A May 2006 trip
to Cayman Islands by Hal1026
Quote: The smallest of the Cayman Islands, Little Cayman has 150 inhabitants, eco-diversity, plus great hidewaway hotels
Hotel | "Southern Cross Club Fish & Dive Resort"
A small resort depends on a loyal clientele, along with devising new ways to win new travel fans. Southern Cross Club Fish & Dive Resort manages to do both with its dedication to what originally made it a treasure to diving enthusiasts, while broadening its appeal over the years to tropical adventurers of all stripes. It's also persevered in the face of adversity - namely, hurricanes - to make itself into a small resort of the future using alternative energy sources.
While Southern Cross Club may rate as "high end", it's more in line with what you could call "barefoot elegance" than formal grandeur. Located waterfront on the southern end of the Little Cayman, it consists of 12 cottages and suites together with a main building that includes bar, restaurant, and indoor and outdoor deck lounges, plus a small fresh water swimming pool. Southern Cross Club has evolved into a getaway that can be appreciated not only by scuba divers and anglers, but by anyone seeking the type of low-key hideaway where comfort, activity, and good company all flow seamlessly together.
Nowadays, this little hotel has also developed its daily operations to more green-conscious energy use, having recovered from hurricane Ivan in 2004. The owner responded to the loss of three beach-side cottages by constructing three new two-story structures that provide chic, well-furnished and roomy guest interiors, but still no distraction from the outside world as far as telephones or other communication. If you manage to get an upstairs room in one of the newly constructed two-story buildings, you'll have an awesome view from your private front deck of the neighboring shoreline and nearby Owen Island.
Gourmet meals in the main clubhouse and happy hour events make the times between scuba or other outdoor adventure another great opportunity to meet travelers from around the globe.
Toll Free (within the U.S.): (800) 899-2582 From outside the U.S.: +619-563-0017
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 9, 2007
Southern Cross Club Fish & Dive Resort
Thanks to its flat grade, walking is the most common way to get around, and the local hotels usually have bikes on-hand. For more extensive touring during the most humid months, take as much advantage as possible of the cool of the morning. One point at which to begin a hike is on the southwestern corner of the island at the mile-long Salt Rock Nature Trail: along the way, you may spot such plant life as orchids, cacti, and mahogany trees, while taking shelter amidst the flora and fauna are iguanas and blue land crabs, along with many of the regional bird species. Don't be surprised by the emergence of the occasional iguana from beneath the roadside brush: they're somewhat spoiled by locals and travelers who have taught them that the approach of humans may also mean the arrival of food.
Little Cayman has over eight miles of paved road and even the unpaved surfaces are good enough for a mountain bike. A must-see near the main town of Blossom is the 206-acre Booby Pond Nature Reserve with its Visitor Centre (open Monday through Saturday from 2 to 5pm Tel: (345) 948-1010). From the Centre’s open decks, you can watch the largest breeding colony of red-footed boobies, along with competing colonies of frigate birds and occasional snowy egrets, herons, or ducks. The Centre also operates a small library, gift shop, and coffee bar. While in the vicinity, look in also at the Little Cayman Museum (No phone; free Tuesday and Thursday 3-5, by appointment only), a two-room cottage that explains much of the island’s human and natural history over the centuries.Proceed along Little Cayman’s main road on the southern shoreline heading north-easterly, and you will pass shallow ponds lined with low-growth vegetation that serves as home to various bird species. Another favorite along the way for naturists is Tarpon Lake, a brackish huge pond that also draws anglers fishing for the resident tarpon. Herons and duck perch on the observation deck nearby, while an occasional giant iguana may peer out from the roadside. You can conclude your outward journey here at Sandy Point Beach, an isolated but lovely strip of beach ideal for a picnic lunch or snorkeling and sunbathing. An alternate route will detour you toward the northern road, taking Crossover Road at the island’s midsection to continue northwesterly toward Bloody Bay Wall. While in the area, you can also stop off at the Little Cayman Research Centre (North Side, Tel: (345) 926-2789; www.reefresearch.org), a new marine field research facility that includes a visitor center for anyone interested in the reefs and marine life of Little Cayman.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 10, 2007
The Little Cayman Research Centre opened its doors with the clear mission of "sustaining and preserving biodiversity through education and research". With that in mind, the Centre offers a variety of programs for nearly everyone, from high school to graduate programs, and a special program just for divers. Each program allows participants to gain first hand field experience as well as time spent in the classroom. But not all of the programs offered at CCMI are geared towards students enrolled in school. Recently, a new program has been offered for experienced divers to take part in. This "Dive With A Researcher" (DWAR) program is a rare opportunity to assist scientists while out in the field. Unlike most science aids, participants have the pleasure of submerging themselves the depths of the Caribbean Sea. The only requirement is an Advanced Open Water Diver certification and the curiosity to live like a scientist for a week. The program provides a unique new diving experience in the Cayman Islands and divers work first-hand on problems that are causing regional and global declines on reefs while allowing them to observe first-hand exactly what scientists are doing to protect the reefs.
Little Cayman Research Centre is located on 1,400 feet of beachfront along the shallow coral reefs of Bloody Bay Wall and Jackson Marine Park. You can stop by and tour the visitor center and its displays detailing the reefs and marine life of Little Cayman. The LCRC offers various educational programs for marine enthusiasts. North Side, Tel: 345-926-2789; www.reefresearch.org
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 17, 2007
Little Cayman Research Centre
North Side, Little Cayman Island
A high-powered launch takes you and one or two other guests from the Club's own jetty straight out for about 5-10 minutes at high speed, guided by Budd the resident Club angling master. In no time, you are paused over deep water just off Little Cayman, the shoreline bobbing about a mile or less away. On an early May morning, these waters are reasonably smooth as you begin to trawl along on this southern end of Little Cayman. The angling equipment aside from your rods are a belt you wear with an aperture to fix the rod handle into, then you stand and reel in from the standing position if you catch anything. For this traveler, it was a learning experience not having done more than fished on a line as a boy. One of my fellow anglers quickly caught a tuna, which was then consumed by a passing shark before he could reel it in. Budd cut the line, not wanting to take a shark as part of the morning's catch. Then I snagged something on my line when it was my turn; reeling it in took huge spurts of energy before the battle was won. It's interesting how much energy a tuna might have when it's fighting for its life.
If you've never done angling in a small group in the Caribbean, you are sure to be hooked by the great feeling of openness as you cruise offshore, along with the fun and anticipation of wondering what you might catch. Other fish offshore along Little Cayman include wahoo, barracuda, marlin.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 20, 2007