Advantages Marine reserve. Fantastic visibility. Vast array of sea life.
Disadvantages High cost of living and little to do apart from diving.
Sharks, turtles, sting rays, manta rays, moray eels, baracuda, they've got the lot. The entire Cayman Islands area is a marine reserve, and no-one is even alowed to drop anchor there. Every 100 metres around the islands you will find buoys to tie up to. These have been carefully fixed into the sea bed so that the corals don't get damaged by anchors. Consequently, the coral is second to none - the best I've seen anywhere in the world. This also means that there is a stunning array of sea-life, including some of the most colourful and unusual fish you could wish to see.Grand Cayman's coast is divided into a number of distinct areas by the local dive leaders, each with a name to identify it. These areas may be grouped into three main groups - West Coast, South Coast and North Coast, the east, I gather, is shallower and less interesting.
The West Coast is fairly shallow at between 6 and 15 metres most of the time, and is ideal whatever your diving experience. All the diver training takes place along this coast as well as lots of escorted dives. I did 7 dives in this area during my stay, and enjoyed every one of them. The only site I visited twice was an area called "The Aquarium" and there is a certain overhang in that area that is noted for its fishy visitors. On my first visit I bellied down onto the sandy bed and approached the overhang cautiously. Having disturbed the sand slightly, it initially looked as though it was un-occupied, but as the water cleared I found myself face to face with a ten foot shark, just an arm's length away. I was diving with a video camera in a housing, with still camera attached, and managed to get a superb portrait of the shark. The flash, however, seemed to alarm the shark so I used every technique in the book to fin backwards without causing any further alarm. On my second visit there was no shark but there was an enormous moray eel who must have been twelve feet if he was an inch. I backed off without taking his portrait but did manage to get him on video. These were just the highlights of two dives, the remaining dive time was almost as fascinating with a different sight to marvel at round every corner. All the West Coast sites were superb dives and all were different in their own way.Also on the West Coast are a couple of wreck dives, I did both of these as night dives and both were very rewarding dives. Take care of sea wasps, they are very difficult to see and can give you a nasty sting - they are attracted to bright lights and so they recommend that you turn off your torch when returning to the boat and exit as quickly as possible.
The South Coast is famous for its tunnels, ravines and drop-offs that disappear out of sight, almost vertically. You need to be fairly experienced for these dives since the best scenery is around 25 to 30 metres down and buoyancy control is vital as the sea-bed is at 8000 metres or so in certain spots. Superb panoramic views exciting terrain make this a great dive.The main site on the North Coast is Stingray City - absolute heaven.
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