Featured SNORKELING SPOTS
Just south of downtown Georgetown, the Eden Rock snorkel spot offers arguably the finest snorkeling on Grand Cayman. Off this ironshore, the water clarity is truly exceptional, there is plentiful reef fish and three distinct massive reef formations to explore. Eden Rock is a large chunk of limestone that is coated with coralline algae, sponges, sea fans and patches of living coral towers. Eden Rock snorkelers tend to see grouper, stoplight parrotfish, blue parrotfish, damselfish, trumpetfish, sergeant majors, yellowtail snapper, sea turtles, eagle rays and tarpon. This dive spot can be a crowded place for snorkeling during weekdays when cruise ships are in the adjacent port.
North of Georgetown at the northwest point of Grand Cayman, the snorkelling at Turtle Reef is known for its isolation and quiet compared to other dive sites on the island. There are scattered coral formations about 60 feet offshore where a mini-wall dropoff starts. The region has an iron shore which allows for exceptionally clear and colorful water but there really isn’t much to see in the 10 to 25 foot deep waters.
North of Georgetown at the north end of Seven Mile Beach, the snorkelling at Cemetery Beach Reef is known for its seclusion, especially relative to the other dive sites around the island. The beach is particularly scenic with its huge Australian pines. This patchy reef has scattered coral heads of average health that have plenty of reef fish and occasional resting nurse sharks or sea turtles.
South of Georgetown on Grand Cayman, the snorkelling at Sunset House is known for the Nicholson shipwreck and the submerged Amphrite brown statue. When snorkeling off Sunset House, you may spot stingrays, eels and sea turtles. There is a scenic spur and groove coral reef formation located further offshore.
North of Georgetown at the northwest point of Grand Cayman, the snorkelling at Lighthouse Reef is popular for coral heads and clear water of an ironshore. The Lighthouse Reef snorkeling spot is located about a half mile south of the Cayman Turtle Centre (aka “Turtle Farm”). The best access for Lighthouse Reef is the small cove located at the DiveTech dive shop. There is a small manmade cove with stairs and a ladder the provides easy entry down the ironshore line. The surf needs to be very calm with little wind to enter and have great clarity. One of the favorite underwater sights off the ironshore here is the Gardian Of The Reef statue.
East of Georgetown in the East End, the snorkeling at South Channel Garden offers a scenic spur and groove reef formation to explore. Since it’s pretty shallow, the best South Channel Garden snorkeling is near high tide. At this boat-accessed snorkel spot, you may encounter angelfish, sergeant majors, cowfish and occasional reef sharks among the elkhorn and brain coral formations.
Just north of Georgetown, the snorkelling at the Wreck Of The Gamma offers the chance to swim around a half-submerged wreck. The Gamma is an old 200 foot long freighter that is partially submerged and is visible from shore. It is located just north of the Cali wreck on the north side of Georgetown. While many snorkelers access by boat, this is an easy shore-accessed dive spot.
Southeast of Georgetown, the snorkeling at Spotts Beach is best known for resident sea turtles about 200 feet straight off the pier. While there is a small protective reef, these water still require very calm surf to enjoy since there is usually a moderate current. If you can catch Spotts on a calm surf and windless day, it can be a truly spectacular place to snorkel. It is best several hours before or after high tide.
Just north of Georgetown, the snorkelling at Cheeseburger Reef offers some of the most scenic reefs on Grand Cayman. The reef sits in water from 10 to 40 feet deep about 300-600 feet offshore. The reef is located in downtown Georgetown just offshore of a fast food restaurant (Burger King). There isn’t much to see until you get far enough offshore to the reef During Cheeseburger Reef snorkeling, you may encounter turtles, stingrays, tarpon and reef sharks.
South of Georgetown on Grand Cayman Island, the snorkelling at Smiths Cove is known for it parrotfish, angelfish, peacock flounder and surgeonfish. he main reef formations are from 150 feet to 300 feet offshore and is marked by a buoy. The water depths range from 6 feet to 40 feet. This very narrow cove harbors a small beach that tends to be extremely popular with cruiseship tourists. Also known as Smiths Barcadere, this scenic cove is flanked by iron shore which adds to the water clarity. But, that clarity requires extremely calm surf with no wind - otherwise the water is very murky.
Northeast of Georgetown and north of Boddentown on the northeast point, the snorkelling at Rum Point is known for its coral heads, sea whips and plentiful marine life. There are plentiful staghorn corals, brain corals and star corals. During Rum Point snorkeling, you may encounter yellowtail snapper, eagle rays, southern stingrays, yellow stingrays, baraccuda, grunts, butterflyfish, trumpetfish, triggerfish, angelfish, blue tangs, black durgeon, starfish and eagle rays.
East of Georgetown and Bodden Town, the snorkelling at Halfmoon Bay is known for good shallows and a protective outer reef. This semi-circular bay has easy shore access. The Halfmoon Bay snorkelling site is shallow and protected but is not really known for coral formations, but is popular for its eels, crabs and shrimp.
Off the protected East End of Grand Cayman, there is a fun drift dive between the Morrits Resort and the Wyndham Reef Resort. While there is a protective fringe reef about 700 feet offshore, these East End waters are known for strong currents and surges. This drift dive is along a regular east to west current inside the protective fringing reef. The best place to start is located off White Sand Watersports beach with a swim about 200 feet offshore to catch the current, then continue northwest towards the Morritts Resort pier staying about 100 feet beyond the pier. Next, continue northwest towards the Wyndham Reef Resort pier staying about 100 feet off as well. Make sure not to get too far out since there is a channel cut in the fringing reef beyond that pier which has a strong outward current. After the pier, start angling in to shore before the end of the last blue roofed building of the Wyndham Reef Resort.
North of Georgetown and offshore of Cemetary Beach, the snorkelling at USS Kittiwake allows exploring a shallow wreck. The USS Kittiwake was a submarine rescue ship that was intentionally sunk in 2011 to form an artificial reef. It is located will offshore of Seven Mile Beach in 65 foot deep water, but the superstructure comes within 15 feet of the surface.
Just north of Georgetown, the snorkelling at the Wreck Of The Cali offers a glimpse of an old 4 masted schooner. The MV Cali ran ashore with its load of rice in 1948. Legend has it that the ship literally exploded when the rice got wet and expanded. it is now encrusted with coral, sponges and sea fans.
North of Georgetown and Hell on the North End, the snorkelling at Schoolhouse Reef is good shore-accessed dive over scattered coral gardens. The water depth off this iron-shore is 20 to 50 feet deep. This spot is best on calm surf days with little wind and you’ll be treated to very clear waters. In the Cobalt Coast Resort, there is good access from the ladder at the end of the pier.
North of Georgetown at the northwest point of Grand Cayman, the snorkelling at Spanish Bay Reef offers up nice coral heads to explore. There is good access from a boat ramp located just to the west of Conch Point Beach Resort. The water close to the iron shore is about 10 feet but it drops off to almost 100 feet relatively quickly. It is best to snorkel here when the surf and winds are very calm.
North of Georgetown at the southern end of Seven Mile Beach, the snorkeling off the Marriott Beach is known for artifical reef formations. There are about 300 artificial reef balls installed out infront of the Marriott Resort that are attracting plenty of marine life. The reef balls were installed by the Reef Ball Foundation.
While Stingray City is the single most popular snorkeling spot and a must-do experience when on Grand Cayman, most experience snorkelers come away very disappointed. Stingray City is located on the northeastern side of North Sound, which is northeast of Georgetown and east of West Bay. Before you book your dream trip, you’ve got to have the right expectations. With over 500,000 annual snorkelers, the boat-accessed Stingray City is very, very crowded with tourists and even more crowded when cruise ships are in port. The only way to access Stingray City is by boat and most snorkelers use one of the dozen charter boat tour companies. Your tour boat will have 30+ snorkelers and you can expect to see about a half dozen or more other tour boats out at Stingray City. And, the water clarity on this shallow sand bar is very low with all the people crowding around the 20 or so stingrays. For the best experience, make sure to book the earliest possible tour during clear weather when cruise ships are not in port.