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Snorkeling STJ vs Grand Cayman

Atlanta, Georgia
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Snorkeling STJ vs Grand Cayman

If you have snorkeled both, please give me your thoughts. I understand there is no shore diving in STJ as there is in GC, all diving is done by boat? And most is shallow dives??

Philadelphia...
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1. Re: Snorkeling STJ vs Grand Cayman

I can only reply about snorkeling. I've been to both Island and STJ wins hands down. You would never have enough time in one week to snorkel all the great sites from shore.

You also have the option of going out on a boat, even to the BVI's for snorkeling. I've never been let down.

Trophy Club, Texas
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2. Re: Snorkeling STJ vs Grand Cayman

I have snorkeled both numerous times. STJ was my first love snorkeling and still think it is great. But after discovering the barrier reef and coral gardens of Grand Cayman's North Side and East End I consider them to be simply in another league.

STJ is great because everything is on a smaller scale where as Grand Cayman is great because everything seems like it is on steroids. The typical 'popular' tourist snorkel sights on GC's Seven Mile Beach and George Town areas have seen better days, but are very good for first timers and novices.

Waterlemon is usually my favorite snorkel on STJ and Queens Monument/Babylon is my favorite on GC. Both are good, but the edge goes to GC in my book.

Here's a link to pictures from a recent snorkel in Grand Cayman:

…google.com/testudo92/…

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kod
Nokomis, Florida
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3. Re: Snorkeling STJ vs Grand Cayman

Testudo,

I know this is a St John forum, but is the Grand cayman snorkeling you mentioned off the shore or do you have to take a boat to get to the best spots?

I like St John for the snorkeling off the beach.

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St. John
St. John
U.S. Virgin Islands
Grand Cayman
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Parker, CO
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4. Re: Snorkeling STJ vs Grand Cayman

I've been to both and that's a hard call! I think STJ has more snorkeling opportunities. You can snorkel coral. You can snorkel seagrass with turtles. There's something a little different at every beach.

Grand Cayman is outstanding too! I don't think you can go wrong with either. I like St. John's landscape and Caribbean "feel" better than Grand Cayman. Grand Cayman also doesn't have options like going to Jost and the BVI's, but it does have Stingray City. :)

Also, I have seen people diving from shore on STJ, but GC definitly has more options for shore diving.

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Antigua
Chicago
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5. Re: Snorkeling STJ vs Grand Cayman

I think overall the quality of the reefs and critters is better on GC for snorkelling. However if I was just doing a snorkel trip I would go to STJ. The way the bays are on STJ it makes for an easier snorkel, there is always somewhere to go that has calm snorkelling and most of the snorkels are very, very accesible right off a beautiful beach. IMO this is not the case in GC and the snorkel sites are spread farther apart The beaches where there is good snorkelling are better in STJ. Diving is a different situation all together and GC wins hands down.

Other things I think are relavent. GC is much easier to get to, more options for accomodations and overall less expensive than STJ, people are much friendler too.. GC is also more build up and commercialzed except for the N side East end.

STJ is a much prettier island with better beaches, less developed and more tropical feeling.

They are both GREAT islands and you cannot go wrong with either.

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East End
St. Thomas
Atlanta, Georgia
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6. Re: Snorkeling STJ vs Grand Cayman

Thanks for all the replies! I know that I am spoiled to GC diving....it is first class! .I'm sure I will get just as spoiled to STJ snorkeling!

Trophy Club, Texas
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7. Re: Snorkeling STJ vs Grand Cayman

kod,

Most of the prime snorkeling off Grand Cayman is accessible from shore and pretty well noted on snorkel guides. Many of the snorkel boat stops are accessible from shore as well (some just a farther swim than many are accustomed to).

As a previous poster stated, STJ is great because there are so many varied terrains in a relatively confined area - the grassy bottoms of Rendezvous Bay for seeing Southern and Eagle Rays, to the turtles at Francis and Leinster Bay, to the corals of Waterlemon. GC tends to have bigger fish from huge parrot fish, to larger tarpon and barracuda. STJ seems to me to have a slightly wider diversity of fish with more and larger turtles. GC definitely has the edge in coral size and diversity with stands of Staghorn and fields of Lobed Star corals that seem like they go on forever. Even though it has been beaten to near death, there is nothing like the massive coral bulkheads of Eden Rock or the pristine large boulder corals of Rum Point and Queens Monument on STJ.

The beaches by the snorkeling areas on STJ are also nicer IMO than on GC, as many of the better spots on GC are located off rocky ironshore.

You really can't go wrong visiting either if you are a snorkel devotee. I guess I would sum up the difference as being about scale; STJ is a more intimate snorkel experience for me, where as GC is more awe inducing.

If you decide to visit GC for snorkeling I would advise you bypass the main tourist area of Seven Mile Beach and plan on staying on the quieter and less developed North Side or East End since that is where the best shore snorkeling is.

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St. Thomas
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8. Re: Snorkeling STJ vs Grand Cayman

Listen to Testudo. :)

If you have kids or are a begineer snorkler, snorkelling on STJ is much easier. Almost always a sandy entry and very calm. My family learned to snorkel on STJ and now my oldest is Scuba certified and just dove GC.

B.

Tampa, Florida
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9. Re: Snorkeling STJ vs Grand Cayman

I agree with the above poster that there seems to be a larger variety of fish in any one given snorkel area at St. John but the fish are bigger on GC. However I saw way more turtles on SJ than GC. The snorkeling is also in shallower water so if you are with anyone who is less comfortable in the water that could be a factor.

I think the island of St. john hands down is better than grand cayman, far less commercial. Post card perfect beaches, one after another.

IMHO, best diving is on Cayman Brac/ Little Cayman.

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St. John
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Atlanta, Georgia
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10. Re: Snorkeling STJ vs Grand Cayman

Testudo, what camera did you use for your underwater shots? They're great!