Jim Andrews, owner of the Cayman Diving Lodge, is accustomed to
seeing huge groups of silverside minnows cascade around divers off
Grand Cayman’s East End. But he had never seen the kind of
spectacle they provided in June 2001, when literally millions of
the shimmering fish along with platinum-colored tarpon created an
underwater kaleidoscope of light that filled every cavern and
grotto in sight.
“What you see is millions of tiny shiny fish that move in unison
and circle around whatever intrudes their space,” Andrews said.
“I’m used to seeing silversides, but this ... was more than anyone
here had ever seen.’’
The Cayman Islands specializes in the unusual, making it a top
spot for divers.
Last January, a group diving the Tiara Tunnels off Cayman Brac
snapped to attention as a 6-foot hammerhead shark floated by, said
Michael Hillier, general manager of the Divi Tiara Beach Resort.
“That’s rare,’’ he said, sounding a bit envious that he hadn’t been
there to see it himself.
Hillier has had his share of surprises in his 10 years diving
the Caymans. Recently he got friendly with a goliath grouper that
had taken up residence in a 300-foot Russian warship once used by
the Cuban government and now a submerged wreck.
The three Cayman Islands Grand, Little and Brac are outcroppings
of a sub-marine mountain range bordering an underwater canyon that
plummets four miles down, to the deepest point in the Caribbean
Sea. And the lack of rivers means there is little runoff from
islands, blessing the Caymans with arguably the clearest water in
The Cayman Diving Lodge (800-852-3483; www.divelodge. com) is
located on Grand Cayman’s East End. Dive packages include three
meals and more and start at $1,345 per person for seven nights and
six days of diving. Commission is 10 percent.
Divi Tiara Beach Resort (800-433-3483; www.diviresorts.com) is
located on Cayman Brac. Dive packages start at $940 per person for
seven nights and six days of diving. Commissions range from 5
percent to 20 percent, depending on group size.
Reef Resort’s (888-232-0541; www. thereef.com.ky) “Dive Vacation
Special” includes five nights on Grand Cayman, car rental, three
dives and one special three-tank “Dive Safari,” for $689 per
person. Commissions are 10 percent.