Linda Dunk On Little Cayman

Author: Linda Dunk

For me, the fun started right from the beginning, with the flight from Grand Cayman across some 80 or so miles of tropical seas. After the constraints of the long-haul flight from UK, just imagine walking out of the departure terminus at Grand Cayman, down the line of parked jets, savouring the tropical aromas and warm breeze. To arrive at the end only to be confronted with a 19-seater turbo prop Twin Otter belonging to Island Air, the only carrier to the ‘Brac’ and Little Cayman. Unless you have a private plane that is. In we piled, bags and all, and yes, we did have to pay excess baggage, but at $1 per pound, the bill is refreshingly low compared to one or two other similar trips I have done in the past. ‘Real’ flying follows, with terrific views across Grand Cayman, a brief touch-down at the Brac, and then the excitement of landing at Little Cayman on a grass airstrip, and taxiing across a road to disembark!

Moving on swiftly to Little Cayman Beach Resort itself, well I thought it was excellent, and I think that the others in the group were of the same opinion. The comfortable and well-equipped rooms are arranged on two storeys around two sides of a courtyard, with the restaurant and the beach making up the difference, and offer views across the leafy gardens, swimming pool, jacuzzi and bar, or out onto the ocean and boat jetty. The level of service was very good. If you are expecting to go to Little Cayman Beach Resort to lose weight, you are going to be disappointed, as the food was pretty irresistible, and is served as a buffet, enabling those with insufficient self-control to run into waist-band trouble by the end of the trip! Mosquitoes were around from time to time, but were not outstandingly problematic.

As to the diving, well, the Bloody Bay Wall and Marine Park have to contain some of the best dive sites I have ever visited - certainly the best in the Caribbean (and I have had the luck to have dived Belize, Bonaire, BVIs, Martinique, Turks and Caicos, and Grand Cayman). The main Bloody Bay area is divided into a sheer drop-off that comes up to within 18 feet of the surface in places, and a 2-level area, with a mini-wall, a sand boulevard, and then the outer wall that is sheer on the outside. This has enormous advantages from the photographer's perspective, as you do not have to dive deep to reach the material, contrary to many other Caribbean walls, which only start at 50 feet down, leading to nitrogen accumulation problems. There really are many excellent subjects upon which to practice wide angle photography, including underwater canyons, tunnels, caves, sheer drop-offs going down to 6000 feet, rays, sharks, turtles and some of the most high impact red-coloured sponges ever! Fish shoal fanatics will be enchanted by the numbers of grunts, snappers and schoolmasters. The coral is in very good condition, the Nassau and other groupers are remarkably friendly, almost too much so, as sometimes they come so close to the port that it is impossible to take the picture! Macro subjects can also be found, but I thought the smaller critters were harder work, sometimes on account of the surge. In my opinion, Little Cayman's true potential lies in wide-angle photography and fish portraiture.

The diving is run very efficiently by Reef Divers, the resident facility, and the dive shop, the photoshop and the boat jetty are all very conveniently located so that you do not have struggle far with heavy camera kit. As to the diving gear, well they will fit it up for you on the boat, carry it to you sitting down, take it from you ASAP when you come out of the water, etc, etc, in the usual American manner. Nitrox is available. The three boat dives are done as a two-tank morning dive and an afternoon dive. Night dives (boat dives) are extra (not in the package), and are offered twice each week on quite an interesting wreck which is home to some truly giant super terminal male parrotfish (have to be three to four feet long), some very large groupers, a five foot Goliath groupers, and a number of other interesting subjects.

For those still standing after each action-packed day, the bar offered a challenging range of Caribbean cocktails to banish any lingering insomnia!

Now, not everyone in the group was a diver, and that brings me to alternative amusements. It has to be said that Little Cayman is a very undeveloped island, and in terms of things to do, well, you can borrow the resort's bicycles and explore the island by riding around on virtually traffic-free roads. There's the booby and frigate bird reserve, you can feed the iguanas (very fond of bananas!), and there is a very expensive beauty salon! In terms of shopping - there's not a lot....and alternatives to the resort restaurant are somewhat limited. There are, however, some very enjoyable beach walks, hammocks, a fitness centre with billiard table and heaps of games, and the dive centre rents canoes and sailboards. When all else fails, there is usually ready conversation to be had at the bar, where Paul, the barman, will tell you that you, the guests, are the entertainment.....

I hope that this gives you some idea of what this location has to offer. I certainly enjoyed my time there, but, much more to the point, I think that the others did as well. Divequest often mentions the concept of world-class diving destinations, and I think that Little Cayman truthfully has to be one of them. Diving on those walls was quite something, and I for one can't wait to get back!

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