Compass Point's on-site dive operator, Ocean Frontiers, specializing in diving the 55 dive sites around the East End District of Grand Cayman - central to Compass Points location, ensuring short boat rides to the best diving. The good thing about the East End District of Grand Cayman is that there is a North, East and South sides of the end of the island, with one or more of the sides normally offering good diving conditions. Ocean Frontiers historical track record of diving averages 363 days of the year. In 2013 Ocean Frontiers ran dive boats every single day with no cancelations due to inclement weather. On rare occation dives may be cancelled due to bad weather such as hurricanes or lightening. Ocean Frontiers has a reliability 'trip-run' rating of 99.45%. What this means..... the chances are, we're going diving!
The diving conditions can be summarized as follows:
- Wave Heights = Average 2-3ft, range of 0-5ft
- Wind Speeds = Annual average 11 knots, range of 0-18
- Currents = less than 0 knots, very mild to none
- Water Temperature = 78f-86f degrees, lowest Feb., highest Sept.
- Visability = 80-200ft, Average of 100 feet on most dives.
- Trip-Run Rating = 99.45%, cancellations are rare due to weather and we operate all year round.
A widely debated topic with several definitions, which we measure by 'How far away can you see another diver' (your buddy should be closer than 100 feet). Vertical visibility, is typically greater than horizontal visibility, but figures stated are always in horizontal as that is the most relavent for navigational purposes. The visability in the Cayman Islands can be described as good, very good, or crystal clear - so much so, that it is rarely considered when picking a dive site as we often take it for granted how good the visability is in Cayman. The reason for the exceptional water clarity is due to the fact that we have no mountains or rivers in the Cayman Islands and therefore no run-off to cause sediment. The remote location from any mainland and extream deep water trenches result in some of the best underwater visability you will find anywhere in the world. Caution: once you have been diving in the Cayman Islands you may become a 'Viz Snob' and refuse to go diving in anything less than 80ft viz.
Wind speeds vary from zero (0) to 12-14 knots most of the year in the Cayman Islands, with gusts much stronger from time to time during a passing storm or cold front. The wind direction either pravails from the North East from November through April or South East from May through October. However, general trends may not be typical for every week of the year. Wind direction is key when selecting which dive sites we will be visiting each day, for example: if winds are prevailing from the South, then the North shore would have the most favorable diving conditions. Wind chill factors are not normally considered during our summer months, but during December through March, a jacket or sweater may provide some comfort on the dive boat after or between dives.
Diving conditions on the East End of Grand Cayman normally have some mild or slight wave action. We are in the Caribbean Sea and not the North Atlantic so normal conditions are favorable to diving all year. East End consists of three distinct diving areas and adverse weather such as strong winds and waves does not prevent us from diving, but instead may only limit us to diving certain areas that are more protected within the district. We do have 55 dive sites to choose from and in the unlikely event of inclement weather, that may be reduced slightly. For example if there are large waves on the North coast of the East End, you will find that the South coast of East End to be protected and calm, or vice versa.
Water temperature in the Cayman Islands peaks at 86f degrees in September each year and dips to 78f degrees in Febuary. The temperature changes approximately 1.5f degrees per month, December/January is around 81f degrees. June and November have the same water temperature- June is 82f during the upward cycle to the peak and November is 82f on the way back down to the low in February. There is very little variation in temperature between 30 feet and 100 feet deep and no distinct thermocline. In the very shallow areas less than 10 feet you will find elevated temperatures outside of normal ranges in the summer months.
From July-October very little or no exposure protection is needed and most scuba divers will wear a rashgaurd / dive skin. June and November a shorty 3mm wetsuit or similar is recommended. December through March a full 3mm wetsuit or shorty is recommended, especially if you are scuba diving all day. Every diver is different and some prefer to wear a wetsuit year round and some (even dive staff) just wear shorts and a rashgaurd all year. Rental wetsuits are available at the dive shop if you wish to add another layer.
Current is defined as the flow of water in one direction from point A to point B. Currents underwater in the Cayman Islands are uncommon on dive sites. The best method to scuba dive in currents is by 'Drift Dive', whereas the boat would drop off a group of divers at point A and pick them up down current at point B. Dive sites are tested for current after tying up on a mooring, by dropping a weighted line from the dive boat and monitoring the angle of the line to determine the direction and strength of the current. If the current is of noticable strength, the dive boat would typically relocate to another site without current or opt to conduct a drift dive.
Surge is defined as the back and forth movement of the ocean caused by waves passing through from deeper to shallow depths. Surge not normally felt on wall dives at depth, but occationally on shallow dives in areas shallower than 30 feet deep. Surge maybe present on some of the shallow dives on East End.
Seasons in the Cayman Islands follow the same pattern as any other country in the Northern Hemmisphere- however, the seasons have much less variation and may not be a noticable difference to some. Summer season runs from June through August and typically has prevailing winds from the South, resulting in more dive trips running to the North shore of East End. The summer is known for some of the calmest diving conditions, especially on the Northside. Summer is also known for SilverSides blooming on the shallow dive sites and in early summer you will see more Green Sea Turtles than other times of year. Fall/Autumn is peak hurricane season, September through November, but has the wonderful trade off of some of the best diving conditions you could ever imagine. September is also the only time during the year that you can witness coral spawning. Winter is from December through March and offers less humidity and cooler breezes topside. The diving considtions in the winter can be impacted by slightly stronger winds from the North, resulting in more dive trips running to the South shore of East End. Spring is April through June and is the time of year you will see the most fish life activity on the reefs, especially with massive schools juvenile reef fish, such as Blue Chromis.
We find there are three kinds of divers when it comes to motion sickness. 1- You don't get sea sick, never have, never will and should have considered a career in the Navy., 2- You typically don't get sea sick but need to pay attention to what you eat and tend to keep a general eye on the horizon., or 3- You get sea sick just looking at a boat and regardless of the weather, 'IT' could happen. If you are susceptible to motion sickness, we recommend taking non-prescription medication that is available at any pharmacy or dive store. Alternatively some divers prefer natural remedies such as ginger. We also recommend avoiding greasy foods for breakfast and in general monitor what you eat prior to diving. When on board the vessel, avoid reading a book or working on your dive gear without a clear view of the horizon. Even divers who have a tendency to get sea sick, don't as long as the boat is moving. As soon as the boat stops, is when the sensation starts to set in- if this is what happens to you, then we recoomend advising the crew and making sure yuo are in the first group to enter the water with your buddy. Most divers feel instantly better as soon as they get off the boat. Sea sickness can easily be avoided with medication and awareness.