Southern Cross Club, Little Cayman Island

The Southern Cross Club

Guy Banks Road Little Cayman KY3, 2501, Cayman Islands

Coordinates in degrees decimal:  19.66555556 N, -80.06888889 E.

Visited in February 2022.  Photographer: Nigel Thomas.  Cameras: Olympus Tough T5, T6 and Nikon Coolpix W300.


The Southern Cross Club is a long-established diving and fishing resort located on the south coast of Little Cayman.  Little Cayman is one of three islands that make up the Cayman Islands, which is a self-governing British Overseas Territory.  The islands lie to the south of Cuba and to the northwest of Jamaica.  Direct flights to the international airport on Grand Cayman run from both the UK and USA.  Connecting flights from Grand Cayman to Little Cayman are operated by Cayman Airlines on a regular basis.

The climate on Little Cayman is described as tropical wet and dry, with a wet season from May to October, and a dry season that runs from November to April.  It is rarely affected by hurricanes, with the last occurring in 2004.  The weather and water conditions that might affect snorkelling include:

  • The prevailing winds are from the east, with elements of ENE and ESE particularly during the period October to March. However, it is possible to find a sheltered location on the island in most wind conditions.
  • The strongest winds with gusts up to 18knts occur during the period November to January.  Average monthly winds are light (below 14knts) with the calmest period in August (8knts).
  • Monthly average daytime temperatures are between 25C and 29C, with peaks of 31C between June and October. 
  • Seawater temperatures are uniformly warm, with highs of 30C in August and September and lows of 27C in February. 
  • Tidal range is small with spring tidal range up to 0.75m and neap tides less than 0.10m. 
  • Surface water conditions and localised currents which might affecting snorkelling relate to a combination of wind and tidal state, particularly where there is a gap in the shallow water reef.   Water may become choppy at times and coastal drift is evident at Point of Sand.   
  • Rainfall is limited (<14mm) during the period December to April, with the wettest period occurring between September and October (>56mm).  Water visibility is exceptional but drainage from the extensive inland lagoons may affect visibility locally.

The habitats that can be observed while snorkelling the north shore include: deep (>10M) reef edge; back reef coral, soft coral and sponge dominated rock; wave exposed rock with limited epifauna; patch reef with healthy hard and soft corals; sporadic seagrass and shallow water sands.   On the southern shore, which is uniformly shallow inside the reef edge, the habitats include the following: back reef coral; coralline algal reef, patch reef, extensive shallow water sands, seagrasses and mangrove.

The north coast is best for observing the larger species, including the blacktip shark, nurse sharks, barracuda, eagle rays and stingrays.   These were all present in the back reef area, inshore of the famous wall at Bloody Bay.  Although deep this was worth visiting to see the clear blue water beyond the reef edge.    The south coast supported a variety of shallow water patch reefs, including an unusual coralline algal reef off Owen Island.  The shallow water sands and seagrass in this area were also home to some large stingrays feeding on the buried fauna.  The protected areas are also noticeable for the large populations of queen conch and the interesting variety of coralline algae…no, really. 

In total 177 species were photographed and identified, with over 62 fish species,  24 marine plants and algae and 21 coral species.   


Six locations were visited on Little Cayman.  Area 1 is from the shore at Southern Cross Club out to Owen Island.  Area 2 is on the south western shore, known as Preston Bay. Area 3 was visited while snorkelling from the Southern Cross Club dive vessel.  Area 4 was off the shore at the north coast Southern Cross shelter.  Area 5 was on the shore just off north coast road east.  Area 6 was from the shelter at Point of Sand on the eastern end of the island.

The area off the beach at Southern Cross Club (Area 1) is very shallow and populated by dense growths of seagrass.  It is possible to swim from the shore to a more interesting area around Owen Island, which can be seen in the distance on this photo, however it is recommended that you use one of the hotel’s kayaks.  The main lagoon reef is located about 100m further off shore.

The kayak can be beached on the western side of the island and it is then possible to wade into the shallow waters from the beach.  The area of beach furthest west is the easiest area to enter.   The initial area is very shallow but popular with feeding rays.  You can then swim around a rock headland towards the inner edge of the main lagoon reef. 

Much of the shallow water inside the main lagoon reef is covered in seagrass with very large numbers of Queen Conch present.  Many fish species populate the inner edge of the main reef. 

Heading back toward the island it is possible to find extensive, and quite unusual, coralline algal reef structures, which support diverse fish populations. This is all very shallow water!

Area 2 is located on the south western shore, known as Preston Bay.    The shore can be accessed off the airport road, via the footpath to the Preston Bay Iguana Nesting Sanctuary.    The area supports many coral heads, interspersed amongst healthy seagrass beds.

The coral heads with overhangs are ideal areas to find sleeping nurse sharks, as well as large populations of spiny lobster.

Area 3 was accessed from the Southern Cross Dive boat.  It is located in Bloody Bay over the inshore back reef areas, with water depths down to 10m before the drop off occurs.  The area is extensively covered in sponge species and a mixture of hard and soft corals, including many seafans.

This is also an ideal area to see some of the larger species, including sharks, eagle rays, turtles and barracuda.

Area 4 can be accessed from the shore at the Southern Cross shelter on the north coast of the island.   The shelter can be found by following the footpath/rough track that is the other side of the road where Olivine Kirk Drive meets the North Coast Road West.  The shore is fairly rocky so solid sole wetsuit boots are recommended.

Swim towards the nearest marker buoy over relatively bare rock areas, before reaching the reef edge, where populations of sponges, hard and soft coral, and, in particular, seafans may be found.  It is possible to drop off the edge of the reef into deeper water, where large barrel sponges occur, although these tend to be in greater than 10m of water.   

Areas 5 is off the north coast of the island.  Follow the North Coast Road East.  Pass the turn off for Kena Hall Road, about 2km later there is a set of 3 houses on the left.  The third house has a path through to a jetty.  This appears to be a rental property so make sure the residents are ok with you entering.  Access is from the shore. Strong soled shoes are recommended.

Swim straight out and then follow the patch reef edges.  There are multiple patch reefs which have breaks in them leading onto shallow flat rock areas with numerous Searods.  These flat rock areas also have small burrows with interesting populations of Blennies and Jawfish. Inshore of the reefs are extensive areas of raised Seagrass beds.

Area 6 is located on the eastern area of the island at Sandy Point.  Follow Guy Banks Road almost to its end where a turnoff to the right leads you to another of the Southern Cross shelters.  Beware of the west to east current, i.e. right to left, which is quite pronounced in the inshore area.  From the tip of Sandy Point swim in the direction of the western end of Cayman Brac (just visible in the photo.)

In the inshore areas many coral heads can be found, with associated fish populations, occasional nurse sharks and frequent groups of Barracuda.

Further offshore the main reef can be found, with diverse hard and soft coral populations.  This reef becomes more dispersed towards the east, with reduced swell, but be wary of the current. 

Resort Sealife Photos

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Goldspot Goby.  Gobiidae.  Gnatholepis thompsoni.  Noted hiding under a rock ledge in area 6.

Saddled Blenny.  Labrisomidae.  Malacoctenus triangulatus. Area 3.

Longspine Squirrelfish.  Holocentridae.  Holocentrus rufus.  Noted all areas with reef.

The non-indigenous species, Red Lionfish. Scorpaenidae. Pterois volitans.  Found hiding under the reef edge area 5.

Well disguised Peacock Flounder. Bothidae.  Bothus lunatus.  Noted over reef edge, areas 1 and 6.

Alternative view of Peacock Flounder. Bothidae.  Bothus lunatus. 

Yellow Goatfish.  Mullidae.  Mulloidichthys martinicus.  Often in shoals, foraging over sandy seabeds.  Areas 1 and 6.

Sand Tilefish.  Malacanthidae.   Malacanthus plumieri.  Noted over sand and coral debris, darting into their burrow when disturbed.  Often in pairs.  Area 6 particularly.

Not spotted while snorkelling but in snorkelable depth!!  Symbolic of the resort, the juvenile Spotted Drum.  Sciaenidae.  Equetus punctatus.  Noted in area 3.  

Sergeant Major.  Pomacentridae.  Abudefduf saxatilis.  Noted in open water over reef in areas 3 and 4 as well as hiding in hollows, area 1.

Probably a Beaugregory.  Pomacentridae.  Stegastes leucostictus.  Areas 1, 2, 5 and 6.

Brown Chromis.  Pomacentridae.  Chromis multilineata.  Often in association with Sergeant Majors,  areas 3 and 4.

Blue Chromis.  Pomacentridae.  Chromis cyanea.  Noted off areas 3 and 4.

Rock Beauty. Pomacanthidae. Holacanthus tricolor.  Noted in area 6.

Juvenile Yellowtail Damselfish.  Pomacanthidae.  Microspathadon chrysurus. All areas with coral outcrops.

French Angelfish.  Pomacanthidae.  Pomacanthus paru.  Amongst reef in relatively deep water, areas 3 and 4.

Juvenile French Angelfish.  Pomacanthidae.  Pomacanthus paru.  Noted in area 2.

Ocean Surgeonfish. Acanthuridae.  Acanthurus bahianus.  May be solitary or in loose shoals with Blue Tang and Doctorfish.  All reef areas.

Faint vertical stripes on the left rear species, indicates a Doctorfish.  Acanthuridae.  Acanthurus chirurgus.  Areas 2, 5 and 6.

Blue Tang.  Acanthuridae.  Acanthurus coeruleus.  Often in small shoals.  Area 6 in particular.

Dense shoal of Blue Tang. Acanthuridae.  Acanthurus coeruleus.  Area 6.

Spotfin Butterflyfish.  Chaetodontidae.  Chaetodon ocellatus.  Often in pairs, noted in areas  4 and 5.

Banded Butterflyfish.  Chaetodontidae.  Chaetodon striatus.  Noted in association with reef in areas 3, 4, 5 and 6.

Black Durgon.  Balistidae.  Melichthys niger.  Noted in sparse shoals over reef, areas 3 and 4.

Black Durgon  in profile.

Trunkfish.  Ostraciidae.  Lactophrys trigonus. Noted over seagrass in area 1.

Spotted Trunkfish.  Ostraciidae.  Lactophrys bicaudalis.  Noted in shallow waters of area 5.

Porcupinefish.  Diodontidae. Diodon hystrix.  Noted in areas 3, 4 and 6.

Mixed shoal.  The yellow species is the French Grunt.  Haemulidae.  Haemulon flavolineatum.  Silver with a dot is the Mahogany Snapper. Lutjanidae.  Lutjanus mahogoni.  All areas.

Small shoal of mixed species.  Bottom left is the Sailors Choice.  Haemulidae. Haemulon parra.  Noted amongst shoals of other species in areas 1, 5 and 6.

Solitary Margate (White).  Haemulidae.  Haemulon album.  Area 6.

Bluestriped Grunt.  Haemulidae.  Haemulon sciurus.  Areas 1, 2, 5 and 6.

Mixed species shoal, with central species the adult Schoolmaster. Lutjanidae.  Lutjanus apodus. Bottom left Bluestripe Grunt. Haemulidae.  Haemulon sciurus.   Areas 1, 2 and 6.