advertisement

Visit Little Cayman for the diving, fishing, and beaches, not for the sightseeing, although there are a few sights to see.

Little Cayman has long been popular with birders and anglers, but scuba diving is its main draw. Some 60 dive sites -- marked with moorings -- are found along this 16km (10-mile) island. The most celebrated site is Bloody Bay Wall on the northern tier of the island.

The Beaches

Point of Sand is our favorite beach on the island, located at the southeastern tip of Little Cayman and accessible from Blossom Village by heading east along Guy Banks Road. Point of Sand is also great for snorkeling, and the sand here is luminescent pink. On most weekdays, you'll have the beach to yourself, although many visitors come over on Saturday and Sunday from Cayman Brac. Plan to take a picnic lunch and enjoy it at a covered picnic table. You'll find bathrooms and changing facilities here. It's dangerous to attempt to drive a jeep down to the beach because you might get stuck in the deep sands. Park it at the lot and walk down to the beach.

Owen Island lies off the southwestern coast, east of Blossom Village and South Town, in South Hole Sound, which is between Booby Pond and Tarpon Lake. The island -- which features a beautiful sand beach -- is an easy 180m (590-ft.) rowboat ride off the coast. Pack a picnic lunch and make a day of it. Owen Island -- locals call it "the Cay" -- is the fourth-largest island in the Cayman archipelago, yet it has a land area of only 4.4 hectares (11 acres). It's a peaceful spot with trees and plenty of sand, plus gulls and migrant waders in its shallow waters and flats. Many resorts on Little Cayman schedule picnic trips to this secluded island. The snorkeling is especially good on the south side. Many visitors rent a kayak at Little Cayman Beach Resort and spend a day here, which could be as close as you'll come to experiencing a Robinson Crusoe existence in the Caymans.

Scuba Diving & Snorkeling

One of the most spectacular and most varied dive locations in the world is Bloody Bay Marine Park, reached along North Coast Road. To the east is Jackson Wall, with the Bloody Bay Wall lying to the west. A total of 22 listed dive sites are found in this park alone. The snorkeling here is also very rewarding.

The drop at Bloody Bay begins at only 6m (20 ft.), but soon plunges to more than 360m (1,181 ft.). At one point, the reefs plummet to 1,800m (5,906 ft.). Note: We strongly suggest that you explore the dive sites with one of the experienced dive operators recommended below.

Conch Club Divers is based at the previously recommended Conch Club condominiums, Guy Banks Road (tel. 888/756-7400 or 345/948-1033; www.conchclubdivers.com). These experts offer everything from relaxing snorkeling tours to advanced diving courses. The outfitter's 13m (42-ft.) boat, Sea-esta, takes customized dive excursions to the area's major dive sites, including Bloody Bay Wall. A one-tank dive costs CI$55, a two-tank dive is CI$85, and a three-tank dive goes for CI$120. Snorkeling gear costs CI$15 for a day's rental. The full PADI certification course costs CI$350, and a resort course is CI$150.

Paradise Divers is installed at another previously recommended resort, Paradise Villas Resort, at Edward Bodden Airport (tel. 345/948-0001; www.paradise-divers.com). Like all the other dive outfitters, it provides PADI and NAUI certification courses. Prices are quoted in U.S. dollars, with a single dive going for US$45 or a two-tank dive for US$89. Night dives cost US$60, with snorkeling trips priced at US$25.

Reef Divers at Little Cayman Beach Resort, Guy Banks Road in Blossom Village (tel. 800/327-3835 or 345/948-1033; www.littlecayman.com), was established in 1993. It has a trio of 13m (43-ft.) boats and all the latest equipment. On-site is a dive shop, and the staff here gives PADI courses. Certified divers are charged CI$75 per tank dive. Kayak rentals are also available.

Southern Cross Club, South Hole Sound (tel. 345/948-1099; www.southerncrossclub.com), is another one of the island's leading dive outfitters, providing an intimate dive with no more than a dozen divers per boat. This outfitter has all the latest equipment and is very experienced at directing divers to some of the most dramatic offshore dive sites. A two-tank dive costs CI$95, a three-tank dive CI$160, and night dives CI$75. Snorkeling trips cost CI$15.

Fishing

Little Cayman is recognized as the best island year-round for fishing tarpon, bonefish, and permit (a type of pompano fish).

Anglers can catch bonefish averaging 1.4 to 2.7kg (3-6 lb.) in the shallow areas of South Hole Sound near Owen Island. Bonefish can be spotted in areas known as "muds," or patches of water where the sea looks milky because of fish churning up the bottom while feeding. Muds are especially visible from the air on a flight to the island.

Many guides use fry (young fish) rather than flies for bonefish. Anglers who want to try fly-fishing should bring their own tackle. South Hole Sound offers the best fishing. Although these fish bite all day, local guides agree that finding bonefish depends on tides and weather conditions. They often prefer to fish from the beach rather than stalk fish in the mud of the lagoon.

Tarpon are plentiful in Tarpon Lake, the landlocked, brackish natural pond that offers excellent fly-fishing. These fish used to grow no larger than 1.8 to 3.6kg (4-8 lb.), but larger specimens (up to 9kg/20 lb.) are now caught frequently, especially in the early morning and late afternoon.

Permit of 6.8 to 15.9kg (15-35 lb.) frequent Little Cayman waters, and may be the Cayman Islands' best-kept secret. Schools are especially abundant on Little Cayman's southeastern end and in the flats of the northwestern coast.

Although Little Cayman has good deep-sea fishing, its main attraction is light tackle and fly-fishing, and the island is best prepared to accommodate anglers. The Southern Cross Club caters to both divers and light-tackle fishing enthusiasts. Anglers can also be accommodated on day trips with advance reservations. Light tackle gear is available, but anglers should bring their own fly-fishing equipment. Contact the hotels directly to arrange fishing excursions and to confirm the availability of experienced local guides during your visit.

In addition to the Southern Cross Club, we also recommend LCB Tours (tel. 800/327-3835 in the U.S., or 345/948-1033) for fishing excursions. A full day of bonefishing costs CI$450 and a half-day is CI$260. A full day of deep-sea fishing costs CI$850 and a half-day is CI$450. The charters have a three-person maximum.

Kayaking

Several resorts rent kayaks, notably Little Cayman Beach Resort. Nonguests can hire kayaks here for CI$16 per half-day for a single or CI$24 per half-day for a two-person kayak. Kayak rentals are especially useful for trips to Owen Island .

Tennis

The best court on the island is at the Little Cayman Beach Resort. It's open daily from 6am to 10pm to guests and nonguests. The charge is CI$5 per game. The sun is fierce here for most of the year, so the best times for games are in the early morning or after 4pm. The court is lit so you can play after dark.

Biking on Water

Surf bikes -- often called "floating bicycles" -- are used together for two riders -- that is, if the maximum weight of each rider does not exceed 225 pounds. The cost for this riding-on-water experience is US$35 per person in cash or US$38 per person if a credit card is used. These water bikes, often referred to as a "hydrobike," came onto the market in 1989, the creation of aeronautical engineers.

If you're only slightly athletic, you can cruise at 8kmph (5 mph) on these bikes, which can be ridden in windy conditions or when the waves are a bit high (not hurricane-force winds, of course). The bikes almost never tip over, and many visitors use them for fishing out in the water instead of on shore.

You create no pollution when you ride these bikes, which maneuver quite well in narrow, shallow channels. Surprisingly, they also perform well in the ocean's surf in swells up to 1.2m (4 ft.). The bikes are said to be safe for children, but parents should always exercise caution, of course. On occasion the bike is even used as a dive platform. Since you are the "motor" for this bike, a ride on it is like a workout in a gym.

The recommended Little Cayman Beach Resort offers snorkeling and bus tours of the island for CI$25 per person. The best tours, however, are the guided nature hikes conducted by Gladys Howard, owner of Pirates Point Resort. These tours are sponsored by the National Trust, and only a CI$1 donation is requested. These tours can only be arranged by appointment.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.