Little Cayman, Cayman Islands

Photo: Southern Cross Club
Photo: Southern Cross Club

You just completed one of the best dives of your life. You descended along a vertical wall and watched the colors change from turquoise to azure to emerald. You swam through small caverns and massive caves. You saw fields of sea fans and fan coral. Plus the biggest sponges you’ve ever seen. You took pictures of horse-eye jacks, spiny pipehorses, sea cucumbers, and queen triggerfish. You met Jerry, a friendly Nassau grouper. And you set a new personal best in depth.

Perhaps the most amazing part of your dive is its location. You didn’t have to travel all the way to the Great Barrier Reef. You’re in the Caribbean. You didn’t have to spend hours on a boat to reach a remote spot. Blood Bay Wall is just offshore. And there are plenty of other reefs, wrecks, and walls in the area to explore during the rest of your trip. If you can tear yourself away from Bloody Bay, of course. Welcome to Little Cayman.

Little Cayman is the smallest of the three Cayman Islands. It’s the exact opposite of Grand Cayman, 60 miles to the south. There isn’t a cruise ship port or high-rise condos along the beaches or even a full-time bank to accommodate off-shore transactions. Instead, the 12-square-mile island has a part-time postmaster, a one-room schoolhouse, a fire station that is part of the airport terminal, and iguanas that outnumber people. Little Cayman is about as remote and peaceful as it comes in the Caribbean.

Photo: Southern Cross Club
Photo: Southern Cross Club

After your morning dives, return to the Southern Cross Club for a light lunch and a celebratory Caybrew Beer. The island’s first resort, built in 1958, is still the best place to stay. Colorful bungalows sit on a white-sand beach. Perfectly placed hammocks have views of the water with Owen Island in the distance. You can fish for permits and bonefish right from the edge of the water. And, as you’ve already discovered, their guides know the best places to dive.

Spend the afternoon exploring the island. You can bike just about anywhere. The Booby Pond Nature Reserve has the largest population of Red-footed Boobies in the Caribbean. Tarpon Lake, a salt pond, is full of silver fish that usually only live in the ocean. Ospreys like to dive bomb for fiddler crabs here. Owen Island, across South Hole Sound, is easily accessible by kayak or paddleboard. Point of Sand, on the northeastern tip, is the best beach on the island. You see loggerhead sea turtles nesting and a view of Cayman Brac from the usually deserted beach. And the island’s two lighthouses, on the east and west ends, are the best places to watch the sun rise and set, respectively.

While you’re biking, fishing, and swimming, you’re constantly thinking about your next dive. Everyone you meet has a different favorite spot. See orange ball anemones, an octopus, and basket stars on a night dive at Jackson’s Reef. Watch barracudas dart in and out of the Soto Trader Wreck. Hang out with hammerhead sharks while exploring the swim-through Blacktip Tunnel on the pristine eastern side of the island. And return to Bloody Bay Wall. Another record is about to be broken.

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