For divers, Little Cayman Island's Bloody Bay Wall leaves a lasting impression The dive boat rounds West End Point, hugging the low coastline of Little Cayman Island. My dive buddy gives an enthusiastic thumbs-up; we are just minutes away from an adventure we've dreamed of for years. Both of us grew up snorkeling Florida's freshwater springs, earned our scuba certification as teenagers and made hundreds of dives in South Florida and the Keys. Now, with money saved from summer jobs, we've embarked on our first international dive vacation. The year is 1979, and while many Caribbean dive destinations are still in their infancy, the Cayman Islands are already world renowned for their stunning clear waters and spectacular undersea terrain. Most famous of all is the wall at Little Cayman's Bloody Bay, and in a matter of minutes, we will have our first experience with this famous bit of vertical real estate. The boat drops anchor on a sandy plane less than 100 yards from shore; we anxiously endure the divemaster's briefing, grab masks and fins, then scramble to the stern. A giant stride entry reveals a stunning sight: the bow of our boat floating 20 feet above a colorful reef while the stern hangs over a sheer precipice that drops into unknown blue depths. We adjust our buoyancy at 50 feet, then 60, then 70. The wall looms overhead, a rough monolith coated with colorful sponges and grasping coral branches.The illusion of weightless flight is heightened as we glide above a deep sand chute that cuts a massive gash into the wall. Beyond this canyon, a network of intricate caves and caverns perforate the wall. Sponges and soft corals grow from every niche and crevice: yellow and orange tubes, red cups, orange elephant ears, red fingers, plus a host of undulating sea fans and gorgonians. A tiger grouper hovers at the entrance to a narrow, shadow-filled cleft. We pause to watch cleaner wrasses dart into the predator's open jaws, then fin our way cautiously into the dark overhang. We follow a twisting tunnel that drops to a depth of 100 feet, then ends at a window onto the blue abyss. All too soon it is time to head for the surface. We make a lazy ascent to the crest of the wall, retrace our path along the upper edge of the coral rampart, then make a brief inshore detour to explore the scattered coral heads patrolled by schools of yellowtail snapper and horse-eye jacks. We extend our safety stop, relaxing on the boat's down line as it swings gently to-and-fro across the edge of the abyss. It is a rare and special moment - one that I record in full detail and vivid color, then store in that vault where only the best memories live.
Find exclusive opportunities and packages offered to Society members on the member benefits site.