There is broad agreement among knowledgeable Caribbean travellers that Cayman Islands snorkeling and diving are among the best ways to explore Caribbean coral reefs.
The Cayman Islands have been selected as one of our “Best Caribbean Snorkeling Destinations” for several sound reasons.
Not the least of these is the superb Marine Park system that manages and protects most of the surrounding waters, coral reefs, and associated marine life through a set of sophisticated regulations and laws which are strictly enforced.
Another real plus for Cayman Islands diving is that the location of the island group is relatively close to the center of the Tropical Western Atlantic biogeographic region. This means that Cayman Islands snorkeling will reveal a higher diversity of corals, fishes, and other forms of marine life than more distant areas of the region.
Also, the extensive and well developed fringing reefs surrounding each of these islands provides a good variety of easily accessible shallow snorkeling sites with plenty of coral reef habitat. Water temperatures average a comfortable 79 to 83 F.degrees, and the underwater visibility often exceeds 100 feet.
It is unfortunate, considering the superb and extensive Marine Parks system of the Cayman Islands, that one of the few areas exempted from these regulations (“Stingray City”) has become the most highly publicised icon of Cayman Islands snorkeling tourism.
This shallow sand area is far removed from coral reef habitat, and what happens here has little or no impact on the island’s reef system itself. Nonetheless, the feeding and manhandling of these peaceful marine creatures by tourists encourages less informed visitors to believe that its OK to do the same things to any marine life, anywhere else in the ocean (big mistake, bad impression).
For those who wish to learn more about Caribbean coral reefs in general, a separate page of this web site is devoted to that topic.
The Cayman Islands (Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman) are located in the western Caribbean Sea about about 150 miles south of Cuba and 180 miles northwest of Jamaica.
Cayman Brac is about 90 miles from Grand Cayman, and Little Cayman only about 5 miles further west – about a 30 minute flight from Grand Cayman.
Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are a good choice for those preferring a quieter, slower pace of life than that found in Georgetown on Grand Cayman. Due to their remoteness and small populations, these smaller islands offer the most pristine Cayman Islands coral reefs.
All three of these islands are low and narrow, with the highest elevation of the entire group (found on Cayman Brac) reaching only about 140 ft. above sea level. Georgetown (Grand Cayman) is the Cayman Island’s capital, point of arrival for international flights, and main tourism and commerce center.
As with the rest of the Caribbean Sea, the weather is predictably coolest and calmest November through May when daytime highs average about 82 degrees F. The more warm and humid hurricane season lasts from June through October.
The Cayman Islands are readily accessible. From North America, Grand Cayman is just over a mere hour’s direct flight from Miami. Direct flight service to Grand Cayman is also available from other major U.S. and Canadian gateways, including Atlanta, Charlotte, Detroit, Ft. Lauderdale, Houston, Memphis, Newark, Philadelphia, Tampa, and Toronto, Canada.
Grand Cayman has an abundance of lodging choices ranging from the many 3 or 4 star hotels on Seven Mile Beach to smaller hotels and rental cottages nearby. Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are sparsely populated and have fewer choices, but each has its own small array of dive resorts, lodging, dining, and other amenities that make for a great snorkeling and beach vacation.
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