Snorkeling Cayman Brac & Grand Cayman, Feb. 3 through 19, 2013
by Tom & Jan Turner
Captain Tibbetts, Cayman Brac
This year, as part of our annual trek to Grand Cayman, we were able to spend the first week snorkeling Cayman Brac. This was our first time to go to the Brac, and we had a wonderful time. We split the Sea Dreams Villa with my sister and her husband, and were well taken care of by Lynne and George. They are wonderful hosts.
On our first day, the water was rough, so we decided to try getting in at Buccaneers Cut. We heard that it was a good spot when rough. Because of the weather, we were not able to go out very far, but we were entertained by the coral and fish that were present. Nothing out of the ordinary, but a good snorkel.
We were able to snorkel twice a day for the six days that we had on Cayman Brac. We snorkeled Radar Reef, Lynne's Reef, Berts Boulders, and the Aquarium. We saw great coral, great colors, and scads of fish. Berts Boulders is at the far east end of the island, where the road ends because the bluff comes out to the water. A swim that we really enjoyed and did several times, was to go in at Berts Boulders and swim east following the coral, but also swimming out along the bluff. We got some very interesting pictures of the bluff from water level. The Aquarium really had a tremendous population of fish. We saw the normal reef fish, grunts, snapper and parrotfish, but lots and lots of them. We really enjoyed the Aquarium.
We had an opportunity to do a night snorkel at Radar Reef. We saw nothing really out of the ordinary, but it was a nice swim and things are always different at night. There is something in the water for the first ten nights after the full moon. I forget what it is called, but if you blink your flashlight several times, then turn your light off, you get all these things blinking back at you.
We were also able to go back to Buccaneers Cut and swim out to the Captain Tibbetts, which is a sunken Russian military ship. This was very interesting in that it is a pretty big ship and has been there long enough to have pretty good coral and sponges on it.
Cayman Brac has a nice walking trail along the brac (bluff), where Brown Boobies nest and raise their young. We took a hike along the bluff and saw numerous boobies, one with a chick that was almost as big as the mother(?). There are also a lot of caves in the brac. We enjoyed checking several of them out.
On our seventh day, a cold front moved in from the States, and brought huge, crashing waves all along the north shore. This was the day that we moved over to Grand Cayman, so we really would not have had a chance to snorkel anyway. Whereas we thoroughly enjoyed our stay on Cayman Brac, the snorkeling is substantially better at Grand Cayman, so we were looking forward to the move.
Monday and Tuesday morning turned out to be too rough to try to snorkel on Grand Cayman, but Tuesday afternoon we could get in at Colliers and I had the curious experience of having a burr fish play with me. I was kind of following him, and after a short while, he turned, swam directly for me and came up about two feet from my face and looked at me, then turned and swam away. He did this four or five times, and then he left for good. Never had that happen before. Besides all the regular coral and fish, also saw a Spotted Snake Eel and some sort of crab.
On Wednesday, we did a three hour drift snorkel from the Sea Lodges to Rum Point. This was a great swim with some of the best coral that we have seen in the Cayman Islands. The abundance of fish for most of the trip was great, and we had the best close-up encounter that we have ever had with a Spotted Eagle Ray. They always seem to be in really deep water, but we came across this one in six feet of water. Also came across a Green Moray Eel along the way and saw the best stand of Staghorn Coral that we have seen in the Caymans.
We spent Thursday and Friday snorkeling around Morritts, where we stay. We did a drift snorkel from the public beach to the beach at Morritts. Also, did a lot of paddling around the area and the dock. There is some really nice soft coral just off from the Morritts beach. We always enjoy touring this area. Saw a lot of the standard stuff, but did see Snook (which seem to be pretty rare), and Palometa, which we had never seen in Cayman before.
We went on a dive boat to snorkel at Sunset Reef. We had never been there before because you need to get there in a boat. It was a great reef and a great swim. Saw lots of good coral and fish. I will definitely make this a regular spot in the future.
We did a short night snorkel off of the Morritts beach. First thing upon entering the water, we saw a six or seven foot Nurse Shark under the dock, in shallow water. Regardless of the kind, sharks are always a rush. During the swim, we saw a Spotted Moray Eel, Banded Coral Shrimp, which we have never seen before, and a thing that I think was a Sea Hare, it looked like a big, kind of ridgy, slug.
On Saturday, we did a three hour drift snorkel from Eden Rock to Smith's Cove. This has become one of our very enjoyable, regular swims. We found the mermaid this time, and also found a small ship wreck just beyond the mermaid. We swam around a British war vessel that was fueling up at the fuel tanks that are along the way, and we swam by a submarine while it was transferring passengers from the submarine to the boat that delivers the people. That was a strange occurrence. Finally, we saw three turtles along the way. We had a great time and enjoyed it thoroughly.
We spent the last two days, Sunday and Monday, snorkeling at Turtle Point, Cobalt Coast and Eden Rock. We saw several Electric Rays, lots of big Tarpon, numerous Porcupinefish, a bunch of big Midnight Parrotfish, several scorpionfish, a small turtle, and an octopus in shallow water. It let us watch it for quite a while, and did not seem concerned. Of course, the coral and sponges are always beautiful and great to view.
In closing, we had another great time in the Cayman Islands, and we look forward to the next time that we can go.