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CAYMAN CONDO AT

BONNIE'S ARCH


SNORKELING GUIDE



One of the main attractions in Grand Cayman is the snorkeling and diving. At this time we are not yet licensed to dive but will be in the near future. We have traveled to many locations and have developed a real fondness for snorkeling but have found that Grand Cayman offers the best possible scenario for snorkeling. There are a multitude of reasons for this. We have traveled to other destinations where the water has been cold especially in the winter; here the water is always warm. The same could be said about the general climate as the daily high temperatures hold into the lower 80’s even in the winter. The water here is the clearest I’ve ever experienced although there are times when the sand kicks up and it gets somewhat cloudy closer to shore. The water is also generally calm, sometimes dead still. I’ve been other places where the waves are so brutal that it’s hard to get in and out of the water and you get tired faster fighting the waves and current. Here you can float virtually motionless for as long as you like. The main advantage though is that there are many places around the island that you can swim out to a very nice reef within a few yards from the shore. This allows you the freedom to snorkel for as long and often as you care to. I have already gotten caught up in following a sea turtle or stingray around for over an hour. I’ve also seen every imaginable variety of fish as well as schools of squid, some giant lobsters and even a Moray eel. I’m particularly fond of flounder because they are hard to spot and they are masters of camouflage, changing colors to suit their surroundings. I’ve also spotted barracuda on many occasions and even though I know they won’t mess with you I feel more threatened by them then I do by the occasional shark spotting. My general instinct is to swim away from their territory as quickly as possible. When you snorkel in other locations you are forced to take a boat trip to get to a reef and the times are structured to fit the operators schedule and not yours. These excursions usually cost between $25.00-50.00 and only last an hour or two so the expense can add up especially if you want to do multiple trips each day. Another advantage is that there are so many different places to snorkel that you couldn’t possible exhaust all of them in one trip. There are many times that we will move 3-4 times a day to different beaches for snorkeling or sometimes because a cloud has moved over the area we are in. Following is a list of some of the places we have found throughout the Island with great snorkeling. It is by no means a definitive list as we have picked many random spots and found lots of activity. If you find something not listed here please let me know so that I can add it to the list.

Mike and Donna Geesey




CEMETERY BEACH

Take Northwest Point Rd. back through 4 way stop and look for cemetery on right hand side. There is a walkway on the right as it is not proper to walk through the cemetery. This is probably our favorite spot partly because it is so close and usually not very crowded and has a great reef that is a short swim. It’s a good spot for both snorkeling and sun tanning. This beautiful location will offer the best of both worlds, a beach entrance and good snorkeling nearby. The reefs are few minutes away resting in about 20ft of water. The marine life is very abundant, of you are brave, bring some fish food with you so you can have the "Cayman Piranhas" experience. Sergeant Majors, so called "Cayman Piranhas", will literally swarm you for a morsel, better yet, look for somebody else with food so you can watch the "other guy" get enveloped by fish. (Probably a smarter move) Sea Turtles are also known to frequent the area, some as large as the biggest found at the Turtle Farm swim by on a daily basis looking for food and shelter from deep water. Being one of the most picturesque areas in Grand Cayman this spot should not be missed. Huge Australian Pines offer plenty of shade on the shore for the whole day at the beach you might be looking for.

West Bay Public Beach

Take Northwest Point Rd. back to Town Hall Rd. (less then ¾ mile). West Bay Public Beach is on right. This is a nice beach with a ladies and mens room available for public use. The water directly in front of the restrooms is shallow but as you go farther down the beach to the left it gets deeper. There are some interesting spots where there is vegetation and farther out there are some areas of interest.

Seven Mile Public Beach

Take Northwest Point Rd. Back through 4 way stop and continue onto West Bay Rd. Continue to the Marriott Courtyard and Public Beach is directly across the street. Here you will find beach chairs and huts to use for shade from the sun. There is a bar called Calico Jacks and another bar currently under construction just north of calico Jacks. On the beach and directly in front of this bar and only about 10 feet out there are some small reefs that extend to the right for a few hundred yards that afford good snorkeling with ease. They are plainly visible as the dark areas in the ocean. The water is 3-4 feet in most areas so it is quite suitable for beginners. I’ve seen Lobster, squid and an occasional turtle in this area.

Governor’s Beach

Take Northwest Point Rd. Back through 4 way stop and continue onto West Bay Rd. past Seven Mile Public Beach about another ½ mile. On right side there is a parking area with their idea of a bathroom (port-a-potty). The beach is very nice here and it got the name because the Governor’s house is here. I’m not sure but I heard he has moved out because of the appearance of the Governor living in a house where the property would cost millions. In any case there is some shade available here. The snorkeling area is in an almost straight line out from the fence on the right. I believe there are 1 or 2 bouys as markers. It is about a 100-200 yard swim to get to the reef but I’ve seen lots of activity here as well.

Caribbean Club

Take Northwest Point Rd. Back through 4 way stop and continue onto West Bay Rd. past Seven Mile Public beach about another mile. The beach in back of these luxury condos is very nice and there is a reef about 200 yards out and slightly to the right. I think there is a bouy marking the reef. In fact, if you see a bouy on any beach it is more then likely a good area to explore for snorkeling.

Treasure Island Resort

Take Northwest Point Rd. Back through 4 way stop and continue onto West Bay Rd. past Seven Mile Public Beach a few miles to the Treasure Island Resort. If you are getting tired of secluded beaches that you have practically to yourself then head here. They have a nice swim up pool bar and the beach here leads to some interesting shallow water snorkeling spots. They have created a reef on either side of the resorts beach and there seems to be more activity on the outside of this reef. Also a convenient stop for lunch if you didn’t pack one.

West Bay Turtle Farm

Turn left onto Northwest Point Rd. and go about ½ mile to the turtle farm. The Turtle Farm's Miniwall is a very good snorkeling spot, mostly known for diving; snorkeling here is mostly overlooked by visitors because of lack of promotion. There are two different entrances in this location, one, in front of the dive shop by taking a step ladder or by entering in the cove right next to the Turtle Farm. The cove entrance is not as simple but the snorkeling in the cove is really neat. Take a look at the cove and see if you are comfortable with the entrance and exit before you get in. The entrances and exits are fairly simple but booties should be worn in order to be able to walk on the rocks in the secluded cove entrance. This snorkeling spot offers the best views close to shore right in the entrance and on "the lip" of the miniwall. By the entrance you can see amongst many sea creatures tons of juvenile fish, octopus, soft sponges and sea fans. This area is well known for the gigantic parrot fish that schools between the entrances and the miniwall, some up to 2ft long, the "crunching" noise you will hear underwater is the sound of these beautiful fish feeding off the coral and ocean floor. The miniwall "bottoms out" at 40ft in a sandy bottom, so it's best to keep between the two areas.

Wreck of the Gamma

Take Northwest Point Rd. Back through 4 way stop and continue onto West Bay Rd. past Seven Mile Public Beach a few miles. Continue past the Treasure Island Resort and look for Merrens shopping complex. Wreck is kinda behind the K.F.C. The Wreck of the Gamma is an old freighter that crashed against the shoreline. The wreck is visible from shore but unfortunately it is crumbling from rust damage. The wreck actually sits sticking out of the water so the snorkeling is conducted "around" the wreck rather that "over" the wreck. Wrecks make a great home for sea life and the Gamma is no exception, you will be able to view many different species within a very small area. The nearby shoreline is also home to beautiful coral formations nearby. Try to concentrate your snorkeling close to shore as most of the beauty lays just a few feet from the entrance.

Cheeseburger Reef(Soto Reef)

Take Northwest Point Rd. Back through 4 way stop and continue onto West Bay Rd. past Seven Mile Public Beach a few miles. Continue past the Treasure Island Resort and look for the Burger King. The location of this site kind of gives away why the name was chosen. The nearby reef lays in about 30ft of water with the larger coral formations in just 10ft of water. The entrance is very simple and a sandy walk in makes it that much easier. The marine life here is spectacular, mostly due to the long popularity of the spot, people have been feeding fish here for years with incredible results, and the fish are not scared of people.

Wreck of the Cali

Take Northwest Point Rd. Back through 4 way stop and continue onto West Bay Rd. past Seven Mile Public Beach a few miles. Continue past the Treasure Island Resort and onto Church St in Georgetown, it’s near the intersection of Rock Hole Rd. The wreck of the Cali is an old freighter that sank right in front of George Town. Legend tells of the Cali taking in a lot of water and was brought closer to shore, unfortunately it was carrying large amounts of rice, which of course expanded with all the water. The Cali virtually exploded from the rice expansion. No one can confirm this story, heard being told time and time again. Truth or fiction, the Cali is a nice wreck to view. It rests on the Sea floor in pieces with all the ribs exposed making a really nice home for thousand of fish, giant sea urchins, eels, octopus and many other creatures. The wreck is really close to shore in very shallow waters, that makes it a fun site for all ages.

Eden Rock / Devils Grotto

Take Northwest Point Rd. Back through 4 way stop and continue onto West Bay Rd. past Seven Mile Public Beach a few miles. Continue past the Treasure Island Resort and onto Church St in Georgetown, continue through Georgetown to the Paradise bar and restaurant. Eden Rock and Devils Grotto are a favorite amongst snorkelers and divers alike. Free divers love the spot because it's many short caves they can free dive into, feeling totally enveloped in the underwater nature. Although we do not recommend people diving in these caves without air tanks, (scuba diving) Eden Rock is a beautiful place to view some of the most impressive coral formations on the Island. The site sits a few yards away from shore, do not get discouraged when the bottom seems to get deeper (30ft) without any coral to be seen, at that time you are getting very close to the formation that rises up from 30ft to a mere 10ft of water. Fish feeding here is also very popular. If you have ever wanted to jump into an aquarium, this is the perfect chance. The small coves to the right of Eden Rock are also fun to explore. Take your time and view the underwater wonders through out the whole area for an experience you will never forget.

Blue Parrot

About ¼ mile past Eden Rock, at Denham Thompson way is Parrot’s Landing along the South Sound, look for the large fuel tanks and you are there. The Blue Parrot is actually the name of a bar that used to be a very popular "hang out" for divers. Unfortunately, a storm decided to pun an end to the fun, bar fun that is. The site is now, as was before, at the Coconut Harbor. Because the bar is gone, you can drive your car right to the edge of the water and suit up. The entrance is easy, with steps carved out of the rocky shoreline; one can jump right in and snorkel the 20 yards to the beginning of the coral formation. This site sits in about 30ft of water eventually getting deeper to 50ft in a sandy bottom.

Smith’s Cove

Continue on Church St. past the Grand Old House restaurant about another ¼ mile to Smith’s Cove. My other vacation home is directly across the street, feel free to take some pictures. There is some great snorkeling in the cove as well as on both edges of the cove on the inside and reverse side of the cove. The entrance is rather easy and if you stay inside the cove it is an easy swim. Getting to the outside is a little more difficult but not extremely so. There is a port-a-potty on site as well. Ok so it’s not my house yet, but who knows…

Beach Bay

This area is a little more difficult to find. From Smith’s cove continue on Church St until it becomes South Sound Rd. Continue on South Sound Rd. into circle at Grand Harbor. Take Shamrock Rd. towards Bodden Town. Continue on Shamrock Rd. past Pedro St. James historic Site. In about 2 miles turn right onto Beach Bay Rd. and follow to end. This is about one mile before you get to Bodden Town. Beach Bay is a small cove hidden just before entering Bodden Town. You have to drive down the long Beach Bay road before you reach the shore. There is a small parking lot as soon as you get to the end of the road. From there just walk downhill to the beach, you will see the cove to the left. This snorkeling spot is situated at the end of Pedro's Bluff, it offers that remote, untouched Eden our returning visitors have yet to discover. The entrance is fairly easy, the small man made lagoon makes for an easy access to the outside barrier reef that surrounds the area. Because of the weather this location can be very rough so keep the snorkeling on the inside of the reef if conditions do not allow you to explore farther out. The area consists of mostly shallow water snorkeling with dramatic coral formations outside the reef in about 30ft of water. The sea life is plenty but elusive as most of the creatures are not used to seeing many snorkelers.

Bodden Town Cemetery Beach

From Beach bay get back onto Shamrock Rd. Continue into Bodden Town where Rd. becomes Bodden Rd. From the Cemetery the reef stretches to the right as you are looking at the water. Bodden Town in general offers good snorkeling grounds because of the large reef surrounding the Town. The snorkeling here consists of shallow coral heads spread out over a very large area within the reef. Gifted with a beach, the entrance is easy but booties should be worn for additional comfort while walking out to a decent snorkeling depth.

Queens Monument

From Bodden Town continue on Bodden Town Rd. Go to Breakers and Turn onto Frank Sound Rd. Follow this to the other side of the island into Old Man Bay and Turn right onto Old Robbin Rd. You can enter the water about a ½ mile up the Rd. The Queen’s monument is about a ½ mile further. The Queen's Monument has long being regarded a top location for both off shore diving and snorkeling. Because of it's diverse geography it provides a barrier reef, shallow reefs and the famed wall close enough to explore. The entrance is fairly easy but rocky so booties should be worn. To begin, the barrier reef can be viewed first by going right once entering the water. The Barrier ends shortly after and allows a passage to the outside of the reef to view the shallow reefs in about 30ft of water. For the expert snorkelers a 120yard swim to the wall is well worth it. The wall here starts at a mere 55ft, with Cayman's water clarity the majestic drop off can be viewed from above.

Colliers

From Old Man Bay continue east on Old Robbin Rd. this becomes Queens Highway, follow this to Morritt’s Tortuga Club resort. East End holds some of the most secretive snorkeling on the island. Because of its sheer size, the largest district on the island, snorkeling the whole area can take your whole vacation and then some. Some of the best spots can be found by the Tortuga Club's reefs, to both the left and right of the Resort as well as the pier. The multitude of Conch, Sea Fans, Tarpons, Lobsters and schools of fish shows just how untouched this area really is. The barrier reef takes a turn closer to shore north of Colliers making it easier to access from shore. Be aware of the channel that sometimes carries quite a lot of current, snorkel on the right of the pier at the Tortuga club or on the left of the channel by walking on beach or driving to the beach by the point.

Rum Point

From Colliers go back to Old Man Bay. Follow Rum Point Dr to Rum Point. Magical Rum Point, with restaurants, bars, secluded beaches, boat access, beautiful mansions, solid snorkeling, Rum Point has it all. This area is "a must" for every visitor to the Cayman Islands. Entering the Rum Point area there are several hidden beaches underneath the bluff that hold pristine coral formations in shallow waters. The snorkeling at Rum Point is done within the barrier reef so it's mostly accessible all year. The snorkeling at the Public Beach is equally beautiful; the area holds tables and restrooms for all the comforts not found as you enter Rum Point from North Side. Rum Point beach is great for viewing fish and stingrays (Do not feed or touch these rays, only look, you are not at stingray city) the coral is by the point at the Retreat Condos. Walk over on the beach and enter the water from the condos, the coral heads are on the right about 40yards from shore. At Cayman Kai, the main underwater attraction happens to be Starfish. There are plenty to look and play with, but please return them to their habitat once you are done marveling. Rum Point is a replenishment zone, the taking of any marine animal is strictly prohibited.