Diving in Grand Cayman

December 5-12, 2008

For our annual trip to the Cayman Islands this year, Pete, Jill and I were joined by Jill's brother RJ and his compaņera Odette. Yes, indeed. And Chris and Trish came back, too !
A splendid time was had by all.

Grand Cayman, the biggest island of three, is most famous for Seven Mile Beach. Also for "offshore financial services", which is just as fishy as it sounds. And for actual fish, too.
The clear, warm waters and surrounding coral reefs attract lots of divers. A unique feature is the Cayman Wall, which from an airplane looks like a deep purple dropoff and from underwater looks like a deep purple dropoff.

RJ, like me, is a diver. So I had somebody this year to take my picture who knew what they were doing. Hence, the photo op at the top (good one, RJ !)
Usually, I try to hand my camera to the closest available diver underwater and then "explain" how it works by pointing and grimacing and then hope for the best.
Like RJ here...

What is a mountain bike doing underwater, you ask ?

There is a logical explanation. Sort of. It has been a local tradition that when a dive master leaves the island for good because his or her work permit has expired, they ride off into the sunset on the bicycle they used to take to work (the preferred mode of transport above water). More specifically, they ride it off the back of a dive boat and straight down to Davy Jones Locker to join the Wreck of the Oro Verde. Or what still remains of the wreck of the Oro Verde after several recent hurricanes have tossed it around, turning it into "a wreck of a wreck".

Anyway, that's their story and they're sticking to it. Just like the story behind the Wreck of the Oro Verde, itself. But I don't have time to go into that here.
Let's just say "Oro Verde" means "Green Gold"... Ya mon !

Besides the fish, there are lots of other sea creatures to see and try to get close to, like this sea turtle.

Although there is plenty of great diving on the west end of Grand Cayman, that is the populated side. The East End is about an hours drive away, and there are numerous less-frequented dive sites there. Ocean Frontiers runs an especially nice dive operation on the East End. But don't go looking for a wide sandy beach.

My favorite dive site over here is called Babylon. It features a big coral pinnacle that you can spiral around several times on your way back up to the surface after cruising along the Wall at 100 feet or so. There are delicate black and gorgonia corals present here, which you don't find much of on the west side. At least, not anymore.

In the shallows you might be lucky enough to see a shark.

If you're lucky ?
I know that non-divers often think sharks are creatures to be avoided. But most divers are thrilled at the prospect of running across a shark.
This particular nurse shark was peacefully sleeping under a coral ledge until we rudely interrupted its snooze.

No dive trip to Grand Cayman is complete, of course, without a trip to Stingray City !

This giant stingray is sucking an unfortunate diver into its terrible maw.
I barely escaped with my life ! Fortunately, my camera was tethered to my BC as I swam furiously to the surface.

The island authorities did not press charges against the stingray. They say "it happens all the time."

Note to all cruise ship snorklers: You have been warned !

"You can't beat fun."
- Silas "Chum" Spengler

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