After spending years teaching scuba in Florida, Brad arrived in Grand Cayman in 1988 and went to work for the famous Bob Soto’s Diving. For 17 years, Brad operated boats and led thousands of divers along the pristine walls and reefs in the crystal waters of the Caribbean Sea. He learned all the critters and creatures by name and came to appreciate the hundreds of local dive sites.
He enjoys the North Wall for its eagle rays, sharks and vertical faces; South Side shallow dives for their abundance of caves and tunnels; East End dives for all of the above; and the West Side for calm conditions, good visibility, profusion of fish life and general ease of diving.
Brad Nelson grew up in Northern Iowa, but was destined to migrate to warmer climes. He got certified to scuba dive in a cold lake in 1983 and learned every inch of every quarry, river, lake and farm pond within a 30-mile radius of his hometown.
However, after a career change a few years later and a trip to California where he became a scuba instructor, Brad later settled in Grand Cayman and has never left.
Now the longtime staff member of Bob Soto’s Diving has ventured out on his own with Cayman University Divers, a new operation that offers recreational divers (and those wishing to learn the ropes), traditional diving experiences, as well as unique cutting edge technology to explore the underwater world.
Brad has invested in the hands-free underwater communications system Divelink, which enables him and his business partner, Becky, to offer novice and experienced divers alike narrated guided diving tours along Grand Cayman’s world-renowned coral reefs and walls.
While Brad’s regulator is outfitted with a special mouth-piece allowing him to speak while underwater, those diving with him simply attach a listening device and speaker to their vests and masks and Brad does the rest.
“There’s a big turtle over there,” Brad says.
“There’s another one not too far off in the distance, let’s see if we can get a closer look.”
The increased communication with Divelink helps prevent the missed photo and video opportunities of a lifetime, as well as allowing new divers to learn the identities of the creatures they see. Simply point to something, and Brad fills in the blanks.
“That’s a rainbow parrotfish,” he says.
Brad and Becky cater to small groups of sport divers although their boat, the 33-foot Campus Diver, is outfitted to accommodate larger groups as well. He also offers beginner dive training, underwater photography classes and one and two-tank boat dives to some of the most exotic dive locations in Grand Cayman.
“The voice communications have been a real hit with the certified divers and students,” he says.
“I love telling them about the critters and they reel in the information.
“They forget that they’re wearing it until they hear me say something again,” he adds.
And diving the waters off Grand Cayman as long as Brad has certainly has enabled him to amass a wealth of knowledge.