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“CML Knows Cayman Diving”
Review of Cayman Marine Lab

Cayman Marine Lab
Ranked #10 of 29 Tours in Seven Mile Beach
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: 27 Years experience as the only diving marine biologist in the Cayman Islands. Experience and knowledge are your ticket to the best small boat diving vacation in the Cayman Islands. I look forward to spoiling you and your family very soon.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“CML Knows Cayman Diving”
Reviewed April 14, 2014

I just spent another week diving with Tom Byrnes and CML. It was truly another awesome experience as it always is. Diving with CML defines adventure diving. Typically they anchor in a sandy location adjacent the wall. These are areas not used by other dive operations, and are therefore pristine. Tom does not employ the mule train diving used by many of the other operations, he allows you to enjoy the diving and the freedom of exploring the reef. Do not misconstrue this to mean that the operation does not focus on safety, they are the most safety minded operation I have been with in Grand Cayman. Tom and/or his divemasters know where each diver is at all times and is constantly checking depth and air for each of the divers. I have over 750 dives in the Cayman waters, most of them with CML. I dive with Tom for the freedom of the dives, the unmolested areas he chooses to dive in, the safety, the marine biology talks, and the entertainment factor that is Tom. After 27 years living on the island and diving the waters of Grand Cayman, Tom know a thing or two about the dive sites and the island. Dive with CML and you will not want to dive anywhere else.

Visited April 2014
1 Thank franspeed
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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332 reviews from our community

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  • English first
  • French first
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English first
Middletown, New York
1 review
“The Best Cayman Dive OPERATION”
Reviewed April 4, 2014

I have been diving in Grand Cayman for 30 plus years. This dive operation is by far the best of them all. There have ben many new upstart operations as well as the big commercial ones. This is a smaller more personally run dive operation than the others. Tom Byrnes and his assistant Dylan are top notch. The real deal so to speak. They try to give you the best possible dive experience as opposed to just taking you to any dive site available and throwing you in the water not caring if it is a good site or not. My big regret , is that i did not dive with Tom and his crew years ago. My visits to Cayman and my dive experiences would have been much more enjoyable. He is reliable and punctual and goes the extra mile to give you a great dive experience. He should be number one on Google, but don't let that fool you. We all know that number one there is not always the best. So give them a try if you want a great dive experience, You will not be disappointed. Can't wait to return and dive again. Thanks Tom, and Dylan. Dave and Janet

Visited March 2014
Thank David A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Birmingham, MI
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“All you need to know about CML”
Reviewed April 1, 2014

I've been visiting Cayman for 18 years and have logged over 100 dives there.

Here are 3 things CML offers that most other operations do not provide.

1) Adventure dives - Dropping anchor (in the sand) on an area of the reef that does not have a mooring ball. This allows divers the unique experience of visiting a pristine dive site. You will notice the corals are more vibrant and the animal life more abundant. This is, in my opinion, the best way to dive the island. A quick glance at the West wall diving area of the island will reveal 20-30 boats tied up to existing moorings, with all the divers clamoring around and sharing a finite space. I've done this in Cayman before, it's not worth the money. Go with someone who is willing to show you the best of Cayman's underwater scenery.

2) The "Tom Experience" - Dr. Tom Byrnes' nearly 30 years of dive experience in Cayman, coupled with his doctorate, provides unparalleled knowledge about the aquatic creatures seen on the dive. Upon request (and at times unprovoked) he will provide an in-depth educational overview of things seen during the dive. What's important to remember, is that most dive masters with Tom's level of experience typically are not in the water, they're behind desks working on marketing their company. Aside from an aquatic overview, Tom is more than willing to regale guests with humorous stories, his views on current events, and any other topic of conversation. He is truly a unique personality and a pleasure to experience.

3) Safety - A benefit of diving in Cayman is that each side of the island provides exceptional diving. However, one must find a dive operator willing to factor in weather, ocean currents, and wave conditions. Tom takes all of this into account and will use whichever of his 3 boats is best positioned to provide the optimal dive. The weather on my last trip to Cayman produced unusually strong ocean currents and swells, with CML included dives on the North, South and West sides of the island, which were dictated by the day's weather. Each location was calm, the currents were non-existent, and as a result, the dives were wonderful. I'd also point out, Tom was the only operator to go South - literally no other dive boat insight. For some, it may be difficult to fully appreciate why this is such a valuable aspect of CML, but other operators do not offer this service and are content to plop guests into choppy waters and high currents because it saves them the fuel cost of moving to a different part of the island. If you're looking for safety while in the water, Tom's operation is first class.

A few other items of note that appear in some of the reviews.

First, many of the divers are long-time, repeat customers. Obviously, this speaks to their comfort level with CML, but it can make new comers feel a touch on the outside initially. However, I can almost guarantee that you'll make quick friends and feel at home. I honestly cannot remember a time diving with CML that I haven't swapped business cards or an email address with someone after a few days of diving together. This is a laid-back atmosphere, great for making everyone feel at home.

Second, Tom is one of the most vigilant diver masters and boat captains you'll find. He may not always directly call out a safety risk (i.e. "Hey dummy, you forgot to put your fins on."), but will take care of it discretely as to avoid embarrassment for the diver and provide a "learning experience". This echos back to my prior point about moving to whichever side of the island is most safe that day - Tom ensures safety.

Third, lionfish are a MAJOR threat to the reef ecosystem and are classified as an invasive species by the Caymanian Gov't. They are prolific breeders (15K eggs per release), have no natural predators in Cayman, destroy reef fish, and can live over 15 years. Removing these creatures from the reef is not a "hobby" - as some have indicated - rather it is part a responsible diving.

Hope this review was helpful.

Visited March 2014
3 Thank albion31
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Harwich, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
33 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“Always Great Diving”
Reviewed March 29, 2014

We just returned from a 3 week stay on Grand Cayman - one of the highlights, always, for me, is to dive with Tom Byrnes and Cayman Marine Lab. I have been with him for several years now, and the diving is always great.
Tom runs an excellent operation, he really knows the waters, the dive sites, and keeps constantly on top of the weather and sea conditions.
It's great to dive with so many of his returning, steady customers - like diving with old friends who hail from all over the map...
Tom and Dylan run a very efficient boat, and his many steady customers are very familiar with the boat routine - this makes the "in and out" procedures go very quickly and smoothly. not much "hanging around the line", waiting for everyone to get in.
New divers are always most welcome, and it is fun to see so many young people enjoying their first diving experiences as well. Tom and Dylan do a great job with new, or inexperienced divers.
Tom plans the dives perfectly for the conditions - We did mostly North Wall, with some trips to the South - first dives are deep wall dives, second is over the shallower top reef..so there is plenty of variety.
A new, most attractive aspect is the "Adventure diving" - in which we drop anchor over a sandy spot near the wall, and dive on basically pristine dive sites...this is really exciting, the sites are new, not worn like the common mooring sites - beautiful corals are intact - the fragile, soft corals are most stunning, and basically untouched..lots of fish, plenty of big stuff too..
Some of these new sites were most stunning - spectacular wall formations, tunnels, canyons...and lovely shallow reefs.
If you are looking for small boat, adventurous diving experience, go with Cayman Marine Lab. Great mix of veteran and new divers - makes for a fine dive experience.

Visited March 2014
Thank Heckelman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
36 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Easygoing, friendly staff.”
Reviewed March 24, 2014

We were picked up directly from our hotel beach by the CML boat and whisked away (6 minutes) to the reef. We had two dives and while the costs were a bit on the high side, it was made up for by the relaxed, intimate nature of the dive. It was just the four of us and the dive master, who basically allowed us to use up the rest of our air after he had already run out. The freedom we enjoyed to dive more or less on our own was fantastic (we are all very experienced divers, I'm sure he would not let novices do this!).
We explored a shipwreck/reef combo, and a wall dive. I can't say this is in my top 10 or even top 20 dive locales, but like most dives, it's a pleasure. We didn't see much in the way of big stuff, and I had a hard time finding macro life, but it's fun just the same! If you're a diver, you'll have to dive Cayman anyway... if you want to know who to book with - I'd say Cayman Marine Lab. Fun, easy, and laid back. Oh, one thing about booking - I had traded a few emails back and forth with Tom, and he always replied promptly. His somewhat cavalier attitude had me worrying if they'd actually show up at 11AM on the beach to pick us up as promised, but, they did- and everything that was agreed to in our emails was carried out as expected. Excellent service!

Visited February 2014
Thank NYCKankyoukyaku
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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