Little Cayman is another top dive site in the caribbean with its world famous Bloody Bay Wall dive.
Little Cayman is one of the top 5 dive destinations in the Caribbean. It is a very small island with a very small population. Everything is more expensive here due to the small population. Expect food and hotel costs to be more than other more populated islands. Also expect better diving!
Most likely some of your bags will not make it to Little Cayman on the day of your arrival. The Plane is small and not all bags will fit. They are typically delivered the next morning, very early. Pack your bags with the expectation that this will happen and your trip will be more enjoyable.
It is in the hurricane belt. Diving season is all 12 months.
Paradise Villas on Little Cayman
30 days after Hurricane Paloma 2008
Hurricane Paloma a monster 145MPH category 4 hurricane. Nearly destroyed everything on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.
Our deposit for this scuba dive trip was no refundable and the resorts claimed that they had little damage and everything is fine. This was said even while they still had no power and people were still being evacuated from the island. How much damage was done? What is it like to visit an island that had a direct hit with a major hurricane? What does the reef look like?
We planned our dive trip to Little Cayman in mid 2008 before Hurricane Gustav or Hurricane Paloma struck. I was very concerned after the first hurricane hit and when Hurricane Paloma struck 30 days before our trip….I felt it was time to cancel. However, Paradise Villas insisted the damage was minimal on Little Cayman and that things were fine. We decided to go.
Trip to Little Cayman
The flight to Little Cayman is on a Twin Otter which has very limited storage and weigh carrying capacity. We were prepared to be separated from our luggage by packing non-essential items in separate bags from essential items such as scuba gear and camera gear. On our last trip to Little Cayman the airline asked us which bag was going to stay for the next mornings flight. This time they did not ask. As we were boarding the plane the pilot notified us that some of the passengers bags were being left behind due to weight. Lucky for us all of our bags made it. Others had their scuba gear left in Grand Cayman for the next mornings flight. All were loaned rental gear for the next mornings dives and their gear arrived on the 9 AM flight.
The flight is about 30 minutes. The airport is a combination airport, fire department and post office. It is very small. The end of the runway or terminal area is a very short walk to Paradise Villas.
The staff from Paradise Villas is their to pick up your bags and deliver them to your room. The trip is so short this is not even necessary. It is maybe 200 yards to the furthest room. For those concerned about airport noise, don’t worry this is not a busy airport!
Paradise villas have 6 duplexes and the only restaurant/bar on the island that is open to the public, the Hungry Iguana.The rooms have had recent renovations such as new paint, towels, curtains etc. They are very adequate for most. They are not luxury.
Our room had a queen sized bed, a small kitchen with a refrigerator and a microwave. Hot plates are available on request. The kitchen area had a small breakfast sized table. There was also a couch and coffee table. Rooms are equipped with a TV (did not work due to hurricane damage to cable) Wireless internet is available at the main office, some rooms close to the office could get signals on their front porch. (Internet was also down during our visit due to hurricane damage)
Each Villa has a shared front and back porch that usable until evening when the bugs come out to play.
The beach at Paradise Villas is covered in coral rubble. Much of that rubble has been piled up to act as erosion control. The hurricane washed up a huge amount of sea grass onto the beach. The beach is not the reason we came so this was not overly important
The shopping district (use that term lightly) is a very short walk from the rooms. There is a scooter/ car rental agency, a liquor store and the grocery store . The grocery store has a very limited selection as it is about the size of a 7-11 or convenience store. Prices are VERY high, however this is your only choice. Expect most prices to be double of what you would pay in the US.
Paradise Villas no longer operates a dive shop Paradise Divers. They now use Conch Club Divers. Conch Club will pick up divers at Paradise Villas at 7:30 Am in front of the rooms. It is a short drive to Little Cayman Beach Resort where Conch Club Divers boat is moored. Conch Club Divers uses a 42 foot Newton dive boat. Most of our dives had 8 to 10 divers on board so their was plenty of room. Conch Club divers did not do afternoon dives unless there are 6 people on board. On days with fewer than 6 they would arrange to put you on one of Little Cayman Beach Resorts boats. We did 2 dives with Little Cayman Beach Club and the boats were very over crowded.
The trips to the north side are about 30 minutes. Weather in Early December is unpredictable and the seas were fairly rough on the south side most days. This made for a bumpy trip to the north. Several days both sides were rolling. On days were the north side is too rough for diving there are wonderful sites on the south.
For those who dove Little Cayman 8 years ago or more, there is damage to the reef. It is not as healthy and colorful as it once was. But most reefs in the caribbean have had significant damage. Dives on the north side have the spectacular walls of Bloody Bay with beautiful swim throughs. There is more small fish life on the north side when compared to other Caribbean sites. They have several very large and friendly groupers that act more like dogs then fish. One followed be and constantly swam between my arms and face as I tried to take picture. It is hard to imagine being annoyed by a fish that is so friendly it swims through you arms!
Most of the sea life is the typical life you see in the Caribbean, however we did see some rarer creatures. On one dive I spotted 2 sea spiders. Of course when I find something like this I have a fish eye 10.5mm lens on so no pictures. I went back that afternoon with a 105mm Macro lens and I would not find them. Also spotted on the same dive was a blue streak nudibranch.
I found another critter in a very tough spot to get a photo. To date I have been unable to identify it. To me it looks like an undocumented Cyphoma. It is close to the spotted cyphoma, but distinctly different.
For the larger creatures several turtles and a very large eagle ray and several sharks off in the distance.
The south side is dove less frequently. The sites were dove were quite nice. Large mounds of coral separated by areas of beautiful white sand. I also enjoy this type of site as the colors or the reef are more dramatic against the white sand areas. The south side even has a real wreck. It was a boat that sank after unloading its cargo of gasoline. The vapors somehow ignited, killing 2 of the crew and sending the boat to the bottom.
Overall, Little Cayman is still one of the better dive locations in the Caribbean. The reef has received a fair amount of damage. Little Cayman is not cheap. A scuba trip for 2, room, food and diving for 1 week is about $3,7000 without airfare!
Nothing is cheap in the Caymans and Little Cayman is the most expensive due to its lack of population.
Considering the short time from the Hurricanes to our visit, things were pretty good