Best snorkeling in the Caribbean for underwater photography

Caribbean - Grand Cayman

Definitely recommended as a holiday destination and quite highly for snorkelling photography

caribbean reef squid
During first visit, the 10 days we were there, a weather front went through which totally ruined the visibility for the first week.

Second visit in October 2013, weather was calm and visibility was very good.   Books and websites state that it is normally excellent.

Perhaps we have been spoilt but we weren't bowled over by the abundance of corals and fish, although I suppose there was quite a variety of fish if you looked hard enough.
There are substantial differences in what was to photograph on the Northern and Western sides of the island and the seascapes differed markedly.

Ideally go when likely to have access to the North.

Would others like it?   I think so.

It might depend on what else you want.   An island retreat it is not.

Is very much a sort of Florida on an island.

Outline of Grand Cayman - with snorkeling spots shown in yellow
Outline map of Grand Cayman
Access to the recommended spots generally easy.

Clearly the wind and waves restricted choice of our few snorkelling spots on the first visit.   Specifically, dives on the North coast were excluded plus the boat trip to Stingray City.   Calm is necessary for these.   Second visit, all were accessible.

Snorkels included:-
 1 - Starfish Point,   2 - Rum Point,
 4 - Barefoot Beach, 10 - Eden Rock,
12 - Governor's Reef,   13 - Cemetery Beach,
14 - North West Point and 16 - Stingray City.
 1 - Starfish Point
 2 - Rum Point (Red Sail Dive Center)
 3 - Old Man's Bay
 4 - Queen's Monument/ Barefoot Beach/
Anchor Point/ Wreck of Geneva Kathleen/
Laughing Waters (aka Great Beach)
 5 - East End - Colliers
 6 - East End - Morritt's Tortuga Club
 7 - Bodden Town - Beach Bay
 8 - Armchair Reef
 9 - South Sound - Smith's Cove/ Blue Parrott
10 - Cheeseburgur Reef/ Wreck of the Cali/
Paradise/ Eden Rock/ Parrott's Landing/
Devil's Grotto/ Seaview Reef

Cushion sea starfish in Turtle grass
Cushion Searstar
1 - Starfish Point, Cayman Kai
Incredibly easy access, pop in and shoot yourself one of these colourful, still and easy to photograph, colourful critters.

Visibility was poor when we were there (first visit).   Despite swimming out and diving to our maximum depth we didn't see any other signs of life.   As is near the entrance to a marina we were nervous of spending too much time 'under'.   You could grab a snack at the nearby beach bar.

We'd recommend snapping one of these guys then getting out and go to try to find somewhere more interesting (Rum Point - weather permitting).

Needlefish outwards from under the jetty Needlefish
2 - Rum Point
Busy beach spot, easy access, a small jetty and very helpful dive centre ( Red Sail).

First visit the wind made snorkelling impossible but second time was calm and totally worthwhile.   Coral and fish got better out about twice the length of the jetty (slightly to the right).   The depth remained relatively constant.

So, after a few calm days - Rum Point.   Hire a car, drive right around the island and make a day of it.   Spend 5 minutes snapping starfish at Starfish Point first (only 5 minutes drive away).
French grunts envelop a Staghorn coral
French grunts around a staghorn coral

Caribbean reef squid - Grand Cayman Caribbean reef squid
4_Barefoot_beach
Very difficult to find an entrance but well worth it.  Park in the trees near the beach.   Access is easy.

Swim out above sea grass which gives way to mainly soft corals.   Fish weren't abundant but enough and visibility varied.   Neverthless, this place is totally recommended if conditions are kind.

No obvious current while we were there and snorkelling area is quite extensive.
Porous sea rod corals like a row of shrubs
a row of porous sea rods like a row of shrubs

Foureye butterflyfish and corals Houndfish?
10 - Eden Rock
Edge of town in a busy harbour, but visibility very good due to lack of beach and coral sand.   Very easy access down a ladder.

Unusual underwater landscape due to corals and architecture of the rock bottom.   Fish are fairly varied but not overly numerous.   Corals add interest, although one variety is quite dominant.   From further reading it is very clear we didn't swim out far enough to the main snorkeling area.

Snorkeling points 8 to 10 - or even 11, likely to be quite similar, although ran out of time to try them.
Sea fan corals - (Wide mesh?)
Corals at Eden Rock

French grunts
French Grunts
13 - Cemetery Reef (Cemetery beach)
At the North end of Seven Mile Beach - very easy access. Look from the shore for the darker reef areas and swim out for 5 or 10 minutes for the better areas.   As it shallows gently it is not deep even some way out.

Fish not exactly abundant but certainly good enough.   No current to speak of either time we were there.   Generally a nice, relaxing snorkelling photography area.
Coral at Cemetery Beach
Pink coral at Cemetery Beach

French angelfish (older juvenile) Juvenile French angelfish
14 - North West Point
First visit, entered via a small boat launch ramp/ inlet - North West (Point?) Harbour - just 200 metres South of the turtle farm.   Access easy and visibility very good due to rock rather than sand.   Current could make exit difficult if swept past narrow entrance.   Drop-off close to shore.

On second visit, much better and safer access (down a ladder into a protected small inlet) just North of Turtle farm at the Cracked Conch Bar.   Plus a juice, or whatever, on your exit - nice.
Foureye butterflyfish
Foureye butterflyfish

Up close with a Southern stingray Up close and personnal with a Southern stingray
16 - Stingray city
A half-day boat trip which we did with Red Sail Sports and were totally happy with their offering.

You are taken to, and stand on, a sand bar no more than 3' deep.   Southern stingrays come up to be fed.  Unusually, a Bottlenose dolphin also appeared.

There is also a free-time, half hour snorkel.   Visibility was good and plenty of fish plus good corals, albeit some junk on the reef surrounds.  Different and good, especially when calm.
'Stinky' the Bottlenose dolphin appeared
Stinky the Bottlenose dolphin


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