The crystal clear waters of the Cayman Islands offer hundreds of world-class dive sites, attracting many thousands of visitors every year looking for the best underwater experience. Warm, calm waters offer visibility of up to 100 feet and are home to an enormous variety of corals, reef fish, and other marine creatures, as well as wrecks and spectacular underwater caves, drop-offs, and walls.
The islands are actually the peaks of a massive underwater ridge of low-lying limestone that barely breaks the surface, surrounded by coral reefs before plunging to the deep, deep waters of the Cayman Trough, the deepest point of the Caribbean Sea.
Put simply, this geological phenomenon makes diving one of the top tourist attractions in Grand Cayman. The island is surrounded on all sides by exquisite dive sites, making it a magnet for both novice and experienced divers, as well as watersports enthusiasts and those who are just there to work on their tan while lying on a tropical white sand beach. Each side of the island (north, south, east, west) has its own particular highlights.
The North Wall of Grand Cayman has the most famous and popular scuba diving sites and is ranked as one of the top five dive destinations in the world and one of the best Caribbean tours, with dramatic drop-offs and pinnacles. North Side is also where you can see large numbers of marine creatures at Tarpon Alley or Eagle Ray Pass. It’s also home to the famous Stingray City.
Rum Point has restaurants, bars, secluded beaches, boat access, and excellent snorkeling. Rum Point beach is great for viewing fish and stingrays (do not feed or touch these rays, this is not Stingray City). At nearby Cayman Kai, the main underwater attraction is a large number of starfish, protected in a replenishment zone.
South Wall scuba diving sites, particularly the Japanese Gardens, are exceptionally beautiful, although the South Wall doesn’t have many of the big sea creatures that make the North Wall so popular.
Just before Bodden Town on the South Side is Beach Bay, where a man-made lagoon allows easy access to the barrier reef that surrounds the area. It’s mostly shallow water snorkeling with dramatic coral formations outside the reef in about 30ft of water. Bodden Town offers good snorkeling because of the large surrounding reef offers protection from the sometimes rough conditions beyond.
East Side scuba diving sites are the least accessible in Grand Cayman, but in calm weather, these less-visited dive sites might be the most stunning, offering world-class scuba diving, renowned for pristine coral reefs and breathtaking wall diving.
The East End also offers many snorkeling opportunities, with a multitude of the conch, sea fans, huge tarpon, lobsters and schools of fish. The Queen's Monument is a favorite location for both diving and snorkeling, providing a barrier reef, shallow reefs and the famed East Wall close enough to explore. The wall here starts at a shallow 55ft and spectacular views are available in the crystal clear water.
For scuba divers, diving Grand Cayman’s West Side offers calm conditions, exceptionally clear waters and magnificent viewing of coral reefs, turtles, sharks, sponges, caverns and shipwrecks. Famous sites such as Trinity Caves and Sand Chute and the wrecks of the Balboa, the Oro Verde, and the Polson are all on the West Side.
Cemetery Reef is a very popular spot for snorkeling (and sun tanning). This location offers the best of both worlds, a beach entrance and good snorkeling nearby. Marine life is very abundant. Sea turtles, some enormous, are spotted in this area. Eden Rock and Devils Grotto are a favorite amongst snorkelers and divers alike. The site sits a few yards away from shore. Fish feeding here is also very popular.
The Cayman Islands is also a rare place where you don't have to be a scuba diver or snorkeler to experience the underwater world. In fact, you can enjoy a complete range of underwater experiences, thanks to Atlantis Submarines, where families and groups of mixed ages and abilities can enjoy one of the best Cayman Islands tours together, without even getting their feet wet.
A submarine dive in the Cayman Islands gives you a safe and comfortable close-up view of the world up to 30m (100ft) beneath the waves. With up to 1,000 species of fish in the Caribbean Sea, there is no shortage of marine life to watch. It is an unforgettable experience that ranks as one of the top things to do in the Cayman Islands.
Atlantis Submarines has been operating underwater tours in the Cayman Islands since 1985. The operation is certified by the American Bureau of Shipping and all systems on the submarine have redundancy backup. The vessel floats to the surface when it is not powered and a surface control vessel stays with the submarine throughout the tour.
No two visits to the depths are ever the same, with so much going on and so many different things to see. Exploring the reefs by submarine in the daytime is an unforgettable experience, but when night falls all the nocturnal feeders are active. Best of all, with a Cayman Islands Submarines dive tour, night or day, there’s no effort required and you don't even have to get wet to enjoy it.