Shore diving in Grand Cayman

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Ian Popple

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Hey everyone! We’ve just compiled our list of TOP TEN shore-accessible dive and snorkel sites in Grand Cayman. Site #2 is a real local's favorite - #1 might surprise you! Do you agree with our list? Are we missing an exceptional dive site from our list? Let us know what you think.
Grand Cayman diving – it’s a shore thing! – Reef Smart Guides
 

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Saboteur

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Babylon looks like a long swim!
 

Ian Popple

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Babylon looks like a long swim!

It certainly is. Definitely not for the faint-hearted! The map also has a perspective thing going on - the distance is actually about the same as Cobalt Coast and Hepps.
 

Doctorfish

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Babylon is a great shore dive but: The Reef Guide does not clearly distinguish this sort of shore dive where you are in the middle of nowhere and on your own if something goes wrong, from most of the other shore sites listed which are supported by a dive shop.
In addition, some of the listed sites are shallow, essentially in the harbor and subject to potential boat traffic, so that you might want a float.

I was at Turtle reef diving one day when the seas suddenly and unexpectedly picked up while we were under. I think the waves were breaking at 4-5 feet from a flat calm at the time of entry. I unfortunately had my big SLR rig making it tough to negotiate the cut and climb the ladder.
Lucky for me, Olin was out at the ladder counting divers when we headed in, and he and his mate hauled my ass out of the water. My buddy and I were the last out and then the ladder was pulled. If I had been at Babylon or Anchor Point I wouldn't be here to tell this story.

My point is that there is a world of difference between supported and unsupported shore dives and this should be included in the guide descriptions. Babylon, IMO is a shore dive that should only be done by very experienced, healthy divers and even then, there is a potential for surprises like current, winds or seas picking up. Babylon is a fantastic boat dive. The shops on the East End and the West side operators doing three tank days all dive this site, weather permitting.

By the way, re Hepps; Stingray Watersports is not located at Coconut Bay. One of the owners of Stingray lives there and historically has out pre arranged tanks and weights for divers. I gather that some of the other Coconut owners have not been totally happy with the diver traffic, so may not be a long term arrangement. You can always rent a tank at Sundivers and do surface swim to Hepps from there. You can even dive the top of the miniwall from Sundivers/Turtle Reef ( 20-30 ft depth) to Hepps and then drop down.
 

Ian Popple

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Babylon is a great shore dive but: The Reef Guide does not clearly distinguish this sort of shore dive where you are in the middle of nowhere and on your own if something goes wrong, from most of the other shore sites listed which are supported by a dive shop.
In addition, some of the listed sites are shallow, essentially in the harbor and subject to potential boat traffic, so that you might want a float.

I was at Turtle reef diving one day when the seas suddenly and unexpectedly picked up while we were under. I think the waves were breaking at 4-5 feet from a flat calm at the time of entry. I unfortunately had my big SLR rig making it tough to negotiate the cut and climb the ladder.
Lucky for me, Olin was out at the ladder counting divers when we headed in, and he and his mate hauled my ass out of the water. My buddy and I were the last out and then the ladder was pulled. If I had been at Babylon or Anchor Point I wouldn't be here to tell this story.

My point is that there is a world of difference between supported and unsupported shore dives and this should be included in the guide descriptions. Babylon, IMO is a shore dive that should only be done by very experienced, healthy divers and even then, there is a potential for surprises like current, winds or seas picking up. Babylon is a fantastic boat dive. The shops on the East End and the West side operators doing three tank days all dive this site, weather permitting.

Totally agree - shore diving Babylon and Anchor Point are only for experienced divers. The guidebook makes this VERY clear and also distinguishes between sites that have an operator and those that don’t. The point of this article is just to briefly describe some of the best sites that can be reached by shore.
 

Alucard

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I am one of the owners at Coconut Bay and can confirm that the condo association have stated that they do not provide shore diving facilities for anybody that is not staying in the complex. The tanks that are put out are for those staying in the complex. There are all sorts of liability reasons that I'm not going to go into here. As Doctorfish said, Stingray Watersports owner lives in the complex, but they do not have a dive shop there.

Luckily getting at the site from the Macabuca/Turtle Reef/Sundivers ladder is a really simple surface swim, and the two sites are quite close together.

Perhaps the document could be edited to add that information? If necessary I can put the author in touch with someone on the STRATA committee to confirm.
 

Ian Popple

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Reef Smart's Grand Cayman guidebook makes it clear in the shore diving intro that many of the shore diving locations in the book are for residents/guests of the resort or condo complex adjacent to the site, and that non-residents/guests need to contact the adjacent dive center (if one exists there) in order to access the site from shore. We called Stingray Watersports earlier this year and were told that while there is not a shop at the location per se, they do lead dives from shore at this site for both residents/guest of Coconut Bay and visitors from elsewhere, an that other than that, general public access from shore is not permitted. As the article linked was meant to be mainly about what people can see at the site, it seemed unnecessary to go into this level of access detail. As I have said though, more information about how to access this and other sites is contained in the guidebook. Hope this helps.
 

FindingMenno

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For those looking for more info on the Lighthouse Point shore dive, there is a lot of information on the Divetech website: https://www.divetech.com/shore-diving

A downloadable 2D map is available: https://04455b71-b831-45d2-ace1-14c...d/813ebd_2b0db486e69a42c1aab3c1e97efb2a05.pdf

My favorite dive is to head out from the dock to the miniwall near the guardian statue, stay mid-water at the same depth as the top of the miniwall (about 30 ft) whilst following the line to the deep wall (so don't drop down to the sandy bottom where the line is as to conserve gas and NDL). On the deep wall, drop down to about 90 feet and follow the reef towards the right, there are a lot of little canyons to have a peek at. Come back over the top of the wall after about 10 - 15 min and you'll find yourself near the coral finger pointing back to the mini wall (you can easily see it). Follow the finger back, have a look at the coral trees, swim back along the mini wall till you see the guardian statue, and take a left back to the dock. All in all about a 45 - 60 min dive, making it an easy dive to see both mini and deep wall in one shore dive.

(Full disclosure - I used to work for Divetech).
 
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