(This video titled, “Snorkeling Rum Point, Grand Cayman,” was taken by Joshua Turner and posted on his “Snorkel Blog.”)
You don’t have to scuba to experience Grand Cayman’s gorgeous fish and coral reef formations. Because of it’s exceptional visibility, Grand Cayman is one of the best islands in the Caribbean for snorkeling! The water is so much clearer here than almost any other island.
Unlike Scuba, you don’t have to take classes and become certified to snorkel, however, you’re still swimming in open water. It’s imperative to have a health respect for the power of the ocean. Having comfortable equipment and command of a few easy to master skills will make all of the difference in the quality of your experience.
I personally recommend purchasing a well-fitting mask and snorkel from your local dive shop before arriving on the island. Red Sail Sports and White Sand Water Sports and, Silver Thatch Cayman (opening January, 2018) all rent snorkel equipment. They generally only carry one brand of mask which may not properly fit the shape of your face. Not only is a leaky mask uncomfortable, but it can also be unsafe if it causes you to feel panic and require assistance from your boat crew. So, even if you hate to spend the money on what you think will only be a one-time experience, I encourage you to go ahead and do it. You’ll never outgrow your equipment and the benefit of being comfortable in the water is worth every penny.
Except when swimming with the stingrays, fins are a must when snorkeling anywhere in Grand Cayman. The high salinity of the Caribbean increases your buoyancy but you may encounter strong currents, even near shore. Fins give you the power necessary to push through those currents. If you don’t want to spend the money on fins or pack them in your suitcase, you can always rent fins once you’re on island. Just make sure you get a good fit. Fins should fit snugly on your feet, almost tight but not uncomfortably so. Don’t get into the water with loose fins. They will loosen a bit once you start swimming and you don’t want to lose a fin in the ocean.
Now that you have well-fitting equipment, you’ll want to practice in your villa or hotel pool before getting into the ocean. Most of our Grand Cayman Villas and Condos rentals have pools so that shouldn’t be a problem. Make sure your mask doesn’t leak. Make sure your fins feel good. Experience what it feels like to have water in your snorkel and practice blowing it out.
If you there are 12 people or less in your party, I highly recommend booking a private snorkel charter. Not only is it cost effective, but you’ll be able to avoid the crowds and take your time on the reefs. You’ll be able to enter into the water when you’re ready and not be rushed by strangers waiting in line to jump in behind you. You’ll also see many more fish by more going in a small group. Best of all, you’ll also be able to spend as much or as little time as you like at each site – leisurely floating along and taking it all in.
Not all private charters are created equally. There are many island locals with boats who advertise private charters but not all are equally safety conscious and not all are professional. Our sister company, Silver Thatch Charters provides a 27 foot new Boston Whaler and an Australian Captain, George, who is a certified professional and knows all of the best spots. Captain George is a certified SCUBA instructor, CPR certified, and has a great personality to boot! He will tailor the experience to your personal needs and make you feel at home. George also knows all of the best snorkel sites and will take you where other groups can’t go. To inquire, email firstname.lastname@example.org
To sum it up, you don’t have to SCUBA to experience Grand Cayman’s crystal blue waters, but you do need to take some time to read about snorkel safety and practice with your equipment in order to get the most out of your snorkeling experience!
For more information, I encourage you to explore the website, Tropical Snorkeling. There’s a great article titled, “First Time Snorkeling, Essential Tips for Beginners.”