A Father – Son Diving Adventure in Grand Cayman

It’s not often my father and I get to dive, and it is especially rare for us to have the opportunity to dive such a tropical locale as Grand Cayman. Hailing from southeast Missouri in the Heartland of the United States, the availability of sparkling translucent, turquoise-blue ocean water is nonexistent. Rewind a decade to the last time I dove the Cayman Islands, having just exited the training pool after an incredibly expedited scuba training session aboard a cruise ship. The water was picturesque, but our time on the island was short and our dive experience so limited as to ensure a far more cautious, less relaxed environment than was anticipated or hoped for. The experience was memorable, but after sucking in a regulator full of salt water, enduring a leaky mask and salt-stung eyes, and struggling with equalization, the “fun” was well finished before the dive was.

Fast forward a few years, a few murky lake dives, a few local scuba classes, a few more years, a few more uneventful lake dives, and then an extended dive hiatus. Finally, we arrive in Cayman once again, only this time with at least a remedial amount of experience, and with experience, confidence, and with confidence, excitement. Coupled with this excitement; plenty of time.

After a solid 24-hour period of comfortable island acclimation, we set off for a laid back afternoon dive session with the Cayman Turtle Divers. Although I had spent some time awake the night before conjuring up any number of irrational apprehensions; hostile marine life, sharks, equipment failure, user error, etc., all of my inconvenient fears were assuaged the moment we met our guides. Approachable and friendly, their cool attitudes represented a norm we had already encountered and were to continually encounter throughout our entire trip, that of a consistently amiable attitude from pretty much everyone we met. It was this same calm, rational, and humorous persona projected by our British guide, coupled with breathtaking reflections of light off the gently rolling, bright blue waves that steadily quelled all worries and heightened expectations. By the time we were in the water, I knew this would be our most unforgettable dive to date. And it was.

With light penetrating in shards from the surface, even at 50 feet our visibility was astounding, and the colors were vivid. The coral was elaborately detailed, setting off in all directions like fingers, harboring all sorts of life from its cavernous base to its castle like spires. Brightly colored fish danced and darted in and out of the sponge-like holes in the coral, orientally armored lion fish hovered stoically under crags, sting rays and eagle rays passed by flowingly, their bodies moving steadily yet seemingly oscillating in place, and care-free sea turtles floated nearby. At the sandy bottom lay interesting bits of wreckage to explore, as well as a bicycle I did attempt to ride. Our guide maneuvered us effortlessly through the winding reef, looking back occasionally for a sign of “Ok,” rubber band spear gun in hand for the lion fish. Although our time underwater was relatively brief, the experience was incredible and the location could not have been more accommodating to novices such as ourselves. In addition, it was not just the environment and geography, the magnificent beauty and diversity of life that surrounded us throughout our dives that realized the adventure. As special as Grand Cayman is, and indeed it is a special place to experience, it was the people that made the trip complete. My father and I cannot wait to return as soon as the next available opportunity arrives (and it won’t be long), for it was this unique combination of natural wonder and benevolent personality that thoroughly ensured the end to our scuba hiatus was that much more exceptional.