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Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Grand diving on the big island

Little Cayman was very nice place to dive, we had a great place to stay and valet diving as well (which I personally can't get used to just because I'm used to doing everything myself) but it was very, very quiet and amazingly expensive if you decide to buy groceries from the only shop on the island. After a lot of dives and even more cocktails we moved over to Grand Cayman.
Coming in for a landing....
The big island has a bit more of a vibrant feel to it but still very, very laid back. We stayed on the East End of the island which is remote and quiet but you could still drive to civilization if you wanted a bit of fun. We had a great appartment overlooking the beach and just 5 metres from the sea and less than a minute from the jetty as well.
"Anchors away me hearties!"
Apart from the first day, the winds were relatively gusty running ENE which meant we were diving mainly on the South side of the island which was fine as the diving there was as good as on the North and East sides.
"That's it, work those flippers, love the camera!"
Normal script for the day would be wall dive followed by shallow dive on or near the hardpan, with occassional swim throughs and caves. Turltes were in plentiful supply along with jacks, groupers, grunts, rays and the occassional carribbean or reef shark making an appearance.
Stunning scenery
Even without the marine life, the walls and reefs are covered in an explosion of colours to keep the most ardent of photographers happily gurgling away in their regulators.
Sponges, corals and colour
My only slight disappointment is the lack of little critters such as nudibranchs. There is small stuff to see but not not on the scale as you would find in the Red Sea, Indonesia or Philippenes but then I expected this. Still it was a fun challenge to find what small stuff there was and shoot it in strong surge.
Found one!
The boat crews were primarily Brits, Americans and the odd Canadian and were very laid back about the whole thing. If you didn't want guiding, you can do your own thing which is exactly what we did and as long as we didn't kick the arse out out of the deco, they were more than happy to let us stay down for as long as we wanted. My kind of diving!
Once more unto the deep....
Grand Cayman itself isn't massively huge and you can drive round it in a couple of hours easily but thats not the point, it's the whole vibe and lifestyle that really makes you feel like you want to just not bother going back home. That and some excellent food and cocktails!
Flamingo tongue cowrie hanging around the reef
The quality of the diving is excellent and we were well looked after and catered for by Ocean Frontiers, especially the desk staff for who nothing was too much trouble to arrange. One of the best dives we had was the second to last on Jack McKinneys. 
Come to daddy....
Right from the start we had a black tip shadowing us soon joined by a couple of caribbean reefs. All through the dive they were getting comfortable with our presence and getting closer and more inquisitive. Had I ten more minutes of gas they would have been right up for a good nose but alas it was not to be.
No, not that way, this way!
Ah, well, there's always next time. The lads did say that shark encounters were a bit of a rarity and we were extremly lucky on the dive, so I can't complain really. Another day for another dive as my granny always said.
Red Reef crab on a sponge
Stay tuned for our last dive of the holiday at Stingray City. It's going to be a corker!