He’s leading the pack, right on the tailfins of the dive master. I know he’s excited about this dive, but you’d think he might at least turn back and give his old mom the OK sign before heading down the chimney. Isn’t that what we’d agreed upon up top? But this is far more exhilarating than any amusement park ride and my 17 year old son is charged with endorphins. Guess I’m following my dive “buddy” down the chimney on Little Cayman Island’s Bloody Bay Wall. Ho ho ho, wish me luck and see you at 8o feet where the chimney empties onto the sheer wall that plummets to the abyss.
Bloody Bay Marine Park
Wall diving was a relatively new experience for us (at least the near vertical drop-off to 5000 ft. variety) and we picked a top spot. Little Cayman Island, a tiny speck in the Caribbean, 60 miles from Grand Cayman, is consistently rated one of the world’s best diving destinations. Bloody Bay Marine Park has over 30 sites suitable for all dive levels. In some places, the wall drop-off starts at 20 ft. making it ideal even for novice divers. We experienced excellent visibility (would never have guessed I was at 100 ft.) and very little current. Sadly, my feeble attempt at underwater photography does not do the place justice.
The topography at Bloody Bay Wall is amazing; the chimneys, swim-throughs, and arches are fun and provide great photo ops and a little adrenalin rush. Sure I was a bit apprehensive as I descended down the chimney (though it’s not technically difficult), but fear was replaced by awe as I emerged on the edge of the wall, which is covered with massive barrel sponges and beautiful soft and hard corals. As we slowly glided along the wall, we were often accompanied by Little Cayman’s friendly groupers who like to be petted and tickled under their chins (I kid you not). Out in the blue, we spotted turtles and graceful eagle rays. Reef sharks cruise by as well, but unfortunately not on our dives.
While swimming along the vertical wall was a total thrill, the shallower second, and sometimes third dives of the day, exploring coral gardens, mini walls and sandy bottoms were magical and relaxing. These spots are home to giant lobsters, southern stingrays, morays, nurse sharks, and colourful tropical fish. Claire, one of our dive masters from Conch Club Divers, had an incredible knack for finding little critters like sailfin blennies, flatworms, and nudibranchs. Even my adrenalin seeking son had fun coaxing tiny cleaner shrimp onto his hand and searching for pretty lettuce slugs.
Little Cayman Topside
The tiny island (about 10 miles long and 1 mile wide) is an ultra quiet and undeveloped place. The scary-looking, but harmless iguanas far outnumber the island’s approximately 150 permanent residents. With only a handful of small lodges, this is a place to come if your goal is fabulous diving and relaxing. Don’t bother if shopping, entertainment, and sightseeing are high on the list. For me, it was the perfect de-stressor. I could practically feel my blood pressure drop as we fell into an easy groove: dive, eat, nap, read, cocktails, cards, eat, and sleep (by 9pm)…repeat.
Places to Stay
We enjoyed Paradise Villas—simple cottages with kitchenettes and nice patios overlooking the ocean. It’s probably the best value on the island. The Hungry Iguana Restaurant is right next door. There’s a small grocery store that has everything you’ll need for simple meals, but beware, it’s super expensive. Bring a few staples from home. Dive packages are offered through top notch Conch Club Divers. We really enjoyed diving with Claire, Matt, and Bill.
If you want a place with a meal plan, check out Pirate’s Point (we had one dinner there and it was great). Little Cayman Beach Resort and Southern Cross Club also offer full meal/dive packages. I don’t think you can go wrong with any of these places.
They were all great, but here are our subjective picks. The teenager gives two fins up for Randy’s Gazebo and Bus Stop. The dad was smitten with Anne’s Attic and the mom still has perma grin from Donna’s Delight.
Canadians lucky enough to live in Toronto can fly directly to Grand Cayman with West Jet. The rest of us need to route through Toronto, or a US hub (often Miami). From Miami, it’s only a one hour flight to Grand Cayman. Little Cayman Airways provides several daily flights from Grand Cayman for the short hop to Little Cayman.