South Side Dives

Cayman Island South Side diving

 

Grand Cayman Scuba Diving eel

Typically dived in the winter months, Grand Cayman’s south coast has some of the best shallow dive sites in the Caribbean.

The south side of Grand Cayman can be divided up into two different areas – southwest and southeast.  The southwest runs from Kent’s Caves near Sand Cay, down to the last deep site – Pedro’s Pinnacle.  The southeast starts at Breaker’s Cutback and runs down to Grouper Grotto.  Diving south is heavily dependent on wind strength and direction.  Throughout the year, east southeast winds hammer the south coast making for a long and uncomfortable boat ride.  The common 15-20 knot winds create uncomfortable conditions.  However, there is a small area between Red Bay Caves and Pedro’s Reef that can sometimes be diveable when the rest of the south side is blown out.  Most of the west side dive operators only dive south during nor’ western.  This is a weather condition where the jet stream dips down into the southern United States pushing strong winds and seas making the west side of Grand Cayman very rough and dangerous.

There is no mistaking the bottom topography of the south side of Grand Cayman.  Its walls are deep and the corals are hearty after being pummeled for years by heavy seas.  This constant barrage of wind and wave does have some advantages.  As the sea moves above the reef, it encourages the corals to grow in very interesting directions.  Long tunnels and overhangs are the calling card of the south coast.  The deep walls, often starting around 70 feet are just as dynamic.  Coral buttresses and pinnacles can be found all along the south coast.  Pallase Pinnacles and Eenie Meenie Miney Mo are excellent examples of incredible south side pinnacle dive sites.

During the summer months, the Cayman Islands are invaded by millions of dwarf herring locally known as silversides.  These tiny fish seek shelter during the day and the south coast of Grand Cayman makes for a perfect hiding ground for these tiny, silvery creatures.  Sites like iron Shore Gardens come alive as the herring fill every hole and tunnel.  Pockets of these fish are also found in the area between Ned’s Tunnels and Prospect Reef.  Like most islands, some of the best diving can be found on the corners and the southeast corner is no exception.  This area is home to The Maze, Pat’s Wall and Old Issac’s to name a few.  These sites should definitely be on your bucket list! Here are a few of our favorites!

Japanese Gardens

A maze of bushel coral heads greets the divers, each teeming with marine life. Enjoy this dive for the chimneys, tunnels, and archways that pop up all over this site.It’s a new experience every time you dive with endless opportunities to explore and find your way through the network of coral heads. Finding a maximum depth of 55 feet we consider it one of the more beautiful and fun dive sites on the Southside.

Bullwinkle

At a maximum of 50 feet, this shallow site is chock-full of huge elk and staghorn coral.We guess no one got the memo that Bullwinkle is a moose! Great for snorkelers as well, the pin sits on top of the shallow reef at 20feet, descend into canyons and channels cut through the reef exposing lobsters and lionfish trying to shy away from prying eyes. Due to the different ways, the currents flow on the Southside arch ways of beautiful corals shape the landscape – be sure to watch your buoyancy!

Pallas Wreck East/West

Off in the distance, you can see the wreckage of the Pallas sticking out above the reef. Crashed upon the reef in 1910 from Hurricane Cuba, the three-masted ship met its watery end. Today, unable to moore up to it less the boat meet the same fate we dive and snorkel just off to the side on the nearest reef. Through swim through and 30-foot sheer cliffs into the sand, the topography on this site takes your breath away. With incredibly healthy corals encouraging an abundant marine ecosystem it’s one of our favorites. Keep your eyes out for Eagle rays grazing and nurse sharks having a nap in the sand.

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