Trip Report Sunset House

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jmcgilroy

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Grand Cayman - Sunset House - Sunset Divers

The arrival on the island went smoothly with the required travel permit, uploaded COVID vaccination and 24 hrs negative COVID test. A taxi from the airport to the resort was $17.50 and was paid by the hotel as a part of my package. Check-in was a breeze with great personnel at the desk.

The Resort - The guest rooms are in several 2-story buildings with walkways and gardens in-between. A nice fresh-water swimming pool with plenty of space and several hammocks and lounge chairs under the shade trees. The property is at the water’s edge on a coral wall. There is no beach but a swim in the ocean is not a problem with exit ladders and a large “ocean pool” carved out of the coral base rock. These accommodate shore diving as well.

Food and Beverage - There is an on-site restaurant that serves indoor dining, the outdoor patio and the bar. The food was reasonably priced but I found most meals dried out and over-cooked. Approximately half of the menu was Indian Cuisine which limited the remainder of the menu. The food choices and quality are a concern because the resort is not located in an area with other choices…you’re sort of stuck unless you opt for a taxi ride.

Rooms - My room was newly renovated and extremely clean. A coffee maker, fridge, microwave, flat-screen TV and room safe. Nicely tiled bath, comfortable bed and ocean view balcony…all of it very nice.

Diving Operations - Sunset Divers, this is where the resort shines. You’ve heard the saying “Our employees are our greatest asset”? Sunset Divers has this one covered. Great people all around. The shore staff, boat captains and divemasters were all top-notch. Captain’s safety briefing each time you left the dock, divemaster briefing at each dive site, help with gear set-up if you wanted, etc. Exactly what should be done by a dive operator. In-water guides at every dive but they allowed you to buddy-up and do your own thing if you wanted. U/W photographers of the group loved this option. Speaking of photography, there is an on-site shop with cameras, accessories and some dive lights. However, there is no on-site dive shop. If you forget a piece of gear, you’re in for a taxi ride.

The first dive of the day is limited to 100ft. Max depth, the second at 60 ft. No Deco diving, no solo diving. A hooka rig is hung over the side at 15ft. for anyone who fails at air monitoring and dives are limited to 60 minutes.

Unlimited shore dives were also included but I only did two; 1 day, 1 night dive off of the house reef. A sunken landing craft LCM Nicholson is directly off Sunset House in 55ft of water.

Dive Sites - There are over 80 sites with mooring balls along the west coast of Grand Cayman. A 10-15 minute boat ride was standard. Good coral build-up, canyons and swim-thru’s are common. Visibility was 80-100ft. And the water temp was 81F. A few turtles, nurse sharks, moray eels, grouper, eagle rays and stingrays were common sightings. I did not do “Sting-Ray City” but dove the Kittewake. Kittewake was an $85 extra dive and you can choose a guided full-penetration dive or explore the outside…something for everyone.

Value - I was pleased with the value of my dive package and never felt over-charged for anything. However (in my opinion), the Cayman Islands over-value their currency and place the exchange rate in their favor. Your U.S. dollar is only worth 80 cents.
MICR0149.JPG
Cayman Night Pool.jpg
Kittewake1.jpg
 

scubadada

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How did you find Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease? What sites did you dive, west side, north wall? While visiting on the Cayman Aggressor, I found the Kittiwake mediocre and spent time up on the reef and on the good dive site, Sand Chute.
 

drrich2

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Unlimited shore dives were also included but I only did two; 1 day, 1 night dive off of the house reef. A sunken landing craft LCM Nicholson is directly off Sunset House in 55ft of water.
What did you think of the house reef diving? I ask because the option for onsite shore diving is a key competitive feature for Sunset House vs. alternatives that lack it, and I imagine some divers with an interest in Sunset House factor the anticipated value of at least a few shore dives into their reckoning.
Food and Beverage - There is an on-site restaurant that serves indoor dining, the outdoor patio and the bar. The food was reasonably priced but I found most meals dried out and over-cooked. Approximately half of the menu was Indian Cuisine which limited the remainder of the menu. The food choices and quality are a concern because the resort is not located in an area with other choices…you’re sort of stuck unless you opt for a taxi ride.
Good to know! They don't have an A.I. option, do they? Looks like the menus are online.

Richard.
 
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jmcgilroy

jmcgilroy

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I thought the 2 shore dives I did were fairly good. The night dive out to the bronze mermaid statue revealed a stingray and, of course, the tarpon were present as soon as the lights went on. I also think it was a good refresher for your navigation skills...find the mermaid and then return to the seawall opening. The day shore dive for the landing craft was also a good dive. There are people who dismiss it as "boring" but I found the wreck interesting and even surprised a large grouper inside one of the holes cut in the stern area.
MICR0129.JPG
 

Doctorfish

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I've dived that house reef many times. IMO, it is OK but not nearly as good as Lighthouse or Macabuca for sponges or animals.
At Sunset House, we usually surface swim as far as the wreck, descend, and head out to the wall.

I find Sunset to be a very good night dive, after which a visit to My Bar adds to the evening.
 

DanBMW

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I've been there several times over the years and the first time was when the water in the room was brackish... The diving was amazing and like the cover of Skindiver magazine. The Sunset house was still under construction and the driveways were sandy. Dominoes under the tiki hut, by the locals was a contact sport. Over the years, the number of divers has increased and unfortunately, the quality of the dives has deteriorate. I would still go back to Grand Cayman, but now to the north shore...
 

Skeptic14

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@jmcgilroy Thanks for the report. We're headed back to GC (after 3 year hiatus mostly due to COVID) later this year. Did your resort handle testing for return or did you have an appointment off resort, was that smooth? Sounds like masks are only required at the airport and grocery stores from what I've been reading, does that seem accurate?
 
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jmcgilroy

jmcgilroy

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@jmcgilroy Thanks for the report. We're headed back to GC (after 3 year hiatus mostly due to COVID) later this year. Did your resort handle testing for return or did you have an appointment off resort, was that smooth? Sounds like masks are only required at the airport and grocery stores from what I've been reading, does that seem accurate?
Masks in the airport for sure but I didn't see them anywhere else. The resort has a nurse come in to handle the exit test. ($50 U.S.) the night before departure. There were 30 people testing on my day and she knocked it out in less than an hour. Others were talking about that monitored test over the internet, Azova was the name they tossed around. I guess you bring an approved test with you and they watch you self-test over Zoom (?) and then email a verification letter.
 

divesergeant

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For return testing we did Qured and for the trip down we did Azova. Both worked, we thought Qured was a little easier to navigate. In the end, they both worked pretty well. We took our own FlowFlex test kits.
 
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