With all the amazing dive sites around Grand Cayman one might be inclined to forget the Sister Islands, but they have sites as diverse and interesting as we have on the main island. Bloody Bay Wall off Little Cayman is world-famous, and if you visit Cayman Brac you can’t miss a chance to dive the Captain Keith Tibbetts wreck.
Reef Divers at Brac Reef Beach Resort is a professional operation known for its experienced staff and friendly service, which brings repeat customers back year after year. Barbara “Barbie” MacDowell is one of those members of staff who has made Cayman Brac her home and Reef Divers her home away from home.
Barbie was born in London, Ontario and grew up with a great interest in biology. She took her first diving course when she was 17 years old, exploring the wrecks in Lake Huron.
Back then the certification was with IDEA (International Diving Educators Association) but of course these days the most recognisable acronym is PADI. Barbara became rapidly keen on Scuba diving, and quickly moved her way up through certifications to Rescue Diver in the space of six months.
She combined her further education and hobby by taking an Underwater Skills Development course geared towards a career in Commercial Diving. Her first job out of college was working for an environmental consulting company performing impact studies in Lake Ontario. Next was a year as a pilot on a two-person submersible, taking tourists for tours of Lake Huron’s shipwrecks.
Barbie and her now husband were interested in taking their diving skills further, and so they both took back-to-back Divemaster and Dive Instructor courses. Not long after they agreed that they wanted to make a move to the Caribbean and set up house in Cayman Brac in 1993.
She worked for Divi Tiara for 13 years, and then moved to Reef Divers four-and-a-half years ago.
Barbie loves diving off Cayman Brac because there are so many dive sites and they are never crammed with boats. The wildlife is amazing – in her time there she has seen manta rays, whale sharks and even orcas! She never gets bored – one day she’s diving, the next she’s a photo pro, and then another day she might be training people. She loves showing divers new things, and pointing out the little stuff that they might otherwise miss. Reef Divers also has a school programme in place where they teach local schoolchildren to dive – always a gratifying experience.
You may think you’ve seen it all, but when you spend time with Boris the Goliath Grouper or say hello to the resident turtle on one of the top sites, you realise that there is still so much to explore around these islands.
Call 948-1642 for more information