Snorkeling Around the Cayman Islands

Photo Credit: © James Willamor CC BY
 

Because the Cayman Islands are so renowned for their scuba diving opportunities, snorkeling doesn't often get a lot of press.  Still, some of the best snorkeling in the entire region can be found in this island chain.

Though diving and snorkeling can be done in many of the same locations, the two activities require different levels of skill and preparation. Snorkelers float just below the surface of the water, wearing a dive mask, fins, and breathing through a tube known as a snorkel as they explore shallow marine habitats. You can obtain snorkeling equipment for as low as $10(USD) at a dive shop, and often for free at your accommodations.  There is also a new product on the market that takes into account the complaints of many snorkelers to cover the entire face in a mask connected directly to the snorkel, allowing you to breath through your mouth and nose while under water.  It is unlikely that you can rent them out anywhere at this point, so if snorkeling is something you do regularly you may want to consider looking into purchasing this item. 

Why is snorkeling such a popular pastime in the Cayman Islands?  It is a combination of several things, beginning with the conditions.  For the most part, the waters that surround these islands are clear and current-free, making this activity ideal even for small children.  Plus, the water temperatures rarely reach below 78 degree Fahrenheit, even in the winter.  Second, it is the ease of access that snorkelers have to the sites.  You'll find gorgeous underwater scenery along the shore and be able to snorkel off most beaches.  Finally, it is the sites themselves that really do it, from healthy coral reef teeming with fish and other sea creatures, to shipwrecks that are shallow enough that they are easily explored.  

Grand Cayman

Most of the best and easiest snorkeling on Grand Cayman is found along the west coast.  The area is filled with small, active fish, and within a few hundred yards of shore there are several artificial reef systems and shipwrecks.  Some of them took a hit during the last hurricane, but continue to grow and regenerate daily.  Don't miss out on a chance to visit Stingray City, which is the most popular snorkeling destination on the island. 

Little Cayman

Like the other islands in the chain, snorkeling can be done from nearly any beach on Little Cayman, but the recommended site to see is actually accessible after a boat trip to Bloody Bay Snorkeling where there is an 18 foot sheer wall that meets with a thick coral garden filled with caves, shoots, and diverse sea life.  This site is recommended for strong swimmers who can hold their breath long enough to explore some of the deeper sites.  

Cayman Brac

Cayman Brac's north coast is where the best snorkeling site can be found.  The underwater topography is slightly rocky, so swim shoes or aqua socks are recommended, but once you get floating, you'll experience small coral groupings throughout that are pristine and extremely healthy because they are not so frequently visited as those around Grand Cayman.  Sites along the southern coast include a few additional coral reefs and a shipwreck called MV Captain Keith Tibbetts.

Snorkeling Sites

If you're ready to explore what's down below you might want to check out Stingray City. One of the most popular sites in the entire island group, this is the place to go if you want to interact with stingrays. At this shallow sand bar, you will be able to feed, touch, and swim along with hundreds of stingrays. This snorkeling site is located within western the Cayman Islands.

Eden Rock is another place you might enjoy. This is where visitors will find one of the single best places in the Cayman Islands to see schools of fish swimming around. In addition, you can find a sprawling coral reef, and interesting underwater landscapes. Just realize that this is a very popular spot, and is often crowded.

A third place to consider is Devil's Grotto. This location is known for its series of tunnels that are a favorite resting and hiding spot for numerous marine animals. Tarpon, in particular, are known to stay around this area during the day.

A fourth place where you can go snorkeling is Bloody Bay. Walls are a fabulous way to explore a diverse ecosystem where two environments collide. While these steep walls are generally reserved for divers, the wall at this location has a number of spots that are snorkeler friendly. If you want to experience it for yourself, this site is located on Little Cayman, in the eastern part of the Cayman Islands.

Cemetery Beach is a fifth site to consider. Just offshore of this location is a reef that is home to schools of parrot fish and many other marine animals, including reef sharks.

The table below has a few details concerning 29 of the best places to enjoy snorkeling in this area.

Snorkeling Sites Near the Cayman Islands
Site Location Island
Stingray City 7.0 mi. North-Northeast of Central Georgetown Grand Cayman
Eden Rock 0.3 mi. South West of Downtown Georgetown Grand Cayman
Devil's Grotto 0.4 mi. South West of Downtown Georgetown Grand Cayman
Bloody Bay 2.2 mi. Northwest of Central Blossom Village Little Cayman
Turtle Reef 6.7 mi. North-Northwest of Central Georgetown Grand Cayman
Cemetery Beach 5.3 mi. North of Central Georgetown Grand Cayman
Wreck of the Cali 0.3 mi. North of Downtown Georgetown Grand Cayman
Smith's Cove 1.5 mi. South-Southwest of Downtown Georgetown Grand Cayman
Buccaneer Beach 0.5 mi. West of Central West End Cayman Brac
Barefoot Beach 4.0 mi. North of Central East End Grand Cayman
Wreck of the Gamma 0.9 mi. North of Downtown Georgetown Grand Cayman
Rum Point 0.8 mi. North of Central Cayman Kai Grand Cayman
Water Cay 0.6 mi. West-Southwest of Central Cayman Kai Grand Cayman
East End 3.6 mi. North-Northeast of Central East End Grand Cayman
Parrot's Landing 0.6 mi. South West of Downtown Georgetown Grand Cayman
Coral Garden 3.9 mi. North-Northeast of Central Georgetown Grand Cayman
Frank Sound Beach 6.5 mi. East of Central Bodden Town Grand Cayman
Jackson's Point Beach 2.0 mi. West of Central Little Cayman Little Cayman
Owen Island 0.8 mi. East of Central Blossom Village Little Cayman
West End Point Beach 1.5 mi. West of Central Blossom Village Little Cayman
Seven Mile Beach 3.8 mi. North of Central downtown Georgetown Grand Cayman
Old Man Bay Beach 0.2 mi. Northeast of Central Old Man Bay Grand Cayman
Water Cay 0.7 mi. West-Southwest of Central Cayman Kai Grand Cayman
Sea Feather Bay Beach 0.9 mi. South-Southeast of Central Cayman Brac Cayman Brac
Stake Bay 2.2 mi. Northeast of Central West End Cayman Brac
Mike's Mountain 1.9 mi. West-Northwest of Central Little Cayman Little Cayman
Eagle Ray Roundup 1.9 mi. West of Central Little Cayman Little Cayman
Cumber's Caves 1.9 mi. North of Central Blossom Village Little Cayman
Bus Stop 1.7 mi. North of Central Blossom Village Little Cayman

Snorkeling Boat Trips

Some people believe the most enjoyable snorkeling is located off shore.

If you're ready to combine some snorkeling with a boating adventure, you might want to check with Jolly Roger. Live the life of a pirate aboard the Jolly Roger, one of the Cayman Islands favorite day sailing adventures.

Another option to consider is Cayman Islands Sailing Charters. Although they will tailor each trip to your needs, they typically take their guests to visit the Sand Bar, Stingray City, Rum Point, and Starfish Point for sailing, swimming, and snorkeling. They're located within Georgetown, in western the Cayman Islands.

A third option is Red Sail Sports Charter. All of the catamarans have a cash bar, trampoline nets and a friendly, knowledgeable crew. Photographs of your experience are also available through CPA Cayman

Some key facts concerning boat trips and day sails that offer snorkeling opportunities can be found right below.

Day Sails and Boat Trips In the Cayman Islands
Name Phone Location Island
Black Princess Charters (345) 949-0400 West Bay Grand Cayman
Captain Shelby's Charter Boat Operation (345) 927-5413 Cayman Brac Cayman Brac
Cayman Islands Sailing Charters (345) 525-1222 0.6 mi. Southeast of Downtown Georgetown Grand Cayman
Jolly Roger (345) 922-9922 Downtown Georgetown Grand Cayman
Ocean Frontiers (345) 947-7500 Grand Cayman Grand Cayman
Pirates Of The Caymans (345) 623-7245 Seven Mile Beach Grand Cayman
Red Sail Sports Charter (345) 623-5965 3.1 mi. North of Central Georgetown Grand Cayman
Sail Cayman (345) 916-4333 0.6 mi. Southeast of Downtown Georgetown Grand Cayman
Sun Rays Tours -- 1.6 mi. North of Central Seven Mile Beach Grand Cayman

Snorkeling Services

If you're looking for someone offering snorkeling gear, excursions or similar services, you might want to check with Abanks' Watersports. Encouraging visitors to skip the "cattle dive operations" and choose a more personalized service, Abanks' Watersports keeps every one of their daily dive excursions small in order to create the perfect dive experience for you. They are found within Georgetown, in the western part of the Cayman Islands.

A second company catering to snorkelers is Don Fosters Snorkeling. Having been in operation since 1982, this is one of the most respected dive centers on the island -- and they offer snorkeling tours as well. You'll know you're in good hands when you choose one of their shore snorkeling excursions.

A third place to consider is DNS Diving. One of the perks of working with this operator is that they offer free pick-up and drop-off along Seven Mile Beach. They're found within Seven Mile Beach.

Some information with regard to 22 companies that offer snorkeling services are shown in the following table.

Snorkeling Services In the Cayman Islands
Name Type Phone Location
Abanks' Watersports Snorkeling Tour Operator (345) 945-1444 0.6 mi. Southeast of Downtown Georgetown
Absolute Divers Snorkeling Tour Operator (345) 916-4133 Georgetown
Ambassador Divers Snorkeling Snorkeling Tour Operator (345) 949-4530 1.5 mi. North of Downtown Georgetown
Brac Marine Supplies Watersports Equipment Shop (345) 948-1518 West End
Brac Scuba Shack Snorkeling Tour Operator (345) 926-2584 Cayman Brac
Cayman Diveshuttle Snorkeling Tour Operator (345) 525-8555 1.1 mi. North of Downtown Georgetown
DNS Diving Snorkeling Tour Operator (345) 916-2490 Seven Mile Beach
Deep Blue Divers Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (345) 916-1293 Georgetown
Divers Down Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (345) 945-1611 Georgetown
Divers Supply Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (345) 949-7621 1.7 mi. North of Downtown Georgetown
Divers World Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (345) 949-8128 1.2 mi. North of Downtown Georgetown
Divetech Snorkeling Tour Operator (345) 946-5658 Grand Cayman
Don Fosters Snorkeling Snorkeling Tour Operator (345) 945-5132 0.5 mi. South West of Downtown Georgetown
Eden Rock Diving Center Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (345) 949-7243 0.3 mi. South West of Downtown Georgetown
Epic Divers Snorkeling Tour Operator (345) 526-5020 Georgetown
Living the Dream Snorkeling Tour Operator (345) 526-3483 2.0 mi. North of Downtown Georgetown
Lobster Pot Dive Center Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (345) 946-8685 Georgetown
Ocean Frontiers Snorkeling Snorkeling Tour Operator (345) 947-7500 East End, Western part of the Cayman Islands
Off The Wall Divers Snorkeling Tour Operator (345) 945-7525 Grand Cayman
Pirate Divers Snorkeling Tour Operator (345) 324-3271 Seven Mile Beach
Sea Trek and SNUBA Snorkeling Tour Operator (345) 949-0008 Downtown Georgetown
Seven Mile Watersports Snorkeling Tour Operator (345) 949-0332 Seven Mile Beach

For more information about snorkeling, including helpful suggestions and tips for both "old pros" and beginners, check out this exhaustive Caribbean snorkeling article.

When you are underwater with your snorkel and mask, the world seems to disappear, allowing you to focus only on the striking sites that exist within the cobalt blue waters of the the Cayman Islands.  Don't miss out on a chance to experience  this magical and mysterious world for yourself. 

 

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