Text by Jennifer Bowen

As you swim away from the Iron shore of Grand Cayman, you’ll witness a mesmerizing dance from the sun’s reflection mingling with the gentle ripples of the Caribbean Sea, creating a delightful, harmonious performance that unfolds against the backdrop of the expansive white sand.

Amidst the serene ebb and flow of the tides, one can observe exhilarating encounters, from the effortless underwater flight of stingrays to the elegant swaying of garden eels poking out of their burrows. As you move towards the outer reef, you will encounter magnificent coral mountains brimming with diverse and vibrant marine life. Upon crossing the threshold of the Cayman wall, you will experience a breathtaking descent as you gaze down into the vast expanse of the mysterious and captivating deep blue abyss. In your immediate sight, you will see dozens of rocky ledges jutting outwards, each 50 feet deeper than the one above.

You’ll witness a spectacle of tropical fish scatter swiftly among the sprawling coral formations, while you drift alongside colossal barrel sponges that have anchored themselves firmly to the sheer rocky slope. As you explore deeper, the water becomes more transparent, achieving an unbelievable clarity that is only diminished by the intensity of sunrays that penetrate from above. At approximately 300 feet, the sand chute you've been pursuing suddenly plunges to a vertical drop. Countless grains of sand spill over the edge, seemingly without end, simulating an enormous hourglass that creates quite a mesmerizing sight.

Holding your descent, you’ll notice the playful nudge of the placid current accompany you as you turn to observe the magnificent wall formations that curve sharply along the contour of the island. You’ll observe the strange and mysterious long arms of the black corals jutting away from their rocky anchors, bridging into the clear blue water. While noting how they oddly resemble the fruitless branches of autumn’s barren trees. Occasionally, a curious, lonely lobster will peek out to observe your presence, stretching out their antennas, keenly detecting your vibe as they purposely watch you swim past.

As your dive continues, you’ll feel the current intensify once you approach the edge of a large pinnacle where sea-life flourishes in the nutrient-rich water. Prepare to be astounded by the extremely immense orange and red elephant ear coral sponges, beautifying the edge of the apex, some reaching 15 feet or larger. You’ll want to take time to experience the sight of the long yellow and orange tube sponges host an abundance of tiny creatures that make the perfect subjects for macro photography.

As you approach the pinnacle's end, an expansive view opens up before you, revealing hundreds of feet of near perfect visibility. In between the coral covered pinnacles, the winding wall curves inwards towards yet another pristinely white sand chute, creating a stunning contrast with its natural deep blue background that helps to display more flamboyant colored coral reefs to explore.

Don’t forget to look up. The view from below is breathtaking as the sun’s rays penetrate the surface, creating enchanting circles of light, visible from 300 feet below the surface. Your ascent will be nothing short of sensational, as you continue to observe the plethora of marine life forms that busily sail past virtually endlessly. Sights such as the Hawksbill turtles are certain to elicit a smile, owing to their characteristic behavior of slowing down to attentively acknowledging your presence. And the continuous kaleidoscope of sponges and coral colors that dress nearly every inch of seabed will leave you in wonderment of this peaceful, vibrant, underwater, art-museum.

Stopping to complete the remaining 60 minutes of required decompression, reflecting on the notion that you are only a temporary visitor in this deep blue abyss. While the smallest of creatures living in every crack, gap, pit, and crevice beside you keep you amused. The well-orchestrated performance of fish darting across the reef, alongside the meandering trails of the lingering conch shells that make nonsensical patterns in the sand as they search for food, will evoke a sense of admiration for their daily journeys.

From small crabs, invisible ghost shrimp, funny horned cowfish, and bobbing little brown pufferfish, the variety of life is virtually endless and the opportunity to witness this aquatic world at a level only a few have the privilege to see is priceless. The count down on your dive computer shows you are safe to return to the surface, bringing an ending to a remarkable dive adventure on the Cayman wall.

(Click Images to Enlarge)

Above: Sun rays shimmer across the white sand as garden eels dance to the shifting tides.

Below: CCR diver swims down a massive sand chute starting at 80 feet and dumping over the wall’s edge at 300 feet. Smaller schools of Horse-eye Jacks often circle off the upper reef and outwards into the blue water.


Above: The famous Ghost Mountain rises over 120 feet from the north Cayman wall. A fantastic dive that is often visited by reef sharks feeding around the North Sound.

Below: Close inspection of the reef and sponges will revile an immense number of little hidden creatures like this Banded coral shrimp along with Fairy Basslet, Blue Tang, Queen Parrotfish, and Triggerfish.


Above: Grasping to the steep walls between 120 and 280 feet, giant barrel sponges, possibly hundreds of years old, filter the water for its nutrients. Close inspection will show hundreds of small fish that live in their pointy skin.

Below: Deeper along the walls, large stretching sponges and black corals reach far from the walls into the drifting currents.


Above: Deep water corals and massive orange plate sponges cling to the walls as deep as 350 feet. It is not uncommon to find schools of silver Bar Jack fish along with shadows of sharks much deeper down the walls.

Below: Divers explore the upper section of Ghost Mountain. One of Grand Caymans’ famous north wall coral formations. Looking into the multitude of hidden undercuts on Ghost Mountain, you could find a colorful Tiger Grouper, Spanish Hogfish, andb the invasiIe Lionfish.


Above: Three Banded coral shrimp hide under the reef, away from the divers’ prying eyes.

Below: Ready to escape in a split second, a cautious lobster backs into a small hole in the reef as he waits for the diver to pass.


Above: Illuminated by the divers’ lights, sponges and corals explode into a kaleidoscope of rich colors.

Below: Rebreather diver poses by a large green sponge reaching outwards from the reef. A school of French Grunts sway alongside the reef.


Above: CCR diver examines a large coral tunnel teaming with life and color. A group of nocturnal Soldier fish hide within the dark cracks of the cave as a large Morry Eel pokes his head outwards from a hole he is curled in.

Below: A medium-sized barrel sponge at a depth of 160 feet on the Cayman Westend wall. These large sponges are home to a multitude of small critters.


Above: A large sea anemone waives its tentacles in the currents. Under closer inspection, you can normally find small ghost shrimp clinging to it.

Below: CCR diver poses in front of the sponge covered wall at a depth of 170 feet.


Above: CCR diver completes his decompression on the dive boat boy line.

Below: Diver Nat Robb, owner of Indepth Watersports located in West Bay, prepares for another rebreather dive on the north wall.

Additional Photos (click to enlarge)
The Lost Cayman Island Expedition
Cayman Tech Supported Dive Faciliteis