Monday, July 19, 2010

Trip Report: Kirsteen in the Cayman Islands

In May 2010 I visited the Cayman Islands on a trip organised by the Cayman Islands Tourist Office. We flew from London Heathrow (T5) with British Airways and after a short transit in Nassau (Bahamas) we arrived in Grand Cayman on a hot and sunny Saturday evening. Upon leaving the airport we stopped at the wharf in George Town for a look at the Cayman Aggressor. Whilst the crew were briefing the new passengers before they set off for their 7 night itinerary, I had a quick nosey around the boat.

The
Cayman Aggressor is a 33m dive yacht, built and powered for comfort, safety and stability. Sleeping up to 18 guests, the accommodation on board includes one master stateroom with queen bed and en suite shower room; six deluxe staterooms with double and single beds and en suite shower rooms and two twin staterooms with single beds and shared shower room. All have individual climate control and TV/DVD. The Cayman Aggressor IV has a beautiful lounge; spacious partially shaded sun deck with chaise lounges and deck chairs; a bar, hot tub and grill; a complete photo centre and video editing room.

Next we headed to the East End, to
Compass Point Dive Resort. Due to its remote location car hire is recommended if you are staying on this side of the island. Driving on Grand Cayman is not a stressful experience as the roads are fairly quiet and most roads have a 30kmh speed limit. Compass Point Dive Resort offers well-equipped, spacious, 1 or 2 bedroom self-catering apartments. The resort also has a small swimming pool and plans are afoot to build a bar. The resort has bikes available for rental.

Compass Point Dive Resort is located on a small sandy beach. The diving is operated by Ocean Frontiers who offer morning and afternoon boat dives from the resort. On our first morning we dived at Lighthouse Wall and Ironshore Gardens on Ocean Frontiers boat, Eastern Skies. The water was calm, clear and teeming with marine life.

In the evening we drove to Rum Point where we joined Cayman Kayaks for a spectacular ‘bioluminescence’ kayaking trip. Bioluminescence, or light created by plants and creatures, occurs all over the world but rarely in such spectacular concentration. We plunged our hands and feet into the sea and watched tiny spangles of light illuminate our skin. It was a fascinating experience and something I would recommend to any visitor to Grand Cayman.

The following day was all about the diving. Our first stop was Babylon Reef. Here the hanging gardens are made up of dangling soft corals, massive sponges and thick forests of black coral. It's breathtaking drifting down through deep dark canyons and to then reach the top of the reef on the wall, gazing into the big blue. Here, visibility is incredible, pelagic fish abound with hardly any other divers in sight. Next up was Chub Hole, a site known for schools of Bermuda Chub and also full of Canyons, archways and tunnels.

We enjoyed lunch at the
Reef Resort and we had the opportunity to have a nosey at the apartments within this resort. Like Compass Point Dive Resort, the apartments are well-equipped and spacious. Guests can choose whether they wish to stay on an all-inclusive, bed & breakfast or self-catering basis. If you choose self-catering you’ll find a supermarket conveniently located just opposite to the resort. This resort is much bigger than Compass Point and is more of a resort which offers diving rather than a ‘dive resort’ which makes it a great choice if you have a non-diving partner or for families.

After 2 nights at the Compass Point Dive Resort we moved closer to George Town.
Sunset House is a hotel for divers by divers, with 55 rooms, a restaurant, bar and swimming pool. The on-site dive centre, Sunset Divers, offer 2-tank morning boat dives from the slipway on the property and you can also take an unlimited shore diving package. We dived with Sunset Divers on Sun Ray, and visited Blackies Hole & Devils Grotto.


The next day we headed off to Lighthouse Point on the North West point of Grand Cayman, just north of Seven Mile Beach. Lighthouse Point is Cayman's first eco-development with solar and wind power and an environmentally friendly water management system. Lighthouse Point offers nine 2-bedroom oceanfront apartments each with its own large private balcony. The diving is operated by Divetech, who have been providing quality dive services to divers visiting Grand Cayman since 1994. Lighthouse Point offers shore diving. The reef system is abundant with marine life, sponges and coral reefs and is well marked for divers navigation.

Perhaps the most famous attraction in the Cayman Islands is Stingray City. Today we had the opportunity to dive the nearby shallows known as ‘The Sandbar’ in the North Sound which provide the only natural area in the world to swim with more than to dozen Atlantic Southern stingrays that enjoy the company of humans. Our 45 minute dive with these amazing creatures was a truly unforgettable experience.

During our time on Grand Cayman we also visited Pedro St James and Mission House to get an understanding of the history of the Cayman Islands. Our visit to these historic houses was followed by a walk around Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park where we had the opportunity to see the Blue Iguana breeding program.

After 5 days on Grand Cayman we took a short flight to Little Cayman. Bloody Bay Wall is the main attraction here but unfortunately due to flight schedules and the BA strike we were unable to dive at Bloody Bay Wall. We visited Little Cayman Beach Resort which is located on a white-sandy beach, bordered by the reef of South Hole Sound.

Then we returned to Grand Cayman for our return flight to the UK. I thoroughly enjoyed my week in the Cayman Islands and I would recommend it as a perfect destination for divers of all levels who want to dive in calm, clear and warm waters which are teeming with marine life and colourful corals.

If you are thinking of planning a holiday to the Cayman Islands
I will be more than happy to share my experiences with you.
Drop me a line sales@diveworldwide.com or call me 0845 130 6980

Thank you for taking the time to read my trip report, I look forward to helping you with your holiday planning!

2 comments:

William Boyd said...

Lovely post, keep it up, I like the sound of the place, the photographs are lively. Reminded me of my dating days. I love to go there, but have no idea when, i wonder if any of you can help me to find a online cayman guide.

Dive
Worldwide
ATOL - 10544
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said...

Thanks William.
It's a fantastic place, especially underwater. Dive Worldwide can arrange your holiday to the Cayman Islands. Get in touch on sales@diveworldwide.com

The Tourist Board has a comprehensive website about the destination. Have a look.
http://www.caymanislands.co.uk/