Visited Grand Cayman May 6 - 16 ’08 and stayed at Harbour View Apts. Harbour View is located just about a mile north of the downtown Georgetown area and right across the street from a KFC and within easy walking distance of a large grocery store. There is a very reasonable bus service that stops right near there and goes from Georgetown past Seven mile Beach to the north of the island. Price at Harbour View was very moderate for GCM at about $100 (US) per night. The hotel is right on the beach and has a nice entry ladder over the rocks. Room was clean and the beds were comfortable, AC worked well, and hosts were pleasant. Included a kitchenette with a small fridge, stove and microwave, and even a TV. There was no restaurant, bar, exercise room, pool or the like. I don’t look for 5 star accommodations and when I am visiting paradise I don’t plan to spend a lot of time in my room. To me this was perfect and I highly recommend it.
The reef right in front of the appartments is one of the better snorkeling areas on the island with the reef ascending from 40 or so feet to within 8’ of the surface. Right out beyond the wall is where some of the cruise ships anchor, but their launches are heading into town, not where you swim. I snorkeled there extensively and made one night dive there that was a blast. Other dives were done at various other sites around the island.
The other members of our party were non-divers so we made all the obligatory tourist stops including a trip to Stingray City, Hell, and a tour of the East End. I highly recommend the Stingray City tour from Rum Point with Red Sail Sports. It included a snorkleing stop near Stingray City that had lovely coral heads with beautiful sea fans that were much nicer than found at the downtown areas like Eden Rock. These shallow areas were apparently well protected from the last hurricane. They even managed to show us a big green moray and a couple spiny lobsters here.
My favorite way to dive is from the shore. That way you don’t have to worry about being back on the boat on as firm a schedule and can take your time to enjoy the location. Although I made a couple boat dives in GCM, the most beautiful underwater areas I visited were found on shore dives in front of "The Cracked Conch" It is located just north of seven mile beach. There you can see lots of lovely coral formations and beautiful reef fish without ever having to set foot on a boat. I had my own equipment except for weights and tanks and my average cost per dive was under $15. Between or after the dives you can enjoy their full meal service, or sit at the bar visiting with the locals or tourists. Finding a dive buddy there was no problem at all as there were lots of folk coming and going whenever I visited. If you need the services of a divemaster/guide, that is available as well with Sundivers. I posted lots of pictures at http://www.royalcs.com/gcm
Eden Rock and Devil’s Grotto were a couple other interesting places I visited from shore. The swim-thrus here are fantastic and you will likely find yourself swimming with a number of 5 foot or larger tarpon. The predominant coral type here is brain coral and it suffered greatly in the last hurricane. It will take some time for that to return, but the formations are still very intreging with a spectacular coral room at Devil’s Grotto. Being a shore dive site you can expect cost to be very reasonable, averaging under $25 for a two tank dive. There is quite a bit of shore diving traffic here so hooking up with other divers, although not quite as easy as at "The Cracked Conch", is generally available if you wait around a bit. I dove here three times and the sites were never really crowded.
My one boat dive with with Don Fosters. They are obviously a good group, but my favorite site was still the Turtle Reef at the Cracked Conch. If you are going to Grand Cayman, and you love to dive, don’t miss it.