Recent Experience Shore Snorkeling Grand Cayman?

By Kim Smith

Can anyone share information about their recent experience shore snorkeling Grand Cayman? I recently returned from Curaçao (awesome by the way) and am now considering Grand Cayman or Cozumel for my next adventure. I have not seen any recent information posted about how the snorkeling is in Grand Cayman. Can anybody share a few insights? I prefer to snorkel from shore without a boat trip.

Thanks so much fellow snorkelers!

6 Comments

  1. Not recent, but we went 4 years ago and really enjoyed it. It was a unique place. There was some good shore snorkeling, including a couple shipwrecks. It was really cool to swim over a ship and see fish swimming in and out of the vessel. Our favorite was the Cali, which is completely submerged so you can snorkel over it rather than around it.

    Cemetery Beach, Governors Beach and Cheeseburger are all easy access.

    We loved Eden Rock/Devils Grotto. It is right in town where the cruise ships are, so I wasn’t too excited about it. We decided to try it and I was so glad we did. There is some amazing deeper water snorkeling with great terrain and beautiful underwater scenery along with huge coral reefs. It ended up being one of our favorite snorkel sites.

    Another fun place was at a diving bar restaurant called Maca Buca/Cracked Conch. I love beach side restaurants that cater to divers and snorkelers. We saw huge tarpons there. They were a little intimidating until I got used to them!

    Rum Point is great; beach shack vibe with lots of snorkeling. Folks often rent kayaks and head out to Boulder Gardens, and Rum Point Barrier Reef is nice.

    While Grand Cayman isn’t exactly pretty, it has a lot to offer. There is a night trip to the Bioluminescent Bay that is spectacular. They have a nice group of large caves in the greener part of the island that offer tours. The stingray experience is touristy, but it was so cool to see so many swimming around us and even letting us stroke them.

    I know you said you weren’t as interested in a boat tour, but we hired a private 20′ boat (typical ski boat) for a half day and toured the big bay (North Sound) in the interior of the island and it was spectacular. We made several stops and it was one of our best snorkeling experiences, ever.

    We have also been to Cozumel, and loved it for variety of fish and easy access from ironstone. However, that was 11 years ago and I know there has been some damage since then, though I hear it has been making a comeback. We loved the laid back vibe, felt very safe walking to the town square in the evenings from our resort, and the beach bars. We even considered looking at buying a small place because we enjoyed it so much. FYI- we went during off season, which was very warm, but it wasn’t very crowded. It was well worth it.

    We have also been to Tobago, Baja, Hawaii, and some small French Polynesian islands. FP is one of our favorites. We really need to look into one of the Indonesia trips on this site. It’s on my bucket list.

    Whichever place you choose, it will be great. Better than working or sitting at home!

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  2. Check out Testudo’s Snorkel Guide. Tripadvisor’s longtime snorkeling contributor to the Grand Cayman board writes that snorkel blog with a large amount of info!

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  3. Hi Kim, I just returned from Grand Cayman (April 6-12, 2024). I stayed in the area of Rum Point, away from the crowds on Seven Mile Beach. I do not do well on boats (motion sickness) so the entire week was spent going in from shore to snorkel.

    The usual spots were still really good (Cemetery Beach and Governor’s Beach on the Seven Mile Side) and I saw a ton of turtles on a morning swim at Spotts Beach.

    There are plenty of areas on the north side (up near Rum Point) that are not nearly as crowded as Spotts, Cemetery, etc and the snorkeling was just as impressive. We saw turtles, sharks, and rays, as well as a variety of fish. There were turtles, a barracuda and many other fish just off from the beach at Rum Point and it is well marked and not a very long swim if you are accustomed to heading out (75-100 yards or so).

    There were other spots a little further east from Rum Point on the north side including a place called “Barefoot Beach.” It isn’t well marked and you have to park either on the side of the road or there is a little cutaway that can fit a few cars. There was no one else there (save for an occasional beach walker from a resort up a bit) and there isn’t a ton of “beach front” but enough to drop your stuff and head into the water. Looking out from shore, the best reefs are off to the right about 100-150 yards. It can get a little dicey at low tide if you aren’t careful, you can easily end up on the outer side of the reef and the current is heavier (not sweep you away heavy, but “man this is a pain to swim against” heavy) than the inner reef.

    Smith’s Reef was on the south side of the island and was a solid spot for fish and reefs as well.

    There is a lot of “bleach out” in all of the spots, but it was certainly worth the trip.

    I rented a car to get to all the places and would recommend doing the same. You can stay in a condo on the north end near Rum Point for a heck of a lot cheaper than the hotels on Seven Mile Beach. It’s about a 45 minute drive or so from Rum Point to Cemetery Beach and you have to navigate driving on the left and negotiate round-abouts, but if you have a good navigator, it’s a piece of cake!

    I’m happy to answer any other questions you might have.

    I’ve been to Aruba, Curacao (great choice by the way, loved it there), Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, Turks and Caicos (another favorite) and Roatan (my opinion, the best snorkeling off the beach I’ve had) as well as others. Grand Cayman would rank easily in my top 3. I think for cost/snorkeling I’d go Roatan at the top (West Bay is fantastic), Turks and Caicos second, and then Grand Cayman third.

    Good luck and again, reach out!

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  4. I’ve been snorkeling Grand Cayman for years. I last went in 2023. There are lots of good places, although like the rest of the world, getting bleached out or impacted by hurricanes.

    East shore snorkeling is pretty good, although just around town is also nice. I pretty much do mainly shore snorkeling at the east end there are several spots. As mentioned above, Testudo’s is a fantastic online guide.

    The waters in Grand Cayman are generally very calm so really a delight.

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  5. Hi. We just had a week on Grand Cayman. We’re totally newbie snorkelers and not adventurous yet. All our time was on the east and north sides, away from cruise-ships and 7-mile beach. The shorelines can be rocky, and there is lots of turtle grass extending yards off shore; consequently, there are lots of shallow areas – you could likely walk out at least 100 yards in many areas.

    Old Man’s Bay is shallow, but we met folks who were experienced snorkelers who went out past the turtle grass and liked what they saw. Rum Point on the north side has a lot of local turtles. Barracuda, tarpon, and stingrays swim close to shore, like in 2 feet of water. We saw 3 sharks swim up to shore as well (likely nurse or reef).

    Numerous folks felt the abundance of shore creatures has markedly diminished.

    Sorry I can’t comment on snorkeling farther offshore.

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