The Cayman Islands are world-renowned for their incredible underwater scenery, particularly the beautiful coral reefs and array of colourful fish.
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Located in the western Caribbean, just 480 miles south of Miami, Cayman is perfect for scuba diving and snorkelling, boasting some of the Caribbean’s best excursions. With virtually no currents and outstanding underwater visibility, Cayman has amazing wall dives, coral reefs and wrecks for you to explore and discover. If you are ‘dive-curious’, there are a wealth of things to do in, under, or on the water at every skill level. A variety of dive operators can teach you how to dive, improve your skills, and have an amazing underwater experience. With water temperatures ranging from 26-28°C (78-82°F) all year round, it is always a good time to get in the water and discover the seas.
Diving in the Cayman Islands (2020 Overview)
In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, almost all dive sites were shut as a social-distancing measure, which led to frustration amongst Cayman’s dive community as dive fanatics were not allowed to enter the water. A plethora of restrictions were placed on renting diving equipment, largely subject to intense sanitation requirements. As of October 2020, the Department of Tourism have introduced new operation and sanitation guidelines for the diving industry, hoping to keep divers safe as they return to their underwater trips.
Sadly, diving along any of the sites on Grand Cayman’s North Wall may be forbidden for a certain period in 2021 to combat the spread of the deadly Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD). SCTLD has affected the dive sites between Bear’s Paw (West Bay) and Delia’s Delight (North Side), infecting the reefs and it is continuing to spread rapidly. The Department of Environment (DoE) are working to enforce preventative measures, such as banning in-water activity and mooring, to discourage people from coming into contact with SCTLD and spreading it to other dive sites.
Despite these complications, the Island’s dive industry has continued to receive numerous awards. The World Travel Awards have named the Cayman Islands the Caribbean’s Leading Dive Destination in 2020. Special congratulations should also go to the four new 2020 inductees of the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame (ISDHF) — Jill Heinerth, Tom Ingram, Avi Klapfer and Jim Gatacre. To celebrate the 20th year anniversary of the ISDHF, the hall of fame now has its permanent home at the Pedro St. James Castle to commemorate the Caribbean’s greatest leaders in the dive industry.
Cayman is hyperaware of the importance of coral reefs to our three Islands, our waters, the marine ecosystem, and the dive industry. In September 2020, a cargo ship that entered the George Town Harbour left large amounts of sand laying on the reefs at the Eden Rock Dive Centre, which led to the Department of Environment (DoE) sending out an emergency call for local divers and swimmers to help clean up the sand. Although corals are usually self-cleaning, this sand was far too thick (almost 4 inches) to be naturally removed. The DoE were overjoyed to see 150+ divers spending the day making efforts to remove the sand. Divers returned the next morning to finish the job, along with the voluntary help of Don Foster’s Dive Cayman, Sunset Divers and the Silverside Rum Gallery & Grill.
In addition, Cayman is still actively promoting its lionfish culling programme by encouraging divers and dive operators to safely remove as many lionfish from Cayman waters as possible.
8 Reasons to Dive Cayman
- World-class dive operators and facilities
- Diving options for all skill and experience levels
- 60-100+ ft. visibility year round
- Avg. 78-82°F water temperature
- Little to no current
- 369 dive sites across the three Islands
- Wreck diving and underwater attractions
- Convenient and affordable shore diving options
Best Dive Sites
With a dive site for every day of the year, it can be difficult to choose the 'best dive site' in Cayman but we've managed to narrow it down to our nine top spots:
Big Tunnels - Northwest Point, Grand Cayman
Bloody Bay Wall - Little Cayman
The USS Kittiwake - Northwest Point, Grand Cayman
Babylon - Old Man Bay, Grand Cayman
Wreck of the Balboa - George Town, Grand Cayman
Eden Rock & Devil's Grotto - George Town, Grand Cayman
Orange Caynon - Northwest Point, Grand Cayman
Snapper Hole - East End, Grand Cayman
Ghost Mountain - North Wall, Grand Cayman
Anchor Point - East End, Grand Cayman
Already ticked these dive sites off your list? To find out about all the other sites to explore refer to the Dive Areas section for a general overview of what to expect from each area or the Dive 365 section to learn about the programme that suggests a new dive site for every day of the year.
Here's what to expect from dive locations across the Cayman Islands, from the caves of George Town to the unspoiled beauty of the Sister Islands.
In the Cayman Islands you really can do a new dive every day of the year with Dive 365 - a programme designed to highlight the Island's many unique dive sites.
Wreck diving is becoming increasingly popular as it provides a dramatic diving experience. There are a number of spectacular wrecks situated around the Cayman Islands and, as more marine life inhabit these sites, the better they get. It’s fair to say that the following dive sites should be at the top of any diver’s list.
Shore Diving in Grand Cayman
As the underwater drop off is so close to shore in many areas, Cayman has a number of great dive sites that are accessible directly from the shore. This means certified divers can rent tanks and gear and go diving on their own schedule, independent of a group. However, the usual rules still apply so make sure you go with a buddy, and do not dive without the supervision of a divemaster if you do not feel confident and experienced enough, let someone on shore know where you have gone and what time you expect to be back.
Grand Cayman offers five shore diving locations with on-site facilities for tank and gear rentals:
- Eden Rock
- Lighthouse Point
- Turtle Reef (Sundivers at Macabuca)
- Sunset House
- Cobalt Coast
Inform yourself on how to be a responsible diver by avoiding no dive zones, respecting the reefs or getting involved with minding coral nurseries or the lionfish culling programme.
Currently, there are seven no dive zones in Grand Cayman and one on each Sister Island that restricts SCUBA diving without permission.
Visit the Department of Environment website for details.
Respecting the Reefs
When diving in the Cayman Islands, we must remain cautious and responsible towards the reefs. Learn how to protect and respect them.
A programme where local dive operaters, with permits, grow staghorn coral in small nurseries to keep reefs in the Cayman Islands healthy and thriving.
Learn about how lionfish came to the Cayman Islands, why they are so destructive to marine life, where you can eat them, and how to get involved with culling.
As a world-renowned diving oasis, it is no wonder there are a host of resorts in the Cayman Islands specifically catered for divers. For the best deals on dive gear and the ideal diving locations look no further than these top dive resorts from Grand Cayman to the Sister Islands:
Dive Courses & Certifications
If you are ‘dive-curious’, there are a wealth of opportunities to get in, under or on the water at every skill level. There are a host of dive operators in the Cayman Islands that can teach you how to dive, get certifications, improve your skills, or even turn your passion into a career.
Read more for in-depth information on various dive courses and certifications available in the Cayman Islands.
There are a number of dive operators in Grand Cayman, offering everything from an introductory resort course, to technical diving courses and instructor training, as well as trips to the USS Kittiwake.
Given the incredible beauty of Cayman’s underwater world, many find themselves wanting to capture it in photographs. The Island offers an opportunity to learn all types of underwater photography, videography and digital image and video editing. Private and semi-private classes are available. Serious dive-certified photographers also have the option of completing their PADI Digital Photography and PADI Videography certifications.Read More