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Dive Review of Southern Cross Club in
Cayman Islands/Little Cayman

Southern Cross Club, May, 2006,

by Jim and Deborah Chambers, Georgia, USA (Reviewer Reviewer 3 reports). Report 2523.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving We dive mostly the Cayman Islands.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, rainy Seas calm, noCurrents
Water Temp 78 to 80 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 75 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions 100-foot max, must use dive computer
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities 4 stars
UW Photo Comments No photo shop, but the boat crews are very helpful to photographers and take good care of photo equipment.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Deborah and I recently returned from our 6th trip to Little Cayman and the Southern Cross Club. The damage from Hurricane Ivan in 2004 has been completely repaired or rebuilt better than before. The reefs were fine too, with virtually no signs of damage. In fact, the diving was the best we've ever had, and that's saying a lot.

LITTLE CAYMAN
If you like a lot of shopping, casinos, and night life on a dive vacation, Little Cayman is definitely not for you. There are only about 150 permanent residents on the island, which is located about 90 miles ENE of Grand Cayman, and there's nothing remotely like a traffic jam. The only way to get to Little Cayman is on a Cayman Air Express Dehavilland Twin Otter from Grand Cayman, about a 40-minute flight into a grass airstrip. The island is a bird sanctuary, the coral reefs are strictly protected, and there are probably more iguanas than people. How many ways can you spell L-A-I-D B-A-C-K? That's Little Cayman. There are six small resorts, each different, and each one has its own disciples who return time after time.

SOUTHERN CROSS CLUB
It's nothing real fancy, consisting of a main building (office, dining room, and bar) and duplex cottages along the powdery white sandy beach. Rooms are clean and comfortable and nicely furnished, and the AC works very well. Everything faces South Hole Sound, a very wide shallow lagoon with a barrier reef that breaks the waves and provides a nice setting for snorkeling, swimming, and kayaking. There are all kinds of marine life in the lagoon, including some huge, voracious tarpon that cluster around the fishing dock (deep-sea). There are no TVs or telephones in the room, but there are ample 110-120 volt outlets, and the electrical supply is 24/7 and very stable. The Southern Cross Club added wi-fi in 2005, so I was able to email photos each day to our families and friends.
Meals are served in the main building. You won't lose any weight here! Breakfast is a buffet with fruit, bread, cereals, and meats and eggs cooked to order. Lunch is also a buffet, with fruit, salads, hot meat dishes, cold cuts for sandwiches, and desserts. At lunch, they give you a choice of two meat entrees for dinner, and they also accommodate vegetarians. Dinner is at 7:00. Meats were absolutely first class. We had some of the finest steaks and seafood that we've ever had anywhere. We were usually too stuffed for dessert, but we ate it anyway, since desserts were so yummy.

The Southern Cross staff is absolutely the best we've ever seen. They were clearly dedicated to seeing that we enjoyed our stay. Peter Hillenbrand, the owner of Southern Cross, has assembled a really great staff. The managers, Chris and Cate Ferreira, are absolutely first rate and really make you feel welcome.

Casual is the word here! When we arrived, I took off my shoes and went barefoot the next two weeks. You don't need to bring many clothes, and if you run out, they have a washing machine to do your laundry.

DIVING
None of the above would matter one whit if the diving wasn't good. The diving is - in a word - superb. Little Cayman has long been our favorite place in the Caribbean. Bloody Bay Wall is justifiably ranked as the finest wall dive in this hemisphere, but Deborah and I really love the shallow dives, where we can get an hour or more bottom time while photographing the parade of fish and critters. No cattle boats here. The most divers we had on the boat was ten, and it's a big boat. SCC has two dive boats, and if the number of divers is more than about 8-10, they take the second boat out too. There were virtually no currents.

I took my housed D200 and Deborah took her Sony video camera. Each boat carries a big cooler filled with fresh water to keep the cameras safe, and if necessary, they carry additional coolers. We had three divemasters: Steve, Mark, and Henri. We've dived with them before, and they're just super. Deborah and I usually do our own dive, but Steve would come find us whenever he saw something he knew we would want to photograph. Steve must have "macro eyes," because he found more tiny or camouflaged critters than I would have believed possible, including pipefish, numerous kinds of shrimp and crabs, pipehorse, juvenile scorpionfish, arrow blennies, tiny juvenile flame scallops, pikeblennies, sailfin blennies, and a superb little juvenile yellow tail damsel. On one dive, Henri found a magnificent tiny purple spotted sea goddess. The best part was that Deborah and I were gradually learning to find our own critters by watching the divemasters and seeing what kind of habitat the little critters live in. On every dive we saw an endless parade of snapper, grunts, tangs, squirrelfish, butterflyfish, angelfish, grouper, stingrays and spotted eagle rays, lobsters, nurse sharks, turtles, and so many other fish.

We dived mostly on the north side of the island, where the walls are most dramatic. Travel time was about 25 minutes for most sites. The walls were awesome, but we spent much of our time on top in the shallow coral gardens like Mixing Bowl. We first dived Bloody Bay wall in 1989, and it still blows me away - it's that dramatic.

SCC is valet service for divers. You show them how you want your gear set-up, and they have it ready to go each morning, including a good rinsing after the dive. Nitrox is available, although it's a bit pricey - $14/tank - since only one of the Little Cayman resorts makes nitrox and the others buy it from them.

So the diving was incredibly good. Little Cayman has something for everyone: smashing walls for the deep diver or wonderful shallow reefs to maximize bottom time, and an endless parade of fish and critters.

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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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