By Tom Turner – (Jamestown, Pennsylvania)
We made our yearly trek for snorkeling Grand Cayman a little late this year. We prefer to go when it is still really winter in Pennsylvania. We snorkeled every day of our trip, usually twice a day, and a couple of days with three. The great thing about Grand Cayman is that almost anywhere from shore has stuff to see, and the water is always great.
We went to all of our favorite spots, Eden Rock and Devils Grotto, the marine sanctuary off of Rum Point, Conch Point across from the turtle farm, East End at Colliers, Connolly’s Cove by the Queens Monument, Heritage Beach (that I call Lobster City). We have snorkeled Cheeseburger Reef in the past, but never went all the way out to the end of the coral heads. They are just as big and magnificent as Eden Rock and Devils Grotto if you get all the way out. Sometimes boat traffic is a little heavy, so we never went all the way out before.
We swam with numerous turtles over the two weeks. We have found that if you follow them from a little distance until they come up for air, and then glide up along them, they will usually let you swim within a couple of feet from them watching from the side. After following a turtle for about 20 minutes, I did have an overzealous diver come flying up from below as we were swimming along with the turtle and scare it off.
We got to do a snorkel that we have talked about for several years. We went in at Eden Rock, which is right downtown at the main port where the cruise ships park. The currents were good, so we headed south and west and swam along the coral heads down to a very popular swimming spot called Smith’s Cove. It is probably a couple of miles, and we spent 3 hours 15 minutes making the trek. We just lolly-gagged along with the current checking out anything that we would see along the way. It was great.
We were able to try night snorkeling on two separate occasions this year. The first time was in 10-12 feet of water with occasional small coral heads. Almost every coral head had things out around it that you never see during the day.
We saw a couple of Spotted Moray Eels, sea worms that would be 3-4 feet long, and shrink up to less than a foot when they saw you, slipper lobsters that I had no idea what they were until after, lots of regular spiny lobsters running around on the bottom, a gigantic crab of some sort, it kind of looked like a rock crab, but was different color, and it probably would cover the bottom of a bushel basket. A huge hermit crab that was carrying around a large conch shell. All kinds of little things that were attracted by the lights.
The second night snorkel was in big coral heads at Eden Rock, and we saw very little. Everything that you see in the day was in for the night, and we saw no odd sea creatures at all. It was really kind of a disappointment.
Another different sight that we encountered in Grand Cayman this year was a pretty big Spotted Moray Eel curled up in a coral head, and an octopus that was really startled to see us (not often do you see an octopus out and about during the day).
This has been a lot of stories about the strange things that we saw, but most of our snorkeling had the beautiful corals and reef fish that you see everywhere and never get tired of. We did see gigantic parrotfish at both Conch Point and along South Sound. They can really get quite large.
We really enjoy our trips to Grand Cayman. We have a trip scheduled to St. Maarten in November. We have never been there, but hear that the snorkeling is great. We will find out.
Read Tom’s Other Grand Cayman Posts:
2010 Trip Report
2012 Trip Report
2013 Grand Cayman & Cayman Brac Trip Report
2014 Trip Report
Comments Moved From Previous System
Galen & Nicole – Apr 14, 2011 – Fun Times!
Thanks for sharing that story. Your first night snorkel sounded super fun. We can’t wait to go.
Kate – May 28, 2014 – Night Snorkel
Where was the first night snorkel described? Is there a night snorkel tour you can recommend? Because we are a little scared to try night snorkeling. Thanks.
Tom Turner – May 29, 2014 – Night Snorkel
Hi Kate. The night snorkel as described in the post took place on the east end of the island. As you are heading east along the south shore road, after you go past Gun Bay, there is a small public beach on the right. We went in at this public beach and drift snorkeled east/north with the current for about a mile or so and got out at the Morritt’s Resort.
There is a barrier reef out beyond where you snorkel, so you can’t go out too far, it gets too shallow. Just pop up every now and then and keep an eye on the lights on shore to help keep your bearings.
You do need to get out at the Morritt’s Resort. Go down to the resort while it is still light, park in the parking area and walk out onto the beach so that you can see the location and situation. They have a dock bar/restaurant, you want to get out of the water just before the dock.
This dock, by the way, is a great place to see fish, lots of them. Just beyond the resort is a major cut in the reef, and there is always a strong current going out through the cut.
I am not aware of anyone that offers a night snorkel excursion, but there probably is one if you are not comfortable doing it on your own. With the reef, the shore lights, and Morritt’s as the exit (which you can not miss), if you are an avid snorkeler with a lot of experience, I don’t think you need to worry about the area. I think that it is very safe.
Have fun and enjoy.
Fred – Jan 24, 2018 – Try Snorkeling to Coral Gardens
We’ve been going to GC for several years and I’ve snorkeled most of the well known shore spots. I haven’t tried the Cracked Conch. The waves there always seem a bit too much for me.
However, the best snorkeling I’ve seen was when taking the trip to Coral Gardens as part of the trip to Stingray City. Last year (2/2017) we were on a trip that went from Stingray City to the reef. That was even better than Coral Gardens.
If you haven’t been to GC, you want to go to Stingray City anyway, so just make sure your tour does snorkeling too.
Susan – Feb 21, 2018 – Thank You
I’m so glad to hear about Coral Gardens. We’re going to Grand Cayman in April on a cruise and their excursion is Stingray City (which I heard is a must) then Coral Gardens and Barrier Reef. We thought about going on our own but we can get the tender boats quicker if we do RC excursions so… thank you for your input.