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Welcome to Little Cayman Diving at its Best!

A Little Geography

The Cayman Islands, a United Kingdom dependency, lie in the Caribbean Sea just south of Cuba, between the Yucatan Peninsula and Jamaica, by roughly 20° of latitude north and 80° of longitude west. This puts us at about the same latitude as Mexico City, Hawaii and Hanoi, some 240 miles south of the Tropic of Cancer.

Christopher Columbus sighted the uninhabited sister islands of Little Cayman and Cayman Brac in 1503 and noted the abundance of turtles in the surrounding waters, naming them Las Tortugas. That name eventually changed to Cayman, reflecting the presence of crocodiles in the 16th and 17th century. English settlers from Jamaica colonized the Cayman Islands after they were ceded by Spain to England in 1670 hence becoming a British Overseas Territory. The Cayman Islands have a long history of pirate and privateer activity. Bloody Bay Wall is supposed to have been so named after an ugly battle left the water blood red. Despite the lack of rivers, Little Cayman still hides a few fresh water points, still called Pirates Wells.

Enjoying a pleasant tropical climate, sandy beaches, and translucent waters, the Cayman Islands have become a prime tourist destination in the Caribbean. To this day, tourism and international banking form the backbone of the economy. The country includes three islands, the largest of which is Grand Cayman. The capital city of Georgetown, where much of the population lives, lies on the west coast of this island. The much smaller Little Cayman and Cayman Brac islands are situated 80 miles northeast of Grand Cayman.

The generally low-lying Cayman Islands are rocky and of coral formation. Their origin goes back some 30 millions ago when the limestone core of the islands was formed. Much later, only(!) 12,000 years ago, the ironshore cover was added, composed mostly of coral, shells and limestone. The three islands sit on the summit of very narrow, needle-like underwater mountains, surrounded by deep ocean on all sides. The Cayman Trench, located a mere 40 miles south of Little Cayman, is the deepest part of the Caribbean Sea (and second only to the Puerto Rico Trench for all the eastern Atlantic); it drops straight down to the staggering depth of 24,700 feet!


Travel Facts

Local time: the Cayman Islands time is EST (Eastern Standard Time) without daylight savings (see the left margin). Our week has 7 days just like yours but it only takes a day or two to forget that, so no one ever sees the end of a week.

Climate: we are located a mere 20° above the equator; the climate is tropical with air temperatures ranging from 75° F to 90° F and water temp. from 78° F to 88° F. Suntan lotion is always a good idea, as is a hat. Shoes are never really required or necessary, unless you plan to go hike the nature trail or wander off the beaten paths; you will never need any formal clothes except maybe for the pleasure of wearing a nice tropical shirt or dress at night. A wind-breaker or fleece jacket comes in handy for windy winter days on the boat or rare chilly evenings by the water.

Current: the household current is 110V/60Hz and wall electricity outlets are the same as in the States. This being said, there usually isn't much. Current, that is. The underwater kind. ;-)

Currency: the Cayman dollar has a fixed banking rate of US$0.82. but is commonly used in stores at a $US0.80 rate (1 KY dollar = 1.25 US dollar). US dollars are generally accepted at that rate everywhere you go. Change will normally be returned in KY dollars.

Taxes: there are no taxes on goods in the Cayman Islands. A Government tax is already included in our package prices. A departure tax should also be included in your airfare. Otherwise, the islands are tax-free.

Language: the official language is English and there are no "patois" as in other Caribbean islands. Spanish, however, is spoken by a lot of central-american immigrants.

Driving: people drive on the left side of the road just like in England, they watch american TV, and they eat Caribbean food.

Telephone: calling the world and especially the United States is very easy since we use the same country code (1) and an area code (345) like anywhere else in North America. Some US-based cellular phones will work down here by themselves, others can be activated through the services of Cable & Wireless, the local telephone company. Internet is finally becoming widely available at DSL speeds across the three islands.

Drinking water: our water (in the case of Paradise Villas) is produced locally by reverse osmosis; it is tasteless and of excellent quality. Most private households use cisterns to collect rain water and everyone does a little rain dance when it gets too dry.

Health: we do have a lot of mosquitoes at certain times of the year, as well as the infamous "no-see-ems", or sand flies, so bringing some insect repellent for dusk drinks on the porch would be a great idea. There are, however, no reported mosquito-transmitted diseases in the Cayman Islands.

Grand Cayman, the main island, is served by the following major airlines:

Airline Direct flights from
Air Canada Toronto (YYZ)
Air Jamaica Kingston (KTP)
American Airlines Miami (MIA)
Cayman Airways Miami, Ft-Lauderdale, Tampa, Houston, Chicago, Boston, Kingston, Montego Bay, Havana, Cayman Brac
Delta Atlanta (ATL)
Air France Doesn't fly direct from Paris yet simply because nothing really exists West of Martinique ;-)

The islands of Little Cayman and Cayman Brac are separated by a narrow 7 mile channel. A flight from Grand Cayman will take around 35 minutes, and one from the Brac less than 10.

The Sister Islands' respective populations hover in the vicinity of 150 and 1500 inhabitants. They are both serviced by the national air carrier, Cayman Airways. The Brac has a modern airport with a paved runway where jets can land. Little Cayman, however, is only reachable by smaller turboprop airplane due to the rugged nature of its airstrip.

Both Cayman Airways and the small Air Taxi Island Air fly into Little Cayman four times daily and will drop you off at the quiet airfield just 2 minutes away from Paradise Villas.

At this point, the nearby grocery store, the post office, the local bank (open a few hours twice a week), the church, the museum, the Booby Pond National Trust house and the Hungry Iguana Restaurant are all within walking distance, but if you feel like taking a tour of the island, you can also rent a scooter or a jeep.


About Little Cayman

On Little Cayman, time seems to have stopped years ago.  Not much more than a hundred residents live here year round. Thousands of birds inhabit the numerous ponds and deserted shores, including the inseparable enemies, the Boobies and the Frigatebirds, as well as the rare West Indies Whistling Duck and an occasional pair of cute and very loud Cayman Parrots. As for the iguanas, they share this peaceful island with everyone else and have even obtained the right of way on the roads.

A 2 or 3 hour bike ride will take you around the whole 11 mi. long island, while stopping along the way to visit a few interesting spots. Owen Island is a small Gilligan-like sandy retreat in the middle of South Hole Sound. Tarpon Lake is an inland brackish water pond in which tarpons once got trapped after a storm and have since adapted and survived. Point of Sand is the eastern most tip of the island, a wonderful sandy beach from where one can see the Brac across the channel. You'll find wild cotton trees, papaya trees, a wide variety of cacti, aerial plants, and most of all... probably nobody else!

The water temperature ranges from 78°F to an amazing 88°F, depending on the season. The higher temperatures, both on land and underwater, are recorded during the summer, from June to August. It's also at that time that the visibility is at its' best and the sea at its calmest. Most diving takes place on the north of the island, within the boundaries of a protected marine park area. No anchoring is allowed there and moorings have been installed to accommodate the different sizes of boats that visit the dive sites.

The world famous Bloody Bay Wall lies on the northwestern side of the area and offers some of the best wall dives in the Caribbean. It's a perfect vertical drop-off that plunges from within 20 feet of the surface to depths of more than 3000 feet. The late Cousteau even declared this one of the most dramatic walls he knew.

Visibility there is usually excellent and you'll often find it to be in excess of 100 feet
, thanks to the absence of run-off from shore. The steep nature of the wall allows for all kinds of dives, from beginning to advanced, but its most remarkable feature is the shallowness of the upper part of the reef. This makes for great extended safety stops while exploring the top of the wall at 15 ft. 

To the right of Bloody Bay Wall is Jackson's Bay, famous for its exciting swim-through's that lead you from an inner sand belt, through the patch reef and into the Big Blue. This section of the wall isn't as steep as Bloody Bay but its more rugged bottom creates fantastic landscapes and holds hundreds of crevices and tunnels.

JerryThe marine life in Little Cayman will surprise you by its friendliness and abundance. Whether it is the occasional appearance of a Gray Reef Shark over the wall, the silent flyby of a Spotted Eagle Ray, the encounter of a resting Nurse Shark, the never ending ballet of the many Sting Rays feeding in the sand, or the surprisingly sociable Hawksbill Turtles, you'll be impressed by the diversity of our waters.

Meet Jerry the grouper ®. Every rule has an exception and even though the marine park laws prohibit touching anything on the reef, Jerry comes up to the divers with such insistence that it is difficult to resist petting him. Jerry is a medium size Nassau Grouper. He hangs around in shallow water on the eastern side of Bloody Bay. Being a very conscientious fish, he works hard to fulfill his contract with the Cayman Board of Tourism: every boat moored on his territory will be paid a visit. It is also common to see him follow a group of divers for an entire dive.

You'll see Jerry rushing towards you from a distance, swim right up to you, stop and stare, waiting to be petted or to play a game. Be patient and gentle with Jerry, avoid his eyes or going against his scale as you pet him, and you'll be amazed at how easily you've made a new friend! Read our exclusive interview with Jerry here.


"Between the air and the water a steel wave quivers. What people call the surface is also a ceiling. A looking glass above, watered silk below. Nothing is torn on the way through. Only a few bubbles mark the diver's channel and behind him the frontier soon closes. But once the threshold is crossed you can turn back slowly and look up: that dazzling screen is the border between two worlds, as clear to the one as to the other. Behind the looking glass the sky is made of water."

Philippe Diole. The Undersea Adventure. 1951

 

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