A trip to the Cayman Islands should be on every tourist's checklist. If you are wondering what to do in Cayman, a submarine tour should be near the top of your list. Why? Because one of the most popular tourist attractions in Grand Cayman is the wreck of the USS Kittiwake, a submarine rescue vessel that was sunk in shallow water off Seven Mile Beach.
The best way to tour popular shipwreck sites off the Cayman islands is to reserve a Cayman underwater tour. While diving in Grand Cayman is popular with enthusiasts from around the globe, you don’t have to be a scuba diver to explore the historic ships buried in the Caribbean Sea off Grand Cayman that now host many exotic marine animals and corals.
The most popular of the three shipwrecks you will see on your Cayman underwater tour is undoubtedly the Kittiwake, which was launched in 1945 and decommissioned in 1994. One of the many notable accomplishments of the submarine and its crew was recovering the black box of the Challenger space shuttle, which exploded over the Atlantic Ocean in 1986.
When the Cayman Islands decided to add a shipwreck to its dive attractions, the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, under the aegis of project manager Nancy Easterbrook, contacted the United States Maritime Administration to obtain a vessel. CITA received title to the sub in 2009.
What followed was an arduous process to ensure that the vessel was environmentally friendly by stripping it off any hazardous materials. It was also made diver-friendly, with large holes cut in the hull to create swim-throughs.
After a thorough cleanup, along with the removal of the majority of the doors, hatches and any other obstructions before it was sunk. The 2,200-ton ship was towed 1,250 miles to Grand Cayman, where she was sunk 800 yards off Seven Mile Beach on Jan. 5, 2011. The entire process is documented in an episode of a British television series "Monster Moves."
Now the USS Kittiwake is a flourishing reef. The site now hosts garden eels, peppermint shrimp, turtles and barracuda, and is known to attract southern stingrays and eagle rays. Since it was tossed about in 2017 by Tropical Storm Nate, the vessel now rests on its port side. It sits at a depth of 64 feet, with its highest point 15 feet below the surface. Thus it is accessible to submarine tour guests and snorkelers, as well as to divers.
Whenever you visit, take advantage of a Cayman underwater tour in a glass bottom boat to see the diverse range of marine life for yourself. Make a reservation for a trip you’ll long remember!