Top Snorkel Sites in Grand Cayman

Staycation |

Grand Cayman’s Top 5 Snorkelling Sites

Picture-perfect beaches, tropical scenery and superb restaurants are not necessarily these islands’ top attractions – those are underwater!

The Cayman Islands are one of the top scuba diving destinations in the Caribbean, but you don’t need to be a certified diver to experience the magical world of coral gardens, seagrass meadows, colourful fish and turtles that lie below the surface.  All you need to explore this thrilling environment is a mask and snorkel, fins and a waterproof camera are optional!

In addition to Cayman’s famed 365 dive sites, there are many great snorkel sites where non-divers can see and experience the underwater realm. These sites  all offer something different in terms of underwater topography, bottom composition, coral types and marine life. 

These are just some of our favourites:

 

Cemetery Beach 

Located at the northern end of Seven Mile Beach and within walking distance of the Kimpton Seafire Bungalows, the water here is calm and shallow, and the sea grape trees on the beach provide some welcome shade. 

Just a few feet from the shore you’ll find brain corals, fire corals, sea fans, sponges and a wide variety of reef fish including blue tangs, sergeant majors, parrot fish and butterfly fish. You may also see turtles cruising by, especially during nesting season (which is from May through to November), when these creatures return to Seven Mile Beach to lay their eggs.

Top Tip: You can get sunburned even in the water. Wear a rash guard rather than sunscreen, so as not to harm the coral or get burned. 

Wreck of the Cali

After a morning of shopping in George Town, how does cooling off by snorkelling over a shipwreck sound? To find the Wreck of the Cali you can enter the water just behind the fish market or from the dock at Rackhams, next door. The Cali was a freighter that sank in 1944. It was carrying 30,000 bags of rice when it sprang a leak. The rice absorbed water and expanded to such an extent that it fractured the hull, sinking the ship. 

Now scattered across a sandy bottom, look out for flounders and stingrays in the sand as you approach. Once you reach the wreck itself you’ll find the remains of the ship – ribs, winches, even the engine – and will be able to see how, over the years, corals and sponges have colonised the wreckage and fish have made their homes in the nooks and crannies of the ship. 

Top Tip: Pick up some mahi mahi, snapper or tuna at the fish market while you’re here. It doesn’t get much fresher than this!

Cayman Kai to Rum Point Drift Snorkel

Take advantage of the gentle current and let it carry you over boulders and coral heads, sandy patches and seagrass fields, as you drift from Cayman Kai to Rum Point. An absolute must if you are staying at Kaia Kamina or Sun Salutations in Cayman Kai, start this easy drift snorkel at Cayman Kai Beach and head west. 

Stay inside the barrier reef and just go with the flow. Keep your eyes open for turtles feeding on the turtle grass, stingrays resting on the sandy bottom, lionfish and lobsters hiding in crevasses – all in less than 10 feet of water. 

Top Tip: Take a few dollars in a waterproof container and treat yourself to a mudslide when you exit the water at Rum Point, you won’t be sorry!

Boggy Sand Reef

A bit of a local secret, the reef that lies offshore from Boggy Sand Road features an abundance of colour and sea life. With patches of coral rising from a sandy bottom, it’s easy to swim in between coral heads, peer under overhangs to see what’s hiding in the darker corners, and spot the twitching antennae of spiny lobsters. Look out for yellowtail snappers, squirrel fish, angelfish and the iridescent blue spots of the juvenile yellowtail damselfish. 

This less-visited snorkel site is easy to access from Serenity Now, located on Boggy Sand Road. Take a noodle or some kind of flotation device as the coral extends quite a way out from the beach. 

Top Tip: After an exhilarating snorkel, stop at Heritage Kitchen for an authentic Caymanian lunch. 

Smith Cove

A small but perfectly formed beach in South Sound, a stone’s throw from Casa Luna, Smith Cove is a wonderful place to spend a lazy afternoon, with plenty of trees to shade you from the sun. Once out of the bay, head either east or west, staying parallel to the shore, and explore the shallow rock formations. In addition to corals and sponges, there is a good chance of seeing totally harmless nurse sharks here. These docile, slow moving  creatures spend most of their day sleeping under ledges and are not to be feared. Do look up every now and then to admire the homes along this part of the coast – the topside scenery is almost as good as the underwater views! 

Top Tip: This is a great beach for little ones, as Smith Cove has lots of shade, picnic tables and restrooms. 

This is by no means an exhaustive list as in these waters, almost anywhere is worth a look through a mask. Just remember not to touch anything, never stand on any coral (you will harm it by doing so) and do not feed the fish – human food is not fish food and could make them sick. 

Follow the golden rules of diving: Look but don’t touch. Leave only bubbles. Take only pictures.

And enjoy!