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The Cayman Islands occupy just 100 square miles of the western Caribbean Sea and are historically famous for sea turtle fishing and ship building. But, as I discovered 100 feet below the surface on an Atlantic Submarine tour, the waters of the Cayman Islands continue to quench visitors’ thirst for adventure.
Dive, Snorkel and RepeatLocated just off the northern end of Seven Mile Beach is Grand Cayman’s newest attraction, the USS Kittiwake. Recently sunk in January 2011, the former submarine rescue vessel now bustles with squid, colorful fish and colossal groupers.
“There are a lot of great shipwrecks all over the world,” said Nancy Easterbrook, project manager of the Kittiwake and owner of Divetech dive shop. “But the thing that stands out about the Kittiwake is the shallowness of her — she’s very suitable for absolutely anyone to explore.”
Resting only eight feet from the surface at its shallowest point and 64 feet deep at the bottom, the five-deck Kittiwake is perfect for snorkelers and divers of all levels.
“We opened her up like Swiss cheese,” said Easterbrook. “There is a tremendous amount of holes, both vertical and horizontal, which allows light to penetrate the ship so you don’t have a lot of dark corners — the holes allow for safety and lots of places for people to explore.”
The Kittiwake is just one of Cayman’s 332 dive sites and is part of the island’s effort to obtain 365 official sites — one for every day of the year.
Lighthouse Point Diving AccommodationsAlso owned by Nancy and Jay Easterbrook, Lighthouse Point is the Cayman Island’s first solar and wind powered eco-development. The property features nine two-bedroom oceanfront condominiums, each fully equipped with designer kitchens, 100 percent Energy Star-rated stainless steel appliances and entertainment centers powered by green technology.
“The great part about staying at Lighthouse Point is that you can walk outside of your door and go dive,” said Jay Easterbrook.
Lighthouse Point offers vacation rentals year round. Clients can choose from various dive packages that accommodate young to old and new to experienced divers. Lighthouse Point can even host underwater wedding ceremonies and is certified to offer training to disabled people through the Handicapped Scuba Association.
A Different Way to SailThe small size of the Cayman Islands means all of its aquatic attractions are conveniently accessible by numerous catamaran companies. However, clients who want to escape the crowds and pre-set itineraries should look no further than booking a private yacht.
“If you have not chartered your own private yacht before, you are about to discover one of the best-kept travel secrets in the world,” said Jane van der Bol, owner of Cayman Luxury Charters. “They’re perfect for family gatherings, birthday fun, themed or elegant events. Water sports like snorkeling, fishing, jet and water skiing are just a few of the many activities included in our charter.”
Cayman Luxury Charters features a pristine 42-foot Sea Ray sport yacht that holds up to 10 people comfortably and sleeps six overnight.
Once on board, clients have the freedom to use the yacht as they please — whether it be visiting popular destinations such as Stingray City, taking a tour of the entire island, or, as in my case, sunset cruising with rum punch in hand. Clients can also choose from a number of unique packages, such as a three-hour Bioluminescence Tour and a High Seas Gourmet Supper Club Tour that includes a personal chef.
“We can enhance your special occasion with everything from flowers and balloons to bongo players and champagne,” added van der Bol. “Chartering your own yacht gives you the flexibility to do everything, or nothing at all.”
No matter how your clients want to experience the waters of Cayman, the possibilities are plentiful.
Cayman Island Department of Tourismwww.caymanislands.ky
Cayman Luxury Charterswww.caymanluxurycharters.com
Divetech - Lighthouse Pointwww.lighthouse-point-cayman.com