Snorkel

Captains Log, private tours, Snorkel, barracuda

EERIE BARRACUDA

Tropical storm Earl had made his way past us a couple of days before, and water clarity in some parts was still not good. However, we were delighted to be asked to take a group of five island visitors on a private tour which included Coral Gardens, the Reef and Deep Stingray City.

 Stingray City Sandbar in Grand Cayman

Captain Mario seldom gets the chance to visit Deep Stingray City and he was delighted to be doing this. As usual, he was in the water with our guests taking photos of them enjoying this experience, turned around and clicked this photo of a Barracuda swimming curiously by.

This one is called the Great Barracuda and is known by its black spots marking the incredibly sparkling silver scales along its side. The Barracuda has a very pointed face and teeth that are more like fangs. They carry a rather bad reputation for attacking people, especially in murky waters (gulp - see above) - swimmers may be mistaken for predators and be followed in the mistaken hope of picking up left-over scraps of predator meals. Shiny objects can also be mistaken as prey - hence the advice not to wear shiny jewelry and accessories when snorkelling. However, they are generally more dangerous if eaten - they have caused more food poisoning cases than any other fish!

In any case, this guy was just curious and caused no alarm at all, but the photo really turned out to suit his spooky reputation!

Captains Log, conch, coral, private tours, Snorkel

MOTHER NATURE NAILED THIS GRAND CAYMAN TOUR!

  Approaching North Side in Grand Cayman

Approaching North Side in Grand Cayman

No excursion is the same. Each one has something special about it.

  Lobed Star Coral along the Reef in Grand Cayman

Lobed Star Coral along the Reef in Grand Cayman

It could be a special moment when a kid gets to snorkel for the first time and you hear the squeals through the snorkel. It could be a turtle sighting or Elvis the eel visiting or watching guests' stress melting away the more time they spend surrounded by this awesome Caribbean beauty.

And then there are days where Mother Nature just seems bent on blowing your mind with beauty. Yesterday was just such a day.

  Conch and shell along the reef

Conch and shell along the reef

We hosted a wonderful group for a private tour - with this comes the luxury of taking things as slowly as you want (or quickly if that is your wish although we don't advise this). It is a wonderful opportunity for everyone to chill out and truly enjoy the snorkeling, the coral reef and of course, Stingray City Sandbar.

Mother Nature, simply put, showed off yesterday. Absolutely brilliant Caribbean colours both below and above surface, glorious sunshine, rainbow tropical fish, fragile coral structures and of course, cuddly stingrays made this a tour of vacation memories of note!

  Stunning Elkhorn Coral

Stunning Elkhorn Coral

Here we have included some of the photos with descriptions and hope that you enjoy them. I know the crew enjoyed the tour and every moment with the guests, and we certainly hope that our guests left us feeling absolutely relaxed and awed.

  Follow my leader with Parrotfish

Follow my leader with Parrotfish

Captains Log, Excursions, Snorkel

BEST SNORKELLING BUDDY - EVER!

Snorkelling in the North Sound of Grand Cayman provides many beautiful sights with all the stunning coral formations and rainbow tropical fish that one can expect from our gorgeous caribbean island.

However, we are very often joined by one or two of the friendly stingrays who have ventured over from Stingray City. To watch the delight and amazement of our guests when they experience this is a pleasure which is hard to describe.

The "girls" will often swim next to our guests, or play a game of tag, popping up around the side a coral formation and gliding in close enough for a touch before swooshing off again.

There can be no better snorkel buddy in the world, and a moment like this has got to be at the top of the list of one of the best experiences EVER.

  A game of tag ... you're it!

A game of tag ... you're it!

Captains Log, Snorkel, things to do

FISH SHADOW - REEF, GRAND CAYMAN

Fan coral and fish silhouettes - the Reef, Grand Cayman

Thought that we would share this particular photo from yesterday's tour - it struck us as being really unique and unusual with the fish swimming behind this huge piece of fan coral and only their silhouettes showing. Nice. Hope you enjoy!

Captains Log, Excursions, Snorkel

CORAL REEF - GRAND CAYMAN

On a recent tour, Captain Mario took a picture of this stunning piece of coral which he has named "Mandy's heart".

It is a glorious piece of Brain Coral and is a part of the Barrier Reef found in the North Sound of Grand Cayman. It measures approximately 3 feet x 1.5 feet. This can be found in relatively shallow waters and can be seen while snorkelling - so no need to be a scuba diver! It has formed a heart shape with a few "scars" in it, and never fails to raise a smile from Captain Mario for whom it has special meaning.

We hope you like the photo and are also in awe of the wonder works of nature that have created this. So precious and so utterly, beautifully, delicate.

  "Mandy's heart" - a stunning piece of brain coral to be found at the Barrier Reef in Grand Cayman

"Mandy's heart" - a stunning piece of brain coral to be found at the Barrier Reef in Grand Cayman

Hope we get the chance to one day host you and take you to visit it!

Captains Log, Excursions, Snorkel, weather

HITCHING A FREE RIDE ON BIG JOHN

As if Captain Mario did not have enough food for thought yesterday!

We have been watching, with some consternation, the stormy weather forecasted for the next few days - this wreaks havoc on tour schedules and leaves a lot of island guests unhappy about missing out on a visit to Stingray City. But there is no getting around 20-25 knot winds out in the North Sound and the unsafe conditions they produce. Frantic re-rescheduling becomes the order of the day and it is a horrible frustration not being able to assist everyone with alternative arrangements.

These tropical storms are very often preceded by an incredibly still and beautiful day - the "quiet before the storm" is no falsehood - it's as if Mother Nature holds her breath for a moment before letting loose and puffing with all her might. 

But just to add the "cherry to the top", Mother Nature decided to add a Queen Bee to the mix, and of all the places for her to find a spot, it would be our diver's flag while anchored at Coral Gardens yesterday! 

  The calm before the storm - snorkelers enjoying the Coral Gardens in Grand Cayman while a tropical front starts moving in ......

The calm before the storm - snorkelers enjoying the Coral Gardens in Grand Cayman while a tropical front starts moving in ......

"First do no harm" is a mantra that we try to live by, and so the crew decided the most prudent course of action was to take a slow, very slow, trip back to dock. We hope that our human guests enjoyed the somewhat extended tour - the little colony was still in situ this morning so we must assume that they rather enjoyed the ride!

We have now had them moved to a safe spot and we hope they are happy. The irony of being less concerned about stingrays than of small flying insects was not lost on the tour group though, and we hope that they remember a truly unique tour for a long time to come!


fish, Snorkel

Sea Biscuits and doves of peace

It does not happen often, so we were excited to find a live Sand Dollar making it's slow but sure way across the sands of the North Sound during a recent snorkelling stop. Much like starfish, it is enthralling to witness such little creatures attract the awe of children and adults alike. 

Grand_Cayman_Excursions_170915.png

These little fellas are most widely known as Sand Dollars but enjoy different names in various regions. "Sea Biscuit" is the Caribbean name, whilst South Africans call them Pansy Shells. Although thought of as a shell, this treasure usually found on the beach is the skeleton of a type of urchin. Alive, they are considered to have "endoskeletons" ("inner skeletons"), as their bodies (known as the Tests) are covered with fine silky spines and are all encompassed in a "skin".

Sand dollars feed on plankton which is pushed to it's mouth on it's underside, using the spines and cilia like a conveyor belt. These same spines can be used to bury themselves into soft sand, their preferred habitat.

Some love to believe that these sun-bleached Sand Dollars are coins lost by mermaids, whilst others are warmed by stories of the Christian symbolism this little creature carries, not least the doves of peace

Us? We just think we are so very privileged to share the creatures and the beauty of this tropical island and never tire of it, nor the effect it has on it's visitors.

Snorkel, fish

22 January 2015 - Happy Caribbean vacation days!

Tour Time : 10:00am

Guests from : Navigator of the Seas Cruise, The Grand Caymanian Resort, The NCL Epic Cruise and Sunshine Suites Hotel

Star Stingray : Newcomer to be named

No Shows : 0 YIPPEE!

 Best snorkeling in Grand Cayman
  Spotfin Butterflyfish

Spotfin Butterflyfish

  Juvenile Blue Tang

Juvenile Blue Tang

 Best snorkeling in Grand Cayman

 

A superb cross-section of guests - from island residents, to cruise passengers to overnight guests at some of the gorgeous hotels that Grand Cayman can boast about!

Sea conditions were a little choppy today, but the sun was out and the underwater colours were spectacular! Our breath is still taken away even if we see this every day - there are sites and colours and moments still astound, and to share them with our visitors is an absolute pleasure and privilege!

We hope that they enjoy the photos that we provide to them for free, and hope that they bring great vacation memories back to them for a long time to come. It gives us great enjoyment - sharing the beauty of Grand Cayman.

As the saying goes : TAKE ONLY PHOTOS, AND LEAVE ONLY BUBBLES!

Snorkel, Captains Log

21 January 2015 - Heads down during a tropical storm

Tour Time : 11:45am

Guests from : Carnival Dream Cruise

Star Stingray : New comer to be named

No Shows : 7

Quite a bit of chaos and upset at the terminal in George Town today, with the Carnival Dream arriving way past the expected arrival time. Our initial meeting time had been arranged for 8:45am Cayman Time, but Captain Mario eventually left only at 11:15 with our guests who did attend. We had 7 no shows which is very hard for a small company like us to carry. Reservations that are not honoured do cost the operator money - perhaps the larger companies can absorb this, but for the small local operator it is particularly tough. In our confirmation reservations, we always remind guests to please let us know if they do not want to attend (it gives us a chance to accept other reservations), but this still does not seem to respected.

Despite a rough start, the tour was enormously fun! The crew had a great time telling island stories and chatting with our excursion guests about the caribbean creatures. Captain Mario did a marvellous job of skirting the tropical squall which tried to wet everyone the entire time!

  Ha! Captain Mario managed to outrun this tropical squall the entire tour!

Ha! Captain Mario managed to outrun this tropical squall the entire tour!

Some utterly gorgeous snorkelling was experienced at our "secret garden" - this is a snorkel site which Captain Mario has discovered a little out of the normal route. Beautiful coral formations and loads of fish are always to be found here, and we were blessed with sun creating some gorgeous effects for photos. 

 Best snorkelling sites in Grand Cayman
 Best snorkelling sites in Grand Cayman

We have been visited by some newcomer stingrays at the sandbar lately - today again! We believe that these are stingrays coming over from the Deep Stingray City and have not yet had enough contact with them to learn their personalities and name them, but that won't last long! 

  And a sand dollar for luck!

And a sand dollar for luck!

This was a great trip all round and it was sad to say goodbye to everyone. We hope that they enjoyed the rest of their cruise and come back soon!

Snorkel, Captains Log, Stingrays

8 - 12 JANUARY 2015 - WHAT A WEEK!

BLEH!

These past few days have not been the highlight of our year so far ... weather was tropically moody and in some cases, bad enough for us to cancel tours AGAIN! We mentally banished the Cayman weather to the naughty corner for some time out ....... today appears somewhat better - let's hope it worked!

Nonetheless, we have had the pleasure of great company and enjoyed visitors from all over - cruise guests included NCL Epic, Carnival Dream, Carnival Splendour, Navigator of the Seas and Caribbean Princess. Some of the overnight guests includes those from hotels and apartment such as the Marriott, Sunshine Suites and Plantation Village.

  The family that snorkels together ...... Grand Cayman snorkel excursions

The family that snorkels together ...... Grand Cayman snorkel excursions

The Coral Gardens proved to be the best snorkel site for the prevailing conditions. Water clarity was good if not perfect and our excursion guests enjoyed their time with the accompanying stingray while marvelling at the abundance of tropical fish. Captain Mario still avoided Starfish Point on some of the tours due to the continued presence of jelly fish - and of course, the first day he decided it was safe to go back, was the only stung by one!

Dwayne, our 1st Mate and otherwise known as the "Stingray Whisperer" had a flirty moment with one of his favourite stingrays "Snowflake" and Captain Mario managed to catch some photos of their interaction which is very beautiful. We are very pleased to see that "Frosty", who was looking rather skeletal and ill at one stage, seems to have recovered with a little bit of extra help from our crew. She is now looking absolutely gorgeous, chubby and happy!

  Snorkelling with Stingrays in Grand Cayman

Snorkelling with Stingrays in Grand Cayman

Snorkel, starfish, Excursions, Captains Log, sunset

1 JANUARY 2015 - SHORE EXCURSIONS TO STINGRAY CITY IN GRAND CAYMAN

It has been a busy few days since the eve of the New Year loomed way more quickly then we  had expected! Island visitors have been eager to bust out into the Caribbean sun and grab excursions to Grand Cayman's best snorkel sites and of course, to kiss the stingrays at the sandbar! Today's post will contain some of the images we have taken during our tours over 30-31 December and yesterday - we take great delight in sharing these with our guests and with you! Pictures often speak louder than words ..... enjoy!

Snorkel, Captains Log

EASYBREATH SNORKEL MASK

  The Easybreath snorkel mask at work in Grand Cayman

The Easybreath snorkel mask at work in Grand Cayman

We have been watching this product with bated breath! We are always striving to make our excursions guests' experience the best possible, and were very excited about this innovative product. Waiting for reviews has been nerve wracking, so it was just great to have one of our guests use her own Easybreath mask at the snorkel site and get her opinion.

Overall, she said that wearing the mask was a very enjoyable experience and that it worked well. Her two comments against the mask were (a) harder to keep clean than the "older" mask and (b) perfect for surface snorkelling, but if you want to go deeper, you are unable to hold your nose to equalise the pressure in your ears.

Obviously this is just one review, but it would appear that it is a great product for beginner snorkelers or those who just cannot adapt breathing through the mouth alone. For those who are more confident swimmers and who prefer not to just stay at the surface, this may not be the mask for you.

We will keep you posted if we get any other reviews!

Snorkel, Stingrays, private tours

28 December 2014 - Chartered Tours in Grand Cayman

Awesome, awesome private tour today!

What an absolute pleasure it was to host this fun and adventurous group! We collected them at the Kaibo Yacht Club (this can be done for chartered tours and in select other circumstances), and it was sunny smiles and laughter from the get-go.

Their choice of attractions to visit? Some of the best in Grand Cayman of course. First stop on this excursion was the Secret Garden - a beautiful spot that Captain Mario has discovered with prolific coral and tropical fish - today Barbara joined us and brought along 3 other stingrays with her including Stumpy (a name earned because of her very short tail). We managed to get some stunning photos of the children interacting with them, and we hope these images will be with them forever.

Along the way, we agreed to find some conch for our guests - as stated in a previous post, we no longer retrieve conch on our standard tours as we feel they have been over harvested and their numbers are now so low. However, we have made exceptions to this policy for our private tours (if requested).

  Stingrays play ......

Stingrays play ......

  Stingrays rest ......

Stingrays rest ......

This time we left the best for last! Stingray City Sandbar was incredible and we arrived when no-else was there. Pure vacation bliss! Just us, the Caribbean Sea and the stingrays all round, eager for squid and kisses. 

It was a sad but fond farewell at the end of our time together, but we sincerely hope to host our new friends again in the not too distant future. Till we meet again!

Captains Log, Excursions, sunset, Snorkel

23 December 2014 - Sea Tours in Grand Cayman

Tour Time : 9:30am & 2:15pm (afternoon tour left late - read about it below!)

Guests from : MSC Divina cruise, Carnival Splendour cruise, Westin Hotel, Plantana Condos, Caribbean Club Condos, Marriott Hotel, Comfort Suites Hotel

Star Stingray : Frosty

Our hearts were heavy that the wind had not yet died down and we expected choppy conditions again for our guests. How we wish the perfect weather for all our excursion guests!

However, the Caribbean sun was doing her best to lighten everyone's spirits, and put on quite a show. Today we visited our "Secret Garden", a beautiful snorkel site which Captain Mario has recently discovered, and boy we were not disappointed! An absolutely gorgeous display of coral formations and tropical fish - this stop was a great highlight of the tour.

Stingray City Sandbar was hugely enjoyed by our guests despite the gusts of wind, and Frosty played a big part in bring smiles to their faces! This is what vacations in Grand Cayman are all about.......

 Tours to Stingray City Sandbar in Grand Cayman
 Tours to Stingray City Sandbar in Grand Cayman

Our afternoon tour ran approximately 30 minutes late as we had stopped to rescue two people in distress. The choppy conditions had taken their toll on their small boat and they were sinking rather quickly despite the best of efforts. Most of our afternoon guests were wonderfully understanding, although some preferred to cancel. Nonetheless, a super time was had and we were hugely rewarded with a beautiful sunset at Starfish Point where the Grand Cayman sun took our breath away, yet again!

  A Grand Cayman sunset 

A Grand Cayman sunset 

Snorkel, Captains Log, Starfish Point

21 December 2014 - Cayman Islands Tours

Tour Time : 2 different tours today

Guests from : Marriott Hotel, Anchorage Condo, Westin Hotel, Oceania Riviera Cruise, Grand Cayman Beach Suites Hotel, Park Place Condo

Star Stingray : Snowflake and Lilly

  Barbara gently nudges one of the snorkellers to say hi

Barbara gently nudges one of the snorkellers to say hi

Gorgeous day today! The Caribbean sun which has been MIA for so many days is fighting her way back. Skies are blue and the wind is just cool enough to take the sting out of the sun rays. Brilliant colours all round us with the ocean a sparkling blue. Visibility at the snorkel sight was great and once again Barbara visited us, even giving one of our excursion guests a gentle nudge to say hi!

She has been so social lately, and has played catch and tag and follow my leader with the island visitors - how awesome is she?

 Best snorkel sites in Grand Cayman

We had two pregnant ladies on board and they did so well breathing for two during the snorkel  site visit - we are sure they enjoyed a little of the buoyancy of the water to take the weight off the legs! So many fish around - almost as if they had missed visitors for some time.

 Best snorkel sites in Grand Cayman
 Best snorkel sites in Grand Cayman
 Best snorkel sites in Grand Cayman

The tour included a visit to Starfish Point, one of the most beautiful beaches on Grand Cayman - a little piece of Caribbean paradise tucked away. It is almost a pity to let everyone know about this beach, but how can we not share? A vacation to Grand Cayman island should absolutely include this attraction!

Our visit to Stingray City Sandbar - oh what a pleasure! The tropical winds have died down, and the sea was beautifully smooth. We had a great time taking pictures of the guests kissing the stingrays.

All in all, another day in paradise ....... want to come join us?

Snorkel, Stingrays

8-9 December 2014

Watch this video to show how our guests played with two stingrays during the snorkel sections of our excursions over the weekend.

The stingray stars are Barbara and Stumpy - they have been joining us for the last few days each time we have stopped for snorkelling.


Amazing interaction between the guests and the the "girls" almost like a dance of introduction.

Hope you enjoy!


Snorkel, Captains Log

2 December 2014

Tour Time : 10:30am (departed 10:40am)

Guests from : Marriott Grand Cayman, Independence of the Seas, Carnival Victory, Treasure Island Hotel

Star Stingray : Kisses

What an amazing day for everyone!

The last two weeks has made our crew miserable, with countless shore excursions being cancelled due to a cold front. Grand Cayman does experience particularly moody weather at the end of hurricane season, but this lot has lasted longer than Captain Mario can remember!

So it was with great excitement that we collected our visitors for the day and set off on Big John. Conditions were still topsy-turvy, but guests and crew were ready to take it on!

The snorkel stop at Coral Gardens was immense fun - the stingrays were out in force with 3 or 4 of them providing entertainment and company.

Stingray City was especially awesome!! The Cayman Islands Marine Police had kept the stingray sandbar closed earlier in the morning, but we worked our way round that and returned later - it had been opened and we were just one of two tour operators there! A big whoop went up from our cruise guests - they were SO happy they had come with us instead of with the cruise tours who had missed the experience.

The "girls" were hungry and wanted a lot of attention, and crew and guests were only too happy to dish both out!

This excursion was an absolute delight after having to disappoint to so many island visitors over the last 14 days .... keep the good weather coming Grand Cayman!

 Fish photo-bombing and misplaced stingray kisses!

Fish photo-bombing and misplaced stingray kisses!