A Perfect Dive with…Dive Instructor Brittainy Slade.
Dive site: Grouper Grotto / Boat: Nauticat / Date: May 19, 2013.
There are ample reasons why Grouper Grotto is among the most requested shallow sites in Grand Cayman. Every visit offers variations on a theme of coral reef magic.
While groupers are ironically not among the most frequent sights, the grotto part is guaranteed. The site is a spider web of archways, canyonways and swim-throughs. As we passed through one 30-foot canyon, shafts of light passed through cracks overhead, creating a cathedral-like effect. Huge silver tarpon hung almost motionless above us. Time seemed to stand still.
In one of the larger canyons we were thrilled to find a cloud of silversides. Bar jacks and tarpon dashed in and out of the cloud in search of an easy meal. Silversides sometimes school in such dense concentrations, your visibility can fall to zero for a moment or two. As we finned through the wall of fish, they parted to let us pass. It’s an incredible sensation.
No spotted eagle rays today, though I have seen as many as four at once here, flying in formation. Grouper Grotto is famous for its surprises – scuba divers may encounter a visiting goliath grouper, a massive barracuda, or a green moray lurking in the countless cracks and crevices. Sometimes the surprises come in small packages. Today we saw a Gold Line Sea Goddess, a tiny nudibranch with bumble-bee coloration. It’s the first one I have seen in more than two years on Grand Cayman!
As we returned to the dive boat after 45 dream-like minutes, the shallows turned our safety stop into an amazing dive within a dive. The hang reg is within easy reach of the reef here, which rises to within 17 feet of Nauticat’s twin pontoons.
Staghorn and Elkhorn coral stud the canyon tops. Juvenile yellowtail damselfish, iridescent little spotted blobs of blue, darted among the branches. Lettuce-leaf sea slugs were everywhere, as was the aforementioned Sea Goddess.
Summer weather patterns in Cayman improve your chances that Grouper Grotto will be diveable. July and August also may usher in enormous blooms of silversides, which in some years completely fill to bursting the canyons and swim-throughs.
Grouper Grotto never gets boring. I cannot wait to return.
As told by Ocean Frontiers Dive Instructor, Brittainy Slade.
Grouper Grotto vitals:
- Location: East End of Grand Cayman
- Green Shorts #: 28 of 55
- Green Shorts Zone: “The Corner”, Zone D
- Dive Site Type: Shallow Reef & Open Cavern
- GPS Co-ordinates: 19° 17.777'N / 81° 5.159'W
- Depth at mooring pin: 17 feet
- Deepest area: 60 feet
- Distance from Ocean Frontiers dock: 1,850 yards or 1.1 miles
To learn more about the different dive sites on East End, download our free logbook here.