Trip Report Sunset House - January 2023

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pickens_46929

Contributor
Messages
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Location
Indianapolis, IN
# of dives
500 - 999
Had the opportunity to go diving in the Cayman Islands and stayed at the Sunset House. Not going to go into a detailed day-by-day trip report on this post but once I get some time I might put something together.

All I can say is that Sunset House was wonderful. Extremely low stress and super convenient. Nothing was more than 300 yds away from anything else. The rooms were above average with great air flow and air conditioning, the food and drinks were really good and the onsite dive operation extremely on the ball with the staff being some of the best people.

As for the diving, it was great. 2 tank boat dives each morning with optional afternoon trips. Plus unlimited shore diving. The local reefs offer decent depths with a lot of life - think Key Largo on steroids. Definitely do the Kittiwake if you can.

Can't say it was cheap but it was a good value considering how much diving and relaxation was packed in to a short amount of time (11 dives with over 10 hours bottom time in 4 days). Highly recommend this place.

Already planning to return next year.

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Thanks for the report. One of the nice things about Sunset's house reef is that you can do it shallow or swim out to the wall. Also there is a salt water pool carved into the ironshore which makes ocean entries and exits easier on rough days. When the rest of the west side shore sites are blown out, you can often sneak in some diving there.
 
Glad to see a trip report with some topside photos of it. Looks like it's got a manmade sandy area, though not true sloping sandy beach, so families with beach loving little kids might take note.

Some follow up questions:

Can't say it was cheap but it was a good value considering how much diving and relaxation was packed in to a short amount of time (11 dives with over 10 hours bottom time in 4 days). Highly recommend this place.
Can you expand a bit more on the 'not cheap' angle? Traveling to dive in the Caribbean costs money, no way around that. The Caymans are infamous for being pricy, though airfare and car rentals are often cheaper than some places, and optional shore diving helps balance pricy boat dive costs.

the food and drinks were really good
On the food (I don't drink alcohol, so matters around it are kinda Greek to me), what did you think of the prices? I'm glad to see they have menus available online. This dinner menu looks interesting; costs didn't look too over-the-top, till I saw the following 2 points:

1.) Prices in Cayman dollars; IIRC, the U.S. $ is worth about 0.80 Cayman dollars? A quick online check just now shows 1 USD = 0.83 Cayman dollars.

2.) Prices are subject to adding 15% gratuity.

Question for you and whoever's been there...if someone were staying a week, do you think they'd be happy staying and eating at the onsite restaurant? Is there a clear need to get out and eat elsewhere? Is the cost/value here similar to what one would get elsewhere?

If someone weren't interested in hitting offsite topside excursion places (e.g.: the Turtle Farm), would someone staying here for a week need a rental car?

Per their accommodations page, Courtyard rooms are popular with the cost-conscious and have:
  • Coffeemaker
  • Mini-Fridge
I take it no oven or stove?

The Ocean View rooms have:
  • Coffeemaker
  • Fridge
  • Microwave
The next 2 room categories don't mention oven or stove, either.

Which category of room did you stay in?

You got me curious what a stereotypical U.S.-style 7-night dive vacation there might cost.

Caradonna.com has a Cayman Islands page with a package deal for Sunset House: $2,103 (a bit more high season)/person double diver, 7-night Courtyard room, 6-days 2-tank boat dives, daily breakfast, hotel tax, services charges and a bit more.

Southwest flies to Grand Cayman; I did a quick roundtrip airfare run on a Sat. - Sat. week in April, came up with $518.03 with taxes and fees for 1 person. I think that should provide 2 free checked bags.

$2,103 + $518.03 = $2,611.03. Even if we assume no rental car, and breakfast is included, I'm guessing lunch and supper combined + my diet soda habit would be $50+/day x 7-days. $350. Trip $2,961.03. Add on more food, dive service tips, airport food, etc..., one might get this trip for around $3,500 if not renting a car?

Does this sound about right, or am I missing important expenses?
 
Thanks for the report. One of the nice things about Sunset's house reef is that you can do it shallow or swim out to the wall. Also there is a salt water pool carved into the ironshore which makes ocean entries and exits easier on rough days. When the rest of the west side shore sites are blown out, you can often sneak in some diving there.
We did exactly that on the day of arrival. It was pretty choppy and the salt water pool made it fairly easy to sneak under the rollers.
 
Glad to see a trip report with some topside photos of it. Looks like it's got a manmade sandy area, though not true sloping sandy beach, so families with beach loving little kids might take note.

Some follow up questions:


Can you expand a bit more on the 'not cheap' angle? Traveling to dive in the Caribbean costs money, no way around that. The Caymans are infamous for being pricy, though airfare and car rentals are often cheaper than some places, and optional shore diving helps balance pricy boat dive costs.

Not cheap as compared to say Key Largo or say Blackbeards - though not as expensive as other places in the Caribbean either.

Did not have to rent a car - they provide shuttle to / from airport and we used taxis to do the couple of things we wanted to do around the island.

On the food (I don't drink alcohol, so matters around it are kinda Greek to me), what did you think of the prices? I'm glad to see they have menus available online. This dinner menu looks interesting; costs didn't look too over-the-top, till I saw the following 2 points:

1.) Prices in Cayman dollars; IIRC, the U.S. $ is worth about 0.80 Cayman dollars? A quick online check just now shows 1 USD = 0.83 Cayman dollars.

USD = $1 Cayman = $1.20, yep.

Well for a week of lunches, plus snacks and three dinners for 2 people, came out to $360.

Breakfast was a full breakfast and that's included.

2.) Prices are subject to adding 15% gratuity.

Question for you and whoever's been there...if someone were staying a week, do you think they'd be happy staying and eating at the onsite restaurant? Is there a clear need to get out and eat elsewhere? Is the cost/value here similar to what one would get elsewhere?

We had a dinner meeting out and that was it. Would have been more than happy to eat there every day for 7 days. No need to get out and eat elsewhere. Portions were decent and prices were about the same as other places.

If someone weren't interested in hitting offsite topside excursion places (e.g.: the Turtle Farm), would someone staying here for a week need a rental car?

No need to rent a car - I didn't. Won't do it when I go back. Walked to town back the one day - took about 15 mins. Would have taken the free 2pm shuttle but didn't get my name on the list that morning. Took taxi to dinner the one night.

Per their accommodations page, Courtyard rooms are popular with the cost-conscious and have:
  • Coffeemaker
  • Mini-Fridge
I take it no oven or stove?
No but the Courtyard room that I stayed at had a Microwave. Did see many people take leftovers from dinner (again, decent portions) back to their rooms.

The Ocean View rooms have:
  • Coffeemaker
  • Fridge
  • Microwave
The next 2 room categories don't mention oven or stove, either.

Which category of room did you stay in?
Courtyard and it was nice.
You got me curious what a stereotypical U.S.-style 7-night dive vacation there might cost.

Caradonna.com has a Cayman Islands page with a package deal for Sunset House: $2,103 (a bit more high season)/person double diver, 7-night Courtyard room, 6-days 2-tank boat dives, daily breakfast, hotel tax, services charges and a bit more.
That's a good price - includes some discounts likely. That's about what I paid for 5 nights though my package included Nitrox.
Southwest flies to Grand Cayman; I did a quick roundtrip airfare run on a Sat. - Sat. week in April, came up with $518.03 with taxes and fees for 1 person. I think that should provide 2 free checked bags.
They do - I checked one on American. No longer had status so paid $30 each way. My airfare was like $550 roundtrip.
$2,103 + $518.03 = $2,611.03. Even if we assume no rental car, and breakfast is included, I'm guessing lunch and supper combined + my diet soda habit would be $50+/day x 7-days. $350. Trip $2,961.03. Add on more food, dive service tips, airport food, etc..., one might get this trip for around $3,500 if not renting a car?
I would think.
Does this sound about right, or am I missing important expenses?
Don't see any major gaps. Tips for crew maybe.
 
Good to see a review of Sunset House- I had a trip booked there as COVID came down, and they refunded everything, no questions asked.

I think a lot of dive shops do group trips there- seems like a perfect destination for that with the onsite restaurant and house reef.

Glad you had a nice trip!
 
Good to see a review of Sunset House- I had a trip booked there as COVID came down, and they refunded everything, no questions asked.

I think a lot of dive shops do group trips there- seems like a perfect destination for that with the onsite restaurant and house reef.

Glad you had a nice trip!
A significant portion of the staff came back which tells me a lot about how well things are run.
 
You can do a week on GC for a bit less at Sunshine Suites or Ocean Frontiers but Sunshine Suites is not ocean front, and Ocean Frontiers is way at the east end of the island. Neither has a house reef.

Living the Dream has built some condos near Northwest Point which might come in a bit less, but you would certainly need a vehicle up there.

Sunset House seems to offer a good package at a good price ( for GC ).
 
I've been to GC twice. The first time was in November of '79, at the ripe old age of 17. We stayed at Sunset house, which is where I did my open water check out dives! Having just looked at their website, I can tell you things have changed since then. A lot! Thanks for bringing back some great memories and getting me to think about making new ones there!

Erik
 
I've been to GC twice. The first time was in November of '79, at the ripe old age of 17. We stayed at Sunset house, which is where I did my open water check out dives! Having just looked at their website, I can tell you things have changed since then. A lot! Thanks for bringing back some great memories and getting me to think about making new ones there!

Erik
You're welcome. They said to tell you that you need to go back... lol
 
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