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Why is Little Cayman diving considered better?

Discussion in 'Cayman Islands' started by Ironborn, Sep 20, 2017.

  1. Ironborn

    Ironborn Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Miami, Florida
    I am considering a diving trip to the Cayman Islands. I wanted to do a liveaboard for a maximum number of dives and in the hopes of sampling "the best of" all three islands, but the Cayman Aggressor IV is full that week (the week of Thanksgiving). The first thing that I would need to decide for a land-based trip is whether I would want to go to Little Cayman or Grand Cayman. Grand Cayman is more convenient to reach (I can get affordable direct flights there from New York) and seems to have a wider array of options. On the other hand, it appears that many divers consider the diving on Little Cayman to be "the best of" all three islands.

    I would like to know why many divers consider the diving on Little Cayman to be better than that of Grand Cayman. Of course, "better" is subjective, and other divers' tastes may differ from mine, i.e. the factors that cause them to enjoy it more may be less relevant or irrelevant to me. I thus want to see if the reasons that lead many divers to consider Little Cayman better are important enough to me to justify a more inconvenient trip there, e.g. more travel time and expense and fewer options for operators, accommodations, etc.

    A) Is it the topography? In discussions of this topic, I have seen many references to Little Cayman's wall dives as part of that island's appeal.

    B) Is it the marine life? Are the corals and sponges healthier? Are there larger or more numerous mobile marine organisms to see?

    C) Is it the diving conditions, e.g. visibility, calm waters, water temperatures, etc?.

    Is there some other factor that I have not considered?
    Snoweman likes this.
  2. flyboy08

    flyboy08 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: NYC
    Other. The punch at LCR is addictive!
  3. k4kafka

    k4kafka Contributor

    Dive Bloody Bay and you will understand...
    merxlin and Stoo like this.
  4. carriemak

    carriemak Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Clearwater, FL
    Best diving in the Caribbean! And the valet dive service is awesome.
  5. Drew Sailbum

    Drew Sailbum Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives:
    Location: Grand Cayman
    The Cayman Islands are well known for wall diving. Where Little Cayman stands out is in having particularly shallow tops of the wall in Bloody Bay. This can allow for particularly long dive times, depending upon the diver's air consumption rate, as there is much to see even in the shallows.
    large_diver and KathyV like this.
  6. Damselfish

    Damselfish Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boston
    Little Cayman is well known for the lovely Bloody Bay Wall that starts at 20 feet. Grand Cayman has sites that are just as good, but the walls start much deeper like 50-70. And your chances of doing just the best sites is less, because there's so many sites overall, they're more spread out around a larger island, and conditions sometimes interfere with getting there. Or when you do, there's somebody already on the mooring ball you wanted. Doing the best of Little Cayman in a week is pretty much routine - occasionally they have trouble getting to Bloody Bay wall which is opposite side of the island from the resorts, but you're unlikely to get blown out for an entire week. Doing the best of Grand in a week would be inconvenient and at some times of the year not even possible.

    Little Cayman is relatively remote with just a few small resorts, so has had less diver pressure than the heavily dove West Wall of Grand Cayman (which probably looked just as good as Little Cayman, once upon a time.) I've seen traffic jams underwater at sites on the West Wall, with groups from different boats even getting mixed up, and just too many boats on the surface. I don't know if that still happens. In recent years the North Wall has become popular, but that's weather permitting. Also the East End has become more popular now that there are dive ops and places to stay, which wasn't the case long ago. But the prevailing winds make it rougher especially in the winter, so they'll have to go around to whichever is the lee side and might not be able to get to certain sites.

    I think another thing about Little Cayman that is appealing to many is the total package. If you want to get away from it all while still having good diving, service, accommodations, and food, it's hard to beat.
  7. scubadada

    scubadada Diver Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Philadelphia and Boynton Beach
    @Ironborn wants to get in many dives. Reef Divers/LCBR only does 3/day and maybe 2 night dives/wk. I don't think any of the Little Cayman operators do 4 dives/day.

    On GC, it is not difficult to do 4 boat dives/day or combo with shore dives. Ocean Frontiers, for example, does 4/day and a couple of nights. You can get in more dives on GC if that is important
    shoredivr, Trailboss123 and KathyV like this.
  8. KathyV

    KathyV ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Midwestern US
    There are shore diving options on Cayman Brac to supplement the boat dives, and Brac's diving is also very good. There are only 2 dive ops on the island but they will both rent tanks for shore diving - but you would need a buddy.
  9. PatW

    PatW Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Central Florida
    Little Cayman has the marine park on the north side. There are about four types of topography. There is the Jackson Bight area. A mini wall with the top at 20'. It goes down to the sand boulevard at 40'. The sand boulevard has stingrays and sometimes eagle rays. You proceed out to the outer wall. That has a top at about 50' and has a drop to 3000'. You are most likely to see sharks here. Also there are big rock islands n the boulevard with swim through sand a top at 20'.

    The next section has the wall starting at 20' and dropping off very dramatically to the abyss.

    The next section has a mini wall at 20' with a slope out to the outer wall at 60'.

    The final section has coral ridges out of the sand. The sand is about 40' and the top of the ridges is about 30'.

    If the weather is coming out of the north, you dive the south side. The wall tends to start at 60'.

    My wife prefers Little Cayman. I prefer Cayman Brac. We dive there at Cayman Brac Beach Resort. The Brac has an outer wall whose top is anywhere from 60' to 89'. For some odd reason, the Brac has better corals than Little Cayman. When we dive the south deep wall, I often see reef sharks about 60% of the time. There are some nice spur and groove shallow reefs on the south side. One has huge pillar coral colonies. Another has a resident school of tarpon. A couple of others have really nice stands of elk horn corals. You can also find some nice staghorn corals at the deeper sites.

    On the north side, the wall starts at 60' most of them are quite nice. There are also a wide variety of shallow sites on the north side with spur and groove formations or low coral ridges in the sand or mini wallls.

    You also get to dive the wreck of the Russian frigate. I like reefs better but it is a very nice wreck.

    Visibility tends to range from ok to amazing. On a really bad day, it might be 50' and on a normal day, 100', and on a good day, well in excess of 100'.

    Both islands have populations of Nassau grouper that tend to be friendly. I rarely see them anywhere else. You also see tiger, yellowfin and sometimes Goliath grouper. Hawksbill turtles are common and often easily approached. I think I average seeing one per dive. I have also seen green and loggerhead turtles. You see schools of grunts, horse eyed jacks, stingrays, angel fish, trigger fish, file fish, parrotfish and others. The only places with comparable fish populations are Cozumel and Key Largo.

    The distance to the dives can be quite short....about 15 minutes. Three dives per day is usual. In Key Largo and Cozumel, the longer boat rides pretty much limit you to 2 dives per day. Also, the three dives seem to take the same amount of time as two dives at Key Largo or Cozumel..
  10. Ironborn

    Ironborn Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Miami, Florida

    Thank you for the feedback. It sounds like the advantages of Little Cayman are as follows:

    1) Shallower depths - and thus longer bottom times, less nitrogen, better lighting, and lesser safety risk
    2) Greater accessibility of dive sites and less risk that any given site will be inaccessible due to weather or another boat on the moorings
    3) More pristine dive sites and a more isolated environment overall due to lower levels of diver/visitor traffic
    4) The quality of the customer service and the punch at Little Cayman Beach Resort.

    Does anyone think that the marine life, especially the mobile marine life (i.e. not coral or sponges) on Little Cayman is significantly better than that of Grand Cayman?
    octoginger likes this.

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