World-class diving on Grand Cayman, and superb snorkeling at Turtle Nest Inn.
Impressive array of coral and fish found off the beach at Turtle Nest Inn
Coral and related speciesFish and related species

Giant brain coral

Grooved brain coral

Smooth brain coral

Trumpetfish

Yellowtail snapper

Parrotfish

Butterprint brain coral

Golfball coral

Blushing star coral

Pufferfish

Boxfish

Small angelfish

Elkhorn coral

Staghorn coral

Orange tube coral

Tarpon

Triggerfish

Butterflyfish

Green cactus coral

Sea rods

Leaf coral

Blue tang

Rock beauty

Jack fish

Sheet coral

Flower coral

Club finger coral

Rainbow runner

Scad fish

Great barracuda

Fire coral

Mustard hill coral

Sea whips

Pinfish

Grunt fish

Damselfish

Venus sea fan

Common sea fan

Tube sponges

Sea perch

Razorfish

Squirrelfish

 

Corky sea fingers

 

Goby

Conch

Arrow crabs

 

 

 

Coral crab

Coral shrimp

Southern sting rays

World-class diving on Grand Cayman, and superb snorkeling at Turtle Nest Inn.
Aerial view of the Inn, its pool, beach and the sea inside the reef

Marine survey confirms excellent snorkelling off Turtle Nest Inn beach

Survey Date: May 25-26, 1999
Surveyor: Nicole Wiegand, Underwater Parks Development, Indiana University
Method of Survey: GPS coordinates, snorkel equipment, tape measures, clipboards, mylar, compass headings
Depth of Site: 0-5 feet

Turtles off the beach at Turtle Nest Inn, Grand Cayman.
Encounter with a sea turtle while snorkelling at the Inn, by Roger and Donna Smith.

Major Site Features
On the southeastern side of the site, outlining the fringing reef, lies an encrustation of elkhorn coral, staghorn coral and giant brain corals. Extending from the sandy shore, large beds of turtle grass stretches into thick patches. Scattered between the turtle grass and the fringing reef, lies a selection of soft and hard coral formations. Various aquatic vertebrates and invertebrates thrive in the coral heads. To the southwestern area of the site lies a diverse genus of brain coral, including a rare giant brain coral.

Snorkeling at Turtle Nest Inn. Snorkeling at Turtle Nest Inn.
A spiny lobster and a blue tang, photographed by Tim and Nancy McLaughlin at the Inn.

Environmental Considerations
Much of the coral is regenerating itself. Some of the coral has died off, but new coral crowns the dead. Therefore, or under any circumstance, none of the coral should be touched.

A great barracuda off the beach at Turtle Nest Inn.
A great barracuda spotted by Nancy Bernstein and Terry Seelinger while snorkelling at TNI.

Hazards
The main concern of the site is the strength of the current due to the nearby channel. The current comprises a south to southwest movement. For safety rationale, snorkelers should not swim outside the Turtle Nest Inn Lagoon area. Along the coral formations, near the fringing reef, powerful surges flow across the shallow site. A combination of strong surges and shallow depths, a snorkeler could possibly be harmed on nearby coral extensions. Encrusted along many of the coral formations, lies large patches of fire or stinging coral. The lagoon area may also receive a minimal amount of boat traffic.

Snorkeling at Turtle Nest Inn, Grand Cayman. Snorkeling at Turtle Nest Inn, Grand Cayman.
A couple of underwater shots taken by Roger and Donna Smith, while snorkelling at Turtle Nest Inn.
Giant brain coral off the beach at Turtle Nest Inn, Grand Cayman. Elkhorn coral off the beach at Turtle Nest Inn, Grand Cayman.
A giant brain coral and some elkhorn coral, captured by Roger and Donna Smith off the Inn beach.

Site Evaluation
The Turtle Nest Inn Lagoon area comprises an excellent site for snorkeling. The abundance of aquatic life combined with the rejuvenation of coral formations, makes the site sensitive. The site contains a rare glimpseof shallow snorkeling, directly off shore.

Snorkeling at Turtle Nest Inn, Grand Cayman.
Lani, Ari and Nancy snorkelling, with Turtle Nest Inn in the background.

Recommendations
Every snorkeler should have a floating dive flag due to possible boat traffic through the lagoon. The site should be marked as sensitive, and snorkelers should be made aware of the environmental considerations. Snorkelers should test the current by swimming against it before they venture far. Take caution when reaching the outer fringing reef area.

Snorkeling at Turtle Nest Inn, Grand Cayman. Snorkeling at Turtle Nest Inn, Grand Cayman. Snorkeling at Turtle Nest Inn, Grand Cayman.
Some underwater shots taken by Tim and Nancy McLaughlin while snorkelling at Turtle Nest Inn.

References
Reef Fish Identification by Paul Humann
Underwater Archaeology by Professor Charles Beeker

Marine chart of Turtle Nest Inn beach

World-class diving on Grand Cayman, and superb snorkeling at Turtle Nest Inn.