Scuba Diving in Little Cayman?

Why did you choose to dive off Little Cayman in the Cayman Islands?

After last year’s GoPro video workshop while diving in Belize, we decided to go for another week of trying to improve our video composition, filming, and editing skills through another dive trip sponsored by Bluewater Dive Travel. Trip leader Todd Kortte once again guided us before, during, and after our dives to get the most out of our videos. The destination and Little Cayman Beach Resort were pre-selected, so all we had to do was sign up. And our long-term dive buddies Richard and Marilynn came along too, so it was double the fun!

Last year's liveaboard dive boat in Belize
Little Cayman Beach Resort, this year's home for the week
Richard and Marilynn
Todd gave us 8 types of video techniques to practice.

Where exactly are the Cayman Islands?

We didn’t really know either before this trip, but the Cayman Islands are a British territory located south of Cuba, about a 90-minute flight from Miami. English is the main language spoken, so it’s an easy country for us monolingual Americans to travel to. The Cayman Islands are possibly most famous for being a place where people stash their money to avoid paying taxes (it features prominently in John Grisham’s book/movie The Firm). Grand Cayman is the largest island, with lots of beach resorts and infrastructure and about 70,000 people. Cayman Brac is considerably smaller with 2,000 residents. Little Cayman, where we were, is the “littleist” island, with about 150 residents and lots of interesting wildlife, both in the water and on land.

Grand Cayman
Cayman Brac
Map of Little Cayman
Little Cayman

How do you get to the Cayman Islands?

For West Coasters like us, it’s actually not that easy. We flew to Miami and then Grand Cayman. Then we switched to the local airline, Cayman Airways, where they weighed everything, both checked and carry-on bags, to make sure you didn’t exceed a total of 70 pounds each (though they didn’t actually weigh the passengers). The 35-minute flight to Little Cayman was on a de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter (propellor) plane that theoretically could seat 17 passengers, though not everyone’s luggage would make the flight with them. We landed at a tiny airport on Little Cayman, with one teeny-tiny terminal, where you pulled your own luggage off the baggage cart 50 feet from the airplane. All told, it was about a 13-hour trek from LAX to Little Cayman, including all the layovers.

Tiny airplane--we could see into the cockpit
Tiny airplane on the outside too!
Propellors on the plane
The teeny-tiny terminal on Little Cayman

How does resort diving at a place like Little Cayman actually work?

After a good night’s sleep in our ocean-view air-conditioned bungalow, we would eat an amazing breakfast (with customized omelets and a huge buffet), then head out to the dock to embark on the Sea Dreamer with the other 15 divers in our Bluewater group. Steve (from Wales) and David (from France) from Reef Divers would take turns leading each of the two morning dives and then take us back to the resort for a lunch buffet put together by the resort chef. We’d head out for one afternoon dive, get cleaned up by rinsing our wetsuits and showering, and then join Todd for a late-afternoon video-training workshop, sharing some of our best video clips with each other. A gourmet dinner buffet awaited us each evening. This was by far the best food we’ve ever eaten at any hotel or dive resort! The dive shop helped us with any equipment needs we had, and the resort staff served us in every possible way, from fixing our air conditioning to spoiling us in the dining room. We were too tired to participate in any of the resort activities, so we were usually asleep by 8:30 each night.

Our room with a view!
The dock connected the resort and boat, a short walk each morning and afternoon.
The Sea Dreamer was our ride for the week!
Great food all week!

What did you do when you weren’t diving?

With our little bit of downtime, we mostly looked at our video footage to figure out what we needed to do to improve. But we also took pictures of the endangered Sister Islands Rock Iguana, found only on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. There are 2,000 of these iguanas on Little Cayman, and probably a few hundred of them at our beach resort. They roamed under the outdoor tables, looking for snacks and droppings from tourists, though of course we were told not to feed them (and we didn’t). When we borrowed bikes to take a short ride down the road, we had to sign a waiver promising not to run over any iguanas (seriously)!

Sister Islands Rock Iguana
And another iguana!

We also took pictures of the cutest little curly-tailed lizards, uncreatively named the Northern Curly-Tailed Lizard.

A Northern Curly-Tailed Lizard
And another lizard!

When we looked up, we spotted a few Red-footed boobies (seriously), and high-flying magnificent frigatebirds.

The red-footed booby's red feet
And the rest of the booby
Magnificent frigatebirds are always flying, so it's hard to get a decent photo.

What was the diving like?

During our 17 dives, we spent most of our time in the Bloody Bay and Jackson’s Point areas on the north side of the island. We encountered a range of steep walls, flat patches of reef over which we swam on top, sandy areas with all kinds of critters in the sand, and even one shipwreck (the 330-foot Russian frigate intentionally sunk off Cayman Brac, and now called the Captain Keith Tibbetts).

A beautiful section on a wall dive
The top of a reef was often filled with sea fans and sea rods, providing lots of hiding places for fish.
Sandy areas might seem barren, but often had hidden creatures, like this yellowhead jawfish..
Diving along the Captain Keith Tibbetts wreck

What fish did you see while diving?
Now we get to the good part. Here are some of the fish species we saw. Note that all of these underwater shots are actually snapshots captured from our GoPro videos. There’s a link at the end of the blog to Hank’s iMovie that has our actual GoPro footage.

Caribbean reef shark
Southern stingray
Yellow stingray
Banded butterflyfish
French angelfish
School of bar jacks
Great barracuda
Nassau grouper
Stoplight parrotfish
Peacock flounder
Lionfish, which don't belong in the Caribbean, but have become ubiquitous.
Queen Triggerfish
Creole wrasse
Bluestriped grunts and snappers
Scrawled filefish

Did you see other critters?

Yes, here are some reef creatures we saw…

Green sea turtle
Barrel sponge
Yellow tube sponges
Caribbean spiny lobster
Splitcrown feather duster worm
Bearded fireworm and Christmas tree worm
Pedersen cleaner shrimp
banded coral shrimp
Yikes! The shark circled back!
Stinker sponge
7-legged brittlestar
Grouper close-up

And the highlight of the trip…Caribbean reef squid–up close and personal!

Caribbean reef squid
And another
And have you ever seen a happy face sponge?

What about coral?

It’s really hard to identify all the types of coral we saw, but here are a few examples:

Brain coral
And a close up
Great star coral
Great star coral close up
Sea rods and sea fans
And a close up
Pillar coral
And a close up of sea rod gorgonian coral

So can we see some of your improved videos after participating in two GoPro workshops?

You sure can. Hank has put together a 4-minute iMovie featuring some of the highlights of our trip. Click here to enjoy the adventure with us.

Little Cayman 4-min YouTube video

Thanks for enjoying the journey with us!

So long, from Hank and Cindy
Goodbye, Little Cayman!

16 thoughts on “Scuba Diving in Little Cayman?”

  1. Hey, this is simply marvelous!! We went to Grand Cayman Islands for Patty’s honeymoon, when she married Bill 35 years ago! We had a condo right on the beach and enjoyed every minute of it! Looks like you all enjoyed a fascinating scuba adventure.
    Love, Phyllis

    • Never knew that Patty’s honeymoon was a group effort!! Yes, when we were not diving it seemed like we were eating or sleeping. We crammed in video classroom sessions to review our footage. That’s about it but what a great trip!

  2. Cindy and Hank,

    What a fabulous trip and destination!
    Thanks so very much for letting us share this adventure with you through your pictures,video and narrative…

    • Cindy does such a great job with the text for the blog. About half of the video clips are hers too! But it took quite a bit of effort to make it to Little Cayman. It’s way out there.

  3. Incredible! the photography is as amazing as the skill of the adventure itself. Such a wonderful series of photos and descriptions. Great to see.

    • Thanks, Diane! We don’t consider our video/photo skills to be great, but we love to share shots of the amazing animals in the ocean. I only wish more people could see it for themselves! Thanks for reading.

    • Janice, best weather for Little Cayman. Not usually that calm. You would have loved the resort. Good snorkeling spot.

  4. That about sums it up! I can’t believe how calm and clear it was! I would definitely recommend that place to anyone (even with the luggage weight restrictions!).

    • Jeff, we loved the food too! We have such great memories of hanging out on the boat, filming underwater, then coming topside to share the adventures!

  5. Great job Cindy and Hank for the description of the Little Cayman trip, pictures and videos. Young and I had good time and were enjoy diving with you. You are our role model. We will see you in Fiji next year.


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