Exposed summits of the Cayman Ridge, an undersea mountain range stretching from Cuba to Belize, each of the three Cayman Islands Little Cayman, Cayman Brac and Grand Cayman possesses its own personality.
Little Cayman, best described as the "natural" one, measures only 10 square miles, making it the smallest island. Mostly flat land with ponds and dense mangrove forests, it has the fewest residents and reigns popular among naturalists. You can't mention Little Cayman without Bloody Bay Wall, a vertical drop loaded with corals and sponges, and wrapped in crystal-clear, current-free water. All along the wall, you'll encounter groupers, spotted eagle rays, turtles and yellow jacks.
The "laid-back" one, Cayman Brac, features the most-interesting terrain of the three. Its 140-foot limestone outcrop, called The Bluff, serves as the signature landmark of the island. Equally well known to divers, the wreck of MV Captain Keith Tibbetts a 330-foot Russian frigate purposely sunk in 1996 rests at 60 feet. Explore the pilothouse, bridge and upper decks where barracuda and queen angelfish make cameos.
Bustling Grand Cayman is the "cosmopolitan" one. The main tourist arena, it includes attractions, such as Seven Mile Beach, Boatswain's Beach, Rum Point and the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park. The capital of George Town has become a financial hub, and the place to go for duty-free shopping and local restaurants like Guy Harvey's Island Grill and The Lobster Pot. As you might expect with one of the world's true dive meccas, all things eventually lead to the sea. The most famous of Cayman's sites, Stingray City, offers the chance to interact and feed Southern stingrays. But there are another 297 moored sites from the steep drops of the North Wall to the little-dived East End, and the vibrant undersea worlds off Seven Mile Beach. And there are plans to create a total of 365 moored sites, one for every day of the year.
Only an hour-and-a-half flight from Miami, it's possible to leave in the morning, and be fully immersed in the tropical sun and sea by afternoon. Come during one of Cayman's many events, such as the island-wide celebration of Pirate's Week, PADI Diving Society's Total Submersion, Kids Sea Camp or even for the annual gathering of the stars at the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.