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

March, 2011, an Instant Reader Report by Susanne E. Howarth, CA, USA
Reviewer   (3 reports)
Report Number 5955
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Anguilla, Australia, Bali, Belize, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands,
California, Cayman (Little and the Brac), Cozumel, Florida, Hawaii, Lombok,
Roatan, Thailand, 
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy, dry  
choppy, surge  
Water Temp
77   to 7    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
60   to 125    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
First dive: max 110 feet and 50 minutes; second dive: max 60 feet and 50
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
2 stars  
Large Pelagics
  2 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
4 stars  
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
A dedicated rinse bucket was provided on the boat for cameras only.
However, it would have been nice to have a table on which to work on the
camera if needed.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
Service and Attitude
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars    
3 stars   
5 stars    
The Southern Cross Club (SCC) runs an excellent dive operation, with very
friendly and accommodating divemasters (Mike, Justine, and Kristian dove
with us). Their boats hold up to 12 divers, but most days we dove with only
6 or 7 guests. On any dive, we had the option to follow the divemaster (who
would then find all the really good stuff) or go it on our own. Cool,
unusual, and/or rare stuff we saw included several slender filefishes; a
golden hamlet (on the cover of the Paul Humann reef fish book) and a
yellowbelly hamlet; spawning barrel sponges (they look like underwater
smokestacks); a soapfish; a large rainbow parrotfish; a tiny decorator
crab; numerous juvenile spotted drums (my favorites, and SCCs logo fish!);
jawfishes; frequent reef sharks; as well as numerous turtles and groupers.
(One of the Nassau groupers actively approached divers and was totally
unconcerned when pushed away repeatedly!)

SCC also works cooperatively with the other dive operators on the island.
During our visit, not enough people wanted to dive in the afternoon for
them to take a boat out. However, they arranged for my brother-in-law to
dive with Reef Divers at the Little Cayman Beach Resort. Also, while we
were there, Pirates Points boat was in Grand Cayman for repairs, and SCC
accommodated their divers for several days. In addition, each week, all the
local divemasters gather on Thursday afternoon at SCC and go out to hunt
lionfish, which are unfortunately very prevalent on the reefs.

While SCC has rental gear available, there are no backup items on the boat
 if you forget to bring it on board, your dive is done. However, Mike and
Justine were particularly good about reminding us to check each and every
piece of necessary gear before leaving the dock. (Thank you again, Justine,
for not letting me leave my mask behind!!!) Computers are required to dive,
and SCC will provide one if you do not bring your own. 

After diving, BCs and regulators are left on the boat, and divers rinsed
their own suits and other gear as much as they wanted, in the rinse bucket
which had a bit of wet suit cleaner in it. (Nice touch!) Next to the rinse
bucket was a drying shed with hangers on which gear could be left overnight
 very convenient!

Divemasters were also very good about assessing the skill level of divers
on the boat and focusing their attention on those who were most likely to
need assistance. As an example, my husband (who has made 500+ dives over
the past 25+ years) had been out of the water for 2+ years due to some
health issues. This was to be his first time back in the water. Before
arriving on Little Cayman, he had a bad experience with his first dive
attempt on Cayman Brac: he was underweighted (because the divemaster
wouldnt allow him to take more weight with him, in choppy/surgy water,
couldnt go down, then lost a fin and by the time another diver recovered
the fin for him, he was tired and anxious and  wisely  aborted that
dive). Before his first dive on Little Cayman, Mike spent a few minutes
with him, allowed him to dive with more weight than the Brac divemasters
were willing to allow, and gave him some pointers for checking his buoyancy
and weighting at the end of his first dive. The dive was successful, and
Mike confirmed that Fred was appropriately weighted and that he was clearly
an experienced diver, who was just out of practice. As a result, I had my
favorite dive buddy back in the water with me, and Fred got his confidence
back  thank you Mike!

In another instance, on the last dive of the trip, we had a boat with three
adult divers and three teen-aged divers (ages 12, 13, and 15). Because no
parent was diving with the teens, the divemaster in the water, Kristian,
focused on them and paid little attention to the adults, all of whom were
very experienced and didnt need a lot of supervision. However, after
taking the kids back to the boat at the end of their dive, Kristian came
back down at the perfect moment (i.e., as the other two adults were running
out of air and deserting me), and he and I spent an extra 13 or 14
minutes below, which allowed me to maximize my final dive  and see some
really cool things! In spite of the theoretical 60-minute second dive
limit, that dive lasted 69 minutes for me, thanks to Kristian.

Kristian also adapted his style when working with the kids: in one large
sandy area, he showed the three kids how to totally deflate their BCs,
stand in the sand and take off their fins, and then they went hopping (I
think he called it underwater skate-boarding) across the sandy patch.
With Kristians blond hair and boyish looks, the four of them looked for
all the world like Peter Pan, leading the lost boys on an adventure.

Southern Cross had its roots as a private club, and still maintains that
kind of atmosphere. While we did not stay with them (rented a house
instead), it was interesting to observe how casual their on-shore operation
is, and that everything is done on the honor system. Theres usually no one
in the gift shop; you take whatever you want and then ask one of the staff
to put the items on your tab. Guests also help themselves to cold beverages
and just put them on their room tab, which is behind the bar. When we first
checked in to dive, we asked if they needed a credit card and were told it
wasnt necessary until we were ready to finalize our bill! We did eat one
lunch with them, and the food was fresh and tasty. 

What could be better at SCC? The ladders on the dive boats are somewhat
challenging to maneuver, in part because they are hinged and tend to bounce
around a lot in the water if its at all choppy. Freshwater showers are
available on the deck, but one has to ask that the water be turned on 
its not something they automatically remember to do. There was only ever
one divemaster in the water, even on the one day when we had 10 guests.
While I am experienced enough not to NEED a divemaster at my side, I find I
see more unusual critters when I am with a divemaster, but that doesnt
work well if its 10 divers to one guide. Two diving divemasters would have
enhanced my experience. However, all of these are very minor items  Id be
delighted to return and dive with SCC any day!

SCC also gets eco-kudos from me for giving their guests water bottles, and
recommending that they bring them on board the boat, instead of using
disposable cups each day. A large container of ice water is provided to
refill the bottles, and snacks include sliced oranges and energy bars.

One final suggestion: regardless of where you stay or what you do on Little
Cayman, be sure to make reservations for dinner at Pirates Point on a
Friday, when they serve champagne and sushi for the appetizer (including
lionfish sushi rolls!), followed by seared rare tuna with mashed potatoes
and wonderful fresh veggies. Gay Morse at Pirates Point is a delight:
their boat was out of commission during our trip, so a group from PP dove
with SCC one day, and we got to meet Gay. Shes been on the island for 25+
years, but still has enough enthusiasm that she was clapping her hands and
doing an underwater happy dance the day we found the golden hamlet.
Thats something!

Also, meals at the Hungry Iguana are quite good  especially the Blossom
Village Black Bean soup. On Saturday evenings, Maxine McCoy does a chicken
and ribs barbecue at McCoys, which attracts an interesting local crowd,
and offers simple but very tasty food. Be sure to allow time to visit the
National Trust (say Hi to Debbie Truchan, who can tell you EVERYthing about
the island) and see the Booby pond and Tarpon lake. 

One final warning: do NOT go to Little Cayman if you want any nightlife
whatsoever. This is a teeny tiny island, with very limited options  not a
lot of restaurants (but good eating), not a lot of shopping, no luxury
nothing. Dont bother bringing your make-up, high heels, or dinner jackets.
My husband didnt even wear any of his island fancy Tommy Bahama shirts!
Do come to Little Cayman if you want excellent diving, very friendly
people, a total lack of crime, and a lot of relaxation. (Perry McLaughlin,
who rented us a car, advised us that we didnt need to lock the car and
could leave the key in it at night  thats what they do on the island.)
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Other dive reports on Southern Cross Club

All Cayman Islands Dive Reviews and Reports
Diving Guide to Cayman Islands
Diving Reviews for All Dive Destinations

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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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