Diving in the Cayman Islands
It would be impossible to see all the underwater attractions of The Cayman Islands on a single visit. Dive sites ring all sides of Grand Cayman, and the Sister islands of Little Cayman and Cayman Brac, providing a total of at least 365 named sites . You could literally dive a different site every day for a year. The best way to make sense of this plethora of underwater opportunities is to understand what each coastline has to offer. On Grand Cayman, the western shore is protected from trade winds and easterly swells. The shores of Seven Mile Beach drop gradually to a sandy plateau dotted with coral heads. This calm mid range is home to a number of diveable shipwrecks, including the fully-intact USS Kittiwake, a 250-foot submarine support vessel put down in 2009. Other wrecks sit in depths from 20 to 70 feet, and in varying degrees of decomposition. These include the Oro Verde. Balboa, Cali and Doc Polson. Offshore of the shelf, walls begin at depths of 70 to 60 feet, and drop to more than a mile. The island's southwestern corner offers a rocky coast with some of the island's best shore diving, with grottoes and swim throughs that attract tarpon and swarms of baitfish. The island's north shore is known for steep walls and vertical canyons, while the south and east coast start with spur-and-groove formations that drop more gradually toward the outer walls, which begin at greater depths. Sand-bottom canyons cut between these formations, which sometimes rise to create vertical ramparts that project outward from the reef line. On the north shore of Little Cayman, walls start at depths as shallow as 20 feet along Bloody Bay Wall, while the south side provides more extensive coral shallows and spur-and-groove formations that lead to a deeper drop. Cayman Brac offers north-side walls similar to Grand Cayman, and shallow to mid range reefs to the south, which is also the site of the Captain Tibbetts, a former Russian frigate put down as an artificial reef in 1996. A majority of dive operations on Grand Cayman are located on the island's western end, or in the expansive lagoon known as North Sound. Depending on the site, boat trips typically last from 15 to 45 minutes. East end operators provide easier access to sites along the windward coast, while dive operations on both Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are located on the southern coast, and make daily trips to north-shore sites. Extended range diving is a growing subset of the Cayman diving scene, and those with appropriate training and equipment can visit deeper sites down to the island's sponge belt at 200-plus feet.
Passport and/or Visa Requirements
A valid passport is required for entry with one available page for entry stamps. No Visas are required for U.S. and Canadian citizens. Check the entry and exit requirements here.
Vaccinations are not required for entering the Cayman Islands if you're coming from the U.S., Britain, or Canada. Please check with your doctor or visit the Center for Disease Control's web site here for more information.
Culture and Customs
For almost as long as it has been a mecca for divers, Grand Cayman island has also served as an international hub of finance and banking. This has provided the island with one of the highest standards of living in the region. Upscale shops, galleries and modern office buildings line the streets of downtown George Town, while West Bay Road is lined by high-end beachfront resorts and the gateway facades of new residential developments. But these islands aren't just for the international elite. Not far from five-star dining, one can purchase a meal of jerk chicken and peas'n rice from a beachside shanty, or savor a cold draft and a game of dominoes with a crew of fishermen and dive masters. At trip to the island's eastern shore, or the palm-fringed shores of Rum Point is like stepping back in time, while a flight to the Sister Islands is a different world entirely. Social climbing on Cayman Brac means inviting someone to join you for a walk up the Bluff Road for panoramic island views from Deadman's Point. On even quieter Little Cayman, nightlife might involve a tumbler full of rum and a beachside hammock under the stars.
Electricity, Phone and Internet Access
Electrical current is 110 volts AC, 60Hz. American style two-pin plugs are standard and adapters aren't needed for U.S. and Canadian appliances.
Phone service is provided by Cable & Wireless. Check with your provider to see what rates apply or you will be subject to roaming charges.
There are many public WiFi hot spots on Grand Cayman and most hotels offer WiFi.
Cayman water supplies piped water to the Seven Mile Beach and West Bay areas of Grand Cayman and iss afe to drink by World Health Organization (WHO) standards. Cayman Brac supplies desalinated salt water and Little Cayman has it's own water system. If you are unsure of the water quality, bottled water is also available for purchase.
Language & Currency
English is the official language. The local currency, is the Caymanian dollar, but the U.S. Dollar is used interchangably. Credit cards are widely accepted. The Cayman Dollar is represented as CI and offers denominations o f $100, $50, $25, $10, $5, $1 and coins of 25 cents, 10 cents, 5 cents and 1 cent. Check the current exchange rate here.
The Cayman Islands are on Eastern Standard Time (EST) and do not observe Daylight Savings Time. The Caymans are 5 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-5 GMT).
Location, Size and Population
The Cayman Islands are comprised of 3 islands and are a British Overseas Territory located in the Western Caribbean. They are located South of Cuba and Northwest of Jamaica. Grand Cayman, the largest of the three Cayman Islands, lies in the far Western Caribbean, 480 miles south of Miami and occupies 76 square miles. The sister islands of Cayman Brac (14 square miles) and Little Cayman (10 square miles) are 89 miles to the northeast of Grand Cayman. Grand Cayman is approximately 22 miles long and 8 miles at its widest point. Cayman Brac is 12 miles long and just over a mile wide and has the most dramatic topography of the trio. Little Cayman, only 10 miles long and a mile wide, is flat, reaching a maximum elevation of 40 ft. The three islands are limestone outcroppings, the tops of a submarine mountain range called the Cayman Ridge, which extends west southwest for the Sierra Maestra range off the southeast part of Cuba to the Misteriosa Bank near Belize. The population of the Cayman Islands is 60,764 (2016).