The 40 different Cayman Island diving sites around the Cayman Brac ensure you will find a variety of experiences. We’ve listed a few of the sites below.
Russian Frigate 356 – MV Capt. Keith Tibbetts
Sunk in September 1996, this 330 foot vessel is an amazing dive. The bow sits in 85 feet of water, with the stern in 60 feet. The radar tower starts in about 30 feet, so this is an excellent dive for snorkelers as well as divers. Over 100 species of marine life have been documented in the short time she has been down. The wreck has been made diver friendly and portions of it are penetrable.
Bloody Bay Wall – Dive Site
From Cayman Brac Beach Resort, you can dive some of the world’s finest Caribbean wall diving at Bloody Bay and Jackson’s Reef Walls. The drop-off begins at only 18 feet then sinks quickly into deep blue along this more than a mile-long stretch of the island’s north shore. Coral and sponges of all types, colors, and sizes cascade downward as you slowly descend along the wall. Small caves and ledges honeycomb these walls providing an interesting visual terrain and hiding places for shy, elusive critters. You can dive at depths from 40-100 feet here depending on your comfort level. Grouper, horse-eye jacks, triggerfish, and many small tropical fish make this area come alive and are ready to pose for that special shot.
Tarpon Reef – Island Diving
This medium depth spur and groove area along the Brac’s south side is home to several dozen Tarpon that spend their days clustered in groups among the tunnels and crevices. These shimmering, silvery fish, some reaching up to five feet in length, will remain fairly calm and still when approached slowly, providing great photographic opportunities. Another inspiring photo subject is a nearby stand of Pillar Coral, rising along a knoll looking somewhat like a tall cactus towering over the seascape. Tarpon Reef features several of these formations as well as Elkhorn Corals, Star Corals and abundant soft corals.
The sand gullies between the large ridges of Tarpon Reef reach a depth of about 50 feet while the crests of the ridges may rise to within 20 feet of the surface. Visibility at this site tends to be quite variable. Nurse Sharks are sometimes seen in the undercuts, and along the tops of the ridges your find the usual assortment of colorful tropical fish, an occasional Barracuda and a variety of Parrotfish.
One of several pristine wall sites along the Brac’s south side, Wilderness Wall evokes a feeling of the mystical and primordial. This dramatically plunging drop-off is nearly virginal in its presentation, with an abundance of healthy corals, sponges and a wealth of marine life to captivate even the most jaded diver. Canyons and crevices cut through the wall all along the drop-off, some plunging far beyond the reach of earthly visitors. An immense pinnacle rises away from the wall to within 100 feet of the surface (forming a corridor along the reef for pelagics up from the abyss), while the wall itself begins at about 50 feet.
Wilderness Wall attracts a large following of Nassau Groupers, stingrays, turtles, schooling Horse-Eye Jacks, Snappers and Angelfish. Delicate gorgonians hang along the sides of the crevices and promontories, accented by rope sponges, hard corals and large, bulbous tube sponges. The sponges in this area reach enormous proportions and come in brilliant shades of red, yellow, orange, purple and green.
Bert Brothers Boulders
The Bert Brothers are a family of Brackers long involved in local dive operations. Their namesake is appropriately one of the most beautiful dive spots off the island. A medium depth reef at 40 feet, this north side site is dominated by tightly spaced spur and groove ridges that form mountains of coral heads between the inshore sands and the offshore wall. The tops of the ridges are graced with beautiful Elkhorn Corals, the narrow gullies between feature soft corals, tube sponges and hard corals.
Swim-throughs and large undercuts provide hiding places for a large Green Moray Eel that has been in residence here for some time. The sponge-trimmed openings are also perfect framing for wide-angle photography, with filtering sunlight pouring down through the gaping chasms to the sandy floor.
Greenhouse, also known as “Screensaver Reef,” is not just an ordinary medium depth dive site. Here, among the spur and groove formations, you’re likely to find all sorts of creatures. Marine life at Greenhouse may include Moray Eels winding through crevices in the gullies looking for a meal, friendly Angelfish darting in and out of the soft corals and turtles cruising over the tops of the coral ridges. With its proximity to the Brac’s shallow north shoreline, Greenhouse also has frequent visits from schooling Squid, hovering in groups of a dozen or more near the mooring or lining up in formation near the surface.
Macro photographers will sometimes find Flamingo Tongues perched on the large purple seafans at 20 to 30 feet as well as Arrowcrabs, Longspined Sea Urchins and Bristleworms hiding among the cracks. The coral ridges are adorned with abundant hard and soft corals, Tube Sponges and Barrel Sponges.
East Chute / Cayman Mariner
East Chute, one of the Brac’s most popular sites, features not only the exhilarating wall, but also a small wreck along the inshore sand area. East Chute begins at about 45 feet, marked by a large, sand-filled canyon spilling over the ledge into the abyss. The wall is decorated with Red Rope Sponges, Yellow Tube Sponges and large Barrel Sponges.
A short distance inshore, in 55 feet on a sand bottom, the Cayman Mariner rests with a modest growth of soft corals and sponges along her exterior and inside the hull. Sunk in 1986, she now attracts exciting marine life such as turtles, Green Moray Eels and schooling Barracuda.
The name means hidden riches. This site is an amazing dive with narrow channels and tunnels. It is a tightly packed, long spur and groove coral formation with depths ranging between 25’ and 60’. Near to the south east point of the island it is a coral formation that grew from hard corals such as Stag horn and Elkhorn coral. A great spot for turtles feeding on sponges and nurse sharks hiding under ledges.
The name Gillembo is the local name for the “Super Male” Rainbow Parrotfish which grows to a maximum of 5’. The mooring is located on the South Side in 60’ of water. Heading south from the mooring one can do the wall. It is a very shear wall dropping into the deep blue of the Cayman Trench. To the North is a pristine reef that sits in the 40-45’ range.
Great new site on the North side of the island in Stake Bay. Just under the boat are two pinnacles that come up to about 15’. A spur and groove formation that is very wide. The reef creates a bowl containing a wide sandy area. The reef has nice ledges for grouper, eels, and nurse sharks to linger.
Another of Stake Bay’s treasures. 25-60’ dive site, spur and groove. Great location for gorgonians and soft corals. Lynn’s is a great place for juvenile spotted drums and schools of squid.
Located directly in front of Scott’s Cemetery is about the only creepy thing associated with this dive. This is a great shallow spot starting at 25’. Heading out from the dive site is a sandy plane loaded with southern rays, eagle rays, furry sea cucumbers, and garden eels. Directly under the boat is the “Lobster Hotel” where it is common to find 4-5 of the crazy spotted crustaceans hanging out.
Out past the western point of the island is a mini wall that the staff has enjoyed diving for years. The site was difficult to do because the boat had to drop anchor. Now it is a moored site that we can easily share with the guests. It is a great location for the blue and midnight parrotfish. Moving off the mini wall to the outside are isolated coral heads that are home to several Nassau grouper.
Cayman Brac Dive Sites by Type
Famous Ship Wreck of Cayman Brac
Definitely, the most popular reason new divers come to Cayman Brac is to dive the famous Russian Destroyer. She was purchased and sunk on a sandy plateau off the northeast end of Cayman Brac September 17, 1996. Jean-Michael Cousteau, a marine biologist and strong advocate for reef protection, was present for the sinking. In fact Cousteau, donning full scuba gear, rode the ship as it slowly sank to its final resting place. Slowly time is changing the wreck. Today she is loaded with corals and sponges. Fish ranging from the small secretary blenny to the goliath grouper live in her dark recesses. She is commonplace for moray eels, scorpion fish, and hawksbill turtles. Often large permits and ocean triggers are seen swimming the blue waters around the site. Even the sand holds a plethora of life; cushion starfish, garden eels, and thorny sea cucumbers to name a few. The location usually has 100’ plus visibility and no current. The stern sits in approximately 60’ and the bow in 85’ making it a shallow wreck dive and a photographer’s dream. Her 5” canons can be seen in magazines the world over.
Truth be told, the M/V Keith Tibbetts is not a Destroyer but a Brigadier Type II Class frigate. 14 of the frigates were built in Nakhodka at the Zelenodolsk Shipyard between 1975 and 1988. NATO’s reporting name for this particular type of anti-submarine vessel is the Kona II. It was built in 1984 for approximately 30 million dollars (US), and before splitting into two sections in 1998 the ship was 330’ and a 42’ wide. Due to a loss of funding in Russia’s overseas programs, the entire crew was repatriated to Russia in 1992, She sat abandon in Cuba until the Cayman Government purchased her for 200 thousand dollars (US). Now she is visited by divers nearly everyday to traverse her hallways and rooms.
Originally named Patrol Vessel 356, the Cayman Government renamed the vessel the Captain Keith Tibbetts in honor of a local Politician and businessman. Many of his achievement include; Merchant Marine in WWII, Justice of the Peace, ship builder, sea captain, over 20 years in politics (noted as one of the most famous and colorful Members of Legislative Assembly), and was the owner of a supermarket, petrol station and shipping agency.