GETAWAY: Little Cayman

Sometimes I need a deserted island.

Don't let me mislead you. Dining, restaurants, shopping, nightlife ““ and room service ““ are important. In fact, I'd say very important to your vacation dreamscape. But sometimes, what one really needs is to just Get Away.

Sitting in the hard, narrow seat on the flight to Little Cayman could consume my attention for the short hop from Grand Cayman to her little sister a mere 130 kilometres away; if not for the all-consuming scene outside the cabin.

The planes are small, the flights short between the sister islands of Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. Many of the passengers are locals, along with a handful of curious travellers and divers in the know.

This day I board a flight at Owen Roberts International Airport in the capital city of Georgetown, Grand Cayman for the 35-minute journey to the smallest island of the three that make up the Cayman Islands.

This is a small plane, and from the passenger cabin you have a view into the cockpit, of the captain and co-pilot and their view through the front of the plane. There is no movie, there is no drink service, but there is a vista of blue skies, turquoise sea and white sand as the tiny island comes into view.

Little Cayman is often the final destination for divers who visit the Cayman Islands. Her waters are renowned for some of the best diving in the world and Bloody Bay Marine Park is considered a must-visit dive location.

The dive sites around Little Cayman descend to an astounding (for the record, I am not a diver) 6,000-feet! There are more than 50 dive sites around the island, and for the more faint of heart the island also boasts some of the most accommodating shallow dive sites, with depths as little as 20-feet.

Bloody Bay Wall, Little Cayman's most well-known attraction offers the best drop in the Caribbean. The wall begins at 20-feet and then plummets to 6,000-feet, the way covered with formations of various sponges and sea fans along with eagle rays, barracudas, sharks and grouper.

With the attraction mostly as a dive destination, Little Cayman has developed in a very gentle and casual way, in that it has hardly developed at all.

The Cayman Airways flight makes it's landing on an airstrip that could be any country road, and we deplane directly to our waiting ride. There is no terminal, just a friendly Caymanian “official” who greets us as our bags are unloaded.

And so the unwinding begins. The island's few inhabitants include a permanent population of about 170 residents, many drawn by the same pull that brings the divers and tourists: the incredible sea, sand and sought-after seclusion.

Our friendly driver, as with most residents on the island, wears many hats. He came for the diving adventure, chose to stay, and now fills many positions that an island mostly populated by wildlife and tourists needs: dive instructor and guide, occasional driver, iguana keeper and barkeep, in a pinch. He drops us at Little Cayman Beach Resort and arranges to pick us up again later for dinner, and tomorrow for a closeup look at some of the islands protected iguanas.

The iguanas are arguably Little Cayman's second most well-known attraction. These are rock iguanas, and here they roam freely on the streets, the paths and the walkway to your hotel room. They are prehistoric, dragon-like creatures, but harmless and seem more than content to pose for a photo as they warm themselves in the mid-day sun.

The resident iguana at Little Cayman Beach Resort is the subject of many a tourist photo, and ever present guest of the boardwalks between the cabins and pool at the resort.

Little Cayman Beach Resort, much like the island itself, is one of those tiny, perfect gems you feel lucky to have found, and hope not too many others do. The rooms are housed in two-story beachfront cabins that dot the sand on either side of the hotel restaurant, bar and pool facilities. In the evening light, their pink pastel shades are matched by those in the sunset, and we arrive just in time to enjoy a pre-dinner drink from the deck, listening to the waves kiss the sand.

There are just 40 rooms at Little Cayman Beach Resort, prettily decorated in tropical colours and textures. Most desirable are the 12 that face the beach with their private balconies and ocean views.

Activity at the resort is focused around the poolside bar in the evening, and the dock where the dive boats depart in the morning.

The resort's little indoor/outdoor bar is where you can grab a quick bite, or settle in for an afternoon sampling the cocktail menu. In the evening hours, the bar is energetic with guests enjoying music and camaraderie into the night.

But in the daytime…we find ourselves among few guests who remain on dry land. At first light, the dive boats depart for the day loaded with many of the guests housed at Little Cayman's resorts and guest houses, leaving an idyllic deserted island for the few who remain.

The resort's pool and loungers are positively vacant. Your choice of beach chair, bar stool or hammock is yours. Here we walk the beach in solitude, save the birds fishing the shallow water's edge.

If you need a break from your own personal stretch of beach, there is small spa where you can indulge in a massage or facial, and the very sweet Mermaids Boutique with a good selection of swimwear and necessities.

Aside from diving excursions, the resort can arrange fishing (closed seasonally from mid-August to October), kayaking and paddle boarding. There is a tennis and basketball court and bikes for rent. You can also hike the Salt Rocks Nature Trail on the western end of Little Cayman. Here, migratory birds, rock iguana, butterflies, orchids and tropical plants can be found. It is also an historic site with abandoned phosphate mines and a railway track.

Or, you can do as the islanders would do, and just choose your favourite hammock, curl up and enjoy the sunshine, and the solitude.

If you go
Cayman Airways

Little Cayman Beach Resort

Cayman Islands Tourism