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  • 8/7/2019 May Getaways




    getawaysYour Ticket toadventureandtravelAround the Diving World

    Cayman Islandexploring the cayman islands little, brac and grand

    weightless A brachg a lur a r a Cayma wall.

    Its finally here the week Ive been waiting for. I haveleft behind e-mails and meetings and returned to thereal reason I work for a dive magazine the water.

    The second I hit the hotel room, swing open the door tothe balcony and breathe in the fresh ocean air I feel my feetreject my shoes. All I want to do is dive. By days end, I amgiant-striding off a swim platform, my eyes on a watercolorhorizon. When Im finally submerged, my gear fits like a fa-

    vorite pair of jeans and the coral looks brighter and biggerthan ever. Sharks, eels, barracudas and rays all come outto say hello. After a few dives, Ive officially turned blue.

    I have dive fever and if there is a cure for the condition, Idont want to know about it.

    In no time Im sporting a bronze glow and a lazy stroll.Life would be perfect if we could do this every mo nth. Luck-ily, the three islands that make up this Caribbean nation area short flight from most U.S. gateways and in my case,the drive to the airport takes longer than the flight. When Iwant to make the most of those precious diving days awayfrom work, the Cayman Islands are my go-to destination.And it is always a trip to remember.

    78May 2007 May 2007

    story by tara bradley

  • 8/7/2019 May Getaways


    sport divergetaways

    gear already set up. Gear is the last of our

    worries as Reef Divers provides what they

    call a valet diving experience perfect for

    divers who dont like carrying their gear, or

    cleaning it or setting it up. Basically they

    do everything for you but breathe.

    At our first dive site, Public Beach, my

    dive buddy Scott and I have already figured

    out our dive plan: a deep wall followed by a

    search for swim-throughs. On our way to the

    wall, a small purple anemone pulses inside

    a crevice of the coral, like a wind-snatched

    scarf. Ahead I see the dark secret of a swim-through and the promise of the wall. As Scott

    and I fin through the passage, a hermit crab

    couple slowly moves, giving away their dis-

    guise. We slip out onto the wall and hover

    wide-eyed in the open abyss. Making our



    A View From the TopF s B, f l- r f bff. n: i , b x .

    1. Publc Bach2. srga Majr Wall3. Br Brhr Bulr4. Mv Captain Keith Tibbetts5. Blu Wall


  • 8/7/2019 May Getaways


    sport divergetaways

    ride takes us to Sergeant Major, our second

    dive site. This time Scott and I have decided

    to focus strictly on the little stuff and the

    swim-throughs. Peterson cleaning shrimp

    frantically clean an anemone as the first of

    what will be three stingrays skirt my periph-eral vision. A hogfish rises over the peak of a

    giant coral head while below a massive lob-

    ster reaches its antenna out of its small lair.

    Sponges with the intricate designs of fine

    linen decorate the sea floor, and nearby a

    large grouper and a few parrotfish primp at a

    cleaning station as if preparing for a night on

    the town. When I stare long enough at the

    bright yellow tube sponges, their wrinkles

    and ripples start to resemble faces like the

    trees in The Wizard of Oz. And as we ascend,

    the top of the reef is clouded by a school of

    horse-eye jacks blissfully circling each other

    the perfect safety stop.

    Before the sun goes down on my lastday, I take a final drive around the island.

    Caves and flowers line the roads like topside

    swim-throughs and colorful coral. And like

    the dark recesses Ive found so plentiful on

    the dives here, the caves have the same draw

    begging me to enter.

    Along the way I stop to see Garlon a

    born and bred Bracker whom I met my

    first day on-island. He is blessed with a face

    drawn by decades of good stories, lots of

    laughter and Cayman sunshine. As I take a

    seat next to him, I have the feeling Im sit-

    ting next to my grandfather a man filled

    with stories from back when. Upon talk-

    ing with a local woman, I have discoveredGarlons former profession which he

    conveniently has repeatedly forgotten to

    mention. And when I tease him about it,

    the former district commissioner for the

    Sister Islands, answers with a feeble smile.

    As with many Caymanians, boasting is not

    part of his repertoire.

    As the day comes to an end, I say

    goodbye to Garlon and make my final way



  • 8/7/2019 May Getaways


    prr.cm84May 2007

    sport divergetaways May 2007

    Wall Magiclittle cayman

    it is evening and the beach at Little Cay-

    man Beach Resort is empty. Lazy palms

    sway above empty hammocks. The water

    laps toward me luring me to jump in for an

    impromptu night dive. I walk toward the

    shore, and with each sandy step I anticipate

    a chill. To my surprise, the water wrapping

    around my ankles is warm. When I look up,

    the bright stars shine like a spotlight on the

    sea. Then I notice I am not alone. From the

    glow of the occasional torch, I can make

    out the silhouettes of divers moving up the

    dock. They have returned from a night dive

    and from the sound of their laughter, it must

    have been a good one.

    Good dives arent hard to come by on

    Little Cayman. Measuring a mere one by

    10 miles, the smallest of the three islands is

    known for its simple life and dynamic div-

    ing. Columbus sighted the islands in May

    1503 when his ship blew off course on his

    last trip to the New World. And the island

    hasnt strayed far from the way he found

    it people and cars are scarce compared

    to the iguanas and bikes that make up the

    small amount of daily traffic.

    My first morning I take advantage

    of the unspoken bike-sharing policy and

    peddle my way down the main and only

    road, which leads to the local market,

    museum and Red Footed Booby Bird Sanc-

    tuary all of which close at dusk. Along

    the way, small gravel paths lead from the

    road to the beach, a reminder of the water

    just a short walk away. And almost meta-

    phorically, at the end of the main road is

    the sandy doorstep to the airport. Topside

    I have already discovered Little Caymans

    simplicity. And underwater, Im looking to

    discover Bloody Bay Wall.

    The story goes that a diver named

    Lea Lea saw a hammerhead and wanted to

    return to the same site every day to see it.

    Sadly, it didnt give her an encore. But the

    divemasters ended up naming the site af-

    ter her. So here we are at Lea Leas Lookout

    on Bloody Bay Wall. As I glide through the

    swim-through that will throw me into the

    abyss, I look up something every diver

    should do at least a half dozen times on a

    wall dive. As the sunlight pierces down, the

    basket sponges and sea fans exude a ghostly

    glow. A large crab hides in a crevice as his

    super-sized counterpart takes cover in a

    dark cove farther down the way. The misun-

    derstood spotted eel opens his mouth like a

    playful puppet mimicking a friendly hel-

    lo. Barrel sponges stand tall like vases in a

    grand dining room. Not until we surface do

    I realize that we never saw a hammerhead,

    but I dont mind.

    On our next dive, we hit the Mead-

    ows. Because the wall starts shallow, most

    of the dive sites have the benefit of the dra-

    matic views of a wall dive in addition to

    the extended shallow-diving bottom time.

    For divers who enjoy exploring swim-

    throughs, Bloody Bay Wall is diver heaven.

    The reefs are Swiss-cheesed with every

    type of swim-through imaginable from

    the drive-your-bus-through variety to the

    take-off-your-BC-and-go kind. As I enter



    Get Rhythmaf , b h i f f .

    1. La La Lku2. th Maw3. Ccu Walk4. fhy faay5. Blackp tul

    underwater decorab: A largbarrl pg rm h gurha h

    prwl a Cayma wall. r:A hawkbllurl, urac-bu.



  • 8/7/2019 May Getaways


    prr.cm86May 2007

    sport divergetaways May 2007

    another dark opening looking cautiously for

    the light at the end of the tunnel, I notice a

    flamingo tongue (my favorite) hiding under

    a fallen sea fan. Its pink and black skin is so

    smooth, it begs to be touched. But I know

    better and leave it in its secret spot. Nearby,

    a fireworm curls on a gorgonian fan like

    a sassy lady in a fancy fur. I watch as

    she fluffs her cotton-like trim giving me

    a spicy warning. And although Im sure

    she is soft, I avoid the temptation and the

    burn that would likely follow from her fi-

    ery sting. As the boat makes its way back

    to the resort for lunch, we swap stories

    and share pictures. On the stern, a group

    takes their semiannual dive-club photo

    commemorating their last dive of the trip.

    When they claim the Meadows as their

    new favorite site on Little Cayman, the

    bubbly divemaster Annabelle gives them

    a laugh and a few teases. Theyve obvi-

    ously said this after every dive shes taken

    them on this week. Jokes then fly about an

    un-named diver who had a habit of losing