Grand Cayman

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Sunset House -  Grand Cayman - February 2011
6 days of diving at Sunset House, Grand Cayman
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To see slideshow, click on right arrow below.

   

We had been to Grand Cayman back in April of 2008 and when I was looking for a place to go diving this winter, Grand Cayman quickly rose to the short-list.

In 2008 there was a direct flight from Boston to GC, but no such luck this time. However, a trip time of 6 1/2 hours felt like nothing compared to our 37 hour return trip from Borneo last October.

Back in 2008 we stayed for a week at Cobalt Coast. We enjoyed it but were disappointed that we were only able to shore dive 2 of the days we were there due to waves at Cobalt Coast. We checked out Sunset House back then for dinner one evening at their popular bar called "My Bar". While sitting there we scoped out the dive operation and noticed that the seas were calm, while over at Cobalt Coast, shore diving (even with a pier) was not recommended that day. I decided then that our next trip to CG would be to Sunset House.

It turned out to be a good decision.

Sunset House is located about a 10 to 15 minute walk west of downtown Georgetown and a stroll downtown for dinner was convenient. However, do note that there are no sidewalks for most of that walk and you need to be careful. I would recommend bringing a dive light for the walk if in the dark.

The diving at Sunset House and Grand Cayman in general is some of better diving in the Caribbean for certain things. The Cayman Islands are right next to the deepest trenches in the Caribbean and that seems to contribute to a general higher visibility than some other islands. GC is a pretty good place to see turtles, Southern Stingrays and Eagle Rays. If you want a guarantee of seeing stingrays then go to Sting Ray City, where you will get your fill of them. We went there in 2008, so skipped it this time. Some of the folks that did go this year brought back stories of Manta Rays being seen there. I can't verify that.

GC has lots of dive sites that have great swim-throughs. The aquascape near the drop-off can be breathtaking with the good viz and there are plenty of sandy areas where you can find garden eels, rays and plenty of free roaming conch.

Not all Caribbean islands have good shore diving options. GC is one of the lucky ones. Good shore diving can be found around the island, but only those on the sheltered west side can be counted on for access. The two shore sites we dove this trip were Sunset House (of course) and Turtle Reef.

Turtle reef is a fantastic dive with a resident school of pretty large tarpon. You can rent a tank from Sun Divers right there, then walk through the Cracked Conch, an open air restaurant/bar, to get to the stairs down to the water.

 

Accommodations:
We got the regular courtyard room as part of a dive package. There were reports that the rooms were dated, etc and this was true, but they met our needs just fine with one exception. There was no table or chair in the room and for someone who needs to charge batteries, change lenses, and look at pictures this was a problem. I ended up improvising with the bureau and using the laptop while sitting on the bed, but it is a major shortcoming of the rooms.

The rooms at Cobalt Coast are definitely nicer, but we came to dive, not hang out in the room.

The food at Sunset House's restaurants was pretty good and you could tell that they got a lot of local folks coming in for a drink and dinner as well as the divers that were staying there.

Shore diving at Sunset House was enjoyable. There were plenty of small creatures that demand you to slow down to find them. There was a resident octopus in the sea pool that was fun to follow as he hunted.
And of course there is the mermaid statue, of which, according to Jessica, I was taking too many pictures.

Dive operation: Sunset Divers is the dive operation at Sunset House and they are a professionally run organization, but were also fun to be with. After an initial 'scope you out' dive you were pretty free to do your own dives as long as you stayed out of deco and were back to the boat within an hour. Perhaps due to the make-up of the divers on the boat while we were there (older and for the most part, overweight), they would often leave a site to go find another one if there was any current. No drift dives here. On more than one occasion we went to a third site before they were OK with us jumping in.

Only one boat per site in GC. We never ran into another group of divers on any sites.

Kittiwake. Over the last few months, they towed the Kittiwake down from Norfolk, VA and sank her just off of seven mile beach on January 5th. She is a fun wreck to dive. Being so new you can still a see parts of her that are not destroyed by salt water yet. One example of this is the mirrors. which can't have more than a few weeks left as actual mirrors.

When we dove the Kittiwake, we were fortunate to have a large school of horse-eye jacks accompany us as well as a graceful eagle ray. 

   

 

(all pictures and videos on this trip taken with Olympus E-PL1 camera with 9-19mm and 14-42mm lenses, Zen dome, INON s2000 strobes)

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