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Grand Cayman is great for divers seeking familiar surroundings:
it's Americanized and crowded, with traffic, Burger Kings, Ramadas, and Hyattsand
it's expensive.... There are a seemingly endless number of safe and well-organized
dive operations; depth and time limits are generally enforced, with some operations
showing leniency to experienced divers (though others charge for special computer
dives).... Avoid prepaying a dive package so that if you're disappointed with
cattle boats or site selection you can switch to someone else.... Dive quality
is declining due to development, and Seven Mile Beach reefs are beaten up. To
beat crowds, endless youths, and Cayman Cowboys, stay on the North side, the
East End (for the best diving), or north of Seven Mile Beach.... Brac diving
is not up to the best of Cayman, but it's more laid back than Grand Cayman,
and Brac outfits make frequent trips to Little Cayman from April to November;
rough water often prevents trips at other times.... For Caribbean walls, clear
water, and beautiful reefs, Little Cayman is nonpareil; a dozen dive boats a
day can visit a two-mile stretch. The water's under 80 in the winter, when days
can be cool, and in the low 80s in summer.... The Cayman Islands are in the
Grand Cayman is great for divers seeking familiar surroundings: it's Americanized and crowded, with traffic, Burger Kings, Ramadas, and Hyattsand it's expensive.... There are a seemingly endless number of safe and well-organized dive operations; depth and time limits are generally enforced, with some operations showing leniency to experienced divers (though others charge for special computer dives).... Avoid prepaying a dive package so that if you're disappointed with cattle boats or site selection you can switch to someone else.... Dive quality is declining due to development, and Seven Mile Beach reefs are beaten up. To beat crowds, endless youths, and Cayman Cowboys, stay on the North side, the East End (for the best diving), or north of Seven Mile Beach.... Brac diving is not up to the best of Cayman, but it's more laid back than Grand Cayman, and Brac outfits make frequent trips to Little Cayman from April to November; rough water often prevents trips at other times.... For Caribbean walls, clear water, and beautiful reefs, Little Cayman is nonpareil; a dozen dive boats a day can visit a two-mile stretch. The water's under 80 in the winter, when days can be cool, and in the low 80s in summer.... The Cayman Islands are in the hurricane belt.
Brac Aquatics/Brac Caribbean Village, July 1997, Rick Heydel, Brentwood, TN. Best accommodations on Brac for the money. Kitchen, living room, oceanfront (all units), A/C. Food good but would not do meal plan if I returned. . . . Brac Aquatics has dive shop on premises. Boats were down so they borrowed from Tiara. Divemasters bored, service dropped off a little each day, but overall good. Mucky shallow channel shore dive not worth it. Two trips to Little Cayman; diving better there but gone from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Tibbetts wreck is photogenic. Reefs on Brac average, fish somewhat sparse, no big stuff. Night shore dive at Radar Reef-best marine life of trip. Vis: 70-100 ft. Water: 83-85 degrees. Depth limit suggested 100 ft. Lots of dive freedom. (Brac Caribbean Village, Ph: 345-948-2265, Fax: 345-948-1111,
Brac Aquatics, January 1998, Cos Westrick, Colorado Springs, CO. Wonderful resort and service. Beautiful area. Diving was good, though visibility wasn't ideal. Vis: 40-50 ft, water: 72-78 degrees. Dive operation superb! Cayman Airways not so good. (Ph: 813-962-2236, Fax: 813-264-2742)
Brac Reef Resort, August 1997, Ted Powers, Stuart, FL. Calm and flat on the leeward side of the island. Didn't dive one side of the island because it was choppy. Water 84 to 86, visibility was 100 to 200 ft. On the walls they limited the depth to 110 ft and usually a time constraint of about 50 minutes. Flew Cayman Air to Grand Cayman from Miami (9:00 pm), 40 minutes overlay at Grand Cayman, then to Cayman Brac at 11:30 pm (didn't have to change planes). Allowed one carry on bag and 2 bags (75lbs/bag). $12.50 US/person for departure tax when leaving. Transportation was provided to and from the resort to the airport. They had midnight snacks while we checked in and filled out dive shop papers. Full breakfast before the boat departed for the 2 morning dives, first a wall dive then a shallower reef dive both from a mooring buoy. Then the boat returned in time to relax and have lunch. Afternoon dive was a shallow 40 ft. reef dive. The depth limit was a 110 ft. for the walls and time usually didn't go over 60 minutes for all dives. Night dive worth the $40. Resort was clean, service excellent. Meals were buffet and excellent. We could have saved money by not getting the drinks included in the package. 7 day package included a trip to Little Cayman and lunch at their sister resort, and a video of a dive that day. The boat had a camera table and rinse provisions, but the tables were used for non-camera stuff. First day we set up our gear and then the crew set up the equipment and changed tanks between dives. You walk to the stern of the boat and sit and they bring you a tank. Snacks and drinks on the boat. Crew friendly and knowledgeable of the marine life. Dive shop well equipped with a camera shop that could do developing. They have Nitrox, but I couldn't justify $12 extra US a tank. . . . 330 foot Russian Destroyer not the most impressive wreck I have been on. The rigging is at 15 ft and the bridge is at 30 ft. You can reach about 75 ft down under the bow as it hangs over the edge. The upper deck is open and the lower decks are barricaded off. Good wreck for the inexperienced but could be boring for the experienced. Good photo opportunity. . . . Rented mopeds to explore the island. Not much to see; museum, little lighthouse and the bat caves. (Ph: 809-948, Fax: 809-948-7207)
Brac Reef Resort, November 1997, Roger Bill Moore, Graeagle, CA. Lost one night because of Cayman Air mechanical via Miami to Grand Cayman. Still waiting for refund promised from Cayman Air in November (now Feb). Resort clean, staff friendly and helpful. Food ok to good. Could be warmer, but all you could eat. No night life, but in bed by 9 each night. Dive shop and staff great. Hands off gear after initial set up. Ready to go each dive. Good photo location and helpful photo staff. I have advance certificate but only 50 divers; will give the experience an A. Vis: 60-100 ft. Water: 80-82 degrees. One recommendation: new bikes at resort.
Brac Reef Resort, May 1998, David Rosen, Chesterfield, Missouri. Water 82 degrees, visibility: 75-150 feet. ETA Dive Extravaganza. Good value, but ETA personnel had some trouble understanding American English. Put all inquiries in writing if you want a clear answer. Brac Reef Resort is a great place to stay. Rooms are standard motel rooms with cable TV and A/C, but are clean and nice. 120 AC current is standard. No laundry service. Nice pool and beach (you need foot covering for rocks and shells), and lots of covered hammocks and seating. The food is first rate, we looked forward to every meal. The desserts were the best. . . . Reef Divers runs two 42' Newtons with camera tables, but no camera rinse tanks. Mike and Craig were great. Detailed briefings with drawings of the underwater topography and where fish would be found. Led a dive at each site for anyone who wanted to go with them. Dive profiles for computer and non-computer divers were announced at each site, but were not strictly enforced. If you did not keep the boat waiting, came up with at least 500 lbs. in the tank, and had not done a decompression dive, there were no comments when you exceeded the dive profile. Each day your equipment was already set up. Packed your gear at the end of the day, and the staff rinsed and stored it. Reefs are healthy and there are many small to medium tropicals. Saw at least one turtle per day, a few barracuda, and not much larger. Off Little Cayman you can visit Ben, a large grouper, would will come up to you for photos and to be petted. The water is always warm and clear. The Tibbits is already beginning to break up, but was a fun dive. . . . Cayman Airways flies an awful schedule into Brac. You arrive from Miami at 10:45 p.m. local time, and can only leave for Miami at 6:15 a.m. Island Air has a better schedule but will cost more.
Brac Reef Beach Resort, May 1998, Bob & Louise Gould, Denville, NJ. Mostly sunny with a few showers. Air 85, water 81. Vis: 75-100 ft. Restrictions: 110 ft. Resort managers were friendly and would accommodate your needs, but rooms could use some updating and maid service needs to be more attentive to details. Food excellent and plentiful, but could use more variety. Rushed in the morning: breakfast at 7:30 and be at the dive boat by 8:15. . . . Cayman Air: Arrive at 10:30 P.M. and depart at 6:15 A.M. You've got to be kidding. Dive operation: Excellent, well organized, great divemasters concerned with safety, reef conservation. Excellent briefings. Went to Little Cayman twice. The 3 boats never overcrowded. Easy entry/exit. Needs to organize Nitrox better. Suggestion: assign a person a tank for their stay and let them check the mixture the evening before. Too rushed in the a.m. Diving: Typical Cayman diving. Short boat rides, great walls, lots of small fish. Some turtles, rays, eels. Variety for novices and experienced divers alike.
Brac Reef Beach Resort, June 1998, Ted Powers and Gin ger Merritt. Mostly cloudy and windy. North side was pretty well protected, but didn't dive South side-choppy. Water 84 degs, vis 100 to 200 ft. If night diving you may want to a wet suit for protection from the Sea Wasps. Limited depth to 110 ft on walls and a time of 40 to 50 minutes. . . . They provided transportation to and from the resort to the airport. They had midnight snacks while we checked in. Second trip, the resort was clean and the service was excellent. Excellent meals served buffet style. Package (7 days) included a trip to Little Cayman but did not have lunch at their sister resort, like last year. Little Cayman Bloody Bay wall is a must dive, very beautiful. A video of a dive day included in package. Boat-42' Newton-had camera table and rinse provisions. Well equipped and comfortable. Number of divers varied from 8 to 20 and 3 crew, but never seemed crowded. After first day crew set up the equipment. They changed the tanks after the first dive. Snacks and drinks provided on the boat. Crew friendly and knowledgeable of marine life. Dive shop was well equipped with a camera shop that could do developing. Nitrox is $12 US a tank, and it would make a difference due to the time constraints of the dive profile. . . . 330 foot Russian Destroyer, spend the time going through it, then check out the reef nearby. Good wreck for the inexperienced. Good photo opportunity. Some rigging toppled over in a storm. . . . The dive crew invited us to go to Little Cayman to celebrate the 5th anniversary of their sister resort.
Brac Reef Beach Resort, June 1998, Mike Ford, Manchester, MO. Food very good buffet style. Reef Divers an excellent dive operation. Boats clean, fast and roomy. Crew and divemasters skilled and helpful. Vis: 100-125 ft. Water: 85-86 degrees. Restriction enforced for diving was 110' depth limit.
Brac Reef Resort, August 1998, Clyde & Eleanor Brannen, Jefferson GA. Depth limit 10 feet. Different profiles for computer/table divers. Nitrox: $10 US/tank (32% only) with a slight discount for the whole week. Full service photo shop. "Video Ed" is very knowledgeable. E6 developing $10 US/roll. Photo setup was very good. Divemasters well informed and gave good briefings. All the personal service can make you complacent and forget to check your own gear and your buddy's. Russian frigate: storm damage has wiped out the center section. Not many fish, but it's growing. . . . Walls are awesome, deep drop-offs, everything was beautiful. Lots of large barrel and tube sponges, elkhorn and brain coral. Resort is comfortable, plenty of good food served buffet. Rooms adequate, but I wish they had a queen size bed (we had two full-size). Bar is open. No alcohol allowed until your dive day was through. No bugs. Island Air has a 55 lb/person weight limit, we left our dive lights at home and had to rent lights for the night dive, one of which quit working. Might have been cheaper to pay the extra freight. Grounds pleasant, but could have used a thorough cleaning; when you're paying Cayman prices you want to see pristine.
Divi Tiara Beach Resort/John Kruse, 1998, Jacksonville, FL. Good resort, good food, excellent operation, no shore diving. Water: 78-81 degrees, vis: 50-100 ft. Wind caused diving to be canceled one day. No large fish, numerous green turtles. (Ph: 809-948-7553 or 800-367-3484, Fax: 809-948-7316)
Divi Tiara Beach Resort, March 1998, Craig Kittelson, Casper, WY. Like a luxury live-aboard based on land. Dive staff outstanding. Vis: 80-100 ft. Water: 78-80 degrees. Dive restriction: 100 ft. max. Food excellent. Accommodations old, but OK. Liked small, intimate atmosphere.
Divi Tiara Beach Resort, June 1998, Kevin & amp; Karen Mortazavi, Plano, TX. Great weather, easy diving, good boat crew, variety of fish, excellent night dive, fantastic side trips to Little Cayman. Vis: 75-95 ft, water: 81-83 degrees. Food OK but some overcooked, bathrooms in rooms had no A/C so were hot; no place to hang wetsuits in dive shop. Overall a wonderful week.
Divi Tiara Beach Resort, June 1998, Tom Rain, Irving, TX. Great location, nice accommodations, excellent dive operation. Divemasters very helpful and responsive to our request. HMS Keith Tibbits was great wreck dive. Twice to Little Cayman to dive Bloody Bay Walls. Awesome wall dives. Vis: 50-80 ft. Water: 80-82 degrees. Restrictions; 110 ft. max. first dive. Had to pay surcharge to go to Little Cayman. About 45-60 minute boat ride but worth it. Water not as clear as Cozumel, Bonaire, Belize.
Divi Tiara Beach Resort, June 1998, Duane & Brenda Leake, San Diego, CA. Russian Destroyer is a must dive. Be wary of what Divi in North Carolina is quoting for number of dives for how much money. Friendly and accommodating dive group. Extremely knowledgeable of all sites on both Little and Brac. Allow you to go your own way but seem to show up at the right moment to point out a critter or two. Vis: 80-120 ft., water: 78-81 degrees. Inexpensive. Hotel rooms are small and meal package pricey. We stay in a time share and ship all our food. Excellent for both beginners to experienced divers. For entertainment go to Grand Cayman. For diving-the Brac! Stevo is turning resort around. Collette and rest of staff are the best!
Beach Club Hotel and Dive, August 1997, Kelly Carlson, West Simsbury, CT. Divemaster Jean-Francisio Crobet was excellent. Discretely addressed experience dive competency on first 2 dives, then allowed complete freedom to dive own profile for all day and night dives with him. He also enthusiastically accommodated special requests for unscheduled night dives! (Ph: 809-949-8100, Fax: 809-947-5167)
Bob Soto Scuba Sensations/Treasure Island, August 1998, Victor Bary, Cranford, NJ. Pleasant friendly staff, good pre-dive briefings, helpful at entry and exit. Buses to dive site a disgrace, rusted out school buses. Boats fair to good. Rental bcs and regs in good repair. Shore diving requires trip to Georgetown, at your expense, to pick up tanks. Attractive location. A/C in individual units that struggled to achieve 78-80 degrees, pumped hot air into every hallway. Sewer smell often throughout property and room. Top water black/brown when turned on. Vis: 40-75 ft, water: 86-89 degrees. Local restaurants good. (Ph: 800-262-7686 or 345-949-2022, Fax: 345-949-8731, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: www.bobsotos.com)
Cayman Diving Lodge, January 1998, Raymond Fordyce, GA. Weather excellent. Vis 100+ feet, 77-78 degrees. Staff youthful, knowledgeable and clean cut. Dive guidelines were stressed, but staff was unobtrusive during dives. Sites lent themselves to intermediate divers. 3-jet Pro-48 an excellent craft, comfortably holding the 15-20 divers. Accommodations small to moderately sized, all in one two-floor building an older structure; water pressure left something to be desired, but overall I was satisfied with my "oceanfront deluxe room." Food appetizing. Limited wine selection at the honor bar-you can mix your own drinks, which ensures you get your money's worth. Buffet breakfast and lunch were small; dinner was sit-down, with entree orders taken at lunch. Complimentary transportation to/from the airport. Bus to Georgetown takes 45 minutes, low cost. (Ph: 800-852-3483 or 809-947-7555,
e-mail: divelodge@ao l.com)
Cayman Diving Lodge, November 1997, Warren & Gilda Sprung. On Grand Cayman's east end; best dedicated dive resort we have visited. Live-aboard type service, quiet atmosphere, dive boat new; 48 feet with a 16-foot beam, triple 300 hp jet drive diesel engines, with only 10 very nice (daily maid service) rooms at CDL, it will never be crowded. Backup boat is around 35 feet as well. . . . Outstanding staff. Always with a smile and great attitude, attention to detail. More dive freedom than other land-based operations. Took a photo course and were pleased with the content and application. . . . Hardly remember seeing another dive boat the 4 dive days we were there. A schematic on board for the various dive sites would make them easier to understand, but always two staffers in the water to lead if you want . . . . CDL was purchased by its present owners, John and Linda Gillespie, about three years ago. Chef was great. A lot cheaper than west end resorts. They met us at the Georgetown airport and took great care of us till they dropped us back.
Cayman Diving Lodge, April 1998, Dr. Terrence W. Dunlop, Annapolis, MD. 40 min from Georgetown; near botanical gardens and Blow Holes. Remote and basic; best rooms upper floor, beach front. Avoid room in very back. Hot breakfast only Sunday; lunch and dinner are single entree (usually very tasty), accompanied by a green salad, fruit salad, and homemade baked dessert. Buffet style, all-you-can-eat. Small bar for beverages; on honor system. Nearest restaurant is Lighthouse (a healthy walk), super food; Edge is next (best to drive). On eastern tip, Portofino, expensive with mediocre food. . . . Staff exceptionally laid back and accommodating. Ian runs things, and DM's Mickey and especially Travis are super. Larger boat, 46' Newton, takes out AM dive (no more than 16)-twin ladder entry. Smaller boat with center mount tank racks and swim up entry used for PM as fewer go. PM dives never had more than 6 including the DM and Captain, both of whom usually dove (that should tell you something). Large O2 canister, large first aid kit, radio, all safety features on craft. Fills to a healthy 3,000 PSI. . . . Marine life incredible-nearly everything in Paul Humann's Reef Fish. Saw rare chain moray, golden phase Coney, slender filefish and diamond blenny. Several 5' reef sharks up-close-and-personal. Ditto turtles. Schools of feeding blue tang, Bermuda chub, blue striped grunt. At Grouper Grotto, canyons held dozens of big tarpon, could swim right up to them. Coaxed out a small octopus in broad day light to play with conch shell. Best staghorn coral I've seen; nice stands of elkhorn coral as well. Babylon Wall off north of east end better than what I saw at the fabled Bloody Bay and Jackson Walls on LC. Some rough water days, but still had 50'-80' viz. Water temps 79-81. . . . Range of fast food franchises. P.S. Morritt's Tortuga Club, also on east end, may no longer be in the experienced diver game; saw their boats several times packed to the gunnels-looked liked floating ant colonies.
Cayman Dive Lodge, May 1998, Richard Parry, Westfield, NJ. Best kept secret in the diving world. Staff is outstanding-gear washed at end of dive day and back on your tank in the morning. A 48 ft. dive boat with 3 jet drives, no more than 3 years old. Another boat is smaller and older but in outstanding condition and quite fast. Dive team runs the whole operatio-check-in/check-out, dives and they even serve dinner. Lodge is clean but not fancy-no pool, no tv, no phones in rooms-just outstanding diving. Vis: 60-100 ft. Water: 80-84 degrees. Dive restriction: 100 ft, but dipped deeper. High caliber group, first class friendly service.
Cayman Diving Lodge, May 1998, Edward Leibowitz, Jersey City, NJ. Staff helpful and willing to assist. Set up dive gear on the boat and between dives. All dives were escorted. The coral formations and swim-throughs on the East End were quite nice. Disappointed in the scarcity of fish in Grand Cayman as compared to Palau. Vis 100-125 feet. Water: 78-82 degrees. No dive restrictions enforced. Due to rain, I never made it to Stingray City, which is an all-day boat trip. Took Nitrox course; Todd, the instructor presented the material well. Seasickness was a problem for me. Seas were choppy; I should have brought prescription seasickness medicine. Since there are no restaurants in the East End, the Lodge includes meals in package (there are grocery stores). If you didn't like the main course, the dining staff was willing to make something else. Patrick, the chef and his assistant did an excellent job preparing the meals. At 2:30 P.M. the boat leaves for the afternoon dive. If you purchased the two-morning dives/day scuba package, the afternoon dives cannot be substituted for the morning dives.
Cayman Diving Lodge, May 1998, Carl Arnoult and Aurora Pan, Northern California. Things we loved: the enthusiasm and gregariousness of the staff. It's a small resort and the staff makes an enormous amount of difference. The diving in the East End is absolutely spectacular. There's less emphasis on tipping. Food was plentiful and varied. The executive chef obviously loves to create marvelous, different desserts. It was always wonderful to look forward to in the evenings. Plenty of green salads, which is luxury on an island. Three dives a day are great! It's great when you can dive on the East End and swim with the tarpon and peek into caverns for juvenile and adult drum and glassy eyed sweepers. Corals are in good shape in the East End of Grand Cayman. . . . Rooms are Motel 6 caliber although clean and adequate size. You cannot reserve the ocean front rooms at the time of making the reservation though there is a $22 per day surcharge on the rooms. All levels of divers creates a more limited dive profile for everyone as the divemaster must manage skill levels. The East End can have serious blows (wind) and diving becomes challenging in seven foot swells, particularly for divers who also experience sea sickness. . . . The ride to acceptable dive sites becomes long. The Cayman Diving Lodge is far from Sting Ray City or the Sand Bar and it's a long, wet ride, though there are three dives and lunch on the boat. Swam with sting rays at the Sand Bar; lots of current, which is challenging when one is overweighted for shallow water. Reef sharks and turtles, not many mantas, sometimes a lot of eagle rays. Grand Cayman itself has grown enormously since we first started going there (1992) and we are afraid of the island's ability to sustain growth.
Cayman Diving Lodge, July 1998, Harold and Jan Bedoukian, Montreal, Quebec. The divemasters were outstanding and the entire staff tried very hard to make the diving, food and accommodations were everything we wanted. Water: 82-83 degrees.
Cayman Diving Lodge, July 1998, Jerry Van Zante, Yukon, OK. Old time dive operation. Staff excellent, both on shore and diving. Accommodations good but not fancy. Food (dinner and lunch) good to excellent. Some outstanding dives (Snapper Hole) and some less so. Vis: 50-100 ft, water: 85-90 degrees. $50 taxi ride one way to Georgetown.
Dive 'n Stuff, April 1998, Keith and Ellen Irwin. Thanks for the rundown on Cayman dive operators in the April issue. We just returned Monday from our third trip to GC, but the others were on the Aggressor so we appreciated your advice. We chose Dive 'n Stuff and found them very much asyou described: flexible, helpful, knowledgeable. It's nice to hear a dive operator start a conversation with What would you like to do? and follow it with When would you like to do it? We couldn't have been happier with their service. . . . While diving Caribbean Club Sand Shute we spotted a Manta Ray, managed to video about seven seconds and that came in handy combating the myriad of nay-sayers who challenged our ability to distinguish between an eagle and manta. At Oro Verde Dropoff the next day and we saw her again. Got great video of Molly at Little Cayman in 1995 before she disappeared. Perhaps Polly (or Pauly) will take her place on Grand Cayman. (Ph: 345-949-6033)
Don Foster's, January 1997, Mel Murray, Concord, NC. Haven't dived Cayman for 7 years, so what we saw on the reefs of the west end was terrible-algae growing all over the coral-a loose mesh of green-brown material about 1/2 inch thick. Some sites were worse than others. Dive operations people pretty much blew me off when I questioned them about the algae. . . . Terrible traffic problem on the north side of George Town. A bypass was built to divert airport traffic around town and a traffic signal was installed where the bypass hooks into the road that parallels 7-mile beach. The signal is causing southbound traffic to back up 2 miles or so during the day. Traffic crawls along making the trip from West End an ordeal. Well, at least the weather was nice! (Ph: 800-83-DIVER, Fax: 305-438-4220, e-mail: email@example.com)
Fisheye/Holiday Inn, November 1997, Arthur Shanks, Sonoya Ebara, Alb., NM. Fisheye an excellent operation, well organized and efficient, to beginning divers and allows experienced divers to take care of themselves. Computer dives allowed to extend bottom time. Fisheye provides free underwater camera, you purchase the film. . . . Would not recommend Sting Ray City trip. Sting rays maul divers looking for food. Not a natural habitat, more like a petting zoo. Vis: 70-80 ft. Water: 80-82 degrees. Restrictions: 100 ft. max. depth, computer dives allowed more bottom time. . . . Service at Holiday Inn was poor. Food expensive, 20-30% more than in U.S. (Ph: 809-947-4209, Fax: 809-947-4208, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Fisheye/Victoria House, April 1998, Steven A. Dingeldein, M.D., Burlington, NC. Victoria House has nice beach with great hammocks under tall pines. Decent, but not great, snorkeling off the beach. Condos are nice but not as nice as Georgetown Villas at the southern end of 7 mile beach. No pool for the kids. Fisheye has a great group of divemasters. Picked us up and took us home whenever we needed transportation. Tolerated our schedule changes and very accommodating. Sent us to a nice snorkel spot on the south side. Setup for photographers. I took a beginner's course from Martin Sutton the owner; used his videos (available via their website), a great introduction to the Nikonos V. The dives were nice with the North Walls the most spectacular. Tarpon Alley had 30 or so tarpon. Vis: 100 ft. Water: 82-86 degrees. Dive restrictions: 100 foot limits on deep dives with time limits for table dives with about plus 10 minute limits for computer divers. Loosely enforced.
Fisheye/Anchorage Condos, May 1998, Vernon Hartline, Dallas, TX. Going back and diving with Fisheye is like visiting old friends. We five diving adults had a great, relaxing vacation. 2 tank A.M. dives, one night dive. Fisheye continues to offer outstanding professional diving from comfortable boats. Vis: 70-100 ft, water: 81-83 degrees. Saw Eagle rays, bull shark on the north wall and lots of usual tropicals on the west (including a large jewfish). Had a blast! It was worth the $ to dive with Fisheye. . . . Anchorage Condos (arranged with Fisheye)is a small comfortable condo on West Bay Rd. with a great beach and pool. We had three bedroom unit directly on the beach.
Fisheye/Westin Hotel, June 1998, Sam C. Yingling, OKC, OK. Red Sail at hotel, Fisheye across the street. Great dive crew. They even went to north side one day with huge swells. Most ships canceled. Good photo shop. Checked you out on first dive very closely and let you dive without divemaster (3 of us/on computer) if you knew what you were doing. Vis: 100-150 ft. Water: 80-85 degrees. Dive restrictions enforced were 100' w/no computer/divemaster. Only downside: Grand Cayman is too expensive. . . . and I can't afford it. Cozumel better for $. . . . Do the submarine Atlantis in Georgetown to 800 feet! Awesome. Two week before we were there the sub scared up a 25' six gill shark at night with a BBC film crew.
Fisheye/Georgetown Villas, June 1998, Phyllis Robinson, Silver Spring, MD. Staff at Fisheye helpful and friendly. Once they know you're a safe diver they let you do your own profile within their time and depth constraints. Had some advice for the photographers in our group. Boats well set up. They set up your gear and swap tanks for you. Their operations manager, Hank, is returning to the states. Georgetown Villas condo was simple and comfortable. Two of us took a Nitrox course with Dive Tech. Dan Hodgins, our instructor, was outstanding. And the shore dives off Turtle Reef were wonderful! More nudibranchs, anemones, crabs, and shrimp than on other dives. Vis: 60-80 ft. Water: 80-83 degrees.
Fisheye/Treasure Island Condos, July 1998, Mike Holub, Ames, IA. Nice condos. Two bedroom, two bath, full kitchen, A/C, great pool. Hard to snorkel off beach-shallow water, lots of sea urchins and rocky. Dived with my 12 yr. old son and stayed less than 60 ft. but still lots of critters, fish, coral and sponges to see. West side usually calm and clear. North side wavy and less vis. Vis: 75-150 ft. Water: 82-84 degrees. Restrictions: 100', time, no gloves. Stingray City thee best 12 ft. dive in the Carib. Fisheye outstanding. Helped with our gear, good briefings, and made us feel welcome. Divemaster Lee, and her husband, Dennis, were super. Could use a better rinse facility.
Peter Milburn/Plantation Village, August 1998, Leon Friedman, Sarasota, FL. Vis: 85-100 ft, water: 80+F. Picked up at my apartment each morning. Divemasters excellent. Buddies could dive on their own. Service, sites excellent, went out of their way to ensure that each dive was special. Beach dives at Parrot Landing and Ed Roc were good. (Ph: 809-947-4341)
Ocean Frontiers/Fisheye, Morritt's Tortuga Club, May 1998, Alexis Smollok, Clifton NJ. Divemasters helpful and informative. Will place your camera in the rinse tank as you break the water. Grand Cayman is a beautiful, safe. clean island (pricey, but worth it). Mo and his staff ensured we didn't dive same places from our first trip. We were only two divers for night diving! Boat is stable and roomy for 12 divers, table for photo gear. Dive your own profile or the staff will show you the best the site has to offer. Vis: 100 ft. Water: 90 degrees. Normal recreational dive limits, no decompression. (Gorgeous swim-throughs and walls). East End is quiet and unless you have a car, you're stranded at the resort (they have resort bus service into town for a fee). Ocean Frontiers will take care/stow and rinse your gear. Resort is beautiful and rooms are perfect for a getaway (the beach is glorious, but can be windy). Food is expensive (pay $50/pp for dinner: appetizer, salad, entree, dessert, 1 drink and coffee). David's restaurant at Morritts is very good and has an excellent Caesar salad! Resort has evening entertainment and activities for kids. Ocean Frontiers' make Stingray City dive; divemaster ensured we did not dive with the hordes of people (looked like the Titanic had sunk with ALL of those people in the water in one place!) I book late for trip in May and Ocean Frontiers was booked with a large group for some days. Dived the West end and No. Walls with Fisheye; no comparison to the East End. North. Wall is very good; lot of healthy black coral. Fisheye's boat held 8 divers, really tight when everyone suited up. No camera rinse tank or table, but the crews do not place unreasonable restrictions and accommodate requests for sites. Weather gorgeous with fairly large ocean swells. Traffic on 7 mile beach can be heavy and plan plenty of time to get to where you're going.
Parrot's Landing, November 1997, Deborah Siegle, San Diego, CA. Parrot's Landing just underwent a management change, which is not going well and has not settled down. I dove with Parrot's Landing three years ago and the difference between their performance and the last was dramatic. Relationship between the new manager and the employees is strained and it shows; while safety was not impaired, there was minimal extra effort. When mistakes were made no real effort was made to do anything pro actively to counter or compensate for the problem. Vis: 40-60 ft. The level of service was average. (Ph: 800-448-0428 or 809-949-7884, Fax: 809-949-0294,
Parrot's Landing/Coconut Harbour, June 1998, Henry C. Campbell, Gig Harbor, WA. Good trip, dive operators let you buddy and not go with group. Hotel 5 min from dive operation. If you shore dive a lot, get tank and keep in your storage locker; most of the time no one is at dive shop. Vis: 50-80 ft., water: 84 degrees.
Parrot's Landing, August 1998, Clyde & Eleanor Brannen, Jefferson, GA. Water 87 degrees, vis 40-50 feet. Divemasters friendly and knowledgeable. One spoke Japanese for several divers who spoke little English. Stingray City: Videographer ordered folks around under water (not the best of people skills). No gloves, no knives, no snorkels. Rays fun, but avoid sting ray hickies-they can be painful. I'm glad we did dive, no need to do it again.
Plantation Village Beach, April 1998, Dr. Terrence W. Dunlop, Annapolis, MD. Plantation Village Beach Resort on Seven Mile Beach, but quiet. All units condo rentals with full kitchen, screened-in porch, large dining room, phone, big screen TV, maid service, pool, beach. Excellent value. For a splurge dinner in town, try Lantana; very good food in outrageously atmospheric setting at Havana Club and Fernando's, both in Westin. For just big splurge-The Wharf. Bar-ish Lone Star has all-you-can-eat Caribbean lobster night Tuesdays, $12.95 pp. Happy hour, any 6 shooters for $12.50, real bargain. Good food, big quantities and decent prices at Eats. (Ph: 809/949-4199)
Plaza Resort, December 1997, Dan Bult, Grand Rapids, MI. Resort excellent. Classy yet comfortable. Facilities were cleaned daily with the staff helpful and pleasant. Activities during the day and evening for all ages. Sunny 75-90 degrees, light breeze, and shore diving. The island will bring us back for the dives, the resort will bring us back for the stay. . . . ALM did not lose our luggage.
Quabo Divers/Harbour Heights (condo), January 1998, David Doss, Bryan, TX. Grand Cayman peak season wasn't as bad as expected. Mr. Athley Evans G. Cayman's first cert. divemaster. Runs Quabo Divers. A 32' dive boat personalized, on deep dives at least one divemaster per four people if desired. Vis: 60-80 ft. Water: 79-81 degrees. Dive restrictions enforced was 110 ft. depth limit. Our teenagers first trip. Felt very secure with Mr. Evans, who taught them a lot. Has Japanese assistants that cater to Japanese customers who were polite nice divers.
Red Sail Sports/Hyatt, August 1997, Kelly Carlson, West Stansbury, CT. Red Sail Sports provided a totally unsatisfactory experience, despite our being customers for the past 5 consecutive years. Divemaster inflated my wife's BC while ascending to speed up her ascent, despite her protests and the fact that her computer display showed her at the maximum recommended risk of ascent. He then agreed with her that he was right! He also left a dive site without 2 divers; assistant spotted them still in the water swimming toward the boat. As usual, too conservative and restrictive and now an unsafe divemaster. (Ph: 800-255-6425 or 809-947-5965, Fax: 809-949-8745, e-mail: redsail.com)
Red Sail Sports, April 1998, Blake Fry, Salem OR. I own Salem Scuba and Travel and lead group trips to many places. At Red Sail it didn't matter what your experience was, whether you had 1500 psi left and 17 minutes of deco time on your computer, how much you paid for the trip ($6500 at the Westin), what life you were currently encountering-you're going up, period. Although I never: violated my ascent rate, did a reverse profile, ran out of air, shot up to the surface, went past the 130 recreational limit, speared any fish, took anything from the UW park, ran into or even touched the fragile coral, damaged their boat or gear, used foul language, or whatever. . . . I was constantly treated like a child for violating their dive profiles. They punished me for using a computer because it ratted me out. Their rental gear had not even a max depth max needle, so new divers could have been doing horrible things on their second dive-the first was always guided. They were even going to throw me off the boat, but decided to cut me a break. My violation? Going off by myself. I was 50' from the mooring line in 100' viz making my safety stop more entertaining over the reef. They knew I was an instructor (you should know better than anyone!), but did not cut me more diving freedom like most other dive operators do. They are totally unbending and set up their diving operation for the convenience of the staff.
Red Sail Sports, June 1998, Glen Spence, Miami, FL. Did shore dives away from resort. Resort is beautiful. Red Sail is good, safe operation, but caters to beginner divers. Vis: 70-90 ft, water: 87 degrees. Limit is placed on bottom times; often forced to follow tables instead of our computers.
Seaview Dive Center/Seaview Hotel, April 1998, W. Patrick Resen, San Ramon, CA. Hotel has own dive center and a 34' boat. Dive plan: $99/day/person, the best price I could find. . . . Boat was serviceable, though it broke down two of 7 days. The crew got it fixed within a couple of hours and it didn't cause any problems. They had arranged for us to go out with Parrott's Landing If they hadn't gotten it repaired. . . . Hotel: decent, nothing special, 16 rooms, caters to divers. No TV and the phone didn't work-not that we cared. On the beach, 5 minute walk from Georgetown, most rooms open on large porch areas facing the water. Other side was on a main road but, with the AC on, it didn't keep us from sleeping. Restaurant had a modest selection, but sufficient, the best buy we found on the island. Preparation was good and the service fine. Open-air restaurant and bar are major attractions for diving crowd. . . . Dive operation: pretty much bare-bones but all the essentials. No problems with rental equipment. One of the three divemasters couldn't have been nicer and more helpful. 2d was fine. 3d a real pain. . . . My wife on her first dive since being certified 18 months ago and when she didn't move fast enough for him he started yelling at her. When she had problems with her ears he yelled again because she wasn't descending quickly enough. Briefings fairly routine, little info re marine life. Vis: 40-80 ft. Water: 78-82 degrees. Pretty cooperative about going where divers wanted within reason. But, of course, the basic Caymans problem: we dive our tables, don't care if you have a computer, don't care if you come up with 1200 psi (as was common). (In fact, the difficult DM's response to a request to dive own profiles with computer was: did you bring a computer for everyone.) He did lighten up the last day, maybe because all on board had been diving a few days with the boat by then. Readily arranged for Stingray City dives with other operators and ferried us to that shop. Certainly good prices for this expensive place. Some people in the operation made up for the grouch. Convenient. I'd go again if I could find out who'd be divemasters on the days I wanted to dive. (Ph: 345-945-0577, Fax: 345-945-0577)
Sunset House, December 1997, Don Cox, Ellen Roecker and Kelly Cox (13 yrs old, 60 dives), Madison, WI. Weather beautiful, but there had been a ferocious storm the previous week. Sunset House a mile south of Georgetown, removed from the congestion/excitement of Seven Mile Beach. Dive operation on site, as is Cathy Church's photo shop. Bank of wooden lockers for storing gear, but no secure area to hang wetsuits. . . . Some units have kitchenettes. Furnishings were aging and Spartan. A small refrigerator could be rented for any room. Somewhat chic attached restaurant. We enjoyed Christmas dinner there, seaside. . . . People at the dive shop very nice. Several boats: will run enough of them to keep the crowding down and skill levels fairly uniform. Several occasions the boat was only 1/4th full. Those with computers were allowed free use, though depth, bottom time, and remaining air pressure were asked after every dive to make sure we were sensible. . . . Elaborate predive briefing with intricate drawings. Three tank day on the Manta (a boat) to the north side worth doing. . . . People who feel that Grand Cayman diving is past its prime are curmudgeons. Diving was glorious, as diving in the Caribbean nearly always is. Places with lovely relief, spectacular corals, critters we'd never seen. Not many barracudas or colorful sponges as elsewhere. Water 82 F. Visibility fair to good. Shore diving off dock: big lobster, arrow blenny, large barracuda, queen trigger; at night a large crab, three octopuses, orange ball coralimorph (30 yards of underwater desert between the dock and really nice reef). . . . At Stingray City, besides aggressively obnoxious but toothless rays (that managed to nip several of us but were nevertheless fascinating), we met a large green moray with the personality of a golden retriever. Northeast wall: good-sized nurse shark, turtle, hammerhead shark about 8 feet long, and an eagle ray. (Ph: 800-854-4767 or 809-949-7111, Fax: 809-949-7101,
e-mail: email@example.com, Website: www.sunsethouse.com)
Sunset Divers, 1998, Carole Stinchfield, New York, NY. Adequate but not luxurious. Nothing special, but nice for a long weekend. Shore diving is easy and encouraged so you can be a scuba warrior should you choose. Vis: 80-100 ft. Water: 76-78 degrees.
Sunset House, April 1998, George Kane, Raleigh, NC. Sits on the south side, where you can glance to your right to see the cruise ships lined up at Georgetown (two days none, rest of the week three or four), and Georgetown is an easy walk if you get a hankering to discover what it looks like to drop 8,000 cruisers in a three-block area. Accommodations quite satisfactory, TV worked, plenty of hot water, rooms clean and comfortable, ours on the water (ocean view there is no beach). Rooms come with breakfast. Each time we ventured out to eat elsewhere we would return to the seaside restaurant, food was fine, prices reasonable by island standards ($30-40 US for 3 courses with drinks) and service excellent. The bar was well run and generally as many locals as tourists. . . . Dive operation efficient, well run, excellent service and good humor. Lockers for dive gear. Several sites offshore and off shore diving unlimited. Bats are slow but when seas are calm, which they were throughout our stay, they go out to the north wall. A long trip but nice diving. Generally 6-10 divers, though one day 20 were signed up and we elected not to dive. Briefings complete with multicolor diagrams of the site, which included not only the basics, but things of interest such as unusual coral formations. In the water you were on your own or could follow divemaster. Diving your computer ok, but set limits of 100 feet for 40 minutes, and surfacing with 500 psi, but these were not policed. Vis: 40-60 ft. Manta dive boats kept on the north side of the island: spacious, cushioned seats, deck for sleeping and sun bathing between dives. Very nice. This is an all day trip (7 am-5 pm) to the most pristine sites (only one other operator dives these sites we were told), and it is absolutely worth the upgrade. You are completely free to dive your computers along these wonderful walls. Manta runs every other day, minimum of four divers (there were five on my trip).
Surfside Watersports, April 1998, Kevin Hopper, Cincinnati, OH. 41' boat, 4-6 divers max. Allowed to dive independently or with divemaster. Long dives, 50-60 minutes; I came back with 750psi. Vis: 100-150 ft, water: 81 degrees. They put your gear on the tanks if you leave it on the boat. They change tanks between dives and lift it out of water. Dan and Susan (Americans) are great. They pick up at 7-mile hotels. 2-tank dive $65 US. (Ph: 800-468-1708, 809-947-7330, Fax: 809-949-8369)
Treasure Island/Sleep Inn, January 1998, Cos Westrick, Colorado Springs, CO. Only one dive out of 4 was of any value. Most of reefs fairly devoid of life. Devil's Grotto: lots of fish and coral. Others "blah." Dive operation reluctant to take us to North sites. Stayed on the west. Took us to the East side, but didn't warn us of the 45 minute boat ride in 5 to 8' swells, everyone except dive operators got seasick. Vis: 40-50 ft, water: 70-80 degrees. (Ph: 800-872-7552, or 809-949-4456, Fax: 809-949-7125,
Treasure Island Divers, June 1998, Lynda Deuble, OH. Great! Easy diving. Good divemasters; friendly, helpful, knowledgeable. Great night diving! 15% discount for repeaters! Vis: 80-125 ft, water: 82-85 degrees.
Treasure Island Divers/Georgetown Villas, July 1998, Kathy Eisner, Highlands, NJ. Georgetown Villas lovely condo with pool and beach right next door to Treasure Island Divers. Treasure Island Divers was average. They provided accommodations for gear that they brought to and loaded on to boat. Rinsed gear. Boats were crowded. Captain and divemasters asked where we wanted to go, but not once did they go there. Did not brief divers to keep their hands off the reef. Saw divers grabbing onto coral and dragging regs and consoles. Many reefs were dead due to abuse and shear numbers of divers. Divemasters reluctant to get into water on 2nd dives. If you insisted on a guide, they would. Many tanks were not full and missing o-rings. Vis: 50-100 ft, water: 82-86 degrees. Fish life not as abundant as other places. A few spots had huge tarpon; turtles on most dives. Experienced divers should go elsewhere (deeper wall dives were pretty good).
Treasure Island, August 1998, Eddie Saunders, Greenville, SC. Staff friendly and cooperative. Given the choice of which dive sites we wanted to dive whether we wanted escorted or unescorted dive. Vis: 60-100 ft, water: 84-85 degrees. They took gear off the boat, rinsed and put back on board the next morning. Dive site briefings and safety instructions were always thorough.
Tortuga Divers/Morritt's Tortuga Club, November 1997, Ray Simon, Oceanside, CA. One of the best operators I've dove with. Pat Kenney and his staff are superb. Dive boat well run. Divemasters knowledgeable, helpful and experienced. Profiles defined, but did not feel encumbered by rules. Night dive brief especially helpful. Boat operators experienced. Show at boat at 9 a.m.; allowed for getting good rest, nice breakfast before fantastic diving. Water: 83 degrees. Vis: 20-100 ft. Diving was East End, North wall. Only 95 minute rental car ride from center of town. (Ph: 800-327-8223or 800-432-8894 or 809/947-7551, e-mail: Tortugad@candu-ky)
Tortuga Divers/Ocean Frontiers/Morritt's Tortuga Club, June 1998, Richard Lehach, Larchmont, NY. Tortuga Club excellent condocomplex on the beach with great facilities and maintenance. The dive operation is the most conservative operation I have encountered in 280 dives. All dives were square profiles, wall dives had to be escorted, and they used 72 ft. tanks. Interest was in getting people in and out of the water fast. Standard briefing: "we're over the reef follow me.". . . Ocean Frontiers: an excellent dive operator 80 ft tanks, good chalkboard briefing, refreshments on boat, dive your computer. Vis: 60-80 feet, water: 83-85 degrees. They will pick you up.
Little Cayman Beach Resort, October 1997, Doug Kersten, Angola, IN. Food out of this world and all you could eat. Dive staff very friendly. Let you do your own thing most of the time; very good briefing. Took us to Cayman Brac to dive Russian Destroyer. Extra charge but worth it! Water: 82-86 degrees. Vis: 50-75 ft. Facility well kept, nice pool. Value extremely good considering this is the Caymans! Dives: 3 tanks 1 day; night dive if weather permits. Good dive boats. (Ph: 345-948-1033, Fax: 345-948-1040)
Little Cayman Beach Resort, November 1997, Carole Stinchfield, NYC. Staff is fantastic. They do everything for you. Very professional. Nitrox is a big plus. Boats are very good. diving was pretty but moorings are very close together. You can easily swim from one dive site to another in minutes. The briefings are good, including what the bottom of your boat looks like because of the proximity to the other boats. Consequently there are fewer fish than I expected but the diving was easy, relaxed and pretty. Vis: 80-100 ft. Water: 80-84 degrees. Pool rooms were good for a dive resort. Food was also good. The ocean view rooms are a big improvement to the pool view. We had a lovely week.
Little Cayman Beach Resort, January 1998, John Zeiss, Minnetonka, MN. Great spot, well-run operation.
Little Cayman Beach Resort, March 1998, Keith and Patty Maupin, Green Forest, AR. Vis: 50-100 ft, water: 75-78F. Accommodations and food great, even came home with some recipes. Bicycles available. Windy and cool. Dove north side 2 days and south side the rest of the week. Only dive Bloody Bay once. South side ok but not as good as north. Three dives a day were rigorous, but you can't miss a dive for fear of what you might miss! Boats top-notch with heads. Guides gave a good briefing then it was your option to dive with guide or with your buddy. Resort is a pricey!
Little Cayman BeachResort, March 1998, Jason DeSalvo, Montclair, NJ. Only able to dive Bloody and Jackson Bay one day of seven due to weather. Great resort. People were accommodating and friendly. Diving on the South side similar to Cayman's North wall & East End. Coral healthy. Tons of macro on the shallow dives. Three dives/day and 2 night dives/week. Vis: 50-100 ft. Water: 78-80 degrees. Dive restrictions: 130 ft., back on boat with 500 psi and second dive shallower than first. Let us dive our own profiles once they knew us. Many 50+ minute dives on alum. 80's with max depths of 120! Great place. 20 dives in six days.
Little Cayman Beach Resort, March 1998, Joe Puckett, Burbank, CA. Experienced divers who want to dive their computers and set their own profiles should avoid Reef Divers, the operation affiliated with LCBR. Typical regimented diving with generic profiles for all dives: profile A for table divers or profile B for computer divers. If you stray you risk sitting out dives, and rebates on prepaid packages are not offered. Dive management feels computers are unreliable and experienced divers are incapable of setting their own safe limits. Diving with Reef Divers is not bad, in fact I highly recommended it for most divers. The staff is very service oriented, but with depth and time restrictions it just wasn't right for me. Food and accommodations were superb, but dive with a different operation. Noticed, after my return, a review in the Chapbook said Paradise Divers, the dive operator down the road affiliated with Paradise Villas, had a more flexible operation. Vis: 100-135 ft.
Little Cayman Beach Resort, May 1998, Chuck Wohlust, Orlando, FL. Resort and food were good and the staff friendly. Reef Divers did an outstanding job even suggesting adjustments in gear to make diving more comfortable and enjoyable. Vis: 75-100 ft, water: 80-82 degrees. Bloody Bay Wall has to be experienced to be believed. The variety of color of coral is the best. If you don't have a good underwater camera, rent one, its worth it.
Little Cayman Beach Resort, June 1998, Paul & Dody Neis, Mtn. Home, AZ. Brought our children for their first ocean dives. Dive leaders are mature and experienced and show great concern for safety. Dive briefings are detailed; allowed to dive your own plan. Vis: 80-100 ft, water: 78-84 degrees. You never have to carry your stuff the entire week, except what you take to the drying shed. Would like to see more stress on proper diving for reef conservation since more inexperienced divers are coming here now and fins and gauges are banging coral. Resort is well maintained and the staff friendly. The food is abundant and the quality unsurpassed.
Little Cayman Beach Resort, June 1998, Jeffrey R. Maeda, Bellairi, TX. We were spoiled by resort and dive operation. Two tank morning and one afternoon dive. Night dives twice per week. Vis: 80-100 ft. Water: 80-86 degrees. Restrictions enforced for diving were 110 ft. with computer. Food was great. Reef Divers handles your gear throughout stay, including set-ups on boat. Gear up at back of boat and never have to walk w/tank on our back. Nice pool and bar. Very quiet and relaxing.
Little Cayman Beach Resort, June 1998, Glen Spence, Miami, FL. Superb wall diving. Excellent boats. Nitrox. Completed navigation specially; excellent divemasters and instructors. Three dives/day. Vis: 80-100 ft, water: 87 degrees. Food unusually good for a dive resort. Rooms fairly nice. Service was good. Nice marine life, no big pelagics.
Little Cayman Beach Resort, June 1998, Gloria Davis, St. James, MO. Resort top notch overall, food best we have had out of 17 resorts. Dive operation top notch. Complete freedom if you stayed above 110 ft. Did Nitrox training and Caroline was a great help. Divemasters gave excellent briefings and helped you on and off the boat. Coral as good or better than Bonaire, many more fish, a few sharks, lots of turtles. Not many morays. Vis: 60-100 feet, water: 86 degrees. Went to Cayman Brac to dive the Russian Frigate; its coming apart and may last but a few more storms; neat dive with its guns and decks of equipment.
Little Cayman Beach Resort, June 1998, Alex and Cindy Roal, Northwood, ON. Deep wall and shallow reefs are healthy and colorful: a nurse shark, turtles, stingrays, barracudas, huge rainbow parrotfish, groupers, angelfish, butterflyfish, scrawled filefish, queen triggerfish, cowfish, eels, lobsters, crabs, squid. Water 85 degrees, 100 foot vis. Trip to Brac to 330 foot Russian warship is worthwhile. Reef Divers is a first class operation offering 3 dives a day, Three 42 foot dive boats carrying 16-20 divers. Freedom to dive In buddy teams. Each boat well-equipped with a DAN oxygen unit, first aid kit, ship to shore radio, camera table, fresh water rinse hose, marine head, water cooler, and snacks. Detailed pre-dive chalkboard briefings. BCs and regulators are safely left on board for the week and hosed off by the divemasters at the end of each day. Divers carry the rest of their gear to locker room. Restrictions: 100 feet for 45 minutes on the first dive and 60 feet for 50 minutes on the next. Multilevel computer divers only allowed 10 minutes more than table divers-we repeatedly surfaced with over 1000 psi and unused bottom time on our computers. E-6 processing, Nitrox fills $10 extra/tank, gift shop, free bikes, hammocks. Food is fabulous: three different entrees and desserts. No swimming or shore diving due to dense turtle grass. Island Air makes the 45 minute trip from Grand Cayman 3 times daily. 55 lb. baggage limit, $.55/lb. excess and will transport it when space permits. Grass and crushed coral landing strip. Vis: 100 ft.+ Water: 85 degrees. Dive restrictions enforced: depth and time.
Little Cayman Beach Resort, August 1998, Anonymous. Enjoyed the resort and got my moneys worth. Cuisine excellent as ever. Rooms OK but many little maintenance items needed attention. Room was comfortable and quiet, unless the Karaoke got going at the bar. Dive operation very good. Staff friendly and helpful. Since I was traveling solo, I did not like being bounced to different dive boats, but it gave me the opportunity meet new people. While it is important to be aware of the environment, the constant reminders got a bit tiring. No gloves policy: I am a highly allergic person and if in an emergency I had to grab a piece of coral or whatever, my hands would not be protected. As did many other divers, I placed my gloves in a BC pocket "just in case." Gratuities are part of the dive staff salary and it is up to the guests whether they wish to give one, however, how many reminders and signs do we need? Suggested gratuity is $5/day. However, when I am on boat #1 on Monday with Ken and Barbie, then boat #2 on Tuesday, with Bert and Ernie, and so on, I would be broke! I gave $5/day to the "staff' and adding $10.00 extra. People on a package that was one day longer than mine had a night dive included; night dive on my Cayman Brac day-a two-dive day-would have cost me an additional $50. Island Air the pits. When arriving at Grand Cayman, it was impossible to find anyone. As usual, the flights were way over booked. People who took earlier Island Air flights were bumped to later flights. Island Air has strict rules about luggage weight, but though I was under my luggage didn't arrive in Grand Cayman on return for four hours later. They need to stop lying and get organized.
Little Cayman Beach Resort, September 1998, James & Jennifer Mills, Monroeville, PA. Resort was well run and kept. Food was as good as could be for the Caribbean. Staff fantastic. Dive operation one of the best. Not rushed, boats were not crowded, they were clean. Vis: 50-120 ft, water: 84-82 degrees.
Paradise Divers/Paradise Villas, November 1997, Lorri & Evan Wolfe, Colfax, CA. Polly Pontoon easy boat for getting in and out of the water. Never more than eight divers. Captain Tony and Phillip took care of our gear and provided top service. Tony kept the divers entertained with his blue jokes-a real pirate with a great heart and someone who cares about the best diving for his divers. Vis: 50-100 ft. Water: 82-84 degrees. Great snorkeling in front of villa! The Hungry Iguana Restaurant has a great cook. Peace and quiet, personal service, no cattleboats. (Ph: 809-948-4550, Fax: 809-948-4550)
Paradise Divers/Paradise Villas, March 1998, Vincent Macaluso, Collegeville, PA. Bloody Bay Wall starts in 15'-20' of water. Non diving snorklers have a great time. Vis: 100-125 ft. Water: 80-82 degrees. Dive restriction: 110' (soft limit). Many large groupers. Saw more on one dive than on 10 dives on Grand Cayman. Food at Hungry Iguana made to order and terrific! All other restaurants were buffets. Very friendly island. Don't rent a car! Free bikes at Paradise Villas!
Pirate's Point, July 1998, Gretchen Kromer, Bloomington, IN. Room in a spacious, non-air-conditioned duplex overlooking the ocean. None of the air-conditioned rooms was available. Mornings breezy and pleasant, but 90-degree heat made it intolerable in afternoon and early evening. I had trouble sleeping. The room was nicely decorated and had a large, well-laid-out bath and dressing area. Good food: rich, elaborate, and somewhat spicy. Wine served with dinner and the dive package includes free drinks. Breakfast at eight. At ten, divers take a five minute truck ride to the pier and a ten minute boat ride to Jackson Bay for the dive. The late start means that Pirate's Point has third or fourth choice of a site, but there are many good ones. Divers typically spend an hour or more on the first dive. A surface interval of one hour on the boat and a second dive, usually at Bloody Bay Wall. You are typically on the boat for a four-hour stretch, a problem for people bothered by heat or motion sickness. The boat and truck get you back to Pirate's Point around 2:15, leaving too little time to clean up before the 2:30 lunch. Night dive by special arrangement after the 7:30 dinner. Sunday brunch at noon and diving starts at 1:00 (spicy Mexican meal). Pirate's Point occupies a beautiful site: grounds are nicely landscaped and feature porches, decks, and patios. Mosquitoes and no-see-ums a problem; Cans of Off were spread around the resort. Dive staff helpful and pointed out the local attractions to those who wanted guides. Diving this good is a rare privilege. (Ph: 809-948-1010, Fax: 809-948-1011)
Pirate's Point, January 1998, Mike & Marge Stedham, Stanwood, WA. Pirate's Point is a great place, wonderful food and accommodations (bungalows on the beach) super staff, nice boat, beautiful fish and corals. Vis: 60-100 ft, water: 78-80 degrees.
Pirate's Point, February 1998, David and Pat Orr, Warrington, PA. Good thing we have been here before. Had bad storm, high winds, rain, very heavy seas; lost 3 days diving. Had to do shore diving on same site; Little Cayman doesn't have many sites for shore diving. After storm vis was down, got to see damage to corals, sponges, etc. and it seems most fish were in hiding. Wtr: 79-82 degrees. Thermocline-looked like our quarry here in PA. . . . The food and Gladys were as great as always as was our room. Swimming pool and spa.
Pirate's Point, June 1998, Roger and Donna Soare, Houston, TX. Great corals, terrific walls, countless tropical fish, small critters (seahorse, pipe horses, nudibranchs, anemones, shrimp and crabs), outstanding visibility and warm/flat water all from a 42 Newton custom dive boat packed with as many as nine other divers! Vis: 80-100 ft., water: 84-85 degrees. Very experienced, helpful staff. Pirates Point only dives twice a day but both are high quality, and the divemasters do not mind checking several sites if vis or current dictates. Beachfront setting with plenty of hammocks and lots of the best food we have ever had in the Caribbean (or most anywhere else) make this a very relaxing trip. We missed Gladys' comfort food at some lunches (new chef) but all other meals were as great as visits in 95 and 96. New pool is a nice addition. Not really known for shore diving, the Pirates Point divemasters showed a few of us terrific night dives on Bloody and Jackson Bays. Easy night dives revealed many octopi, several crabs, a high hat basket stars and eels. Our newly certified 12 year-old daughter is spoiled.
Reef Divers, Conch Club Condos, June 1998, Sunny Morrison, Littleton, CO. Nice, relaxed diving. Friendly turtles and groupers. Conch Club Condos were great, spacious and clean. Beach cruiser bikes to commute to dive shop. Dinner at Pirates Point is excellent! Mosquito breeding ground across the road makes being outside at dawn/dusk unbearable. Vis: 40-80 ft. Water: 80-82 degrees. Dive restrictions enforced: 100 ft. first dive, 60 ft. 2nd dive plus time limits.
Reef Divers/Conch Club Condos, March 1998, David and Nancy Smith, Cambridge, MA. Island small, flat, undeveloped (the airstrip is dirt and grass!), nothing to do above water, a great getaway. Conch Club 2-BR condos are huge, airy, with full kitchens, A/C, phone, and cable TV. Condos a ten-minute walk from dive shop or three-minute ride on the free loaner bikes. Food best (and most expensive) at Pirate's Point, best value at Hungry Iguana. Little Cayman Beach Resort buffet above average but expensive. Reef Divers outstanding operation all around. Great dive boats, 42' Newtons with easy giant stride entry. Terrific system; set up your tank and BC once at week's beginning, never touch them again as dive staff changes tanks and setup. Fills 2800 PSI and they want 500 back on the boat (tight). Divemasters knowledgeable, good thorough briefing, tough on depth with table divers (clearly they expect computers) until they think you have some concept, then lighten up. Reefs terrific, best we've seen in the Caribbean (better than Bonaire), steeper and more articulated, with many crevices, chutes, and swim-throughs (good for intrigue, skills and critters). Typical dives 80-100 feet morning, 50-60 afternoon; viz 70-90 in sunshine, 50-70 when cloudy. Most dives north side of island, Bloody Bay/ Jackson Walls (straight down starting about 30-50 feet), south side terrain less spectacular but good. Stingrays frequent, turtles common, eagle rays sometimes, sharks occasionally (black-tip reef, nurse, including one awesome dive where we swam with two black-tips for 25 minutes).
Southern Cross Club, December 1997, Raymond Fordyce, Roswell, GA. Weather great: water 78+ degrees. Visibility 100-150'. Dive own profile with general guidelines. Occasional nurse sharks, frequent rays, barracudas and groupers. Excellent for experienced divers and beginners. Accommodations serviceable and spacious. Duplexes well separated from one another. Concrete construction (newly refurbished) ensured privacy. Two full/queen beds. A/C. Cold shower and clothesline on the porch of each unit enabled one to leave skins conveniently outside to dry. Pool and bicycles free. Food freshly prepared, tasty. Two entrees at dinner; lunch and breakfast small buffet but sufficient. Principal boat is a single-jet Pro-42, fine for groups of 6-12 that were typical.Little Cayman Beach Resort reminded me of a US-style motel. Nice boats, but always crowded. Pretty good food, but it the least character of any place on the island. Sam McCoy's has a tiny boat, and the place looks like it is about to collapse. Island Air sometimes substitutes a smaller (10-seat) aircraft for their 40 seater. Carry your reg/computer and essentials. You may find your luggage arriving the next day. (Ph: 345-948-1099, Fax: 345-948-1098)
Southern Cross Club, May 1998, Blaine and Marian Browne, Lighthouse Point, FL. Small, isolated, quiet, no crowds! Island Air didn't have room for one of our bags, but brought it on a flight later that day. Southern Cross Club owner Peter met us at what passes for the airport, gave us a brief tour on way to SCC. Peter and staff are super friendly. SCC is modern, clean, well run. We had a duplex cottage facing the lagoon, which is protected by a barrier reef. SCC will drive you to snorkeling spots, has ocean kayaks for exploring lagoon. Also offered sunset cruises on party barge and Full Moon Howler Party on beach. Divemasters John, Terry and Terry were professional, accommodating and funny. We did 4 days of 2-tank dives. Divemasters provide good predive briefings, outline profiles for computer/non-computer divers. The walls are fantastic, incredible sponge and coral growth, lots of tropicals. Visibility was mediocre due to plankton, but didn't ruin our fun. Water: 80-82 degrees, vis: 30-60 ft. Eagle rays, lots of turtles, stingrays, nurse shark. Good number of small and medium groupers, some morays. Superior no stress diving! Great place to relax in hammocks. Food was varied, tasteful and plentiful. A well-run dive resort.
Southern Cross Club, August 1998, Dana Mardaga, San Jose, CA. A handwritten note tacked to the bulletin board in the only grocery store on the island read: "Party August 15-everybody welcome." This sums up Little Cayman. Friendly, casual, safe. The wall lived up to its great reputation. Southern Cross Club was laid back, good divemasters who let you do your own diving, excellent food, friendly staff. Drought taking its toll on the trees; hot water drove big fish into deeper water. Vis: 50-70 ft, water: 89-91 degrees. No shore diving.
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