My first warm water experience - Grand Cayman

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on_two_wheels

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Just returned from my first dive vacation. I spent 8 days/7 nights in Grand Cayman. Got a military special for a stay at Morrit's Tortuga Club resort. I invited my girlfriend, dive buddy Kevin (capt12pk) and his wife, although she doesn't dive.

We arrived in Georgetown Saturday afternoon and walked across the street to Andy's Rental Car. I made a reservation with them based on the incredible reviews here on SB. Glad I did!! We reserved a standard full size (Lumina or similar). I spotted a nice Chrysler 300 with full tint. When I asked how much, they said they'd just throw in an upgrade. End result was a NICE car for the week for only $459 incl full insurance. Returning the car was just as easy as picking it up. Add one more very satisfied customer! We also booked a 3 day dive package with Tortuga Divers which is on site. It was a toss up between them and Ocean Frontiers. A short drive to the latter didn't really matter but Wendy at Tortuga seemed incredibly sincere in her effort to ensure a great trip, responded to emails promptly and even called me on request. Added bonus: They have actual lockers at the dock for your gear and you hold the key. The shop down the road provided a cubby in an open room.

We got to the resort, checked in and exchanged some cash. Pretty heartbreaking to hand over $400 and only get $320 back. :depressed: The room was simple but nice. At Morrit's there's Tortuga Club and Grand. The latter is the newer portion and has a very nice infinity pool overlooking the beach and with a swim up bar. There's a 2nd pool with a swim up bar but no views and a third basic pool. Our room was over the basic pool but more than sufficient and comfortable. We didn't spend much waking time in the room anyway.

We woke up Sunday morning and headed down to the dive shop. The girlfriend wasn't feeling well so it was just Kevin and I going on a very light boat (7 divers). Water temp was 86 on the surface. At about 100 fsw it was.....well, 86 degrees!! :D Visibility was of course, incredible at about 80-100 feet, maybe more! We were a little surprised there wasn't more life but plenty to be seen. After diving we just relaxed, had dinner, etc.

Monday we drove over to the other side of the island to dive the Kittiwake. Massive amounts of rain all day long. We had pretty rough waters when we geared up for the kittiwake dive. From the stern of the dive boat I tried to surface swim toward a marker buoy to descend on....no go. Made no gain against the prevailing surf/currents. So we agreed to just drop down and swim to the wreck. As soon as we dropped about 5 feet down it was calm, quiet and an easy swim. The Kittiwake was a great dive and a first for the girlfriend. Highly recommend this dive. It's been opened up sooooo much that even a novice would do some penetration without fear of being trapped....for now. Growth on it has just begun. Not an abundance of life around it yet but the large barricuda guarding it was a nice surprise. Then we did Governor's Reef (in front of Gov's home). Great site and saw a large spotted eagle ray. We spent the rest of the afternoon in Georgetown since there weren't any cruise ships in port. Coconut Joe's had the best jerk chicken all week.

Tues it was back on the east end with Tortuga Divers. Two great dives including an awesome swim through. You enter at about 80 fsw in a completely vertical position, exit horizontally at about 100 fsw out of a sheer wall face. Tues night we were all supposed to do a sunset sail on the catamaran but it got rained out. The folks at Tortuga gave Kevin & the Mrs a free t-shirt for it since their schedule wouldn't allow a reschedule. The sail was part of a package so they certainly weren't obligated and we already got a free t-shirt with the package. Since we had to drive Kevin & Mrs to the airport thurs (other sail day) we weren't sure we'd make it. Well, we didn't so again, free t-shirts for the girlfriend and me. Our plan B was to go next door to The Reef resort and catch the Barefoot Man, a local celebrity of sorts. He does Jimmy Buffet style music but it's all his own. Hilarious songs to an island rhythm. Kevin & I went in on just about all his CDs. :wink: Great night!!!

Weds it was off to the west end again. Kevin & Mrs were scheduled to do a swim with the dolphins thing. We dropped them off and went sightseeing, including a stop in Hell....literally. We visited the post office and mailed postcards to loved ones, from Hell. :cool2: Found a great dive shop at Lighthouse Point called Dive Tec. We hang out there most of the time our friends were doing their dolphin swim since there's a cafe there, great view and relaxing. No diving today, though.

Thurs it was a run to the airport to drop off Kevin & Mrs. Flight wasn't until 4p so my girlfriend and I did a shore dive back at lighthouse point while the others gift shopped. The dive was excellent. The structure was amazing. A 20' mini wall dropped to about 65 fsw. Coming back we had moments of current that made it seem like a drift dive! Then it was off to the airport and back to the resort. After a short nap we just relaxed on the beach with a drink and the ever-present mosquitos.

Friday we did our last couple dives. Another awesome swim through. Enters at about 85 fsw at a slight angle and fairly narrow vertical opening. Once inside it opened up until the exit which narrowed horizontally. It was about 40 yards through it. The only thing I didn't care for was the guide never mentioned it exits at about 110 fsw. I was diving nitrox all week. This day I had two tanks. One was 33.1%, the other 31.3%. Thankfully I took the leaner mix knowing it was a deeper dive. Learned a couple valuable lessons this dive. The 2nd dive was uneventful but still full of amazing water and viz.

Overall, absolutely amazing. Weather didn't really stop us too much. Great staff at Morrit's Tortuga Club resort. Best dive operation I've seen both before, during and after the stay. In fact, everything about Red Sail Sports was very impressive. Staying on the east end worked out GREAT!! As others warned, though...you definitely need a car! Other than that, much more of the slow, island vibe on the east rather than Georgetown.
 

blackvans1234

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Splitlip

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Nice, im jealous!

Don't be. You have access to the same (if not better) in these great United States. You only have to spend an hour or two in the car, or walk out on the beach. LOL. No TSA. No risk of getting busted in a third world (for what ever.)
 

on_two_wheels

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Don't be. You have access to the same (if not better) in these great United States. You only have to spend an hour or two in the car, or walk out on the beach. LOL. No TSA. No risk of getting busted in a third world (for what ever.)

That's actually a likely next trip. From all reports I've gotten, the keys is about the only place in the US that can compare, though. On the other hand, it's almost as much about experiencing another country as it is the diving!!
 

blackvans1234

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That's actually a likely next trip. From all reports I've gotten, the keys is about the only place in the US that can compare, though. On the other hand, it's almost as much about experiencing another country as it is the diving!!

That all depends on the person.

I could careless about the darn culture and other countries and all that jazz, I just wanna dive! :D

I don't really want to travel abroad either, maybe to dive, but I have tons of places in the US to visit first...Actually, I have tons of places in Fl to visit first, then the rest of the US.

I may never leave florida. :shocked2:
 

on_two_wheels

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I've been to 14 countries on 5 of the continents....love different cultures. Highly educational. Besides, I need to start scouting potential retirement locales since I'm definitely not staying here. My buddy and I were talking to a few divers there. Even if we lived there, we'd still return to CA for the amazing kelp forests, even in the 55 degree waters. :D

That all depends on the person.

I could careless about the darn culture and other countries and all that jazz, I just wanna dive! :D

I don't really want to travel abroad either, maybe to dive, but I have tons of places in the US to visit first...Actually, I have tons of places in Fl to visit first, then the rest of the US.

I may never leave florida. :shocked2:
 

Splitlip

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I've been to 14 countries on 5 of the continents....love different cultures. Highly educational. Besides, I need to start scouting potential retirement locales since I'm definitely not staying here. My buddy and I were talking to a few divers there. Even if we lived there, we'd still return to CA for the amazing kelp forests, even in the 55 degree waters. :D

Well..many consider the Conches of the Lower Keys to be a different culture. I'll tell you about my in-laws. Crap..gotta go..
 

Captain12Pk

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Very nice trip report. It almost made me feel like I was there!:wink:
I would agree with everything except Coconut Joes. Though the food was excellent, I think The Paradise Bar at Rum Point had better better Jerk Chicken.
As travel goes, international travel is not something I look forward to. However entering the Cayman Islands is quite easy. And leaving the Cayman Islands is quite easy. It's a small country and there culture and attitudes are very laid back. Which makes the entire experience easy and enjoyable. I wish I could say the same for re-entering the States through Miami International.
See you in the Keys!

K
 
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drbill

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Whew... at least you all came back to the kelp forests after that great experience!

I, for one, enjoy international travel immensely. I love to go places where there is good diving and a completely different culture. It is an eye opener in many ways... below the surface and topside. I find it a bit sad that some prefer not to stretch and experience something new, staying only within their comfort zone.
 

Booyakasha

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Sounds like your swimthrough on the East End was turtle pass great dive site. Have done it a couple of times nothing like popping out of the swim through into the great big blue.

Suprised at the surface swim at the Kittiwake the mooring balls are almost right on top of the wreck. Was it crowded?

B.
 
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