With world class conditions and a robust dive industry, the Cayman Islands is one of the best places to learn how to dive. There are over 15 PADI 5-Star Centers in the Cayman Islands, ready to teach you everything you want to know about diving.
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Learning to dive is an essential activity for many new arrivals to Cayman. Popular training agencies for diver education and certification are PADI, NAUI, SDI, TDI, IANTD and SSI, offered by a variety of dive operators in Cayman.
Visit the Dive Shops section for a list of recommended dive shops and to learn more about their PADI certification courses.
Discover Scuba Diving (DSD)
Prior to committing to a full certification programme, many people try a Discover Scuba Course and Dive first (formally known as a Resort Course). This ‘mini course’ consists of a short theory session where you’ll learn the simple dos and don’ts of diving, get an introduction to the equipment and learn some very basic skills. You will first start in a swimming pool or shallow and confined open water to become acclimatised to being underwater before finally taking a shallow ocean dive with your instructor. This programme normally takes three to four hours and is a great way to see if diving is for you.
While the Discover Scuba Dive is a fantastic introduction, it does have its limitations. You are limited to a shallow depth (40ft max) and you can only dive with the dive instructor, the shop you completed the course with or another dive centre referred by the instructor. If you want to go further, the next step is the Open Water Certification course.
Adult Open Water Courses
The open water courses are often completed in as little as three days and provides the licence you need to dive. Many people choose the e-learning route which allows you to do the class work at home and then the remainder of the course only takes two days. This option gets you in the ocean quicker and out of the classroom on your days off. Completion of this training is the minimum qualification required to rent equipment, go on excursions and basically get you in and out of the water safely. Many dive operators on the Island offer flexible learning options designed to suit your schedule.
Dive Courses for Kids & Teens
The open water course is also offered to those aged 10 and up, and children under 15 are able to become certified as Junior Open Water Divers. Options also exist for you to be taught at home in your own pool.
For little ones, there are lots of educational and fun scuba/snorkel activities available. Programmes include SASY (from age five), Rangers or Seals (from age eight), Junior Open Water Diver (from age ten) and of course, guided diving excursions to the shallow reefs, Stingray City and the Kittiwake. Programmes range from pool sessions to ocean adventures, with kids learning about marine life, fish identification, coral reefs, underwater photography or even cruising on an underwater scooter. The following companies offer dive programmes for children ages five and up: Divetech, Eden Rock Diving Center, Seahorse Diving School and Wall to Wall Diving.
Divetech offers a beta tested PADI Junior Divemaster Programme for ages 15-17. This course involves portions of full divemaster training, with some modifications for younger divers, and gives them the opportunity to undertake work experience, gain exposure to the industry and gain practical experience and knowledge. Credit from this programme can be applied towards the full divemaster credentials for up to 36 months after completing the course. Candidates for this course must have an advanced Open Water and Rescue Diver certification, completed first aid/CPR training within the past 24 months and a minimum of 20 logged dives. Contact Divetech for more information.
Shore diving is a very popular weekend pursuit. Don Fosters, Divetech, Eden Rock Diving Center and Sunset Divers are some of the oldest dive resorts on the Island and all boast great shore diving.
As a certified diver you can also go on boat excursions. For many, the main reason to dive in Cayman is to explore the beautiful walls and drop-offs. You will soon have your own favourite sites and your conversations will turn to North West Point, Tarpon Alley, Great House Wall, Orange Canyon and coral covered passages, where you’ll see eagle rays, horseeyed jacks and hawksbill turtles.
Before long, you will be taking two-tank (two dive locations) trips to explore the renowned beauty of the West Wall, which runs parallel to Seven Mile Beach, the breath-taking North Wall, and East End, where the scenery is some of the most dramatic. Generally, dive boats will leave early and get you home for lunch, however there are afternoon trips as well. The first dive is usually one of the wall dives. Experienced divers will have the opportunity to explore with a guide or their dive buddy. The best thing about guided dives is that the instructors know where they are going and will show you the best a particular site has to offer, as well as the critters. After a short surface interval, you will be on a second dive on one of Cayman’s shallow reefs or wrecks. By exploring the nooks and crannies, you see a host of amazing creatures including lobsters, eels, soft coral, sea anemones and more. In shallower waters, the colours will amaze you and are more vibrant due to the increased level of light.
Sunset House provides great shore diving and boat dives, as does Divetech. Divetech’s mini-wall is a must see, as is the sunken 13ft sculpture of Guardian of the Reef which is half warrior and half seahorse. You should also head out to visit Ocean Frontiers in East End to experience dramatic wall dives and caverns. Finally, Eden Rock Diving Center offers easy access to Eden Rock and Devil’s Grotto.
Once you have caught the dive bug, head over to the Sister Islands, known as the diving gem of the Caribbean, for a few days of diving some of Cayman’s pristine dive sites – just a 30 minute flight away. You will not be disappointed with Bloody Bay Wall in Little Cayman, with its beautiful drop-offs, corals and marine life. Finally, Cayman Brac is famous for the Wreck of MV Captain Keith Tibbetts, an interesting and very popular dive site.
After completing your open water certification, you may want to complete further courses to build on your experience.
The Advanced course introduces you to deep diving, navigation diving, plus three other specialty dives in areas that interest you. The very little classroom study required for the course can also be done online, with the remainder of the course completed in the water. Various other advanced courses include: underwater photography/videography, search and recovery, stingray interaction, reef awareness, wreck diving, scooters, buoyancy, technical applications and the popular Enriched Air (Nitrox) course.
The Rescue Diver course will prepare you to prevent problems and manage dive emergencies. To become a Rescue Diver, you must first be certified as an Advanced Open Water Diver and have a valid Emergency First Responder training. The Rescue Diver Course takes 2 full days to complete. There is also a Junior Rescue Diver Course.
If you want to become a dive instructor or professional diver, you will need to take the Divemaster course. This course is also ideal for those who wish to expand their dive knowledge or increase their self-confidence. The Divemaster course is the first level of professional training. It provides in-depth knowledge, which you will then use to lead others and direct a variety of scuba diving activities and assist with student divers and dive training sessions. In order to do this course you must be a certified Advanced Open Water Diver and Rescue Diver, as well as CPR and First Aid training. The Divemaster course takes approximately 10-14 days to complete.
Technical dives are conducted beyond the 130ft depth limit for recreational diving, they require a decompression stop and occur beyond the light zone or in an overhead environment. This type of advanced, extended-range diving requires a commitment to safe, responsible, self-disciplined diving.
If you are truly adventurous, you can learn to use Rebreathers (devices originally designed by the military that emit no bubbles or noise), mixed gases or certain techniques for extended-range diving. Rebreather diving (Closed Circuit Rebreathers/CCR) allows you to massively extend your dive time. You could spend three hours at 100ft and, as there are no bubbles, you’ll get up closer to the marine life. Nitrox, Advanced Nitrox, Normoxic Trimix, Trimix and Advanced Trimix courses enable divers to safely explore greater depths. This allows divers to dive to the same depths as normal scuba divers, but for a longer bottom time. It also provides an extra margin of safety as it reduces the amount of nitrogen being absorbed by your body.
A Nitrox course usually costs CI$150 and one-tank of Nitrox will only cost about CI$10 more than a regular tank of air. If you like diving within 100ft-150ft, Advanced Nitrox enables you to stay safely at these depths for about 45 minutes instead of the usual 10-20 minutes.
Normoxic/Non-Hypoxic Training takes divers to the 200ft range, reducing oxygen content to about 18% and adding helium to buffer the effects of narcosis. For those wishing to go deeper (330ft+), Divetech can support rebreather diving with tanks and gasses. You may even wish to turn your passion for diving into a career by becoming a Divemaster. Divemaster training develops your skills to a professional level. You’ll work alongside full-time instructors, and you get paid too!