SCUBA Diving at Coco Cay – Little Stirrup Cay – on RCCL “Enchantment of the Seas”

, SCUBA Diving at Coco Cay – Little Stirrup Cay – on RCCL “Enchantment of the Seas”

SCUBA Diving at Coco Cay – Little Stirrup Cay – from the cruise ship RCCL “Enchantment of the Seas” was a blast! We got towed out to the site, immediately saw three spotted eagle rays when we descended, and saw so many tropical fish!

, SCUBA Diving at Coco Cay – Little Stirrup Cay – on RCCL “Enchantment of the Seas”

RCCL Description of the Dive

From reading the cruise line description of the one-tank dive at RCCL’s private island, Coco Cay, about all we knew was that we were going to be towed out to the dive site by personal watercraft.

, SCUBA Diving at Coco Cay – Little Stirrup Cay – on RCCL “Enchantment of the Seas”

“Discover CocoCay’s underwater world. On this one-tank, shallow-water shore dive in crystal-clear waters, you will explore colorful coral reef as you dive a maximum depth of 40 feet. Your SeaTrek instructor will provide you with a tank and weight belt and help you identify the various marine life and coral formations the reef has to offer. You may see parrot fish, grouper, trigger fish, stingrays, and eagle rays. Highlights: Scuba Dive: Enjoy a one-tank, shallow-water shore dive in waters up to 40 feet deep.” And we knew it would last, in total, about an hour 30 minutes.

, SCUBA Diving at Coco Cay – Little Stirrup Cay – on RCCL “Enchantment of the Seas”

But First – Getting Set up to Dive

At the dive shop, tanks were brought out, and weights distributed. Everyone assembled their gear on the ground, then we headed over to some covered picnic tables for the dive brief.

, SCUBA Diving at Coco Cay – Little Stirrup Cay – on RCCL “Enchantment of the Seas”

Our dive leader was from Croatia, and had worked in the Maldives. He was interested in hearing about our dive from the day before with Stuart’s Cove on New Providence, and what we had seen.

, SCUBA Diving at Coco Cay – Little Stirrup Cay – on RCCL “Enchantment of the Seas”

He went over the dive profile. We would drop down to almost 40 feet and follow a reef for about 25 minutes, keeping it off our right shoulder as we headed East. Then we would ascend to about 15 feet so we saw different fish, and follow the reef back, keeping it off our left shoulder as we returned back West.

, SCUBA Diving at Coco Cay – Little Stirrup Cay – on RCCL “Enchantment of the Seas”

Getting Towed out to the Dive Site!

I don’t think any of us had ever been towed out to a dive site by a personal watercraft! We have walked to the beach and into the water on shore dives. Experienced the giant step off the back of dive boats. Even have rolled in backwards, and have walked down all sorts of wooden and metal ramps and ladders and springs, but never been towed out.

The descent line is too far from the beach for a comfortable swim, and too close to warrant taking a boat, so – “ski patrol-style!”

Each of the personal watercraft had a plastic sled on the back, like a ski patrol rescue with some rope handles. We scooted up onto it, then grabbed the handle, and then were towed slowly out to the dive site. Once at the dive site; everyone held onto a line attached to a float where the dive begins. There were three watercraft, and nine of us, so they made three quick trips each.

, SCUBA Diving at Coco Cay – Little Stirrup Cay – on RCCL “Enchantment of the Seas”

On the Dive

Almost immediately after going down, we saw three spotted eagle rays gliding through the water at our depth. It was absolutely magical. They just came out of the distance, sort of passed us, slightly waving their fins as they effortlessly glided along. It was incredible.

As we swim along the reef, we saw every kind of fish imaginable, and then they spotted eagle rays came back past us a few more times. It looked like a mama, daddy, and a baby; three different sizes.

, SCUBA Diving at Coco Cay – Little Stirrup Cay – on RCCL “Enchantment of the Seas”

The reef itself looked like it had a lot of damage from the hurricanes of the past two years; Matthew and Irma. However, there was evidence of new growth in the fans and corals, and loads of colorful fish everywhere. It was a medium-speed dive, about the speed of a drift dive.

, SCUBA Diving at Coco Cay – Little Stirrup Cay – on RCCL “Enchantment of the Seas”

In retrospect, we probably could have slowed down a lot more and just really enjoyed looking at all of the variety of fish on each enormous coral head. If we do this again, and we are the only divers, I will request that we set the pace. There’s not such a huge variety to see that speeding along will gain you additional views. So, you might as well slow down and enjoy some micro!

We are using a Go Pro 3 to get our photos and video. For this trip, we added a bright light – a Vecino 600 lumens rechargeable, and were rather pleased with the results, even though this was only our first test use of it.

, SCUBA Diving at Coco Cay – Little Stirrup Cay – on RCCL “Enchantment of the Seas”

Getting Back to Shore

After the dive, back at the start buoy, the personal watercraft came out to tow us back yet. We had fun taking some pictures and video of our dive mates as they headed back.

One couple had brought a bag crunchy Cheetos to feed the fish. Unfortunately, the fish were not the least bit interested. However, the snack floated, and like some bizarre movie, the two of them were completely covered by squawking, pooping seagulls!

, SCUBA Diving at Coco Cay – Little Stirrup Cay – on RCCL “Enchantment of the Seas”

Back in the shallow water, I found two US quarters on the bottom and saw some coral and some eel grass. We waded out of the water and back to the dive shop.

, SCUBA Diving at Coco Cay – Little Stirrup Cay – on RCCL “Enchantment of the Seas”

Great Surprise – Free Dive Gear Rinse and Storage!

At the end of the day we walked across the beach to the dive shop. the eight of us disassembled our dive gear, and discovered something fantastic. They allowed us to rinse our gear in their freshwater tank, and then hang it in their dive locker to drip and dry while we ate!

Since our dive was at nine in the morning, we were done by about 11:00 a.m. Everyone was ready to eat, and eager to explore the rest of the island. We did not have to worry about renting lockers, and we don’t worry about our gear drying. While we were diving; our purses and wallets and dive bags were all locked up in their office, so we did not have to worry about that either.

, SCUBA Diving at Coco Cay – Little Stirrup Cay – on RCCL “Enchantment of the Seas”

We tipped our dive guides, rinsed and hung all of our gear, and then headed to lunch. In the past, the lunch on Coco Cay was a fairly simple barbecue. Now it features many more choices. There was barbecue chicken and barbecue pork, burgers and hot dogs french fries, all sorts of cold salads. Also offered were mountains of fresh fruit, and even gyros and a variety of Indian food. Plus several types of desserts and beverages.

, SCUBA Diving at Coco Cay – Little Stirrup Cay – on RCCL “Enchantment of the Seas”

Construction on Coco Cay

During this trip, Coco Cay was under construction to add the largest pool in the Caribbean, and the tallest water slide in the Caribbean. Royal Caribbean is pouring $12 million into developing the island, and building a pier.

Often ships coming to Coco Cay have to skip this port due to the island facing north, and heavy weather precluding them from tendering people to the island. Now they will dock, and everyone can walk on and off the ship. On the island there are dormitories for people who work there every day. On the island there are plenty of wild cats, wild chickens, and iguanas

, SCUBA Diving at Coco Cay – Little Stirrup Cay – on RCCL “Enchantment of the Seas”

Leaving Coco Cay

When it was time to leave, we put our bags through a scanner, showed our sea pass card, walked back to the tender, and headed back to the ship. One of our dive mates wondered why they were checking our bags because we had not come into contact with many people.

Actually, there is an entire straw market, and a T-shirt and souvenir marketplace area on the island where inappropriate merchandise could be exchanged.

Also, there are no fences around the island, so someone could have handed you something illegal on the beach at the far end. I suppose someone who drank too many “Coco Locos” might have tried to bring an iguana back to their cabin in their beach bag!

, SCUBA Diving at Coco Cay – Little Stirrup Cay – on RCCL “Enchantment of the Seas”

Post-Dive Thoughts

And that was our day on Coco Cay. We knew that the diving was not going to be spectacular. However, we had not seen spotted eagle rays on our “big dive day with Stuart Cove’s,” so it was a nice addition and unexpected surprise.

It was not a technically challenging dive; we did see an airplane engine and propeller. There were no wrecks or swim-throughs, just good old schools of tropical fish everywhere.

, SCUBA Diving at Coco Cay – Little Stirrup Cay – on RCCL “Enchantment of the Seas”

Meeting the Revenue Manager, Sharing Ideas

After diving on Coco Cay, when we got back on board Enchantment of the Seas, even the Revenue Manager wanted to know how diving on the island was!

Quite by chance, in the diamond lounge the evening, we met Colin Davis, the retail manager of the Enchantment of the Seas. He had been a scuba diving instructor in Europe, hailed from Pretoria South Africa, and was very interested to hear what we thought of our dive on Coco Cay.

, SCUBA Diving at Coco Cay – Little Stirrup Cay – on RCCL “Enchantment of the Seas”

We told him about what all we had seen on the dive. He then wanted to know what it was like diving with Stuart’s Cove on New Providence. As a former dive instructor, he was particularly interested. We mentioned to him the gear set up stations at Devil’s Den in Florida. He gave us his email address so that we could email photos to him upon return home.

When we got home, we located about six photos of the pavilions at Devil’s Den. We sent the three the most detailed close-ups of the stations. I’ll let you know when I hear something back from him.

, SCUBA Diving at Coco Cay – Little Stirrup Cay – on RCCL “Enchantment of the Seas”

Would We Dive Coco Cay Again?

Would I dive Coco Cay again? Yes, of course! For several reasons!

You get priority to get on the tender first. Also, you are just about guaranteed a private dive. And, you never know what you might see! We heard there are often manatees and sharks in the area. Any day diving is a good day. Not having to rent a locker was a pleasant surprise. Having our gear get a good rinse off and drying the last day of the cruise was absolutely perfect.

, SCUBA Diving at Coco Cay – Little Stirrup Cay – on RCCL “Enchantment of the Seas”

Also, we had $150 onboard credit from some online booking incentive. This more than covered the cost of the dive, which was under $50 per person due to our cruising status. The current price of the dive is $57. It was a great low-key, low intensity, relaxing type of dive to wrap up the trip.

Due to the dive being finished by 11:00 a.m., divers can fly out the next day. The ship arrives in port the next day at 7:00 a.m. If someone disembarks by eight or nine, and needs to catch an 11:00 a.m. flight… they would have fully satisfied their 24 hours no fly period. Perfect!

For further information, when considering dives from a cruise ship, I always check the boards on Cruise Critic to see what the “Expert Cruisers” say. Here’s what I found on Coco Cay: https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2418512-making-my-4th-attempt-to-dive-at-coco-cay-fingers-crossed/http://www.royalcaribbean.com/shoreExcursions/product/detail/view.do?sourcePage=shorexByPort&ProductCode=ZC05&DestinationCode=Also, there are several videos on YouTube from divers at Coco Cay.

Equipment we used on this trip:

We used inexpensive GoPro 3’s to get all our great shots – they are affordable, easy-to-use, compact, and dependable. The waterproof camera housing is also quite reasonably-priced. Awhile ago, we added handles with leashes so we could keep the cameras attached to our BCD or on our wrists. For under $200, you can get some amazing results from these teeny cameras! Below are links to the camera we used, the waterproof casing, handle, and a new Vecino light we tested out for the first time on this trip.

What to read next: How RCCL Can Improve SCUBA Diving on CoCo Cay With Four Easy Tweaks

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  • Damien941 April 27, 2019 at 6:41 pm Reply

    The concrete pier construction destroyed reef life! Very sad, at least in The States we have the EPA!!!

    Sad shit!!

    • Kimberly April 29, 2019 at 4:18 pm Reply

      Damien – I’d have to research which one is more environmentally destructive. Playing Devil’s Advocate… Without concrete (no pun intended) statistics, it’s hard to tell which is cumulatively worse. I saw the pier being built. The pier eliminates anchoring several times a week, emissions from running engines to hold ships in place all day long, emissions from all-day-long tendering back and forth to one or sometimes two ships, and emissions from the days they had to motor in circles due to not being able to come into Little Stirrup. You would have to add up all that and calculate the damage versus the pier construction impact. I wonder as well which one is worse. How do you like this suggestion of using a cable car instead: https://cruisefever.net/0821-grand-cayman-concept-cable-cars-to-replace-tenders/

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