With more than 365 fascinating dive sites situated across its three unique islands – that’s one for every day of the calendar year! – it’s no wonder why the Cayman Islands is hailed as one of the world’s leading dive destinations. Adding to its cool factor even further is that it is one of the few places where divers can explore historic shipwrecks up-close-and-personal at nearly 100 feet below sea level! With the upcoming anniversaries of two of the destination’s most celebrated wrecks, the USS Kittiwake (Kittiwake) and the MV Captain Keith Tibbetts, the time is now to book your next diving adventure to the Cayman Islands. Both sites present unmatched visibility and access to plentiful marine life, found only in the spectacular underwater world of the Cayman Islands.
USS KITTIWAKE (GRAND CAYMAN)
Nestled along Grand Cayman’s famous Seven Mile Beach and providing exceptional snorkeling and dive conditions for everyone of all skill sets, the USS Kittiwake is celebrating its fifth anniversary in January of 2016. The ship served as a former submarine rescue ship from 1945 to 1994 journeying between the US, Caribbean and Mediterranean. Most notably, Kittiwake played an integral role in the recovery of the black box from the Challenger space shuttle disaster. Today, the ship has found its final resting place 60-feet beneath the sea and just off the shores of West Bay, Grand Cayman.
The former submarine provides visitors with ample opportunities for snorkeling, free diving, scuba diving and wreck diving. Snorkelers can explore the main decks and the ship’s topography from the sea’s surface, while divers can discover the various rooms within the submarine, which also provide ideal conditions for an abundance of marine life. The wreck’s favorable environment is especially conducive to swimming alongside thriving Goliath groupers and energetic schools of squirrelfish, which play amongst the decks. Kittiwake’s unique location is also protected under Caymanian law and requires an entrance fee for all visitors, which helps 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 diveable Russian warship in the Western Hemisphere and one of the most impressive wrecks in the world off the shores of Cayman Brac. A remnant of the Cold War, the ship was built in Russia, but was designed to serve as a Cuban warship in 1984. The warship was scuttled in 1996 and after almost two decades of being bombarded by hurricanes and storms, the wreck has split into two halves. Today, the wreck serves as an excellent spot for snorkelers and divers and is home to over 100 species of marine life.
The multi-level wreck lies 50 to 100-feet beneath the sea (at various points) and its propellers are almost half buried under 56-feet of sand which can often be spotted teeming with colorful schools of fish. With its varying structural depths, the wreck is a favorite for all levels of divers. MV Captain Keith Tibbetts supports an array of marine life from thousands of colorful Grouper and Grunts to over 100 species of fish, coral and sponges.
Both these remarkable pieces of fully-intact architecture are a spectacular site to be seen and experienced. For more information on exploring the Cayman Islands beneath the sea and these historic wrecks, please visit divecayman.ky.