With more than 365 fascinating dive sites scattered across its three unique islands – that’s one for every day of the calendar year – it’s no wonder the Cayman Islands is hailed as one of the world’s leading dive destinations. Upping the cool factor is the chance to explore the Cayman Islands best shipwrecks up-close-and-personal. With the 2016 anniversaries of the Kittiwake (five years) and the MV Captain Keith Tibbetts (20 years), now is the time to visit the Cayman Islands. Both sites offer unmatched visibility and plentiful marine life.
KITTIWAKE (GRAND CAYMAN)
The Kittiwake celebrated its 5th anniversary as a dive site in January of 2016. Nestled along Grand Cayman’s famous Seven Mile Beach, the site offers great snorkeling and dive conditions for all skill sets. The ship served as a submarine rescue ship from 1945 to 1994, journeying between the U.S., Caribbean and Mediterranean. Most notably, Kittiwake played an integral role in recovering the black box from the Challenger space shuttle disaster. Today, the ship lies 60 feet beneath the sea and just off the shores of West Bay.
The former submarine offers ample opportunities for snorkeling, free diving, scuba diving and wreck diving. Snorkelers can explore the main decks and the ship’s topography from the surface. Divers with the proper training and guidance can explore the submarine’s various rooms. Here you’ll also find an abundance of marine life. Goliath groupers and energetic schools of squirrelfish both call the wreck home. Caymanian law protects the site, and all visitors must pay an entrance fee to help ensure the ongoing maintenance and protection of the wreck.
MV CAPTAIN KEITH TIBBETTS (CAYMAN BRAC)
Celebrating its 20th anniversary in September of 2016, the 330-foot MV Captain Keith Tibbetts is the only dive-able Russian warship in the Western Hemisphere. Off the shores of Cayman Brac, this Cold War remnant was built in Russia and designed to serve as a Cuban warship in 1984. By 1996, the Cayman Islands owned the Tibbetts and scuttled it for divers. After almost two decades of bombardment by hurricanes and storms, the wreck has split into two halves. Today, the wreck is home to over 100 species of marine life.
The multi-level wreck lies 50 to 100-feet beneath the sea (at various points). Half-buried under the sand are the ships propellers, which are often teeming with colorful schools of fish. With its varying depths, the wreck is accessible to all levels of divers. MV Captain Keith Tibbetts is home to a variety of marine life, from thousands of colorful grouper and grunts to over 100 species of fish, coral and sponges.
For more information on exploring the Cayman Islands, please visit divecayman.ky.