The Cayman Islands are one of the world’s premier diving destinations and were among the first Caribbean hotspots for divers. A marvellous combination of natural selection and manmade aquatic playgrounds have made our islands an annual draw for hordes of undersea adventurers… particularly at these top dive sites.
Beneath Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac is an undersea ridge that drops off to a vast underwater valley known as the Cayman Trench or Bartlett Trough. This narrow chasm spans more than 21,000 feet and is the meeting point of the North American and Caribbean tectonic plates. It’s the deepest point in the Caribbean Sea.
These natural formations make for unparalleled wall dives, and if you’ve never felt the weightless rush of gliding out over a drop-off, it’s one of diving’s most exhilarating sensations. Coupled with vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life like eagle rays, turtles and sharks, it’s no surprise that Cayman got a head start as the Caribbean’s premier diving destination.
Other benefits of diving in Cayman include the excellent visibility beneath the waves (up to 100 feet or more), balmy year-round weather, and no shortage of dive shops with PADI-certified instructors and dive masters at your service. And if those weren’t reasons enough, Cayman offers an underwater wonderland of wrecks for you to explore. Here are three of the most famous.
Heading the list is Cayman’s newest wreck: the USS Kittiwake. A Chanticleer-class submarine rescue ship, the Kittiwake was decommissioned by the US Navy in 1994. It was deliberately sunk in 2011 right off Seven Mile Beach, in waters so clear you can see the ship from the surface. Now an artificial reef, the Kittiwake is a beloved dive destination that can also be enjoyed by snorkelers. Divers can explore the deck, swim inside the vessel and even see themselves in the bathroom mirrors!
Cayman Brac has its own dive-worth wreck in the 330ft Russian warship, Captain Keith Tibbetts. If you think that name doesn’t sound particularly Russian, you’re right. The ship was originally called Russian Missile Frigate #356, but was renamed after a Caymanian politician once she arrived at her new destination. Today, the Captain Keith Tibbets is a healthy artificial reef that is home to corals and sponges, a variety of fish, moray eels, and turtles. Visibility often exceeds 100 feet, and the wreck is a shallow dive. Many divers will happily snap an underwater selfie next to the ship’s cannons.
Off Grand Cayman’s western shore, the Oro Verde, or “Green Gold” is another shallow dive that’s perfect for novice divers. In her final years, the cargo ship was apparently used in a dubious capacity as a drug smuggling vessel, but thankfully she now serves a more noble purpose as an artificial reef that’s home to abundant marine life, corals and sponges. The wreck is partially collapsed but still offers plenty of fun for divers of all levels.
These are just three of many wrecks and pristine dive sites you can enjoy in the Cayman Islands. Guests of the Westin Grand Cayman can book the dive of their choice with Red Sail Sports, which is located on the premises. Happy diving!
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Seven Mile Beach P.O. Box 30620, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, (1)(345) 945 3800
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