After getting a taste for Grand Cayman snorkeling in our own backyard at the villa and on our jet ski tour, we decided to squeeze in one last adventure on our remaining full day on the island by booking a snorkeling trip with Tortuga Divers. As luck would have it, there were two spots open on the trip for Friday afternoon. Yay!
We met the dive boat at Tortuga’s dive shop in East End, only a few minutes from where we were staying. At $25 each, this was easily the best value of anything we did/ate/purchased on the island all week. The fee included a 2+ hour trip out to Sunset Reef (the location is chosen on a daily basis depending on the weather), snorkel equipment, and a few refreshments on board. It’s also worth mentioning that the entire Tortuga staff in the dive shop and aboard the boat were all so incredibly friendly.
Our captain, Dave, took our group out to the reef which was maybe a 10-minute boat ride from the dive shop. I think there were about a dozen or so divers and snorkelers total – a small Resort Dive class and a few of us snorkelers. This was the first time I had ever been on a dive boat so I don’t have anything to compare, but it seemed clean and well-organized/equipped. Chris and I chose to sit topside for the breathtaking view. I can definitely attest to how awesome the crew was – they offered us drinks, helped me on and off the boat, and even spotted and pointed out some huge eagle rays along the way. Safety was notably their number one concern, but they also made sure we were all set to have a really great time.
Once we moored near the reef, Captain Dave gave the snorkelers a safety briefing and an overview of the area including what we could expect to see and where we should plan to swim. (The Resort Dive class was on the deck below, doing their own briefing, and they entered the water first.) When I saw where we would be heading, I was a little nervous because we’d be swimming
hundreds of miles kind of far from the boat and I had never done that before! But I was mostly excited to push the envelope of my comfort zone, and guess what? It was so incredibly gorgeous underwater that I didn’t even care how far I was from the boat.
We saw lots of healthy colorful coral, sponges, butterflyfish, tangs, sergeant majors, surgeonfish, schoolmasters, wrasses, rainbow parrotfish, and a teeny tiny jellyfish. I’m still working on my underwater photography skills, especially since when I dive down I’m immediately sucked back to the top due to my fantastic buoyancy, but we did get a few shots. I found a striped trumpetfish, and Chris chased after a huge angelfish and got some great photos. I was also shooting with my GoPro Hero 2 and didn’t realize it can’t focus underwater with the housing I have, so sadly dozens of photos from this trip are unusable. Thankfully we had the S95 for these shots:
If we’re ever able to get back to Grand Cayman we’d absolutely snorkel (or dive?!) again with Tortuga Divers! I highly recommend it for everyone – families, couples, solo travelers, and even ocean scaredycats.