I ended up snorkeling at Collier Beach, Grand Cayman entirely by accident.
I was originally looking to go snorkel at a location I had read about online but I believe that the once unoccupied oasis has now had a resort built on it. Instead of getting out at a crowded beach that I wasn’t even sure was correct, I found Collier Beach!
Collier Beach is a clean, uncrowded spot on the east side of the island of Grand Cayman. If you’re coming from the West Bay area, follow the signs to East End. Collier Beach can be found where Queens Highway kind of merges into Austin Conolly Drive (not that you’d know, because Grand Cayman doesn’t really seem to believe in providing road signs to reassure you that you’re on the right street to begin with). Odds are you’ll spend most of your drive wondering where you are.
Once I arrived, I pulled over to this beautifully maintained public beach. There were some pavilions, a dock, and wandering chickens. Yup, chickens.
Just so you know, if you plan on spending any time in Grand Cayman you should probably become accustomed to the sound of a rooster crowing at all hours of the day. They began at my hotel around 6 AM and would continue unabashedly throughout the day. It’s enough to make you jump out of your skin when you’re not expecting it. The fowl at Collier Beach were friendly (and silent) enough.
The beach was almost entirely empty and I was the only snorkeler in the water. And while I had read that snorkeling on the East End of Grand Cayman is usually great, my experience was somewhat underwhelming.
Collier Beach had me worried from the time I had entered the water. Straight from the beach, I was met with nothing but murky shallow water over sea grass. Yeah. Yikes. If I went back, I’d probably enter off of the dock at the beach because that would at least help avoid swimming over dirty looking water.
Once I could actually see where I was going, I quickly learned that there wasn’t a whole lot to see. The water was clear and deep and there was some vegetation along the bottom of the ocean floor but not a lot of coral or rocks that would provide food or hiding places for fish. I spent a good chunk of time swimming back and forth trying to spot SOME kind of fish.
There was some small, tubular striped fish that I think were Goby fish. They were quick little guys who dodged around bits of what little refuge they have at Collier Beach.
I spent a lot of time swimming around and not finding much. But there was a pretty piece of coral hanging out on its own. I love this kind of branch coral. I become mesmerized watching it bend and sway with the current. It's like the underwater equivalent of a lava lamp.
Another issue I had at Collier Beach was that everything was spread out. By the time I found a significant piece of coral to explore, I had swam around a decent distance.
But then I found where the fish were! They were all clamoring around this one piece of coral. You can kind of tell when you hit a beach where fish aren’t as used to seeing snorkelers because they seemed extra skiddish while I was exploring. I played a little bit of hide and seek with some squirrelfish.
Found ya! This was an interesting looking fish. The black around their eye socket makes them look particularly menacing.
There was a pretty French grunt fish hanging around the school of squirrel fish in addition to what I'm pretty sure are sergeant major fish (the blue and yellow with black stripes).
The guy on the left side of the picture with the blue head looks like it’s a bluehead wrasse. I loved the colors together. So vibrant.
Aaaand that was about it. This was not a beach that required a lot of time to spend looking around. I think I saw much of what there was to see in a short amount of time. What I did observe was fun but this wasn’t a place that demanded a lot of time and attention to make sure you saw everything. Lovely beach, though.
You never know! I could have find a total hidden gem on the East End. Instead, I found a fine snorkeling spot that didn’t really hold a candle when compared to the other places I visited.
If you’re a snorkeling enthusiast like the rest of us at Sunplay, mark snorkeling at Collier Beach down as a “skip.”