A Trip to Grand Cayman – September 2012


Getting There

The great thing about living in Florida is that we are part of the Caribbean. If you don’t think so, go visit the Florida Keys – then get back to me. think of it this way, from Miami – Curacao and St Thomas are just a 3 hour flight. Bahamas are a matter of minutes away. If we ever get past 1958, Cuba will be the same distance as Freeport. But till then the real jewel has to be the 1-hour flight to Grand Cayman.

Going to Grand Cayman is as pleasurable as the time spent on Grand Cayman. Cayman Airways is the nicest airline I have ever flown. I think the main reason is – they get it. Tourism is a big industry for Grand Cayman and they want people to come back. For divers, this is apparent on the return home flight. When my dive gear was still a little wet and my luggage was over the 50lbs limit they asked me “What’s in the bags?” My response, “Dive gear.” The bags went on, no fees, and I was happy.

When I go on trips with Jeff and Donna, from JND Scuba Center, they usually find a hotel for the night before departure. I always want to stay at the hotel they pick near the departure airport (usually Miami). There are several obvious reasons, like the free parking they always find, and there is the intangible reasons – these people are great. The group that dives with them (us) are just a great group of people and the night before our flight we all go out for dinner. Our vacation begins before we ever leave.

Besides being a short flight, the flight is a picturesque flight too. Always try to get a window seat on the flight to Grand Cayman. The reason becomes apparent as the plane flies over Cuba. Pristine beaches and reefs sparkle upwards awaiting a future visit some day. Cuba’s fall into communism has had one benefit for the rest of the world – lack of development. This is clearly seen from above and the beautiful reefs smiling up.

Cobalt Coast Resort

I have been to Cobalt Coast twice and plan a third trip this year. Located on the north west side of the island, Cobalt Coast is close to everything yet is isolated. It is separated from the tourist parts of the island by a residential divide. Travel to Seven Mile Beach must be by vehicle – a walk would be too far. However, all the amenities are at the resort. This includes:

  • A place to eat.
  • A place to sleep.
  • Always easily accessible tanks (both air and nitrox).
  • A dock with a ladder for 24/7 shore diving.
  • Gear lockers and cleaning rack.
  • Great dive shop (see DiveTech, below).

What more could a diver ask for? Oh yeah, great dives and they have those.

Cobalt Coast has a main building which includes the small restaurant and many of the guest rooms. Across the street it has extra lodgings in the form of small town homes. The first year I was there I stayed out back. Although it does not have wifi there, I prefer those small town homes (but you cannot go wrong either way). Also part of the main complex is a pool. This is a great place to relax after dives.

Last, I have to mention the view. If you like the ocean you will love the view.

DIVETECH Scuba

DIVETECH is the dive operator for Cobalt Coast and Lighthouse Point. These guys and gals know there stuff. Always friendly and always willing to help when it comes to diving. And they can be quite funny. If you want to dive but feel a tad bit insecure because you are new at diving, have never dove off a boat, or whatever – these people will calm your nerves. I’ve not seen a more experienced group anywhere.

Lighthouse Point Resort

Lighthouse Point is mentioned here because if you stay at Cobalt Coast you can get a trip over to Lighthouse Point to shore dive there. It is well worth the short travel time. The shore dive is set up the same as at Cobalt Coast. Pick a tank, strap in, walk out – dive, dive, dive.

The shore dive here is amazing. The is a wall about a hundred yards off from a smaller wall. In between is a sand valley. The distant wall has a coral reef all along its edge and fingers reach toward the shore. Just beautiful. While over the sand, which goes to a depth of around 75-80 feet you can take spectacular photos of divers in crystal clear water.

Kittiwake

The Kittiwake is a recently sunk artificial reef. It is as shallow as an artificial reef comes. Depth to the sand is a mere 58 feet. It has been cut up to allow penetration dives to be conducted for anyone safely. Night dives on it are the best. If you get to Grand Cayman make sure to take the time to dive this wreck. At that depth a strong hurricane may do some “shifting.” All that means is that we’ll have to dive it again.

Final Check

The only thing I had trouble with on my trip to Grand Cayman was my regulator’s yoke adapter would not fit the valves on the tanks. The first year there I was able to procure a ScubaPro yoke adapter for my Dive Rite regulator from DIVETECH. That worked flawlessly. By the time I went in 2012 I had bought my own ScubaPro yoke adapter. No one else had this trouble and I believe it is an issue only with the size of the Dive Rite adapter.

by DirgaDiver

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “A Trip to Grand Cayman – September 2012

  1. I so enjoyed your trip accounts re Saba and Grand Cayman. I also stayed at Cobalt Coast resort and dove with Dive Tech. I would add a couple of things. My favorite thing at Cobalt Coast was to sit in the hot tub next to the pool. Late at night I had it all to myself – me, the ocean and a gazillion stars. Re Tech Divers, I took the specialty course for drive propulsion vehicles and it was terrific. One of the dives we went through what was called tarpon alley. There was a huge cave on one side, about halfway through the “alley” and a school of tarpon swimming in circles: 1/2 the circle inside the cave, and 1/2 out in the “alley”. So they were right next to us – a few feet away – going at the same speed. It was really thrilling. On our non-diving day I rented a car and explored the island, including the town called Hell, with it’s own post office – so you could send postcards from Hell. Stopped for lunch at the very picturesque Lighthouse Restaurant on Bodden Town Road – gorgeous oceanfront setting with tables on decks out over the water. Next I explored the Queen Elizabeth II Botanical Gardens, and I particularly enjoyed the Pedro St. James National Historic Site – the multi-media presentation, complete with stormy weather (inside the theater!), music videos, photos and a skilled story teller inside the building was very creative and very informative re island history.
    Saba is my very favorite island for diving. I made a day trip over from St. Maarten’s just to explore the island (no diving) and the following week visited it again on a down island sail on the live aboard trimaran, Cuan Law out of Tortola. We stopped on our way from St. Maarten’s to Nevis, St. Kitt’s, St. Barth’s and again on our return trip and had terrific diving both days. The Cuan Law was one of only 2 live aboards which were grandfathered in to be allowed into the marine preserve – park when it was established back in 1987. Two years later I talked a dive buddy into spending a whole week on the island. We stayed at Scout’s Place – great value for the money and dove with Saba Divers. (We were the only Americans there – everyone else was from Europe.) The hike to the Rain Forest Cafe was great. I made my personal deepest dive at Saba, down to 134 feet to get to the top of one of the sea mounts – we carefully planned our dives to allow enough ascent time, but even so, I was glad to know that Saba’s medical school has a hyperbaric medicine program and it’s own hyperbaric recompression chamber, with skilled docs. Fun facts: did you know that Saba was the model for Skull Island in the very first King Kong movie? (Black & white, filmed in the 1933, available on VCR/DVD/Blu-ray). The film used Saba’s silhouette as the backdrop in the beginning for King Kong’s “Skull Island” home. Also, did you get any of the island’s local liquor? I bought a couple of bottles from the taxi driver (his wife made it). The label reads: “Saba Spice Liquor – Made on the Island of Saba by Mrs. Patsy Hassell, Lionshill, Netherlands Antilles. It’s – a sweet, homemade rum-based liquor only available on the island. The women of Saba have been making this stuff in their kitchens for generations, each household employing its own, unique combinations of spices handed down through the ages to create one of a kind flavors. Lots of fun places for dinner on the island, too – Brigadoon, Eden, & Willard’s of Saba, now known as the Shearwater Resort. Karaoke night Scout’s Place was a highlight. Fun to watch/listen to the Europeans singing Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Barry Manilow, etc.

    Hey, I’ve gone on at too great a length, but writing this brought back memories of some terrific travel/dives.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s