This is, above all, a dive hotel. Calling it a resort would be unfair. It caters to divers, and any non-divers will be much better off staying somewhere else that has a beach.
Sunset House is not near any other restaurants, markets, beaches, or attractions. It has steps in and out of the ocean for shore dives (pretty good reef there, too), and piers for boats, but there is no beach, so if you're going to Grand Cayman to lie out on the sand and drink umbrella drinks, stay somewhere else. If you want to dive all day--and maybe all night--this is your kind of place.
A bit of background might help you evaluate this review. I've been diving since 1967, was an instructor for 10 years, and have logged just under 2000 dives.
On this trip I joined a group of divers from around Fort Worth, Texas. Our group included divers who were brand new (certified in lakes, no previous ocean dives), as well as much more seasoned divers, several of whom had decades of experience in the water.
That kind of a group presents a challenge for any dive operation. Divemasters have to strike a balance between safety and freedom, so that everyone has fun without scaring the new divers while the old salts get to do what they do best. In my opinion, the staff did an excellent job.
Briefings were detailed and clear; guided tours were offered at the start of every dive for anyone who wanted to hang out with the divemasters; assistance with gear was always available; beginners were actively watched over; and experienced divers were allowed to do pretty much whatever they wanted as long as they stayed within the island's standard depth limit (100') and came up within an hour or so. Out of habit, I kept an eye on the divemasters to see if they were looking out for our group, and was impressed by their level of attention, especially with regard to the newer divers with us.
You air-hogs should be aware that the operation still uses aluminum 72s instead of more common 80 cubic foot tanks, and we had quite a few short fills (around 2700-2900 psi seemed to be the norm instead a more satisfactory 3000 psi, especially in a small tank). Check the O-rings on your tank valves, too. During our week's stay, we got lots of tanks that had leaky O-rings.
Nitrox (EAN32) is available but it costs $12 per tank. That's kind of steep, especially for a short fill in a small tank. There is no unlimited nitrox plan, probably because there is no compressor on site. All the tanks are brought in by an outside company that takes away the empties are refills them every day.
This hotel actually has a very good kitchen. It has an extensive Indian menu as well as more standard burgers, fries, mahi, coconut shrimp, etc. If you're a chicken tikka fan like me, you probably won't want to eat anywhere else off the property.
One disappointment at the bar is that the tropical drinks are all made from pre-packaged mixes. You're not going to hear a real coconut getting cracked or a real pineapple getting blended when you order a pina colada.
Also be aware that there's a slightly weird tipping policy. If you pay cash at the open-air bar/restaurant, nothing is automatically added to your bill, but if you charge your meal to your room, or eat in the air-conditioned formal-ish dining room, there's a 15% service charge added unless you're on a meal plan.
The hotel is basically a place to eat, sleep, and rest up between dives. The buildings are standard concrete block structures--some with porches--and the rooms are somewhere between Motel 6 and Holiday Inn standards.
Our room had a smelly bathroom, as did several other rooms our friends occupied in the same building above the hotel reception. The maintenance guy said it was due to the toilets being supplied with well water, but I have my doubts. In any event, he was unable to do anything about the smell other than to add a deodorant to the toilet tank. That lasted about one flush, so we just kept the bathroom door closed all the time. On the positive side, there was a fierce air conditioner in the bedroom and we slept comfortably.
Nearly of the hotel staff was extremely helpful and had a positive attitude, though there was one crabby person at the front desk who always said "No, we can't do that" to virtually every request. If you encounter her, you'll know that immediately. Wait until she's off duty and then ask someone else for whatever you want. You'll probably get it if it's reasonable.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- No Resort Fees!!! Best Value on Island! We have found the beginning of why so many people love Sunset House, Grand Cayman's Hotel for Divers, by Divers. "Stepping out of my room, feeling the sunshine on my face, catching that breath of fragrant tropical breeze, gazing into the alluring blue water..". More profound words were never spoken! This family owned resort is more of a big guest house, than a hotel. Everything you have dreamed for a Caribbean Dive Vacation is here! From palm trees to an amazing house reef; from 5 custom dive boats, to a famous underwater photographer; from amazing Caribbean concoctions, to spicy Indian dishes; they all await you! And combined with warm Caymanian hospitality, you'll wonder why you waited so long to visit this West Indian oasis, or why you haven't come back sooner. Of course, the Caymans and Sunset House are a diver's paradise, with crystal-clear waters awaiting your arrival. Come to Sunset House today and experience now, what others have seen for over the last 50 years. An underwater photographer's perfect dive. Shipwrecks, curious big eels, cuddly stingrays and a legendary mermaid await you just steps from your room! A perfect place for your scuba diving or snorkeling vacation! Packages include Breakfast, transfers from Airport and so much more! ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Sunset House Hotel George Town
- Sunset Hotel George Town
- Sunset Resort George Town
- Sunset House Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands