Cayman Brac & Grand Cayman February 2013 Snorkeling Trip Report

Looking down at Captain Tibbetts ship wreck with corals on it in Cayman Brac
Captain Tibbetts, Cayman Brac

By Tom & Jan Turner – (Jamestown, PA)
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.

Brown Boobies on shore, one adult, one all white chic on Cayman Brac
Brown Boobies, Cayman Brac

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 10 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.

Stand of Staghorn coral, with soft corals in front Grand Cayman
Staghorn Coral, North Shore, Grand Cayman

On our seventh day, a cold front moved in from the US, 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 burrfish 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.

Spotted Eagle Ray over coral rubble and sand.
Spotted Eagle Ray, Grand Cayman

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 6-7 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.

Read Tom’s Other Grand Cayman Posts:
2010 Trip Report
2011 Trip Report
2012 Trip Report
2014 Trip Report

Comments Moved From Previous System

Mom and Ruth – Mar 23, 2013 – Fabulous!

Amazing, very interesting.

Tom, I would love to see pictures at each paragraph of all the wonderful things you see. Great account of our trip with you! Love it!

Tammy – Mar 30, 2013 – Been There Twice and Going Again in 2014.

I have to say that Grand Cayman has some of the best snorkeling. There is always tons of colorful fish to see. We’ve spent time at the Cracked Conch which for once had calm waters. A repeat visit for sure. Eden Rock was a fun place to swim out to and see fish amongst the rock coral. Cemetery Beach proved to be nice as well. Plus there is a shower at a beach just up the road from there.

We’ve found a place on the southeast end of the island. I don’t think very many people go there to snorkel as when it is low tide my husband almost drags his belly. But I have taken some really nice up close and personal fish and lobster shots.

Another place not used at the east end is right behind the post office. Cool snorkeling around the rocks (like a maze so remember how to get back out). There you can come face to face with barracudas. We stay at the Marriott so find that area fun and can swim with some big fish. Next year we will drift from there down to The Reef.

I took a photography class at the Sunset House and despite the kinda rough waters, saw some neat fish. We will try the places this post has mentioned. Always up for new adventures.

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