When legendary American photojournalist David Douglas referred to the Cayman Islands as the ‘Islands that time forgot’ on his 1939 visit, he had to be including the smallest of the three – Little Cayman – in that description.
A 10-square-mile idyllic stretch of land in the Caribbean Sea, blessed with an abundance of natural beauty, Little Cayman feels like a private getaway for those who choose to live or vacation there. Bicycles are a preferred mode of transport, perfect for touring the quiet lanes at a leisurely pace. Traffic signs are few and far between, usually reminding drivers that they share the roads with native iguanas that might choose to cross from time to time.
With its pristine beaches and lush greenery, Little Cayman is a haven for wildlife. The Booby Pond Nature Reserve is renowned worldwide for its rare populations of plants and animals, highlighted by the strong presence of Red-footed Booby bird nests. In fact, experts state that the reserve represents over a third of the bird’s entire Caribbean and Atlantic population.
Magnificent frigatebirds and West Indian whistling ducks are also familiar sights, along with blue herons, snowy egrets, and barn swallows.
After exploring the land, it’s time to appreciate the sea. Swimming, snorkelling, and fishing are all regular pastimes in Little, but the real treasure lies beneath the waves. Some of the best scuba diving in the world can be experienced here, with Bloody Bay Wall regularly featuring on top ten lists in magazines and dive websites.
SportDiver called it “The most amazing vertical drop-off in the Caribbean,” adding that some dive travellers have even described the coral wall as “one of the Seven Underwater Wonders of the Diving World”. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Little Cayman is home to the Central Caribbean Marine Institute, an organisation dedicated to conservation, research, and education. His Royal Highness, The Earl of Wessex, has been the patron of the CCMI since 2003.
Of course, Little Cayman is not just a draw for nature lovers. It is also a popular destination for tourists who need a break from the rat race, islanders taking weekend staycations (it’s only 30 minutes by plane from Grand Cayman), and people seeking to buy a vacation home or the perfect place to retire. There are only around 200 full-time residents on the island, creating a tight-knit, friendly community.
Those simply looking to visit have several accommodation choices ranging from private home rentals to resorts such as the award-winning Southern Cross Club, which promises “barefoot elegance with pure relaxation.”
Little Cayman has it all – world-class diving, an abundance of wildlife, stunning scenery, and the welcoming warmth of a small town. Even after all these years, it really still is the island that time forgot.