No trip to Grand Cayman, however short, is complete without an underwater safari allowing you to marvel at the majesty of the deep.
Giving passengers a panoramic window into this magical kingdom, Atlantis Submarines, the island’s only real sub, takes voyagers on a thrilling hour-long adventure to the Cayman Drop-Off, which plunges 1,500 feet into the abyss. Suitable for all age groups, the sub can reach depths of up to 150 feet, allowing you to experience what divers see while sitting in the air-conditioned comfort of the cabin without getting your feet wet.
Keep track of how low you go with the large wall-mounted digital counter, which shows you how deep the sub is diving.
The truly unique experience, with the company’s entertaining and knowledgeable guides, allows each visitor the chance to observe the abundance of marine life and take in the dramatic underwater vistas, many of which are not available to snorkelers. With so much to see out of the portals, no two trips on the 65-foot submersible are ever the same.
Having listened to the safety drill on the tender ride out from Seven Mile Beach, where we met up with the Atlantis, everyone was surprised at the effortless descent into the marine park and the 150 to 200 feet visibility, allowing unobstructed views of shoals of blue tangs, Creole wrasse, black durgon and the occasional sea turtle, stingray and hogfish.
In addition to schools of barracuda with their silvery bodies and gargantuan teeth, lobsters and sergeant majors; the juvenile barrier reef (a mere 200,000 years old) is home to lionfish, moray eels and some spectacular coral formations.
Corals and sponges aplenty
Alongside enormous brain coral, fire coral, star coral and gigantic sea fans; voyagers get to see the colorful tube and barrel sponges which like all the reef plant life, provide shelter for aquatic life such as the four-eyed butterfly fish, parrot fish and yellow-tailed snapper.
Drifting through these underwater cities of coral, the guide points out the change in the color spectrum the deeper down we go. Red is the first color to disappear; transforming to dark purple. The world famous Cayman Wall is not only a nursery, but is also the hunting grounds for the islands’ diverse marine life. With coral growing at the rate of 1 inch every 40 years, it is easy to appreciate why the coral has taken thousands of years to transform in to what we see today.
Atlantis Submarine’s night dives illuminate the depths at the sea critters’ most active feeding time. And with the coral showing off their brilliant, jewel-toned hues once the sun sets, it’s a spectacular tour which gives you a whole new perspective on the underwater world.