I avoid clichés whenever possible, mostly because they are simply hyperbole, but in this case it was true. This dive spot literally “took my breath away.”

The dive master warned us. He told us once you descend the vertical chimney, turn and head out emerging on the wall, the view will overtake you. Watch your depth, he said as divers are frequently so overwhelmed with awe, they descend deeper than planned. And thus it was with me. The wall took my breath away. This was the famous Bloody Bay Wall I had heard so much about. I was not disappointed.

I exited the cave at 80 feet to a vertical wall above, below, and to either side of me. The 150- foot water clarity actually disoriented me for a moment. I paused, took it all in, and as the divemaster had warned, was at 100 feet before I knew it.

Moving to the east and ascending a bit I did something atypical of me. I moved away from the wall into the blue water. I could see the divers moving to the east to the swim-through arch known as Randy’s Gazebo. A school of large barracuda hung above the lip of the wall at 30 feet. I moved back to the secure orientation of the vertical wall. The wall is so cleanly vertical here is appears to have been put up by a precision mason, but then splattered with color and decoration by a mad artist.

Randy’s Gazebo is an excellent photo op of divers swimming through the coral arch covered with colorful sponges and surrounded by delightful reef fish. A nearby pinnacle also makes for fun exploration. Reef fish include gray and French angels, queen angels, butterfly fish, and a lot of small blennies and gobies in the numerous coral crevices.

California Diving News

Randy’s Gazebo (a.k.a. “Chimneys”) is just one of over a dozen dive sites in the Bloody Bay/Jackson Bay coral reef wall on the northwest side of the mid-Caribbean Island known as Little Cayman.

Of the Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman is the most famous and most populated. Some 90 miles away is the small sister islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Little Cayman is the smallest of the two at only one mile wide and ten miles long. It is also the least populated with a permanent population of just over 100.

What it lacks in stature above water it makes up underwater. The walls at Bloody Bay and Jackson Bay are considered by many to be the most spectacular in all the Caribbean. Sections of this wall start in as little as 20 feet of water and descend as vertical as vertical can get to far beyond you or anybody would ever want to dive. But this wall is more than just a vertical wall with clear water. The variety and colors of the gorgonians alone are enough to attract visitors back again and again. Corals of nearly every Caribbean variety also cling to the vertical face. Sponges fill out the color pallet with intense warm colors of red, yellow and orange. Bring a light on every dive for full effect.

A pleasant surprise was that Little Cayman was not just all about walls. There are a lot of excellent shallow reefs here as well interspersed with beautiful white sand. And another pleasant surprise was the number of macro opportunities along these reefs with colorful tiny shrimp, pipefish, and even an occasional sea horse.

Away from the hustle and bustle of Grand Cayman, Little Cayman is the perfect choice for those wanting a great time of diving at a small intimate resort with personalized service. There are only a handful of resorts on the island. An excellent choice would be the Southern Cross Club. They know diving this island up and down. More importantly, they know how to please diving customers. This is the ultimate in Caribbean barefoot luxury. The club’s eleven air-conditioned beach front bungalows are spread out over a wide stretch of white sand beach. You can expect all you might receive from a massive five-star resort but not the crowds. You will easily make friends not just with the attentive staff but your fellow guests as well, many of which you will discover are often multiple-repeat customers. After a week here you will understand why and head for home satisfied but planning your next trip back real soon. For more information, visit www.SouthernCrossClub.com.

Shearwater TERN