The best part of my recent (second) trip to Sunset House in the Grand Caymans was the Sea Harvest restaurant. The food and staff were excellent. As for diving and the hotel portion, here is my story.
The resort rooms have been upgraded from last year but they would have been better to spend the money on the A/C units rather than the flat screen TV. The first night was sleepless as I tried to get used to an A/C unit that roared away, clunked on and generally was a pain. Of course with no sleep, I cancelled the first dive trip (-2 dives),
I figured a way to “work with” the A/C unit on the 2nd night; set it to bring the room down to 70F then reset it to 80F and go to sleep. It would take a couple of hours before the unit would clunk back on at which point I reset it to 70F and waited… once it reached 70F, I reset it again for 80F and went to sleep.
So, on the second dive day I was rested enough that I got my gear and headed to the boat; after all there was warm water calling and this was a dive vacation! I was loaded onto the boat along with the other 16 or so divers. The first dive was “guided” and the second dive was “best on your own in groups of two”. Fortunately, I was able to team up with a couple who I chanced to sit by after the 1st dive (+2 dives).
Third day I retrieved my wet gear from the locker, it rained overnight and I discovered the locker roof has a rather large hole in it… oh, well the gear would just get wet when I dove anyways. Again, I get loaded on to the boat, this time with about 20 others. I pair up with the couple from the previous day and as I pass 27 feet, my ear won’t clear. After a few attempts, I have to abort the dive. Once we get back to the boat, we are surprised to find it unattended. Fortunately the issue wasn’t anything that required emergency assistance. (-2 dives).
The local drugstore has little for an ear infection without prescription, so I use the generic “ear drops” and skipped the fourth day (-2 dives).
Fifth day, I head out on the boat after making sure one of the dive crew is aware that this dive may need to be aborted depending on my ear. With 20 people on board, and little room to work with the gear, I end up puncturing my finger with the tank strap clip while trying to assemble the gear without hitting anyone on either side of me. The crew directs me to the roll of paper towels until they finish with the rest of the divers. With a bandaged finger (blood soaked right through the bandage) I decide to try the dive if for no other reason than to check my ear. Into the water, and back out, the high pressure hose on the rented regulator is torn. I head to the back of the boat to remove the regulator set so the crew can swap the hoses and my finger starts bleeding again. I decided to sit out the one dive and let my finger have a chance to congeal. We get to the second dive site and after I remind the crew that the hose needs to be swapped, they swap it and I head in for the dive. This time I am paired up with a different couple (the previous couple had finished diving for their trip). As we descend I am pleased that my ear doesn’t cause any issue, but I notice the masks on both my partners are heavily fogged. I check if they want to surface to fix them since we just descended to 35 ft, and they indicate no. As we begin along the bottom I notice they both are having buoyancy issues, mask issues, etc so I end up acting as a dive guide/instructor and spent most of the dive monitoring my dive partners including getting back to the boat on time and trying to keep them at 15 ft for the safety stop. (-1dive, +1 dive).
Sixth and final dive day, I check the list and find out there are 22 people on this dive, including the couple I last dove with. I decide to cancel the dive since I find that is simply too many people on the reef at once and I don’t feel like playing guide/instructor again (-2 dives).
Of course part of the marketing at Sunset House is the “unlimited” shore diving; this is providing you have a dive partner! Since I wasn’t part of a group, and missed some of the boat dives, I ended up with no shore dives. Other than word of mouth, there is no method of “linking” up for shore dives and if you aren’t on the boats, there is little chance to join the conversation.
After two trips to Sunset House, I can say it is definitely geared towards groups and not the individual diver. The large number of people per boat works well for groups, but not if you want to enjoy the peace and beauty of the reefs without being finned over by other divers. Dumping 20 people onto a reef to “explore on your own” is simply a way to maximize profits by minimizing expenses (fuel for the boats, and dive pay for the staff). At a dive resort where you are prepaying for your dives a dive master should always be available for the full dive (Sunset Houses standard is 25 minutes underwater for the dive master) for anyone who wants a guided tour, including both those from groups and individuals.
Now to be fair, many of the issues were my own, but this was the second trip to Sunset House and I can say non-group divers be informed.
- 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