Are you leaving the hustle and bustle of Grand Cayman’s west coast behind for a quieter diving experience in the East End? No matter how long you’re stopping by this part of our island, there are plenty of spectacular dive sites waiting for you to explore.
At Tortuga Divers, our Grand Cayman East End diving excursions are a gateway to some of the least crowded, most well-preserved ecosystems in our waters. The near-pristine environment off the east coast is a joy to explore, and we’d love to show you around!
Before you arrive, however, let us take you on an exciting journey through some of the East End’s most exceptional dive sites, where you’ll discover thriving marine life and captivating underwater landscapes.
Let’s dive in! And if you have any questions for us in the meantime, please get in touch.
What to Expect When Diving in Grand Cayman’s East End
Before we visit specific sites, let us briefly tell you what you can expect from your diving experience in the East End’s waters. It’s important to note that the east coast is the windward side of our island.
As is often the case, this has resulted in the development of a barrier reef with high-relief formations rich in grottoes, undercuts, and crevices, with deep canyons dividing them.
This means you can explore a network of tunnels, arches, and caverns winding through the foundational, ancient limestone that underpins the reef.
And because Grand Cayman is a flat island with no river runoff, visibility in our waters is exceptional. On average, it’s anywhere between 80 to 120 ft.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Grand Cayman with a plunging wall. Like dive sites in the west and north, the East End has awe-inspiring wall dives. They start at around 60ft before plunging to a depth of around a mile.
Taking in the enormous vertical faces dropping into the abyss feels even more dramatic after negotiating the smaller confines of sand chutes, caves, and tunnels.
It’s within this environment that you can explore the following dive sites.
Discover Natural Wonders and Bygone Relics at Anchor Point
Located off Barefoot Beach on the island’s northeast coast, Anchor Point primarily consists of sharp, steep cliffs. As a result, this site offers wall dives with depths ranging from 55 to 100 ft.
Some of the highlights include brightly coloured sponges, a swim-through with sea plumes that resemble snowy fir trees, and possible turtle sightings.
The name Anchor Point came about because this is where the fringing reef disappears and navigators from early ships that anchored there were able to get to shore in the Cayman Islands. Keep your eyes peeled for remnants of this time, from stray anchors to shipwrecks!
Did you know it’s possible to explore the waters off the East Coast at night too? Check out our thrilling Grand Cayman Night Dive departing from Moritts Tortuga Resort dock for more information.
Marvel at the Spectacle Beneath the Waves at Northern Lights
Situated in the Old Man Bay dive zone, Northern Lights offers dives with depths ranging from 40 to 100ft. The deepest areas are at the drop-off.
You can find an impressively diverse range of marine life here, from coral reefs and sponges to fish and invertebrates. Just some of the species you will likely encounter include, elkhorn, brain, and fire coral, barrel, rope, and tube sponges, as well as barracuda, parrotfish, angelfish, and butterflyfish.
The Northern Lights’ name refers to the mesmerising play of sunlight on the coral and the dive site is opposite the Northern Light condominium. This phenomenon creates a remarkable range of colours that appear to dance beneath the surface. Due to this stunning show, the site is popular with photographers — so don’t forget your camera!
Both Northern Lights and Anchor Point, as well as Babylon below, are part of our sister company, Red Sail Sports’ 1-Tank East Wall Dive.
Venture into an Ancient Underwater Garden at Babylon
As you may already have guessed, Babylon takes its name from the Hanging Gardens of Babylon — and it more than lives up to its famous namesake! The shallow area at the top of the wall here is teeming with marine life, including intricate coral formations, beautiful eagle rays, and curious reef sharks.
However, the star of the show at Babylon is its freestanding, towering pinnacle. This remarkable feature is rated as one of the very best dive sites in the Caribbean, not just the Cayman Islands.
But best of all, Babylon is easy to access and its swim-throughs, canyons, crevices, and alcoves are ideal for beginner divers.
If you’re at the start of your diving journey, why not check out our range of PADI dive courses in Grand Cayman?
Dive into a Real Life Nature Documentary at Snapper Hole
Sitting in the East End dive zone, you will quickly realise why Snapper Hole is a favourite dive site with locals and visitors alike. This area is famous for its maze-like network of tunnels, swim-throughs, crevasses, caverns, and arches.
There’s plenty of natural beauty to admire, including a coral head nicknamed Papa Smurf’s House due to its Mushroom-like shape. And there are historical features too. For example, Snapper Hole is home to a Spanish-style anchor dating back to 1872.
Such is the diversity and kaleidoscopic wonder at Snapper Hole that the BBC even filmed here for a nature documentary in 2014.
Discover the Varied Formations of Kelly’s Caverns
Kelly’s Caverns is an incredible dive site on the island’s south coast with three distinct sections. First, there are the tunnels and canyons that Half Moon Bay is renowned for. The nooks and crannies here are home to some of Grand Cayman’s shyest creatures, so approach slowly!
The next section, at a depth of around 45 to 50ft, is the rubble field running along the edge of a mini wall. Keep an eye out for the Purple Crowned Sea Goddess, a beautiful but rare sea slug.
A short distance beyond the rubble field is a wonderful vast sweep of white sand. You may encounter barracuda here as well as sand-dwelling creatures like yellow-headed jawfish and pike blennies.
Our 2-Tank AM Shallow Dive visits nearby sites on the south coast (as well as others further afield), including Ironshore Gardens and Dragon’s Lair.
Enjoy a Quintessential Cayman Dive at High Rock Drop-Off
This remarkable dive site has all the ingredients you could want from a Grand Cayman dive. It has sheer plunges that fall into the abyss, soft corals gently waving with ocean currents, a varied range of reef fish, and countless cracks, crevices, and nooks hiding surprises!
You may even see Hawksbill turtles, the most common turtle species in our waters. They’re as curious as they are relaxed, so you can even have a close encounter with one!
High Rock Drop-Off has depths as shallow as 45 ft and is protected from the worst of the elements. All this adds up to a site that always delivers for divers of every level.
Immerse Yourself in the Wonders of Fish Tank
There are some evocative names on this list, but our last is simple yet wholly accurate. Fish Tank attracts an extraordinary amount of fish life, making it a bustling hive of activity. As you glide around this site, it’s easy to picture a reef city filled with fish inhabitants going about their days.
Depths at Fish Tank range from 30 to 60 ft and one of the undoubted highlights is a large pillar coral formation. This coral species grows from a solid bottom upward, and it does so incredibly slowly. The pillar coral here is around 10 to 80 feet tall, so this is a truly ancient growth.
Among the incredible range of marine life, look out for Lettuce Sea Slugs. These amazing animals can photosynthesise, earning them the nickname of solar-powered slugs.
Dive in Grand Cayman’s East End with Tortuga Divers!
It’s impossible to cover all the incredible dive sites that the East End has to offer in a single blog, so there are plenty more besides those listed here.
So now that you’ve read about the best diving in Grand Cayman’s East End, it’s time to enjoy the complete experience with our friendly and passionate team!