words by GUY P. HARRISON
photo by SONITA MALAN
The Cayman Islands are arguably the world’s top dive destination. Just an hour’s flight way from Miami, Cayman is geographically convenient.
Although a small society with a population of just over 50,000, Cayman is the world’s fifth largest financial centre and, as a result, has the modern conveniences discriminating tourists demand. Cayman includes three islands, each with its own unique character. Most importantly, the Cayman Islands continue to boast mind-boggling dive experiences thanks to dive sites that offer unforgettable journeys to another world.
The Cayman Islands are one of the world’s great natural wonders. This is not an exaggeration or tourism hype. Little Cayman’s Bloody Bay dive site, for example, is as beautiful and entrancing as the Grand Canyon, Amazon Rainforest, or Swiss Alps.
The problem, however, is that this beauty is 400 yards out from shore and 100 feet below the surface of the water. Non-divers often make the mistake of assuming that photographs do justice to what lies beneath Cayman’s waters. Although some of the world’s best underwater photographers call the Cayman Islands home, even they will admit that it is impossible to capture and communicate the emotional power of an intimate communion with a thriving coral community, one of nature’s most spectacular marvels. Cayman’s three islands offer numerous portals into this visual, emotional and intellectual feast.
If one needs any more motivation to get certified and into the water, maybe the fact that the world’s coral reefs are fading fast will do it. It is both fortunate and unfortunate that we live in a time of rapidly declining reefs. Rising ocean temperatures due to global warming and pollution have decimated most of the world’s coral reef systems in the last 50 years. Today, many of top marine scientists are warning that virtually all coral reefs on planet Earth will be dead by 2060. Although that may be almost too shocking to believe, we must accept the reality of fast-dying corals. The Cayman Islands are now suffering this same sad fate. Year after year, more coral is lost to global problems beyond our control as well as to local destructive practices that have not yet been halted.
Fortunately, the Cayman Islands coral has not lost the fight yet. Although it may not last another century, there is infinite beauty to be found today within the alleys and caves of Cayman’s coral jungles. One only has to come to Cayman, dive down and take it in.
The message is obvious; see the best of our oceans while you can, and there is no better place to do it than the Cayman Islands.