Barrier Reef Snorkel Review (Grand Cayman 2024)


In this article, we review the “Barrier Reef” snorkel spot in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.


What is the Barrier Reef?

The Barrier Reef is the best snorkel spot in North Sound Grand Cayman.

The Barrier Reef is a coral reef that runs along the north-side of Grand Cayman. It also extends along the east-side and south-side of the island.

aerial picture of barrier reef

Most people don’t get the opportunity to snorkel at the Barrier Reef because it is too far offshore to reach without a boat. You need to do a tour that takes you here. This 4-stop stingray eco tour includes the Barrier Reef as one of the snorkel spots.

You will see a wide variety of marine life here, such as: stingrays, eels, turtles, fish and lobsters.


Where is the Barrier Reef located?

The main part of the Barrier Reef is located at the north-side of North Sound in Grand Cayman.

North Sound is a small section of sea in the center of Grand Cayman that is about 5-miles wide. There is a Barrier Reef that extends along the outskirts of North Sound.

picture of a map showing location of barrier reef on north side of Grand Cayman

It is about a 5-minute boat ride from Stingray City to the Barrier Reef.


Is the snorkeling good at the Barrier Reef?

Yes, the snorkeling is very good at the Barrier Reef.

There is a very high density of healthy coral and fish, as well as other marine life such as turtles, conch, lobsters & stingrays.

Below is a video that shows snorkeling at the Barrier Reef (1:04 to 1:41):


Can you snorkel from shore?

No, you cannot snorkel from shore. You need to take a boat to reach the Barrier Reef.

The Barrier Reef is a couple of miles offshore. This is too far to swim. It can also be rough sometimes, meaning that it would be dangerous to swim.

aerial pic of barrier reef

Even if you were able to swim from shore to the Barrier Reef, it would still be a bad idea because there are a lot of boats in the surrounding area. You could be hit by a jet ski or boat as you are swimming to the Barrier Reef from shore.


What is the best way to get there?

If you want to snorkel at the Barrier Reef, then you need to take a boat to get there.

picture of a boat in the sea

George’s Watersports is a tour company in Grand Cayman that offers snorkel tours. Their “4-stop stingray eco tour” includes snorkeling at the Barrier Reef as one of the stops.


Can beginners snorkel here?

Beginners can snorkel here, but it depends on which company you go with.

Some companies, such as George’s Watersports, have professional tour guides that will provide guidance to people who are not experienced snorkelers.

woman snorkeling

George’s Watersports also offers their guests life jackets and floating noodles. This is necessary for someone who has never snorkeled before.

If you go to the Barrier Reef with a company that doesn’t use the equipment mentioned above, and doesn’t have professional guides, then it could be dangerous for a complete beginner to snorkel.


How deep is the water?

The water at the Barrier Reef is about 10 feet deep, but as you get closer to the reef, it becomes very shallow (less than 3 feet deep).

It is important that you don’t try to stand up in the shallow areas as you can damage the coral.

aerial picture of girl snorkeling at barrier reef

Certain areas near the Barrier Reef are very shallow, so you should only take your boat here if you know exactly where you are going.


Final thoughts

The Barrier Reef is the best snorkel spot in Grand Cayman, and is a must-do trip for tourists that are on vacation.

If you want to snorkel at the Barrier Reef, then you should book the “4-Stop Stingray Eco Tour” with George’s Watersports. They snorkel at the Barrier Reef during this tour.

If you are looking for other snorkel spots, then check out our article where we review the top 25 snorkel spots in Grand Cayman.