The Cayman Islands are one of the most popular dive sites in the world. With over 300 dive sites of deep descents down steep walls, exploring a burgeoning reef system or diving down to some of the wrecks, there are dives for beginners all the way to advanced divers. The Bloody Bay Wall and the adjacent Jackson Wall are recognized as one of the top dive sites globally because of multi-colored coral hanging down the wall that goes 2000 ft to the seafloor. You can see all kinds of marine life, including octopus, barracuda, giant grouper, and many other reef fish. Other notable dive spots on the islands are The USS Kittiwake off the coast of Seven Mile Beach, where divers can explore this ex-US Navy submarine which has become an artificial reef, home to many kinds of sea life. Another wreck is the Russian frigate MV Captain Keith Tibbetts off Cayman Brac. There are also the Devils Grotto and Eden rock, the Sunset Reef and the North Wall.
The Caymans might be known for world-class diving, but diving is not the only fun being had on the water. The Cayman Islands are also a world destination for anglers too. The waters inshore, on the reefs and offshore, are teeming with fish. Whether you want a day bonefishing on the flats, a relaxing day fishing the reefs, or an action-packed day offshore, numerous fishing charters are ready and waiting to guide and get you on the fish. There are many harbors and marinas on Grand Cayman and a few on the other two islands. These islands are one of the few places you can fish for Marlin in the morning, head to the reefs for grouper in the mid-afternoon, go to the flats to catch a bonefish or Tarpon and still have the time for a dive or a swim.
The Cayman Islands is located right on the third deepest trench in the world, The Cayman Trench, which drops 20,000 ft down. Unlike many places where you have to spend a great deal of your day just reaching the fishing grounds, here in the islands, it is just a short ride to 800 ft. and just a little farther for deep waters. This proximity allows you to get as much action on a half-day as many full days in other parts of the world. The trench’s up currents bring krill and smaller baitfish to the surface, bringing the larger predatory fish that fisherman dreams about. You might hook up with Mahi-Mahi, Wahoo, Tuna, Barracuda or Marlin on any given trip. All of these fish are found in these waters year-round in great numbers except for Wahoo, which is more abundant in the winter months. Because these waters are so prolific, the Caymans are home to many fishing tournaments throughout the year. The two main ones are The Brac Jackpot and The Cayman Island International Fishing Tournament. Both of these are done on both Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac. The Cayman International has Billfish, Mahi, Wahoo and Tuna entries while the Brac only has Mahi, Wahoo and Tuna. Other tournaments include the BK Big Fish (Billfish, Mahi, Wahoo, Tuna), The Drift n Drag (Wahoo, Tuna), The Barcadere Classic (Mahi, Wahoo, Tuna), Kirk Slam (Mahi), Hoo’s Who (Wahoo) and The Cayman Swordfish Challenge (swordfish). Anglers come from all over for big money prizes and the thrill of trying to land “the big one!”
Closer to shore is a reef system that is home to fish big and small. Some of the bigger predators include Nassau and Goliath Grouper, Jack Crevalle, Mutton and Yellowtail Snapper, Triggerfish and other reef fish that live and feed in this vast coral reef surrounding the islands. Reef fishing is wonderful for families, and because deepsea fishing can be rough seas, it is also an excellent alternative for the seasick prone. There is plenty of action and a day on the reefs is sure to be a day of fun. Many of the deepsea charters stop on the reefs on the way back to shore, giving their guests chances for more and different fish.
If you are a fly fisherman or want to try something different, the Caymans, especially Little Cayman, is a hotspot for Bonefish, Tarpon and Permit in the much shallower waters of the flats and mangroves. As stated, Little Cayman is the best island, but these hard-hitting fish can be found on all three islands. On Cayman Brac, you can fish for smaller sized but still fun to catch Bonefish, and in Grand Cayman, you can find larger sized Bonefish and Tarpon in the flats and nearshore. But Little Cayman is the place for inshore fishing. Bonefish, Tarpon and Permit can all be found in the waters here. Catching all three in one day is called a “Flats Slam.” There is a long list of anglers with this distinction, and maybe you can join them. South Hole Sound and Owen’s Island are the best places for Bonefish on the island. Tarpon Lake is the best place for Tarpon on the island. This inland lake formed by a storm has landlocked many Tarpon in its water. Because there is not as much food, the Tarpon are smaller, averaging only 20 pounds, but they are still feisty and fun to catch. Go early in the morning for the “Tarpon Frenzy” when small baitfish get jammed up against the edge of the lake, making them easy pickings for the Tarpon as well as migratory birds. Cast a lure or a fly into this melee, and you will be in for a fight reeling in a “Silver King.” Large Permit are found in the northwestern flats and southeastern end of the island. All three of these fish are highly revered in the angler world for their hard hits, huge jumps and the just plain thrill and exhilaration when you finally reel one in. Bonefish are pound for pound, one of the strongest and fastest fish in the world, Tarpon are renowned for their explosive leaps, and Permit are aggressive and the hardest to hook. Whether you catch one, two or all three, you are bound to have an exciting day. The best way to fish for these three is to charter a guide who will put you on the fish, and then it is up to you.
The Cayman Islands consist of Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. As the names says, Grand Cayman is the largest of the three, and Little Cayman is the smallest with only 200 residents. Little Cayman is approximately 60 miles to the east of Grand Cayman, and Cayman Brac is a little farther at around 97 miles. On Grand Cayman, you will find most of the attractions, although dive sites and fishing grounds are located on and in the waters around all three islands.
Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman’s west coast is one of the world’s top beaches and beach vacation spots. Despite its name, it is actually 6 miles long, and there are actually three beaches in Seven Mile Beach. The actual Seven Mile Beach strand is at the southern end. This part of the beach is picture-perfect with a pristine white sand beach, crystal clear aquamarine water and hammocks between palm trees. This is where you come to escape from everything and just relax. To the north is Cemetary Beach, also an Instagram-worthy beach. While these two parts of the beach are perfect for relaxing in the sun and shades of palm trees, the beach in the middle, Governor’s Beach, is where numerous resorts are located. The beach is dotted with umbrellas and lounge chairs. Seven Mile Beach is known for its snorkeling with reefs close to shore and incredible visibility. There are other notable beaches like Spotts Beach where you can relax and see wild sea turtles, Starfish Point, where the water is immersed with starfish but do not take them out of the water please, Barkers Beach is a popular Kitesurfing spot, and Rum Point is another excellent place to just take it easy playing in the water, eating some local fresh fish, drinking local rum drinks and just relaxing. All of this is located on Grand Cayman, but Little Cayman has four absolutely beautiful beaches, most secluded, private with gorgeous settings and breathtaking views. Cayman Brac is small, and most of its coast is limestone, but there is some sand on the south coast with two beaches.
For the adventurous, the three islands have many locations for you to explore. On Grand Cayman, The Mastic Trail is a path through an ancient forest. The trail is surrounded by mangrove swamps and a forest with palm trees and the trees that give the trail its name, the Black Mastic Tree. You can see plenty of colorful plants and flowers as well as encounters with birds and animals. On Little Cayman is the Salt Rock Nature Trail, a 3-mile hike from Blossom Village north along the coast. Despite being such a small island, Cayman Brac has a lot to see. The Lighthouse Footpath leads to the Cayman Brac East End Lighthouse, the highest point on the islands at 140 feet. On the way, you pass Pete’s Cave. There are also other paths like the West End Point Overlook, a great hike for birdwatchers and those looking for the best place in the islands to watch the brilliant colors of the sun setting over the horizon. Speaking of birds, Cayman Brac has its own bird, the Cayman Brac Parrot, and there is a large preserve for this bird and many more. The parrot is endangered and hard to find sometimes, but a magnificent sight when you do. This hike is also a favorite for locals and visitors for breathtaking sunrises.
There are a lot of caves in the Cayman Islands. Cayman Brac has the most with Peter’s Cave, Rebecca’s Cave, Bat Cave and The Great Cave. Each of these caves has its history, and lots of these caves are great for spelunking. There is also excellent rock climbing here on the island, with dozens of routes for intermediate and export climbers over the limestone bluffs. On Grand Cayman are two caves. The Pirate’s Cave where pirates buried their treasures is located on the island’s south side, and on the north side is Crystal Caves. While not a cave, “Hell” is a not-to-miss site where giant jagged formations shoot out of the ground in another worldly vista. Go to the Post Office and send a postcard to your friends from Hell, and don’t forget to get your passport stamp with your voyage to Hell.
The islands have many inhabitants on land, in the air and the sea for nature lovers. Many rare birds make the islands home. Along with the Cayman Brac Parrot on Cayman Brac, Little Cayman is home to the once endangered Red-Footed Booby. There are hundreds of migratory birds in the Mastic Reserve, the Salina Reserve and Collier’s Pond on the main island. There is also the rare Blue Iguana that you can see at the Blue Iguana Recovery Program, and you might get lucky and see one in the wild on one of your hikes. The Cayman Turtle Farm is where you can see and pet the endangered Green Sea Turtle. One of the main attractions on the island is Stingray City. Here you can walk in the shallow waters surrounded by Atlantic Southern Stingrays. And finally, there is a plethora of colorful fish in the reefs and deeper waters offshore.
Along with the water, the Cayman Islands is also known as a place to bring money offshore. Many come to escape taxes. Also, many come for the shopping, especially the cruise ship patrons that come to Georgetown all year round. There are plenty of top-end shopping boutiques as well as local artists and artisan offerings. The best thing about this shopping is it is duty-free. The whole island is laid back, and there is a local word for this… Irie. Many happy hour spots throughout the islands serve cold brews and exotic rum drinks with tasty local foods.The island has many fine dining establishments that offer world cuisine with a Cayman Island flair. There is also a fun tour of the Cayman Spirit Co. Distillery, where you learn how rum is made and get a chance to taste the rum made. One unique thing about this distillery is that the rum is aged in barrels like everywhere, but these barrels are placed on the ocean floor. Last, when you come to the Caymans, you have to find Barefoot-Man and listen to his fun and funny Jimmy Buffet meets Bob Marley vibe.
The Cayman Islands are a destination for fun in the sun and all kinds of water activities, including diving deep in the crystal clear water and above the water in charter boats pulling in fish after fish. Experience the island and the fishing yourself.