_DSC1831_20100303_111930 Photo by Joe LeBlanc via Flickr Creative Commons

About a third of Cayman Islands visitors come primarily to explore the islands’ 200 officially named scuba diving and snorkeling sites – and maybe even discover a previously unexplored corner of the large coral reefs encircling all three Cayman Islands. The selection of dive outfitters is considered to be the most dependable in the entire Caribbean and seems nearly as endless as the number of dive and snorkel sites throughout the islands.

As to be expected most things to do on the Islands involve the water, but for those who prefer to keep their hair – or body – dry during underwater explorations can take submarine voyages or experience an even more unique activity called helmet diving. No swimming ability is required to walk along this floating Sotos Reef platform where tropical fish swim around towering shrouds of living coral. The longest and most popular of Grand Cayman’s beaches, Seven Mile Beach, is relatively free of litter and overly aggressive vendors. However, Cayman Islands tour operators can help sunbathers wishing to venture further off the beaten path towards many of the islands’ lesser known, if not virtually secluded, beaches.

No scuba diving outfitter on the Cayman Islands – or anywhere else in the Caribbean – is more reputable or more well known than Red Sail Sports, which boasts no fewer than five different locations throughout the islands. Other companies specialize in specific dive sites like Eden Rock Diving Center, which organizes trips to Devil’s Grotto and Eden Rock or Ocean Frontiers Reef Resort based in Grand Cayman’s East End.

Most Cayman Islands tour operators offer both scuba diving and snorkeling options, but Captain Marvin’s Watersports is strictly a snorkeling organization. Captain Martin himself transports guests to the Barrier Reef and Stingray City aboard his 1950’s sailboats. Oh Boy Charters gives snorkelers the opportunity to explore Coral Gardens, as well as ‘kiss’ and get ‘kissed by’ the stingrays who gather around the famous snorkeling spot.

The helmet diving excursions organized by Sea Trek have become a popular alternative for visitors who cannot swim, or who simply want to stay dry. Helmet diving allows visitors to walk in near zero gravity conditions as they admire the colorful tropical fish who swim around living coral up to 25 feet high at Sotos Reef.

Submarine rides are another way to explore the colorful underworlds of the Cayman Islands while keeping your hair looking sublime. Passengers of Atlantis Adventures can board either a fully submerged submarine or a cheaper semi-submarine which travels through shallower waters. Another semi-sub called Nautilus only journeys five feet below the surface, but nonetheless provides clear views of Cheeseburger Reef along with the Balboa and Cali shipwrecks.

Surfside Aquasports is one of the leading Cayman Islands kayaking outfitters. Visitors can combine their experience through southern Grand Cayman’s shallow waters, tranquil lagoons, and protected mangrove wetlands with underwater snorkeling excursions.

Bayside Watersports is among the most reputable Cayman Islands deep sea fishing companies aside from chartered fishing boats organized by various hotels. Wahoo, marlin, and tuna are the biggest catches fishers can hook in the Cayman Islands, but the coral reefs are also filled with snapper and grouper.

Horseback riding is among the most popular ways to explore the Cayman Islands on dry land. Savannah’s Honey Suckle Trail Rides offer both Western and English tack rides across Seven Mile Beach, while the horses of Pampered Ponies trot across West Bay beaches. Many stables have full moon and sunset rides.

Jack Nicklaus designed Grand Cayman’s nine-hole Britannia Golf Club so that guests at the nearby Grand Cayman Beach Suites get lower rates. A more challenging Grand Cayman golfing experience can be found at Seven Mile Beach’s North Sound Club. Roy Case took Seven Mile Beach’s frequent trade winds into account when designing this scenic course loaded with sand and water traps.

Click here to learn about Attractions in the Cayman Islands