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Dive Review of Little Cayman Beach Resort in
Cayman Islands/Little Cayman

Little Cayman Beach Resort: "Easy diving in a lively reef", Feb, 2017,

by Joel Snyder, AZ, US (Sr. Contributor Sr. Contributor 26 reports with 25 Helpful votes). Report 9496 has 2 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments Descending into the clear 80-degree waters at Mixing Bowl, my dive buddy Jan pointed out a beautiful Scrawled Filefish cruising by. At least that’s what I thought she was pointing out, until I saw the Nurse Shark swinging by to give us a quick once-over, before revealing a Green Sea Turtle munching on the reef. It was a very nice way to start the morning, and to start our adventure at Little Cayman Beach Resort.

After a week of diving, we racked up a total of 17 dives, almost always current-free in 80 degree water (+/- 1 degree) with amazingly clear visibility (80-100' on most dives). On the reef, we found a diverse population of fish. There were frequent pairs of Banded Butterflyfish, Blue Tangs, and French Angels, along with shy 4-eye Butterflys. Schoolmasters congregated on large coral heads, both by themselves and in small and large schools. Brightly colored Fairy Basslets brazenly confronted us at every turn.

Crustaceans were also well-represented, from little anemone shrimp the size of a grain of rice (rare, but there were a few anenomes), Pederson cleaners, to enormous 2-foot-long lobsters roaming around in the middle of the day. Near shore was a hard-pan surface, crawling with enormous conch and hermit crabs pretending to be conch. On the sand bottom between shore and the walls, we found gardens of Garden Eels as well as frequent Southern Sting Rays, each being shadowed by a jack (usually a Blue Runner), and the occasional eagle ray cruising through.

We found most of the sea life to be very unafraid. Turtles were common on every dive and completely unperturbed by our presence: a camera in the face (or three) didn’t deter them from their job of munching away quietly all day long. Lionfish showed up at least once on every dive, very well-fed and brazen. A weekly Lionfish hunt continues to keep them in check, and Lionfish appear on the menu of the Hungry Iguana (one of the Island’s three standalone restaurants, and better food than the resort). We also saw abundant Great Barracuda, but solitary, not in schools. Also very unafraid, I had one pose for some dental hygiene and let me shoot a picture right down its throat!

Bloody Bay Wall is one of the famous highlights of Little Cayman diving, but we found it to be a bit quiet when it came to sea life. Encrusted with enormous barrel sponges (5’ tall was not unusual, and larger specimen were easy to find) and colorful tube sponges, the wall started at about 40’ to 60’ (depending on the dive site) and descended to… well, what’s deeper than “way too deep?” Many of our dives included the wall, but we didn’t spend much time on it. One reason was the groupers: there weren’t any for most of our stay, and they particularly like the wall. Nassau Groupers all spawn together in predictable locations (which is why the species is endangered: they have been easy to overfish when there are so many in one place), and Nassau Grouper spawning week was the week we were there, meaning that the reefs were free of them until the last day of our trip, when they started coming back.

Most of the sea life one associates with Caribbean diving was there, although we had a few notable absences: virtually no Crinoids (I found one juvenile hiding in a soft coral), only occasional Flamingo Tongue shells, and no nudibranch/slug life except for Lettuce Sea Slugs, which were common.

It’s a good thing that the diving was excellent, as there’s not a whole lot to do on Little Cayman beyond diving. There are a few restaurants, a grocery store, and a liquor store (all within walking distance of the Little Cayman Beach Resort, which is itself a 10-minute walk from the airstrip). You can rent bicycles for $5 a day to explore the 10-mile length of Little Cayman, visit a bird sanctuary with a small educational center; and learn the history of Little Cayman at its one museum. Really, diving is the highlight and they do a very good job of it at Little Cayman Beach Resort.

Our days followed an easy schedule: breakfast at around 7:00 in time to board the boat at 8:00. Because the weather was good, we travelled to the North side of the island each day, about a 25-minute ride in each direction. Two dives in the morning, a short lunch, followed by a single dive in the afternoon. After we were done diving, there was enough time for a short nap, or you could visit the hot tub to soak or the bar to grab a quick cocktail before the dinner bell sounded at around 6:30. After dinner, the Beach Resort tried to provide activities, which ranged from awful (karaoke) to interesting (a lecture by Jim Hellemn, underwater photographer).

Diving was generally easy and easy-going. The boats, all 46’ Newtons, boasted twin ladders for exit, with a giant stride being the easiest way to get into the water. A crew of two moored the boat to a buoy at whatever dive site they had selected, gave a short but comprehensive briefing, and helped each diver into the water. The “valet diving” at Little Cayman means that each diver walks to the back of the boat (there were three positions available, so we were able to put our crew of about 15 divers into the water fairly quickly) and puts on their fins, while the crew carries the tank to the diver and helps them on with their gear. Stand up, fall in, and begin your dive.

The divemasters advertised strict profiles: first dive was 110’ for 50 minutes, with the next two at 60’ for 60 minutes. However, no one checked our depth (although there was little reason to exceed their recommendations) and our crew was very relaxed about the time limits. They seemed to think that as long as they could see our bubbles under the boat when the dive was supposed to be over, we could take another 5-10 minutes of bottom time to for safety stops and general noodling around on the reef. Over the week, my own shortest dive was 56 minutes, with an average time of 66 minutes, an average depth of 37 feet, and a maximum of 127 feet. These profiles (and a requirement to have a computer with you on each dive) are courtesy of the Cayman Islands government, we were told. One divemaster was in the water with us for each dive, and divers were free to follow along or chart their own course. The solid dive briefing and hand-drawn chart before each dive, combined with simple underwater topography, made it nearly impossible to get lost.

Photographers didn’t have any facilities on the boat other than a camera table, but rinse tanks were available once we returned to the dock. Each afternoon divers were expected to take their personal gear (everything but the BCD and regulators) off the boat, rinse it, and hang it, then carry it back to the boat the next morning. Reef Divers, the dive shop attached to the resort, loaned anyone who wanted a nice mesh bag to keep things together.

Little Cayman Beach Resort is about what you’d expect for a reasonably-priced location on a very small island. The buildings were well-maintained with plentiful water, in-room video, air conditioning (although it was not really needed during our winter visit, with daytime temperatures in the 80s and nighttime in the 70s), and fairly modern furnishings inside. Not a luxury resort, but not bare bones either. Rooms were arranged in a U around a common area with swimming pool, bar, dining room, and docks/dive shop. The walk from room to dive boat was no more than 3 minutes.

Nitrox was available, although we didn’t use it, for a very expensive uplift of $10 a tank.
Websites Little Cayman Beach Resort   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Asia; Carib; Mexico; Hawaii; Red Sea
Closest Airport Little Cayman Getting There Frequent flights from Grand Cayman; easy to get to from continental US

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm, no currents
Water Temp 79-81°F / 26-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 80-100 Ft/ 24-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Advertised profile was Dive 1 110'/50min; Dives 2 and 3 60'/60 min. Actual enforced profile was much more relaxed and we typically dove 60-70 minutes each dive. Depth not much reason to argue with those goals.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 1 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities 4 stars
UW Photo Comments Minimal macro on our trip; mostly fish portrait opportunities. SUPER high visibility made wide-angle shots easy.
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Report currently has 2 Helpful votes

Subscriber's Comments

By Ryan Black in MI, US at Mar 20, 2017 19:53 EST  
Very comprehensive review. My wife and I were there between Christmas and New Years this year. Our dive times were closer to the suggested 60 minutes, but that wasn't a big deal for us. One thing your review doesn't really mention is your take on the food. I found that a bit strange in an otherwise complete review -- all the more so because you rate it only 3/5. We thought it to be very good to excellent. Lots of choices and the homemade desserts were divine. Just curious what you didn't like about it.
By report author: Joel Snyder in AZ, US at Mar 21, 2017 16:17 EST  
Ryan thanks for the comments. I left my comments out mostly because we're there for the diving, and not the food, so I didn't think it was nearly as important. They do a great job (and have a great wait staff) for what they have to work with: lots of divers who want to eat very fast 3 times a day based on food that has to be shipped in with no local supply. But on an absolute scale, it was more cafeteria than restaurant. The fish was never very edible; the desserts were overly sweet and bulky. I wouldn't go there for the food, but it certainly was edible and they try hard.
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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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