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Cayman Islands travel is a year round destination. The winter months are high season, popular with "snow birds" escaping chilly northern climes. Scuba divers tend to visit more during the summer months when the Cayman Islands weather is warm and the seas generally flat calm. June may experience a bit more rain, but barring a hurricane April through November is smooth sailing and good Grand Cayman Scuba Diving.
Grand Cayman's reefs, some of which start quite close to shore, are host to the typical Caribbean marine life, including a good population of eagle rays, turtles and tarpon. Little Cayman has the best scuba diving in the group, with a wall that starts in just 15 feet of water and drops vertically into the deep. The plentiful Nassau grouper on this Bloody Bay Wall are so friendly and curious that one must push them back to arm's length to take their picture.
Grand Cayman Weather:
Temperatures reach daytime highs in the 70's Fahrenheit in the winter and the mid to high 80's Fahrenheit.
Scuba Diving Levels:
Within a quarter mile from shore, beginning as shallow as 20 to 35 feet, the ocean floor falls away as either a sloping or sheer vertical cliff, plummeting 6,000 feet into unfathomable blue abyss.
Grand Cayman Water Temperature:
Water temperatures in Grand Cayman range between the high 70's Fahrenheit in winter to the mid to high 80's Fahrenheit in the summer and fall months.
Visibility averages 80 to 150 feet in the clear, generally current free waters of Grand Cayman. During the calm summer months visibility can peak to 200 feet.
When traveling to Grand Cayman, know that the main city of Georgetown is the administrative, business, and tourism center of the Cayman Island group. Though relatively small in size, Georgetown is home to more than 300 international banks, hosts more than a dozen cruise ship arrivals each week, and has a sizable tourist-shopping district. With an international airport and thousands of hotel rooms and condominiums, beyond offshore banking Grand Cayman's raison d'etre is Cayman Islands attractions that include a focus on scuba diving and snorkeling.
With thousands of Cayman Islands hotels and condominiums on Grand Cayman and hundreds on the sister islands, the Cayman Islands host a broad range of lodging options. There are hotel choices from simple to luxurious with prices to match. Some feature meal-inclusive plans, or one may enjoy condominium-style lodging for more spacious and flexible accommodations. A few dedicated scuba dive resorts, such as Sunset House, specialize in only serving scuba divers.
Though scuba diving may have put the islands on the map, they now strive to serve a broader range of inbound Cayman Islands tourism. Virtually all forms of water sports are available, including even submarine rides. The Turtle Farm continues to be a point of interest and more recently, a Bird Sanctuary has been added to Grand Cayman's attractions. Targeting the growing market for family tourism, a growing number of the Cayman Islands hotels are offering creative programs for children and families.
The sister islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are much less densely developed than is Grand Cayman. Cayman Brac hosts some international flights, but most access is via commuter flights from Grand Cayman. As a result, the pace is much slower on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, and the scuba diving is better. Because of the fine scuba diving in Grand Caymen, there are a few Grand Cayman hotels on each of these sister islands well positioned to serve scuba diving tourism.
The Cayman Islands are a group of three islands located south of Florida in the Caribbean Sea. The main island is Grand Cayman, and its two sister islands are Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. With historic and cultural ties to Great Britain, the Cayman Islands are a popular and easily accessible tourism destination.
With three diverse island experiences to choose from, year-round visibility averaging 100 feet, and an unbelievable array of marine life, the Cayman Islands are a true diver's delight. The Cayman Islands lie in the center of the Caribbean Sea, 495 miles due south of Miami, and 1220 miles southeast of Houston. Far from any large land mass, they exist alone and away from the turbulence of winter storms or daily rain.
Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are actually the tips of a mammoth undersea mountain. The water surrounding them ranges in depth from 6000-12000 feet. Just a few miles south is the renowned Cayman Trench, the deepest part of the Caribbean, reaching an incredible depth of 24,576 feet. Lying closer to shore and surrounding these islands, between the shallow coral reef shelf and the alluring deep blue abyss, is the dropoff or the wall. All three islands have their own unique dropoffs and it is this exhilarating formation that has made the Cayman Islands a legend.
Cayman Islands Scuba Diving Highlights: Cayman's deep, vertical walls and stunning water clarity are still the gold standard for Caribbean diving. And a visit to world-renowned Stingray City is a must. Visibility averages 100 feet year-round, with summer peaks of 200 feet and occasional drops to 80 feet in winter.
Cayman Islands Weather: The rainy season, generally from mid-May through October, moves into the dry season from November to April. It is not unusual to have brief afternoon showers during the summer.
Average Air Temperature in Cayman Islands:
Day: 82° F Night: 70° F
Cayman Islands Water Temperature:
77° - 82° F
If there is one Cayman Island attraction that has put this island on the world tourism map, it is the scuba diving and snorkeling opportunity known as Stingray City in Grand Caymen. This sheltered bay on the North Sound was the place where local fishermen would come to clean their catch, throwing fish entrails over the side into the clear, shallow water. Southern stingrays, in increasing numbers, congregated there to catch a free meal. One brave divemaster saw what was happening and jumped in the water to swim with rays. The rest is history, as these supposedly dangerous creatures turned out to be docile as puppy dogs. Now no trip would be complete without a dive or snorkel trip to Stingray City in Grand Cayman.
Grand Cayman is where the Aggressor Fleet got its start more than 20 years ago, and the Cayman Aggressor remains the franchise's most popular vessel. Around Grand Cayman the live-aboard hits most of the same dive sites visited by the shore-based dive operators. But when Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are included in the itinerary, divers enjoy more and better scuba diving and live-aboard diving than can be accomplished by any other means.
While the sister islands are mostly lacking in easy shore diving, a number of excellent scuba dive sites may be accessed right off the beach for shore diving in Grand Cayman. Beginner divers should stick with a divemaster, but more experienced divers can supplement their boat diving with some great beach dives. Obtain a map of scuba dive sites from one of the local shops, and query them for current knowledge. Then load up your car or van with tanks and have some first-hand fun. Just be sure you have a compass and plenty of air in reserve to get yourself back out of the water with a safety margin.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|