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 (2021 Overview)
Cayman is hyperaware of the importance of coral reefs to our three Islands, our waters, the marine ecosystem, and the dive industry. To protect and replenish Cayman's fish population, the Department of Environment (DoE) has expanded Cayman's marine parks to 48% of Cayman's waters.
In 2021, to measure the impact of ‘Quiet Oceans’ on the resident fish population and analyse the effect that minimal human behaviour has had on marine life, CCMI studied seven snorkel/dive sites around the Cayman Islands. The results revealed an increase in fish density, biomass and a bigger range of fish sizes. There was also an increase in species richness around the reefs in George Town and an increase in predators. The 'Quiet Oceans' project indicates that for healthy reef systems, implementing breaks and limiting human interaction could be used as a crucial management practice.
Sadly, many dive sites in Grand Cayman have been affected by the spread of the deadly Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD). Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey have found evidence that SCTLD is caused by a breakdown in the symbiotic relationship between corals and Zooxanthellae algae. This discovery is a big step towards finding future treatments for this disease. Given the rapid spread of SCTLD in the Cayman Islands, the DoE wants to remind the public to disinfect all snorkel and dive gear before and after each shore dive and boat trip by soaking them in disinfectant solution (with 1% bleach) for 10 minutes.
According to a 2021 United Nations report, marine heatwaves are expected to become more common as the planet warms. This can be devastating to Cayman’s coral reefs and lead to coral bleaching, loss of marine life and loss of ‘reef services’ such as flood protection.
On a more positive note, this year's annual PADI Women's Dive Day invited divers to accumulate 639 hours of dive time on the day in honour of the 2.3 million people diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020. The event raised over CI$10,000 and attracted more than 130 participants locally as well as support and donations from the dive community overseas. The annual PADI Women’s Dive Day occurs on the third Saturday of July and raises money for the Cayman Islands Breast Cancer Foundation.
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