Exploring Little Cayman

Little Cayman isn’t much for man-made sights and attractions; those that are here essentially serve to explain and promote nature preserved in all her finery, especially underwater, throughout the island. If you’re exploring on your own, pick up the Little Cayman Heritage Sites and Trails brochure, available at the hotels and National Trust; it lists all the major points of interest.

What to See

Little Cayman Museum.This newly renovated museum displays relics and artifacts, including a wing devoted to maritime memorabilia, that provide a good overview of this tiny island’s history and heritage. | Across from Booby Pond Nature Reserve | Blossom Village, Little Cayman | 345/948–1033 for Little Cayman Beach Resort | Free | Thurs. and Fri. 3–5, by appointment only.

Little Cayman National Trust.This traditional Caymanian cottage overlooks the Booby Pond Nature Reserve; telescopes on the breezy second-floor deck permit close-up views of their markings and nests, as well as other feathered friends. Inside you’ll find shell collections, panels, and dioramas discussing endemic reptiles, models “in flight,” and diagrams on the growth and life span of red-footed boobies, frigate birds, egrets, and other island “residents.” The shop sells exquisite jewelry made from Caymanite and spider-crab shells, extraordinary duck decoys and driftwood carvings, and great books on history, ornithology, and geology. Mike Vallee holds an iguana information session and tour every Friday at 4 pm. The cheeky movie Calendar Girls inspired a local equivalent: Little Cayman women, mostly in full, ripe maturity, going topless for an important cause—raising awareness of the red-footed booby and funds to purchase the sanctuary’s land. Nicknamed, appropriately, “Support the Boobies,” the calendar is tasteful, not titillating: the lasses strategically hold conch shells, brochures, flippers, tree branches, etc. | Blossom Village, Little Cayman | 345/749–1121 | www.nationaltrust.org.ky | Weekdays 3–5.

Little Cayman Research Centre.Near the Jackson Point Bloody Bay Marine Park reserve, this vital research center supports visiting students and researchers, with a long list of projects studying the biodiversity, human impact, reef health, and ocean ecosystem of Little Cayman. Its situation is unique in that reefs this unspoiled are usually far less accessible; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration awarded it one of 16 monitoring stations worldwide. The center also solicits funding through the parent U.S. nonprofit organization Central Caribbean Marine Institute; if you value the health of our reefs, show your support on the website. Chairman Peter Hillenbrand proudly calls it the “Ritz-Carlton of marine research facilities, which often are little more than pitched tents on a beach.” Tours explain the center’s mission and ecosensitive design (including Peter’s Potty, an off-the-grid bathroom facility using compostable toilets that recycle fertilizer into gray water for the gardens); sometimes you’ll get a peek at the upstairs functional wet labs and dormitories. To make it layperson-friendlier, scientists occasionally give talks and presentations. The Dive with a Researcher program (where you actually help survey and assess environmental impact and ecosystem health, depending on that week’s focus) is hugely popular. | North Side, Little Cayman | 345/948–1094 | www.reefresearch.org | By appointment only.