Tip #1: Don’t over pack. This is a super laid back island, you don’t need a lot.
Tip #2: Do bring what you need, the essentials (sunblock). As everything is imported, buying things on the island is expensive (think $10 for a pint of ice cream and $18 for sunblock).
The Cayman Islands used to be part of Jamaica until that country left the United Kingdom to become it’s own country and the Cayman’s remained with the Crown. It has been said that the greatest export of the Cayman Islands is seamen. Men of the sea, don’t think I don’t know what you were thinking! This is because during the World Wars (both, or one specifically, I don’t remember), many of seamen from the islands became merchant marines and were renowned for their boating skills. Surrounded by beautiful beaches and crystal clear water, it’s no wonder that the people of the island became great sailors.
Flying in to both Grand Cayman and, later, Little Cayman, I was struck by the color of the water below. It’s a color that I’ve previously only seen in pictures that I assumed had been photo-shopped. It’s multiple shades of turquoise blue, almost neon in places and absolutely stunning. Unlike the water we have on the Atlantic Coast, I couldn’t wait to get into it and see what’s there.
Different Shades of blue
Coming from winter in the Northeast where the temperature has been in the single digits, getting off the plane in Grand Cayman was amazing. At first, the humidity is a little overwhelming but I embraced it, adjusted, and started soaking up the sun. I spent no time in Grand Cayman and went directly to my flight on a small plane to Little Cayman, but what I could see from the sky of Grand Cayman is that it is much more developed, has larger resorts, and more people. Little Cayman has a year-round population of about 150 people compared to Grand Cayman’s population of around 50,000 people.
Little Cayman has a off-the-beaten-path feel to it that lends itself to the laid back atmosphere of the island. I loved it. It was incredibly relaxing, beautiful, and a place that makes it easy to appreciate life. If you want to be constantly moving and have lots of things to do, this isn’t the place for you. You can snorkel, dive, bike, swim, or chill out in a hammock and other than that, there just aren’t a lot of options. You can check out the National Trust where you can observe the red footed boobies (birds!) or the museum. I would recommend checking out both.
I spent my first day there in hammock on the beach reading and watching the incredible amount of hermit crabs on the beach wonder by. I went for a bike ride into “town” (basically 2 or 3 small buildings), to the “port” where the barge with the islands supplies comes in, and to the different reservoirs around where birds hand out. The island is flat, which is great for biking, but it seems like no matter what direction you are riding, the wind is always pushing you back. That constant breeze is nice when you’re sitting in the sun. This can be a bit dangerous if, like me, you are prone to burning as it makes it so you never get over warm and don’t feel like you’re burning.
There are iguanas to see, though we were warned that if you have your toe nails painted red or pink you should cover them up as the iguanas may confuse them for the delicious meal of hibiscus. The iguanas are pretty awesome for their prehistoric look and are easily found. They significantly outnumber the number of people on the island and have their own road signs. There are hermit crabs, iguanas, red footed boobies and, of course, all the ocean creatures.
Little Cayman in a diver/snorkeler paradise. For snorkelers, you need shoes to walk along the beach and into the water. The beach isn’t great for walking along as there is so much coral which can be hard to walk on. However, there are so many great places to snorkel and what you can see is so amazing, that it’s completely worth gearing up to protect yourself from the coral. If you aren’t a diver, you can still see plenty while snorkeling.
At one point I saw a long, kind of skinny fish hanging out below me. We looked at each other and then it began swimming towards me. I promptly, and as quickly as I could, swam away stopping occasionally to see if it was still following me, which it did for a bit. That experience sent me back to the boat where I was advised it was a barracuda and was just curious. I was glad to be on the boat. That it, however, one of the best things about snorkeling and diving off Little Cayman: the sea creatures haven’t learned (and hopefully won’t need to) to be scared of people and, for the most part, just keep doing their thing.
Everyone else at the resort where we stayed were there for the diving, though a couple of the women were not divers, just a long for the trip. I tried driving 5 years ago in Mexico and it was not a good experience. It was a group of inexperienced divers with one guide and some 12 year old kid cut me off and knocked my mouthpiece off 40 feet underwater. I managed to get it back on, but it freaked me out. Talking to the divers on Little Cayman, I was convinced to give it another try and I’m glad I did.
Little Cayman is, from what I’ve been told, one of the top 2 places to dive in the world along with the Great Barrier Reef off Australia. The dive instructors at Pirates Point Resort, where we stayed, were amazing. The instructor I had, Mike, was very good at presenting the information on land and making sure I was good in the pool and would be able to handle different scenarios. When I went on the boat with the other divers, I did my dive between their 2 dives and was one-on-one with an instructor.
It was amazing! There are all kinds of colorful fish, I saw a few Eagle Rays, some larger fish, and other people saw turtles, but I wasn’t that lucky. You know those really big aquariums that have all the pretty fish? It was like swimming in one of those, but natural. I can see how people become addicted to diving and continue to do it as much as they can. It’s a way of seeing a whole different world and how the creatures in that world interact. On one of my dives, I swear I saw 2 fish playing tag. It’s a very interesting experience and I will definitely be diving again.
Little Cayman isn’t necessarily an inexpensive vacation spot. Almost nothing edible is grown on the island and everything is imported which makes things a bit pricey. However, this island is amazing and worth going to. It’s laid back, beautiful, a great place to relax. We got a good deal where we stayed (2 for the price of 1) through an auction, but I would go back at full price, if I can ever afford it. Little Cayman is definitely worth checking out if you’re a diver or a relaxer who can wants to chill out in an off-the-beaten path type place and can afford a stay on this island.
There will be an entire post devoted to Pirates Point Resort coming soon!