Diving Grand Cayman’s North Wall
Generally speaking, the North Wall is the area from Valley of the Turtles all the way east to Turtle Pass and is known for its vertical drop offs and wall dives. There are very distinct differences depending on your location on this 27 mile stretch of coast. The area from Valley of the Turtles to Ghost Mountain are often dived from the west side dive boats. Their close proximity from Seven Mile Beach make for a relatively short boat ride. Blue Buttress is a fairly new site that should not be missed. Like most of my favorite sites, this area is home to strong currents and rough water. The wall comes in very close to shore allowing the sea to build. It’s on the west side of the North Sound and tidal flow can often effect visibility. To the east of Blue Buttress is an island favorite, Ghost Mountain. This is a pinnacle site located directly outside the Papagallo’s Cut. This site is covered in gorgonians and sponges. When the water is clear here, it’s difficult to imagine a better dive site.
Anyone who’s ever visited the Cayman Islands has heard the story of Stingray City. Until the recent discovery of a shallow wreck, this was really the only real dive site inside the North Sound. Local dive operators run trips to Stingray City where divemasters and visitors can interact with and hand feed a few dozen Southern Stingrays. Just outside the Stingray Cut is a site called Tarpon Alley which was previously littered with tarpon. Most dive operators now dive this area specifically for the shark activity as the tarpon have long since moved on. As the tide goes out, the silt and turbid water from the North Sound spill out over this area making for the perfect feeding ground for roaming sharks. In fact, most Hammerhead sitings happen in this small area.
The stretch of wall between Princess Penny’s Pinnacle and Leslie’s Curl is home to most of the island’s eagle ray sitings. These majestic creatures are often seen swimming in small groups along the edge of the deep wall. The area is also suitable for shallow diving as the top of the wall here is approximately 50 feet. As you move further to the east, we find some spectacular bottom topography. The north east corner of Grand Cayman is hard to beat. Sites like Black Rock Canyon and Black Rock Reef are home to schooling fish and deep canyon lines with whisky black coral and large stands of healthy gorgonians. This north east corner is most often dived from the East End and boats leaving from the North Sound typically only dive as far east as Delia’s Delight.
A famous dive site on the north east corner of Grand Cayman is Babylon. Located between two spectular dive sites, Julie’s Wall and Northern Lights, Babylon is one of the true North Wall sites reachable from shore. Although the North Wall is known for its wall sites, there are a handful of shallow sites not to be missed. Towards the west side of the north wall near the Augustus Cut, there is a shallow site called Bear’s Paw. This mini wall has a very distinct drop running parallel to the barrier reef and in some areas is undercut creating shelter for nurse sharks and green moray eels. Just outside the main channel are two popular shallow sites, Lemon Reef and Blue Peter. Although these are shallow sites, divemasters rarely resist the temptation to swim out to the adjacent deep wall to have a quick look over the edge for a shark or a few eagle rays. Roger’s Reef, Omega Reef, and Black Rock Reef are all located on the north east corner. These sites are home to schooling fish, are often the location for reef shark sitings and are typically dived from the East End.