Snorkeling in the Cayman Islands

After experiencing snorkeling for the first time in Key West in 2022, I was hooked. There’s an entire world just a few feet underwater! I knew this conceptually but didn’t truly grasp how accessible that world is–all it takes is a mask and a tube for air.

As special as Key West was, I was intrigued by the prospect of snorkeling in some clear blue water. As it turns out, the blueness of the water doesn’t actually matter all that much for snorkeling; visibility is much more about how much the ocean floor is stirred up by currents and what fish are drawn to.

Fortunately, there were an abundance of amazing places to snorkel in Grand Cayman. I’ll go through them photo by photo:

Most of our snorkeling was casual and free, but we also paid for two excursions to places we can’t access from the shore. One of those adventures took us to Stingray City, which is a really shallow area in the middle of the Caribbean where stingrays love to hang out. There were a lot of people here, but the tours seemed to treat the stingrays with respect and love. We were able to feed and touch them–they feel like big Portobello mushrooms!

There’s also a big place focused on hatching sea turtles and introducing them into the wild at different ages. There were turtles of all shapes and sizes here–including some bigger than me–and we were allowed to swim around in an area with some adolescent turtles. They are even more beautiful in person than in photos, especially the patterns on their faces. It was adorable to see them scratching their bellies and backs on coral.

I was really hoping we could snorkel at our vacation property’s beach, and there was one calm, clear day when that was possible. The water is shallow and clear quite far off shore, and we spent hours swimming with fish. I can’t emphasize enough how amazing it is to be a spectator (and a participant, if invited) in this underwater world. There were schools of fish all around, fish busy going about their business eating and playing, and a group of fish who were very curious about us and genuinely seemed to want to hang out. We also saw a stingray here, which was incredible, along with some barracuda, who did not want anything to do with us.

One amazing place you can drive to on the far eastern tip of Grand Cayman is a starfish cove. This was part of our boating excursion–you can get there by water too. There we saw the biggest starfish I’ve ever encountered. We were very careful to keep them under the surface of the water, as they can “drown” quickly if you expose them to air. The tour group encouraged us to look for the starfish and bring them (carefully to the shallows); we only had a short time there, but I could have swam around for hours looking for these incredible creatures.

Here we are at Cemetery Beach, which we heard was a great snorkeling location. It was indeed amazing–pretty similar to the best day at our vacation property beach, but better. We also tried to go to other recommended spots, but it was pretty windy while we were there, which makes calmly swimming and floating on the surface difficult.

We also took a night swim! I had no idea what to expect from this. Basically, we took a small boat into a cove where you can float around in bioluminescent algae that are activated by friction. It was quite trippy–we were all completely sober, yet we literally spent around 30 minutes floating around and moving our hands in front of our faces.

I have so many happy memories from the snorkeling, and I look forward to the next opportunity to hang out underwater with some amazing aquatic friends. Have you had a great experience with snorkeling?

2 thoughts on “Snorkeling in the Cayman Islands”

  1. Jamey,

    For about ten years, my daughter and I traveled to Mexico ~ Cancun specifically, for a period of ten days. We enjoyed the all-inclusive hotel and resort, but more so, we enjoyed the day trips to places such as Xel’Ha, Tulum, and Chichen Itza. Among these trips, we would often take side trips to a beach, pack onto a boat, and head to sea. It was on these excursions, where I slathered on the SPF 500 as I’m quite pale and enjoy an hour or so of snorkeling…witnessing different fish and sea flora.

    Cheers,
    Joe

    Reply

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