Snorkeling in the Cayman’s – July 2017

My wife and I decided to take a trip with just the two of us and we chose to go to the Grand Cayman Island.  The main reason why we chose Grand Cayman was we enjoy snorkeling and we heard the Cayman’s have some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean.  Plus, it is an easy place to get to from Tampa, non-stop flights daily.  We stayed for four nights on 7 mile beach, and we really enjoyed our visit.  Now that we know the island, next time, we want to take our children so they can experience the amazing waters around the island.

Getting There:

As I mentioned above, Grand Cayman Island is an easy destination from Tampa.  We bought our trip through Expedia which included a flight on Cayman Airways.  What a great experience.  This is a “no hassle” airlines with very pleasant service.  Your ticket includes one “check in” bag per person which was a nice change of pace.  Also, they provide a complimentary Rum Punch on board to get you in vacation mode.  The flight from Tampa to George Town was just over an hour so we were there in no time.  I wish more of the US Carriers would follow Cayman Airways example of putting the customer first.

Where did we Stay:

There are plenty of place to stay on Grand Cayman and we chose the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort on seven mile beach.  I am a fairly devoted Marriott customer so this was an easy choice for us.

During our visit we learned the Marriott did a major renovation about 3 years ago and they did a fantastic job. The lobby was made up of a bar, restaurant, crepe station, gelato station and more. The decor was very inviting – we didn’t want to leave.

We stayed on the 5th floor with a partial ocean view. The room was large with a nice sized bathroom. No complaints. One thing to note the properties on 7 mile beach are squeezed in, so you if you want a descent view ask for a room on a high floor – 5th was the highest. If not, you maybe staring at the back of another building. The garden view rooms looked nice as well.

There is a nice restaurant and bar by the water with pool side and beach service. All the drinks were great – I especially enjoyed the rum punch. We did have dinner once at the beach side restaurant and the food was actually pretty good with great views.

The beach itself is fairly short so they pack in the chairs along the water. However I never felt crowded while we were lounging on the beach. I think the best place to lounge was on the pool deck facing the water as they were up higher and more comfortable.

Snorkeling:

Now the best part I thought about the Cayman’s was the water and the snorkeling. The water clarity was amazing and the temperature was perfect. Also, it was fairly calm so we weren’t battling waves or currents.

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The first spot we tried was Cemetery Beach.  It was a about a 10 minute drive from the Marriott located on the north side of 7 mile beach.  You basically park off the street next to the cemetery and walk to the beach from there.  When we went, it was very quiet, there were only two other families on the beach.  You do need to swim out a bit to get to the corals – possibly about 150 yards.  We saw all kinds of coral and fish at this spot.  I did notice some bleaching, but I think that is becoming more common these days.

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On day two we drove to Rum Point which was about an hour drive from the Marriott.  At Rum Point they do have lounge chairs, bar, restaurant, bath rooms, etc so it is a cool place to hang out.  Make sure you go on a non-cruise day as I hear it can get crowded when the cruise ships are in.  It is a popular excursion.  Actually, that goes for any spot on the island – check the cruise schedules.  The best snorkeling at Rum Point was out beyond the dock (basically at 2 o’clock).  I would recommend getting dive flag from the adventure desk there – it is complimentary.  Again, we weren’t disappointed.

On our way back from Rum Point we tried snorkeling at Spotts Beach which is known for turtle sightings.  Unfortunately we did not see any turtles ant the water was a bit rough here as the break was closer to shore.  Also, there is a current which made it more challenging.  I will probably miss this on our next visit.

On day three we went to Edens Rock, Devil’s Grotto and the wreck of Cali.  These are all basically in town and very close to each other.  In fact, the spots are in the port which is a bit strange.  To get to Edens Rock/Devil’s Grotto we parked at the dive shop and entered the water using their ladder.  They didn’t mind us parking there.  We both thought Edens Rock and Devil’s Grotto were fantastic – easily our favorite spot.  The depth is about 10-60 feet crystal clear waters with all kinds of fish and rock formations.  Make sure you ask where to snorkel out to so you don’t miss it.  We saw coral fish, grouper, barracuda, etc.  This was some of the best snorkeling I have done and it was amazing to see what we did with out having to dive.

The wreck of Cali was right up the street and we entered the water at Rackam’s Bar and Grill – they weren’t open yet but they didn’t seem to mind.  The wreck was in about 15-20 feet of water so you could see it very well.  Tarpon are roam this area and we saw at least 10+ big ones.  This was very cool to see.

Additionally we enjoyed snorkeling right off the beach of the Marriott. They did create some man made reefs, but if you venture further out and work your way to the left side, there is plenty more to see.

Places to Eat and other Fun spots:

One nice thing about the Cayman’s is it is easy to get around and I felt completely safe.  We did rent a car for transportation which I would highly recommend.  There are fun restaurants all around the island so don’t feel like you need to stick to your resort for dining options.  We did eat at the Marriott a couple of times, and the food was actually very good.  Other places we tried:

Da Fish Shack  – Had dinner one night.  One of my best meals during our visit.

Calico Jacks – Stopped and had lunch and a Rum Drink.  This is one of those places you want to check the cruise schedule.  Our first visit was when the cruise ships were in and it was packed.  We went back again on a non-cruise day and it was very pleasant.  This is a cool beach bar that makes awesome rum drinks.

Coconut Joe’s – This is right across the street from the Marriott.  We had breakfast here a couple of times which I would highly recommend.

Calypso Grill Restaurant – We stopped and had lunch here.  Food was great and fantastic view.  Make sure you try their “Sticky Toffee Pudding”.

Royal Palms – This is a night club right on the 7 mile beach.  We stopped here to have a drink our first night.  You can walk from the Marriott.  It is a pretty lively night spot.

Macabuca Tiki Bar – We stopped by here but it was too early to eat.  This is a popular dive spot and divers enter right from the Bar.  Apparently you can hang out here and watch the divers return from their night dives but we didn’t make it back here during the night time.

Conclusion:

Overall we really enjoyed our trip to the Cayman’s.  The water was amazing and we enjoyed all the unique snorkeling spots.  We felt safe and it was a very clean westernized island.  We definitely want to go back and bring our children next time.  When we do go back we will investigate renting a condo rather than staying at a resort.  The Cayman’s are on the pricier side and the US / Cayman dollar exchange rate doesn’t help.  Now one thing to note is that the you don’t really get that island vibe when in the Cayman’s.  They don’t have the island culture like the Bahama’s or Jamaica, but everyone is extremely friendly and very accommodating.  Can’t wait to get back…

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