Divers flock to Grand Cayman year after year to sample its awesome diving, but this popular destination hasn’t played all its cards. New things are brewing that will excite even the most seasoned Cayman veterans.
Long-established dive operator Divetech, with its main shop at Cobalt Coast Resort just a few miles north of Seven Mile Beach, unveiled a new location at Lighthouse Point in late June. The site is at 571 N.W. Point Road in West Bay, half a mile south of the Cayman Turtle Farm. And with a new shore-diving site and eco-friendly condo accommodations on site, it’s sure to be a draw to laid-back Northwest Point.
Owners Nancy and Jay Easterbrook are full of enthusiasm for the new site. “The diving is just spectacular,” says Jay, “so full of marine life and very close to shore. It offers easy access to the deep wall or the mini wall, with underwater navigation lines and markers in place to make it safe and easy to explore the diversity of dive sites at Lighthouse Point.”
Another upgrade coming to the islands is the Dive 365 program, an exciting project to increase the number of moored dive sites in the Caymans from 297 to 365 — a site for every day of the year. According to Stephen Broadbelt, owner of Ocean Frontiers dive shop, the new sites were identified by reaching out to the dive industry to find out where divemasters got wet on their days off. Although hard to believe, there were still areas of uncharted reefs in this well-trodden destination, and these sites will become part of the program over the next three to five years.
The first new site to be moored was Victoria’s Secret, a shallow 35-foot dive on the West Side where turtles, Creole wrasse, parrotfish, squid and the occasional ray forage in the coral garden. One of the most exciting sites planned as part of the Dive 365 program is the Kittiwake, a decommissioned U.S. Navy submarine rescue ship that operated during World War II. The ship is scheduled to be sunk as an artificial reef in the near future, so keep Grand Cayman on your radar. It still holds some secrets that even the locals continue to discover. — Mark Evans
Need to Know
Getting There: Several major airlines have flights into Grand Cayman, but national carrier Cayman Airways has the widest selection of flight times and days.
When to Go: Year-round.
Dive Conditions: Water temperatures range between the high 70s and mid-80s, and visibility is a clear 100-plus feet. Most sites have little to no current.
Operator/Accommodations: Divers can rejoice with a variety of options to choose from, including: Aggressor Fleet (www.aggressor.com), Divetech (www.divetech.com) at Cobalt Coast Resort (www.cobaltcoast.com) or Lighthouse Point (www.lighthouse-point-cayman.com), and Ocean Frontiers (www.oceanfrontiers.com).
Price Tag: Demo new Aqua Lung dive gear on a special Cayman Aggressor IV live-aboard trip, Nov. 14-21, 2009 (packages start at $1,795, www.aggressor.com for details). Divetech’s fall promotion, through Dec. 19, offers a fifth night free and 25 percent off boat diving at Cobalt Coast (from $780 per person, double occupancy). Weekly condo rental/dive packages start at $2,625 at Lighthouse Point.
Inside Tip: Want to help the Dive 365 program? Sponsor a site and help get the moorings in place more quickly; you’ll even get to name it. Details are still being confirmed, so contact the Cayman Islands Tourism Board (www.caymanislands.ky) for more details.