|This article needs additional citations for verification. (August 2008)|
Little Cayman is an island that is part of the Cayman Islands. It is located in the Caribbean Sea, approximately 60 miles northeast of Grand Cayman and five miles (8 km) west of Cayman Brac. Little Cayman has a permanent population of less than 170 and is about 10 miles (16 km) long with an average width of 1 mile (2 km)
Most of the island is at sea level. The highest elevation is about 40 feet (12 metres). Little Cayman is known for its lack of infrastructure as well as its annual hosting of Pirates Week, the annual Mardi Gras celebration of the Cayman Islands and the Little Cayman Cook-off.
The first recorded sighting of Little Cayman, along with Cayman Brac, was by Christopher Columbus on May 10, 1503 on his fourth and final voyage, when heavy winds forced his ship off course. At that time, he named the islands "Las Tortugas" for the many sea turtles found living there. The islands were later renamed "Las Caymanas" for the iguanas that were thought to be caimans living there.
The first settlement on the island was in the 17th century, when turtle fishermen set up camps. After a raid by a Spanish privateer, the settlements were abandoned in 1671 and the island was not resettled until 1833, when Blossom Village was established by a few families. By the early 20th century, a few hundred people lived on Little Cayman and exported phosphate ore, coconuts, and marine rope.
Little Cayman is famous for its scuba diving. The most famous dive site areas, Bloody Bay and Jackson's Bight, are both located on the north side of the island, just west of its midpoint. Little Cayman features dive sites as shallow as 20 feet and go as deep as 6,000 feet  Bloody Bay is consistently ranked as one of the world's top wall dives with the ocean floor, which was purportedly based on a claim made by the late Phillipe Cousteau. At its shallowest point in Bloody Bay, the drop-off begins at a depth of 18 feet (Three Fathom Wall) and descends to approximately 1000 feet (314 m), in what is a near-vertical topology at recreational depths (and a bit beyond).
The sheer wall dropoffs in Little Cayman, and Bloody Bay Wall in particular, have been a source of exaggeration - not of its degree of verticality, but of the depth to the bottom of the wall: local Dive Resort Divemasters typically claim the proximate depth to be 3,000 feet (910 m) or 5,000 feet (1,500 m). While the local waters do go deeper than, 1,000 ft (300 m) these depths simply are not as proximate to shore as is suggested or claimed; the 1000 m contour (3000+ ft) has been charted to be approximately one mile offshore on Little Cayman's South side, and 2.5 miles (4.0 km) offshore of Bloody Bay on the island's North side (Ibid). These distances are generally beyond the normal range expected of freeswimming recreational scuba divers who are not Drift Diving or employing Dive Propulsion Vehicles. This exaggeration phenomenon also exists on Cayman Brac Walls.
Since 2010, there has been an effort to eradicate the invasive, non-indigenous Red Lionfish Pterois volitans, which appears to be reducing its population around Little Cayman. On Wednesday afternoons, divemasters from the various resorts on Little Cayman, embark on Lionfish kills to hunt and cull the species. Since the hunts began, more grey Caribbean reef sharks (Carcharhinus perezii) are noticeable on many dives.
Owen island is a small islet off the south-western coast of Little Cayman. The only way to reach it is by boat, and a kayak or standup paddleboard is a commonly used to cross South Hole Sound Lagoon, to get there. It features no buildings, homes, or human habitation, making it popular for honeymooners and adventurers.
Accessibility and Services
Little Cayman is accessible by air (via Cayman Airways) via daily inter-island flights from both Cayman Brac and Grand Cayman. Little Cayman is not an entry point to the island. Little Cayman has one grocery store, a few restaurants (mostly located at the resorts), Edward Bodden Airfield (the airport), a post office, a fire station, and one church. Little Cayman also has a visitor centre for its Red-footed Booby pond. The resorts on the island that offer scuba diving and accommodations are Little Cayman Beach Resort, Pirate's Point and Southern Cross.
Booby Pond and Rookery
The Red-footed Booby pond supports the largest red-footed booby population in the Caribbean and is a designated Ramsar wetland of international importance. The site encompasses 82 hectares (200 acres).
Other important species present on Little Cayman include the endangered Lesser Caymans iguana, the critically endangered hawksbill turtle, and the threatened West Indian Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna arborea), also known as the Black-billed Whistling Duck, which are also present to a lesser degree on nearby Cayman Brac as well.
- Little Cayman Islands Tourism Official
- Little Cayman Diving
- Little Cayman Navigational Chart showing depth soundings in meters
- Owen Island Official
- Little Cayman travel guide from Wikivoyage
- Cayman Travel Guide
- CIA World Factbook entry on Grand Cayman (updated May 2, 2006)
- Cayman Islands Government website of Cayman Islands Government