Grand Cayman Waverunner Snorkel Safari
by Cary Bennett
Wreck of the Ten Sail sitting atop the barrier reef
Day 5 - Today on Grand Cayman we did a Waverunner Snorkel Safari.
We spent this day out on the East End after reading more rave reviews about this end of the island. It certainly is gorgeous from the land side of things, and again, the water itself is beautiful! We wanted to get a bit offshore and to see a different part of the island, so, we booked a Wave Runner Snorkel Safari from the Morritt’s Tortuga Resort with Tortuga Divers.
This was a first for us, riding a Wave Runner. Our guide was a very personable and knowledgeable young man from England named Andy, I believe. He and his cute girlfriend were our guides for the trip and it was just the four of us. So, that was nice.
After a brief instruction on how to drive the Wave Runner, we were off and headed south to the area of the wreck of the Ten Sails. It sits atop the reef, however, the wave action on the reef area makes it unsafe for snorkeling, especially since the prevailing winds are coming directly out of the east and southeast and it is open ocean outside the reef and the surf overtops the reef. During a brief stop there we learned about the history of how the entire convoy of ships wound up running aground on the reef. He also told us how Hurricane Ivan sat over the island for 36 hours battering the island and succeeding in lifting the ship’s anchor up from outside the reef and depositing it inside the reef a mile away.
After getting underway again, we passed over and circled the wreck of a 42 foot pleasure yacht that was sunk by it’s owner in an attempt to collect the insurance money on it, however, apparently there was a witness to his actions who reported it and the owner was unsuccessful in his insurance claim. Also, while on our way there, we spotted an Eagle Ray in the water!
From there, we headed a bit further south inside the reef to a spot where there was a mooring buoy. Once we got moored, we pulled on our fins and masks and jumped in and snorkeled a patch of reef, that quite frankly, was not a great depth for snorkeling and there was a fair amount of current. We were a bit disappointed, though, we did see a few interesting things. We saw a Stingray, a really pretty, brilliant orange Starfish, and a particularly colorful Spotted Trunkfish and my first Rock Beauty! There were a couple of nice coral boulder formations in some decent snorkeling depth with some really large and beautiful Sea Fans. Once again, it really did not compare to the reef area at Rum Point. Oh, we also saw the anchor from the Ten Sail that Hurricane Ivan had deposited. We spent an hour snorkeling, then climbed back aboard the Wave Runner and headed back to Morritt’s.
After our snorkel excursion, we had lunch at the café on the dock at Morritt’s, which was a lot of fun and yummy food. The water there at the dock area is teeming with fish, especially Tarpon, Black Drum and Pompano and they are totally unafraid of people and hang around because they get fed. We particularly enjoyed watching the people snorkeling around with them while we ate our lunch.
After eating lunch, we decided to go in and join the fish and swim over and have a look under the dock area. There were literally hundreds of large fish hanging out there, especially Tarpon. They hang out there because there is no reef left, mostly grass beds and sand and this has become an artificial reef of sorts for them.
Once we had our fill of fish watching, we decided to drift snorkel to The Reef Resort just north of Morritt’s. We soon discovered that the current was extremely strong and we never had to kick. The problem was, there was almost no way to hang out and look at something you found that was interesting because you had to turn around and literally fight the current to try to get back to the spot and try to quickly snap a photo as the current is pushing you away again. Very frustrating.
It was a very shallow area of mainly grass beds and some scattered coral rubble and rock. However, I did see the first anemone that I had seen on the island. Once we reached The Reef, we walked back down the beach to Morritt’s, there was no way to swim back!
All in all, it was a nice day, but a bit disappointing, because we had heard so much about the beauty of the East End. I am guessing that the true beauty lies in the deeper water where the divers can go.
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