Snorkeling at Eden Rock, Grand Cayman

Snorkeling at Eden Rock was an unexpected favorite of my Grand Cayman excursion.

Getting there was not what I expected—chalk this up to my less than awesome researching abilities. I had my list of places to stop and their addresses but I didn’t realize that the entry to Eden Rock is along a busy street in the middle of Grand Cayman’s largest city, George Town.

If you aren’t staying in George Town, just follow the signs in the traffic circles that will send you in that direction and drive along South Church Street until you pass the main harbor. Eden Rock dive site is just south of that location.

What’s unique about this place? This is not your ordinary beach entry snorkel. No, no. You’ll exit the parking lot and climb down some cement steps and down a ladders straight into the water. The dive site has picnic tables and lockers nearby for gear.

Now a word of caution: if you aren’t an experienced swimmer/snorkeler, make sure you take a buddy with you on this snorkel! Since we’d had wind and storms, the water was not perfectly calm and it can be a little tricky to get in and out of the water. Particularly when you’re snorkeling near where the water meets the walls and cement and rock of the exit, you could really get hurt if you were slammed up against it. Take caution and do your best to keep your distance from this area.

But once you get off and in the water to snorkel there is so much fun to be had!

The underwater landscape alone was spectacular; talk about memorable. With the sun shining through the water and the plethora of fan coral dotting the tops of the trenches it was pretty darn picturesque.

The fish were plentiful and prevalent. It almost made me wish that I was scuba certified because a little further south there’s the entrance to Devil’s Grotto which has underwater caves you can explore. I stayed a little closer to shore because I was snorkeling solo and that bay is pretty busy with boats and other water craft. Better safe than run-over-and-chopped-up-by-a-boat-propeller, I always say. I’d rather not spend my vacation becoming fish food, you know what I mean?

Speaking of fish, I almost immediately came across a few blue tang that led me to a school of the little guys. There’s something pretty neat about being near a large group of fish or maybe that just speaks to my need to fit in. That’s a tangent for another therapy session blog post.

In between all my fish chasing, I had fun just skin diving through the trenches. Like I said, the scenery alone: primo.

This picture doesn’t do it justice but this was a large, large fish. This silvery tarpon must’ve been at least two feet long. It’s hard to have a frame of reference because there aren’t any other fish for comparison. I’m sure it’s hard to find buddies when you’re so menacing.

In what seems like a normal grouping (because I saw it at Collier Beach) I saw some squirrel fish hanging out with a singular yellow grunt fish near a nice piece of brain coral. Is that a dinglehopper on the right? Ariel must’ve dropped it when she passed through. (If you don't understand that reference, I mourn your childhood.)

This guy was cool looking—kind of like a washed out koi fish. After a little research I’m almost positive he’s a redtail parrotfish in initial phase.

These fish are actually hermaphroditic and change sex. When they turn that bi-color blue, they’ve entered their terminal phase which means they’re male and look like this:

This picture doesn’t do them justice but they were beautiful. I think I erroneously referred to them as sergeant fish in the video. Make sure you watch it so you can get a better look at these guys.

Here was a needlefish. They’re always interesting because they hang out near the surface of the water. I can’t ever decide if these are scary or adorable. A lot of fish teeter on that line.

This particular butterfly fish was pretty neat! Again, after sufficient googling, I found out that this little yellow and white fish with a big black spot on the back of his fin is a four-eye butterfly fish. I’m starting to realize some of the fun of snorkeling is the detective work that goes into figuring out what I saw after a day in the water.

Make sure you’re careful when swimming toward the ladder to exit the water—the current could very likely push you into the cement wall and rocks. The nice thing about going for a snorkel off of such a well-frequented dive site is that there was also a shower and small rinsing pool where you could clean off your gear before packing up. Nothing worse than having to spend the day sticky from the salt water of the ocean.

This is a very large dive site so you certainly won’t be on top of any other snorkelers or divers. I did have to wait in line to enter the water which was not a big deal. Just don’t expect to have the place to yourself.

I think the mark of a great snorkeling location is whether or not you would return to it given the opportunity and I absolutely would. Even for the amount of time I spent in the water, I felt like there was so much more to see. I would for sure take a buddy with me so I would feel more comfortable swimming further out without running the risk of having a boat not notice me floating there. It’s also an experience that would be better with two sets of eyes.

If you’re a snorkel enthusiast who is going on a cruise that stops in George Town, I would make an effort to visit Eden Rock. It’s so near the harbor that you could walk there and it would be an activity that wouldn’t take your whole day while still making some awesome memories. Gear rental at the shop on the water is inexpensive and convenient if you don't have fins, masks, and snorkels of your own. If you have trouble finding your way, just ask one of the very common dive shops you may come across—they’re easier to locate and are more abundant than tourist info booths or police stations.

Here’s hoping I get to go snorkeling at Eden Rock again! It really was so much fun.
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