in to this geological structure. The top of the reef starts at 20 feet and drops down to 45 feet in the bottom of the canyons and between 50 and 60 feet in the soft coral reef flats to the South of the dive site. This site is very easy to navigate as the mooring pin is central to all the best features. However, if you love swimming through tunnels and want to make sure you don’t miss anything, it is a good idea to opt for a guide for most of this dive.
Named after the large scuba diving promotional event in 1990 held just after the big DEMA scuba diving trade show and right around the time of the Superbowl in January. The site consists of a winding wall face with 2 large pinnacles and a massive mushroom formation resembling a church spire. This area makes a great drift dive!
Named after Patricia Shar, a Manager of the Cayman diving lodge in the 80’s. One of the most exposed areas of the East End wall. Intricate series of passageways, black coral trees, lush corals, the largest schools of fish hang out right by the mooring pin on an very pronounced buttress of coral.
Jack McKenny’s Canyons
A favorite dive of the famous film maker with deep vertical canyons leading to the deepest drop-off in the northern hemisphere — 25,000 feet downwards. East End’s number one dive site for sharks and eagle rays.
The Maze dive site is located on the wall just out side of the South Channel markers, making this site a great location for spotting Caribbean Reef Sharks and various other pelagics. The Maze is famous for it’s spectacular, winding crevasses leading out on to the Cayman Wall. Keep your eyes open for a giant Green Sea Turtle that lives in the area. The latest addition to this site is a Seahorse that was spotted a couple of weeks ago and who is still hanging out. Named after one of our long-standing customer “Sal Perconti” who spotted the Seahorse on his latest dive trip. ‘Sal The Seahorse’ appears to be quite happy on The Maze. Sal is located within eyeshot of the mooring pin in just 50 ft of water. We hope he sticks around for a while and finds a mate.
Playing Field Reef
Playing Field Reef was given its name due to its proximity to the East End public playing field, where various community festivals such as the Pirates Week Heritage Day in Grand Cayman are held. The playing field was also used as a landmark for locating this dive site before the luxury of mooring buoys! The site is basically a shallow ledge with coral spur and grove fingers reaching out into vast coral meadows. There are lobsters hiding in the nooks and crannies of this site so make sure to look out for them! The reef depth at the mooring pin is approximately 30 feet, sloping down to 45-55 feet. This site is very easy to navigate as the mooring pin is central to all the best features. It also makes for a great night dive. Playing Field Reef is accessible most of the year and best visited when prevailing winds are from a northerly direction. The site boasts excellent 100 feet plus visibility all year long and is suitable for divers of all levels.
The Lodge Anchor
Located directly off shore from the Cayman Diving Lodge. Close to the mooring you will find a network of passageways and shallow canyons. The canyons are home to Fairy Basslets and the strange looking Soap Fish. To the Eastern extent of the dive site there is a 1794 Anchor from the wreck of the 10 Sail, located near the entrance to a canyon… this makes a great picture.
Located just to the West of ‘The Lodge Anchor’. The dive site’s main feature is a 30 ft wide Arch, decorated with hard corals and red encrusting algae. On the underside of the Archway you will find little cracks and holes making homes for juvenile fish and some very delicate purple lace coral.
Located near the East End blowholes, close to River of Sand.
The main canyon, ‘Terrace’, always has a line up of tarpon, stacked on top of each other, almost as if they were waiting to get in to a movie theatre. To the south of the mooring, closer to the wall, you will find 4 large coral mounds (one has a swim through in it) hosting a vast array of corals, invertebrates and fishes…. Sometimes a Green Moray eel.
Three gravity-defying pillars of coral 60 feet in diameter, rise from the depths to the top of the Cayman wall; named Agatha, Bertha and Cleo. This dive site is on the South East section of the island, approximately a 15 minute boat ride from Ocean Frontiers dock. The top of the wall is between 55-65 feet deep. The most striking features of this dive site are the three gravity-defying pillars of coral 60 feet in diameter, rising from the depths to the top of the Cayman wall. The mooring pin is located close to the Eastern pinnacle making it easy to visit all 3 on one dive and return under the boat with air to spare. Each pinnacle or bommie has her own name, Agatha, Bertha and Cleo ‚Äì named after the three Connolly Sisters of Each End. Miss Cleo is know by many regulars of Morritts Tortuga Club for her great local cooking. Be sure to request to visit this site on your next dive trip with Ocean Frontiers.
Located behind a sheltered peninsular of ‘Iron Shore’ – so called for it’s hard and rugged texture. The dive site consists of a mini-wall decorated with massive brain corals and sea fans. Cut into this ledge are dozens of narrow passageways leading you to an underwater maze filled with tarpon and horse eye jacks. One particular cavern is home to a rare school of Glassy Sweepers. Located to the West of the mooring is a special cavern called the ‘Ear Hole’ (also called The Throat)…. because
Located next to Ironshore gardens. The dive site is named after a former Divemaster of the Dive Lodge from the early nineties. This dive site consists of several canyons criss-crossing each other to form the said ‘Maze’. One of the features of this dive site is a 150+ sq.ft. growth of brown encrusting sponge, which looks like hundreds of mini volcanos (located 50ft East of the mooring pin). The main geography of the site consists of a long, pronounced coral finger with a narrow canyon running the full length of the coral finger and exits by a great archway. Look for Stingrays sleeping in the sand flats.
Located next to Maggie’s maze. Similar topography to adjacent sites. The features of this dive site include large formations of Elkhorn and Staghorn corals. Look out for Trumpet fish hiding in all the soft corals.
Located just off shore, where the Frank Sound Barrier reef meets a pennisular of rock.
Under the surface you will find a roughed topography of mushroom coral formations, archways and swim throughs. A very healthy and diverse reef.
Frank Sound Gardens
Located just East of the Frank Sound Channel. This site is composed of intermittent coral out croppings with vast meadows of soft corals. An excellent site for spotting Eagle Rays.