Cayman is one of the leading diving destinations in the world and nobody knows the best spots better then the instructors who go there on a regular basis. Here are the favourite dive sites of a few of Cayman’s divemasters.
Vicky Jones, Red Sail Sports
Big Tunnels: Bottom of the mooring 50ft, max depth 106ft
Type: Wall dive
An awesome dive with swim throughs, archways and coral gardens. Once you reach the mooring pin, turn towards the wall and keep on going down until you emerge through the main archway just touching 106 feet. The first thing you notice is the vast expanse of blue stretching out in front and the wall dropping away below you. Take a left and head along the wall, which is covered in amazing hard and soft corals - keep an eye out for turtles. You then weave in and out through the McDonalds Archways before taking a series of twists and turns woven into the wall, all the while bumping into huge tarpon, snapper and moray eels. The dive ends perfectly on top of the wall at around 50 feet, where you can spend your remaining dive time taking in the beautiful corals and searching for critters like scorpion and file fish.
Phil Legg, Living the Dream Divers
Bonnie’s Arch: Max depth, 60ft
Type: Boat dive (accessible from shore but beware of boat traffic and currents)
Bonnie’s Arch is a Cayman classic and a favourite dive site of mine. The corals and fish life inhabiting this reef are both colourful and varied. The mooring pin is at 30ft, where the hard pan is covered with endless sea fans and brain corals. From there, head out to the mini wall that follows the contours of the Island and you immediately see the gravity-defying arch and namesake of this site. Drop through the huge archway out on to the sand, stop and look at the Cayman crocodile statue before turning right to swim along the mini wall. There are huge orange elephant ear sponges and stunning sea whips. The mini wall is home to white spotted and large green eels. Careful observation of all the nooks will result in sightings of juvenile and adult drum fish. When you get low on air, ascend to the top of the mini wall and make your way back to the mooring line.
Heather Kidd, Ocean Frontiers
Ironshore Gardens, East End: Depth: 17 to 55 feet
Type: Boat dive
Oh decisions, decisions. To choose only one of the amazing East End dive sites is indeed a challenge. I have to go with Ironshore Gardens. Why, you ask? Okay, I’ll tell you... the vibrant coral reef is home to dozens of species of fish including one of my favourites, the spotted drum. You have your choice of dropping off the wall into 55 feet of water, or you can take your pick of the extraordinary swim-throughs, which all lead to the same thing: massive coral heads nestled on the sandy bottom. During the late summer months you can find yourself surrounded by millions of silver sides as they swim away from the tarpon trying to grab a quick lunch. One of the most loved swim-throughs is called The Throat. Once you enter this swim-through, put your arms out in front of you as if you are going head first down a slide. At the bottom of the “slide” are tons of shiny tarpon to greet you.
Zsolt Lazanyi, Wall to Wall Diving
Blue Buttresses: Depth: 60-100 feet
Type: Boat dive, wall dive
This is one of the new dive sites along Cayman’s dramatic North Wall. It is named after the beautiful, lush buttresses at the edge of the wall. Some of them are covered in really healthy black coral colonies giving dozens of tiny critters like arrow crabs, decorator crabs and bearded fireworms a home. The dive starts at about 60 feet at the pin. From there, follow one of the grooves to the edge of the wall and descend to no more than 100ft. If you head west you will find lots of nooks and crannies that shelter spiny lobsters or even rare orange spotted lobsters and occasionally lionfish. Keep an eye out into the blue as spotted eagle rays often swim by. About 12 to 15 minutes into the dive you’ll come to one of the huge buttresses, where a lovely canyon rises from around 100ft to 52ft, putting you right on top of the wall. During silverside season the canyon is packed with them. Jacks, groupers and lionfish line up for an easy meal.