The beautiful coral reefs and pristine waters have made the three island of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman a favorite destination in the Caribbean. For snorkelers, the Caymans islands are, before everything else, home of the most popular and visited snorkeling spots of the region: the world-famous Stingray City, where hundreds of visitors come every day to swim and interact with southern stingrays. But along their coastline, these three islands have much more to offer : wrecks sitting in shallow waters, colorful reefs lying right off white-sand beaches, and even underwater caves immersed in the Caribbean sea.
The best snorkeling spots on Grand Cayman
Grand Cayman is, by far, the largest and the most visited of the three Cayman Islands, and a port-of-call included in a large majority of Caribbean cruise itineraries.
The west coast of Grand Cayman features Seven Mile Beach, the most famous beach of the archipelago, and some of the best snorkeling spots on the island. The Wreck of the Cali, Cemetery Reef (at the north end of Seven Mile Beach), and Coconut Harbor (just north of George Town) are among the best options.
But for the best snorkeling on the island, book a snorkeling tour to the North Sound, a large bay on Northern Grand Cayman. The main attraction in this area is Stingray City, a shallow sandbar where Southern stingrays are found in abundance. Tours to Stingray City usually include snorkeling in some other locations in the North Sound, including Coral Garden, Barrier Reef and Starfish Point.
The best snorkeling spots on Little Cayman and Cayman Brac
The other two islands, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, often called the Sister Islands, are accessible via inter-island flights. For the best snorkeling on Cayman Brac, head to Buccaneer’s Beach and the Wreck of Captain Keith Tibbetts.
Little Cayman has several locations worthy of a visit, with the option for deep water snorkeling off the north coast or shallow water floating off the south coast. Owen Island/Southern Cross Club in South Hole Sound is a great (uncrowded) spot to observe feeding stingrays, as well as see an unusual coralline algal reef structure.
Point of Sand on the eastern end of the island is an idyllic castaway beach, with numerous coral heads just offshore. Look out, in particular, for the groups of inquisitive barracuda.
The Cayman Islands support a variety of coral reefs, seagrass beds and sandbanks. Snorkeling over pleasant coral reef systems, you will spot healthy populations of Caribbean reef fish including wrasse, butterflyfish, angelfish, sergeant majors, and dozens of other species.
Both the green sea turtle and the hawksbill sea turtles are frequently seen in the archipelago’s shallow waters, and encounters with eagle rays and stingrays are common.
If you are planning a snorkeling trip to the Cayman Islands or anywhere else in the Caribbean, we recommend the excellent Reef Fish Identification: Florida Caribbean Bahamas (also available in ebook), the reference guide to ID the fish you will encounter snorkeling the islands.
There are two main seasons in the Cayman Islands. The dry season, from December to April, is the warmest and sunniest season (with an average of 81°F/27°C, July and August being the warmest months).
During the rainy season, from late May to late November, the weather is wetter and more changeable (intermittent tropical rains and sunny spells), and the air is cooler (an average of 72°F/22°C).
Snorkelers should avoid visiting the islands in August and September when tropical storms can churn the waters. Nevertheless, the location of the island in the western part of the Caribbean shields them from being hit too hard by hurricanes.
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Unmissable on the shallow sandbank of Stingray City; frequent sightings at the Coral Garden
Common throughout the islands; often seen in large schools over the reef
Unmissable at Starfish Point; common throughout the islands in sandy and grassy areas
On all spots
On all spots located in coral areas
Shallow sandbank with stingrays
Shallow lagoon with lots of corals and fish
Small island in a shallow lagoon with rays and reef fish
Shallow lagoon with reef fish and occasional sharks and rays
Free shore access
Shallow flat with coral heads, reef fish and barracudas
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