Snorkeling West Bay And Cemetery Beach On Grand Cayman

by Cary Bennett
(Roswell, GA)

Day 4 - This day we snorkeled West Bay and Cemetery Beach and checked out Smith's Cove.

West Bay is located on the northern end of the western portion of the island. We decided to go give it a try for two reasons: the cruise ships were in port, which meant that driving back south through George Town was going to be pretty crazy and we also had read all of the write ups about how beautiful it is to swim and snorkel there.

Well, we really should know better than to believe the tourism reviews of snorkeling sites by now... turns out that this is a really beautiful beach, but, as for snorkeling there is nothing to see. Stunningly beautiful blue water, sandy bottom and almost no coral at all, and what tiny bit there was had no life around it. Don’t waste your time trying to snorkel there.

The same goes for Smith’s Cove. It is a nice, small, protected area of limestone. We got out of the car, walked out to the swimming area and turned around and got back in the car.

Next we drove to the north shore of this side of the island to snorkel Cemetery Beach. We wound up at the Cobalt Coast Resort and decided to give snorkeling a try there at the Dive Tech Dive Shop. Once again, a ladder entry and exit. Other than this place, there was nowhere to access the water. Too much sharp and jagged coral shore. Again, this was a disappointment. There was nothing to see and no reef to speak of. It was mainly sand and flat rock type terrain with mostly small patchy soft plant growth, algae-like bloom and millions of sea urchins. It is sad to see. We saw them in profusion on the west coast area of the island.

An interesting thing to note about Grand Cayman is that several of the good beaches and at least 2 or 3 good snorkeling sites are located at cemeteries. Not sure why that is.

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Comments for Snorkeling West Bay And Cemetery Beach On Grand Cayman

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Jul 28, 2013
Smith's Cove
by: Tom Turner

In reference to your comments on Smith's Cove. There is a bouy a couple of hundred yards out a little to the left as you stand on the beach at Smith's Cove. This is where the coral is. It is a wonderful spot to snorkel with great coral and lots of fish, and a great spot to chill on the beach after a long snorkel. We have only ever seen sharks twice at Grand Cayman, and one was a lemon shark at this reef. I am enjoying your trip reports. Thanks for taking the time to post them.

Jul 29, 2013
Well drat!
by: Cary Bennett

Thanks Tom. Wish I had read more thoroughly before going to Smith's Cove. Sounds like we missed out on some good snorkeling!

Aug 23, 2013
Snorkeling Cemetery Beach
by: Matt

I think there may be a couple of different "Cemetery" beaches on the west side of the island.

We had a great time at a beach that we took to be "the" Cemetery Beach that's on the northern segment of Seven Mile Beach (see the map on Testudo's blog). The entry was very easy: you park across the street from the eponymous cemetery and walk a short (40yd) sandy path that runs along the side of the cemetery to Seven Mile Beach, which affords super-easy entry.

About 100 yards out from the beach, there are a large number of boulders covered with coral spread across a few hundred yards parallel to the shore. Much of the coral is in pretty good shape, and it's all pretty shallow. We saw a wide variety of life out there, including grunts, snapper, wrasses, chubs, sergeant major, tang, surgeonfish, four species of parrotfish, two species of angelfish, squid, porgies, a lobster, Spanish Hogfish, trunkfish, needlefish, coney, squirrelfish, and probably others I've forgotten.

Conditions were good. The ocean was pretty calm both days we were there. The first day the visibility was the best we've ever experienced anywhere. The second day, which was cloudy and immediately followed a rainstorm, the visibility was worse, but still at least average. The only downside to this site is that people seem to have fed the fish here, which has made some of the chubs a bit aggressive in asking for food.

Sep 30, 2013
Smith Cove and Cemetery Beach
by: nitro

I did both last year and they were both great snorkel spots. From the Smith Cove parking lot and looking straight out of the cove, you won't see anything but clear blue water. Once you get to the water and look to the left, that's where you can see the reef.

Jan 31, 2015
Cemetery Beach is a good one
by: Kevin E

Cemetery Beach is definitely worthwhile - you just need to find the good spot for the reef. There's a walkway to the right/north of the cemetery. Once you arrive at the beach, to your right is a large yellow house. Next to that is a mocha colored house with a long green hedge in front. If you stand at the far left/south end of the green hedge, you should swim straight out from there. It's likely a good 200 yards or more to the good coral, but you'll know it when you see it - very large - numerous fish - excellent.

Aug 13, 2015
Snorkeling At Cemetery Beach
by: Anonymous

We also did great snorkeling at Cemetery Beach. Of course, you need to go at least 100-200 feet out from shore and look around to find good spots. I was with my kids and we saw nurse sharks, turtles and a lot of fishes. I guess you snorkeled to close to the shore... The same for Smith's Cove...

Sep 13, 2015
Where did you snorkel?
by: Hero Scott

We were at Smith Cove today (Spetember, 12, 2015) and saw many of things at the reef left of the beach. Spotts Beach is another beach is good place to snorkel if you want to see a sea turtle. We were there yesterday (September 11, 2015) and it was magic.

Governor Russells Beach in Bodden Town, our local beach, is good for snorkeling. Two days straight we saw a shoal of fish schooling. The amount of fish that were schooling could fill a massive passenger ship. It was frightening but beautiful. It was 30 meteres from the shore. Governor Russels Beach is worh trying for snorkeling.

Rum Point is good for snorkeling if you take the stingray trip and then go out to the reef to snorkel. It was a gem.

Tomorrow (Spetember 13, 2015) we will be going to Cemetery Beach to see what is there.

Sep 13, 2015
Snorkeled at Cemetery Beach and Loved It
by: Hero Scott

I snorkeled Cemetery Beach today (September 13, 2015) and saw all sorts of fish; big, small and tiny. One has to go out far to hit the reefs. The water is very deep and if you are not a good swimmer or the scary type, you shouldn't go out there. The water was crystal clear and frightening at times.

Dec 20, 2017
Spotts Turtles
by: Cactus Kurt

150 feet off the pier: we also did great snorkeling at Cemetery Beach. Of course, you need to go at least 100-200 feet out from shore and look around to find good spots. I was with my kids and we saw nurse sharks, turtles and a lot of fishes. I guess you snorkeled too close to the shore... The same for Smith's Cove... This guy was exactly right.

Feb 05, 2018
Cemetery Beach
by: Anonymous

I just snorkeled here yesterday and it was as close to a dive I’ve experienced. I usually scuba dive with Deep Blue Divers which is great but I needed more. My girlfriend and I rode bikes from the Kimpton to Cemetery Beach.

You definitely need to swim out there but the snorkeling is excellent. Saw some much life. Highlights were finding a nurse shark and seeing a large barracuda. Otherwise the rock formations (fingers) were teeming with life and activity.

This is probably the best snorkeling I’ve done. Highly recommend it. As I’ve said, I’m a diver but this fits the bill just fine too.

Jan 22, 2020
Change Initial Review
by: Anonymous

I agree with many of the comments, so maybe the initial review should be taken down or changed... although it has declined over the decades, there is still coral and life at West Bay Cemetery reef, you just need to swim out to it. There's a white cylindrical marker out there that says "200 yd" on it... I assume that means 200 yards and shows you that it's a ways to the good stuff. Yes, nearer in to shore it's mostly sandy flats and I think that's what the writer visited.

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