Sarah's Set and Blacktip Boulevard

Sarah's Set is often unappreciated by infrequent visitors to Little Cayman.  The main drop-off is not particularly dramatic and usually is covered with a fine layer of green algae.  Moreover, the wall tops are at about 60', so it can be a deep site...if you're intent on following the main drop-off.  But the beauty at Sarah's Set is not the main drop-off; the most interesting part of this site is the inner wall, and I think it is simply fabulous.  I love this site!  It's gentle diving, easy to reach from shore, and teeming with interesting things to see.  This is the land of the giant barrel sponges, and like Mixing Bowl it is a photographer's paradise.

To reach Sarah's Set, go along the North Coast Road from the intersection with Spot Bay road for 1.7 miles.  Watch the north side of the road for a driveway which goes for about 30' and then is blocked by 5 large boulders.  There is plenty of room there to park your vehicle on the driveway, and this is a convenient, shady spot for changing, organizing your gear, etc.  On the other side of those boulders there is a trail which goes back through the woods for about 400' and is easy to follow.  That trail comes out on a perfectly gorgeous crescent-shaped beach of fine, white sand.  This is the nicest stretch of beach on Little Cayman outside of Point of Sand, yet it seems to be relatively undiscovered.  People always congregate further down the beach off Cumber's Caves, but the beach there is not nearly as nice as this little inlet.  But perhaps I shouldn't advertise, lest it be discovered...

When you get to the water's edge, the Sarah's Set ball is just to your left as you look out to sea.  That ball was only recently (January, '06) replaced by Chris, the general manager at Southern Cross.  So if you use this site be sure to stop by and thank Chris for putting the ball back up.  The entry here is an interesting one, and it's worth discussing for a moment.  The sand drops off fairly sharply at the waters edge to a depth of 4' or so, then the bottom slowly comes back up to perhaps 3' as you start out.  What that means is that you can enter here with full heel fins.  Go to the waters edge, go into that 4' of water with a sand bottom, put your fins on, blow up the BC, then scoot out over the rocks.  Easy!  The alternative is to walk out, and the bottom is a little rough here.  There are holes every so often into which I keep stumbling, so I'm never very graceful when I go out at Sarah's Set.

As you swim from shore toward the mooring ball, there's not much to see on the bottom.  It slopes gently downward, and the ball itself is in about 18' of water.  There is some interesting stuff on top for the last 20' or so before the drop-off, but only there at the edge.  Go down when you get near the ball, and take it all in.  What you will see is that the inner drop-off goes from around 20' down to the sand channel at about 60'.  To your right is the low point for the sand channel in the whole of the Jackson Bay area, at about 70'.  Yes, the sand channel goes down to 70', and I'm not talking about chutes through the main drop-off.  The reef tops on the wall are at about 65'.  Sometimes I go out to the outer drop-off, but most of the time I don't.  Really, the most interesting stuff here is along that inner drop-off.  I like to cruise west at maybe 60', then come back east at a shallower depth.  In other words, this is the perfect place to go for dive #2 in the mornings.  

The sand channel is nearly 200' wide through here, so depending on visibility you may or may not be able to see the outer wall while you're cruising along the inside.  If you go far enough to the east, you'll get to Blacktip Boulevard.  The mooring pin for that one is anchored on a coral head in the sand channel at 65', just inside the outer drop-off.  Thus you can see it from the inner wall only on days of good visibility.  I used to dread taking tourists to Blacktip when I was working on the boats because they would start their dive on the outer wall, cruise along for a while, cross the sand channel, then cruise back along the inner drop-off...and miss the turn back to the boat completely.  It would have been so much nicer if that mooring ball had been anchored on the inner wall, the way it is at Sarah's Set.  As it is, they tend to pop up on the surface all over the place.  And if they run out of bottom time, which happens frequently, there's nothing to do but hang in mid-water under the boat.  To me, Blacktip Boulevard is nearly identical to Sarah's Set.  The outer wall is a little shallower, but not by much.

Given all the preceding, my own humble advice is to stick to the inner wall in this area.  You can check out the main drop-off if you want, but it's really kind of drab.  On the other hand, the inner wall all along the way from Bus Stop down past Blacktip is teeming with all kinds of interesting stuff to see.  You can go one way near the bottom, at 60', then come back at 35'-40'. 

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