Grand Cayman scuba diving is always at the top of the list on top sites, and it’s not hard to see why. This location is great coral reefs, beautiful wall dives and caverns. The seven-mile beach with crystal clear waters won’t disappoint even the seasoned scuba diver. A scuba diving vacation package is always easy to get as this location has a lot of different dive options. Most big-name hotels have dive shops attached to them, but it’s easy to all navigate around other dive shop locations.
I recommend hiring a car and driving around the island, there are great places outside of seven-mile beach and it’s easier to get around in your own time.
The wall dives in Grand Cayman are amazing, sometimes you can’t even see to the ground and you lose sight of just how deep you go. The best thing about these dives is that you don’t have to travel very far to get a good variety of wall dives. The coral is great, but be sure to look closely for that eel that pops his head out perfectly camouflaged by the surrounding biodiversity.
Caverns and Rock Formations
The thing I enjoyed the most about Grand Cayman scuba diving was the abundance of caverns and rock formations to squeeze through. I’m guilty of not wearing a scuba suit, which I highly recommend to ensure you don’t get scratched along the way. The rock formations were also huge and made for exploring a real delight. I’ll never forget following the sand path surrounded by large rocks, following my other divers and soon I was 100+ feet deep. You lose sense of depth quickly – but that’s point of diving – isn’t it?
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t like wrecks! I know. Most of the wrecks I’ve seen have little around them. The USS Kittiwake ship in Grand Cayman is worth a look because it’s really large. Again, not much in terms of marine life, or even life through the ship, but it’s still nice to see something that dwarfs you immensely while gazing upon it.
Pointers for Grand Cayman scuba diving:
Budget – if you’re on a budget try booking with a dive shop that can give you a good scuba diving vacation package and book you in each day. This will make sure you optimize your diving time, see different locations and will only get charged once for things like dive gear and equipment.
Marine life – I’m a big fan of all critters in the ocean, but I must say this was more the location for caverns, walls, wrecks and coral life. Just know that before you go. I still very much recommend it.
Dive shops – most of them are commercial here. Scuba diving deals are not easy to find. Between the hotel and independent dive shops the difference in price was about 10%. I went with dive shops that would give me the best experience because price was comparable. During the busy season, it can be hard to get spots, so it’s important that if you’re booking a scuba diving vacation that you get a package that books you in for your dives. Sometimes booking these all together can give you scuba diving deals on gear, or equipment.
If you’re a scuba diver at heart or someone who finds shiny things very exciting – this is a bucket list item. Not available all year round because of moon timings, a bioluminescent experience is surreal. You’ll be out on the ocean at night in a kayak, paddling out to a special location where these “Pyrodinium Bahamans” or microorganisms exist. The way the ocean lights up with every paddle swish and movement of your limbs in the ocean will be like seeing the stars light up in the ocean. We went with cayman kayaks and they did a great job. Overall it will take about 1.5 hours in the evening at Rum Point. Arrive a little early to see the spectacular sunset from this same point before you head out on the tour.
Sting Ray City (not diving, but great for divers)
A definite a must-do while in Grand Cayman. You get to hang, play and feed the sting rays in this sandbar in the middle of the ocean. It does get busy and there are options of coming in via boat or jet skis. I recommend the boat experience because you can attach a snorkel trip to this visit as well in a couple of different locations.
Star Fish Beach
This is closer to a location off Rum Point, and it’s a drive away from seven-mile beach. You can take a ferry, drive your rental or go with a tour. It’s a nice place to relax in shallow water and see a range of starfish around.
Hotels– If you like the full-service experience I recommend hotels where your room is reset every day and you can eat on premises. You can also hotel hop to eat at other locations. There’s not a lot of top tier ones so they get booked out quickly during busy season.
Villas vs. Airbnb - If you have a large group going for Grand Cayman scuba diving or like the local experience and still want to stay on seven-mile beach I recommend villas and Airbnb’s. Grand Cayman is safe, and has a mix of wealthy expat professionals happy to Airbnb their space while out.
Local bus – if you decide not to rent a car, getting around is easy. There’s a local “bus” which is essentially a van that picks people up as it drives along the main street. When you want to get off, you tell the driver and it’s usually between $1-5 per person depending on how far you traveled. Sounds suspect but I assure you it isn’t.
Currency – American dollar is accepted anywhere. It’s also a location that is reasonably priced; it’s not typical of the other Caribbean islands where your money can take you a long way.
Nightlife – Grand Cayman has both nightlife and day pool parties. It’s a question of what type of experience you like. AS it’s an international hub you will find people from every part of the Caribbean to all over the world. As a result, the DJ is likely to play everything during the course of the night. The outdoor bars at the key hotels are a definite must. If you want a casual bar with music, beers and a largely European crowd I would head to the bar at the end of seven-mile beach (not the Ritz Carlton end).
Food – you can get any type of cuisine here. There’s no limit to the variety. For me, it was very commercialized, but I did manage to make it to the taco shack behind the Westin hotel. The best tacos I’ve had in my life. Note there’s always a line at this place, it’s attached to a small hotel, but it’s well worth the wait.
Non-diver friends – let’s be real, it’s great being a scuba diver, it’s even better being on vacation with scuba divers in Grand Cayman. But it’s not always easy to get that all in one. If you travel with friends who don’t dive. This is a location that has everything for everyone. There’s a turtle sanctuary, starfish beach, bioluminescent experience, stingray city, food, drinks and party spots.
Dress code – a girl always needs to know what type of scuba diving vacation to pack for. Is it a casual place, or can I get those wedges on and strut? This is a strut location ladies. Go with the “I didn’t really try, but I look this coordinated and chic naturally” look. If you’re single, bring out the color (but note it’s an island and will be hot, lay off the excessive foundation, let the tan do the talking). If you’re taken and with your man, the ladies here are …. Nice. Keep his attention on point.
Mosquitos – in all the island locations I’ve ever been to, Grand Cayman was the worst! Take a really good insect repellent and lather well – really well. Also, long romantic walks on Seven Mile Beach – do yourself a favor, walk around the hotel pool. Not fun.
Grand Cayman scuba diving spots – be sure that each day you go out diving you aren’t visiting the same locations, there’s a lot of repetition I’ve found with the dive shops attached to hotels. Be upfront at the start of your scuba diving vacation that you want a diving experience that includes many varied spots, marine life, corals, walls and wrecks. If you do get the chance, go to Little Cayman (Cayman Brac) which is meant to be an even better untouched diving experience. If you want to do both I recommend taking 10 days as there’s only specific days, you can head out to Little Cayman. It’s not easy to go between islands, they’re quite far apart.