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Table of Contents:

Introduction - Home Page | The Dive Operation | Meet the Team | A Little Geography | Travel Facts | About Little Cayman | Diving Rates | Packages | Contact Us | Web Site FAQ's | Diving FAQ's | Travel FAQ's | About this Site | Reading Room | Photo Album | Virtual Tour


From the Main Page:

You're diving in Little Cayman with Paradise Divers. Life is good. The diving outstanding. And the dream almost tangible...

We are a small and friendly award winning dive operation based in one the Caribbean's best dive destinations --
Our main dive sites are located on world-famous Bloody Bay Wall.
We operate a single fast boat with a maximum capacity of 14 divers.
No crowds, no line-ups.
Our Paradise Villas 12 units are ocean front and comfortable.
Our guests become friends and come back to visit us year after year.
Little Cayman has a magical flavor that will get you hooked.
So please consider this web site as our ambassador and may you find here what you are looking for!

Read on, we'll expand the vision and try to give you a taste of our little paradise. It's all a matter of choice. And that choice is yours to make...

We are looking forward to an opportunity to make your dream come true!


From the Dive Operation Page: (or back to top of page)

Introducing The Dive Operation

Since the Cayman Islands were discovered by the international diving community, they have become a major attraction in the Caribbean. Grand Cayman alone now has more than 40 water sports operators.

Little Cayman, on the other hand, has managed to avoid the frantic development and retain its original charm and flavor. It is a clean, quiet and remote island; in a word, unspoiled. Paradise Divers recognizes the combination of quality and tranquility to be a major asset of Little Cayman. We have organized our operation to be in harmony with this balance.

We will not compromise our divers' comfort by over crowding our boat. You will feel right at home and among friends on our brand new v-hull, Banana Wind. Read the Spring 2002 Newsletter for more details!

Banana Wind takes us around the island in no time. The rides to Bloody Bay can be as short as 15 minutes. We are the only operation that will regularly take you to Bloody Bay for night dives. 

Our truck will pick you up at , and take you to the boat. You can relax and leave your gear in our hands. We'll set it up and have it ready for you on your next trip. We are dedicated to helping you enjoy your diving experience with us. Although certified divers are always given the opportunity to dive in buddy teams, most people follow our instructors for unforgettable guided tours through an impressive labyrinth of crevices, chimneys, tunnels and swim through's.


Greetings from the Staff at Paradise Divers! (or back to top of page)

Bonjour, my name is Sabine, I'm the reservation agent. You will probably recognize my unmistakable French accent over the phone. Let me arrange a pleasant holiday for you and give you any information you might need.

Hi, I'm Marc, Resort Administrator. I'm also a PADI instructor and a serious Jimmy Buffet fan. After touring the Caribbean for years, I have found in Little Cayman the ideal cure for my cold days in Canada.

Hey, the Rodster here,
I hail from tropical Toronto and come down to Paradise on Little Cayman to cool off in the Caribbean Sea for a few months - or years? I am also a PADI instructor and always on the lookout for the elusive hammer
head... 

Hello, my name is Vincent, but they call me V. I'm a NAUI instructor born in Quebec and raised in France. I've been roaming the Caribbean and the South Pacific for 15 years. My other passion is airborne: if I'm not diving in Little cayman, the odds are you'll, find me paragliding around some remote mountain range. I hope you'll enjoy the new web site; I can no longer skip night dives, so I've skipped a lot of parties instead to finish it ;-)


From the Island and Maps Page: (or back to top of page)

A Little Geography

The Cayman Islands, a United Kingdom dependency, lie in the Caribbean Sea just south of Cuba, between the Yucatan Peninsula and Jamaica, by roughly 20° of latitude north and 80° of longitude west. This puts us at about the same latitude as Mexico City, Hawaii and Hanoi, some 240 miles south of the Tropic of Cancer.

Christopher Columbus sighted the uninhabited islands in 1503 and noted the abundance of turtles in the surrounding waters. English settlers from Jamaica colonized the Cayman Islands after they were ceded to England in 1670.

Enjoying a pleasant tropical climate, sandy beaches, and translucent waters, the Cayman Islands have become a prime tourist destination in the Caribbean. To this day, Tourism and international banking form the backbone of the economy. The country includes three islands, the largest of which is Grand Cayman. The capital city of Georgetown, where much of the population lives, lies on the west coast of this island. The much smaller Little Cayman and Cayman Brac islands are situated 80 miles northeast of Grand Cayman.

The generally low-lying Cayman Islands are rocky and of coral formation. They sit at the summit of very narrow needle-like underwater mountains, surrounded by deep ocean on all sides. The Cayman Trench, located a mere 40 miles south of Little Cayman, drops strait down to the staggering depth of 24,7000 feet!


Travel Facts (or back to top of page)

The local time in the Cayman Islands is EST (Eastern Standard Time) without daylight savings (see the left margin).

The household current is 110V/60Hz and wall electricity outlets are the same as in the States.

Our currency is the Cayman dollar, with a fixed rate of US$0.82. (1 KY dollar = 1.25 US dollar). US dollars are generally accepted at that rate everywhere you go. Change will normally be returned in KY dollars.

The official language is English and there are no "patois" as in other Caribbean islands. Spanish, however, is spoken by a lot of central-american immigrants.

People drive on the left side just like in England, they watch american TV, and they eat Caribbean food.

Calling the world and especially the United States is very easy since we use the same country code (1) and an area code (345) like anywhere else in North America. Some US-based cellular phones will work down here by themselves, others can be activated through the services of Cable & Wireless, the local telephone company. Internet is finally becoming widely available at DSL speeds across the three islands.

Our water (in the of Paradise Villas) is produced locally by reverse osmosis and is tasteless and of excellent quality.

We do have a lot of mosquitoes a certain time of the year, as well as the famous "no-see-ems", or sand flies, so bringing some insect repellent for the dusk drink on the porch would be a great idea. There are, however, no reported mosquito-transmitted deceases in the Cayman Islands.

Grand Cayman, the main island, is served by the following major airlines (listed with their respective direct flights):

Air Canada --> Toronto

Air Jamaica --> Kingston

American Airlines --> Miami, JFK on week-ends

Cayman Airways --> Miami, Ft-Lauderdale, Tampa, Houston, Chicago, Kingston, Montego Bay, Havana, Cayman Brac

Delta --> Atlanta

The sister islands of Little Cayman and Cayman Brac are separated by a narrow 7 miles channel.
Their respective populations hover in the vicinity of 150 and 1500 inhabitants. They are both serviced by the national air carrier, Cayman Airways. The Brac has a modern airport with a paved runway where jets can land. Little Cayman, however, is only reachable by smaller turboprop airplane do to the rugged nature of its airstrip.

Both Cayman Airways and the small Air Taxi Island Air fly into Little Cayman four times daily and will drop you off at the quiet airfield just 2 minutes away from Paradise Villas.

At this point, the nearby grocery store, the post office, the local bank (open a few hours twice a week), the church, the museum, the Booby Pond National Trust house and the Hungry Iguana Restaurant are all within walking distance, but if you feel like taking a tour of the island, you can also rent a scooter or a jeep. Click here for an aerial view of the area.


About Little Cayman (or back to top of page)

On Little Cayman, time seems to have stopped years ago. Not much more than a hundred residents live here year round. Thousands of birds inhabit the numerous ponds and deserted shores, including the inseparable enemies, the boobies and the Frigatebirds, as well as the rare whistling duck and an occasional cute and very loud Cayman Parrot. As for the iguanas, they share this peaceful island with everyone else and have even obtained the right of way on the roads.

A 2 or 3 hours bike ride will take you around the whole island, while stopping along the way to visit a few interesting spots. Owen Island is a small Gilligan-like sandy retreat in the middle of South Hole Sound. Tarpon Lake is an inland brackish water pond in which tarpons once got trapped after a storm and have since adapted and survived. Point o' Sands is the eastern most tip of the island, a wonderful sandy beach from where one can see the Brac across the channel. You'll see wildly growing cotton trees, papaya trees, a wide variety of cactus, aerial plants, and most of all... probably nobody else!

The water temperature ranges from 78°F to an amazing 88°F, depending on the season. The higher temperatures, both on land and underwater, are recorded during the summer, from June to August. It's also at that time that the visibility is at it's best and the sea at it's calmest. Most diving takes place on the north of the island, within the boundaries of a protected marine park area. No anchoring is allowed there and moorings have been installed to accommodate the different sizes of boats that visit the dive sites.

The world famous Bloody Bay Wall lies on the northwestern side of the area and offers some of the best wall dives in the Caribbean. It's a perfect vertical drop-off that plunges from within 20 feet of the surface to depths of more than 3000 feet. The late Cousteau even declared this was one of the most dramatic walls he knew. The visibility there is usually excellent and you'll often find it to be in excess of 100 feet. The steep nature of the wall allows for all kinds of dives, from beginning to advanced, but its most remarkable feature is the shallowness of the upper part of the reef. This allows for great extended safety stops while exploring the top of the wall at 15 ft. 

To the right of Bloody Bay Wall is Jackson's Bay, famous for its exciting swim-through's that lead you from an inner sandy belt, through the patch reef and into the Big Blue. This section of the wall isn't as steep as Bloody Bay but its more rugged bottom creates fantastic landscapes and holds hundreds of crevices and tunnels.

The marine life in Little Cayman will surprise you by its friendliness and abundance. Whether it is the occasional appearance of a gray reef shark over the wall, the silent flyby of a spotted eagle ray, the encounter of a resting nurse shark, the never ending ballet of the many sting rays feeding in the sand, or the surprisingly sociable turtles, you'll be impressed by the diversity of our waters.

Meet Jerry the grouper. Every rule has its exception and even though the marine park laws prohibit touching anything on the reef, Jerry comes up to the divers with such insistence that it is difficult to resist petting him. Jerry is a medium size Nassau Grouper. He hangs around in shallow water on the eastern side of Bloody Bay. Being a very conscientious fish, he works hard to fulfill his contract with the Cayman Board of Tourism: every boat moored on his territory will be paid a visit. It is also common to see him follow a group of divers for an entire dive.
You'll see Jerry rushing towards you from a distance, swim right up to you, stop and stare, waiting to be petted or to play a game. Be patient and gentle with Jerry, avoid his eyes or going against his scale as you pet him, and you'll be amazed at how easily you've made a new friend!


Diving Rates (or back to top of page)

Call us Toll Free at 1-877-3CAYMAN
Prices are in US Dollars.
Please inquire ahead regarding all Courses.
Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are welcome.
All prices are subject to change without notice.

Dive Packages start at 5 days of diving. Please inquire for Package prices.

Dives: (prices per day unless specified)
Single dive: $ 45.00
2 tank dive: $ 89.00
Night dive: $ 60.00
Snorkeling Trip: $ 25.00

Rentals: (prices per day unless specified)
Tank and weights rental: $ 15.00
Scubapro B.C.$ 10.00
Scubapro Regulator $ 10.00
Wet suit $ 10.00
Uwatec computer$ 10.00
Uwatec computer, per week $ 35.00
Mask, fins, snorkel$ 10.00

Courses: Please call ahead to reserve!
Resort course: $ 60.00
PADI & NAUI Advanced courses: ** $ 350.00
PADI & NAUI Referrals: ** $ 300.00
White Water Rafting (Not available yet due to the lack of a river ;-)

** Please call or email us ahead to arrange courses and referrals. Referral paperwork must be faxed to us prior to arrival. tel. 345-948-0001 -- fax: 345-948-0002 -- email: iggy@candw.ky -- Thank you!


"Villa & Diving" Packages (or back to top of page)

(Prices in US dollars, per person, including all taxes - Packages are not transferable - Unused portions of packages are non-refundable. A 50% deposit is required at time of reservation - 50% of deposit is non-refundable if cancellation within 30 days of arrival date. ** Special Holiday Season Prices Apply from Dec. 23rd, 04 to Jan. 03rd, 05. Please Inquire.)

Winter 2003-2004 rates - Effective from December 20, 2004 to April 30, 2005 **

6 Nights / 5 Days Diving
Single: $1593.95
Double: $1099.95
Triple: $910.75

7 Nights / 6 Days Diving
Single: $1,805.40
Double: $1,257.75
Triple: $1048.20

Summer 2004 rates - Effective from May 1, 2004 to December 19, 2004

6 Nights / 5 Days Diving
Single: $1484.15
Double: $1026.65
Triple: $861.95

7 Nights / 6 Days Diving
Single: $1,683.70
Double: $1,176.65
Triple: $994.10

Packages Include:
Oceanfront Villa Accommodation, 1 bedroom (with 2 twin or 1 king-size bed), pullout futon, cable TV, and a kitchenette.
Also included are airport transfers, seaside hammocks, swimming pool, chaise lounges, beach towels, all hotel taxes and service charges.
2 tank morning dive trip at Bloody Bay Wall (weather permitting), all tanks and weights. Additional dives can be purchased at the resort. 

Also on Property:
The Hungry Iguana Restaurant and Bar with a full service menu;
A fully equipped Management Office.

Non-diving vacation packages are also available, contact us for more details.

Call us Toll Free at 1-877-3CAYMAN


Contact Us (or back to top of page)

Contacting us:
International reservations can be made through our U.S. based booking office.
You can call them toll free 1-877-3CAYMAN (1-877-322-9626)
Or call them direct 1-218-722-6850 (Fax 1-218-722-7672)
From within the Cayman Islands, please call direct 1-345-948-0001
The best way to get further information from us is:
... By email: Our email
... By direct phone at 1-345-948-0001 (Cayman Islands)
... By fax 1-345-948-0002 (Cayman Islands)
... Email the webmaster at: Email the webmaster

Our snail mail address is:
Paradise Villas
P.O. Box 48 LC
Little Cayman
Cayman Islands, B.W.I.

The time zone for the Cayman Islands is US Eastern Standard Time (GMT - 5:00). We do not observe Daylight Saving Time. (See clock on the left)
Don't forget to bring along your C-Cards or any proof of diver certification and a log book if you are a dive operation stamp collector.
We'd also like to remind you to double check your gear prior to departure, especially your dive computer battery.


Frequently Asked Questions (or back to top of page)
(Or questions we thought you might ask anyway ;-)

Web site related issues

Question: My navigation links or menus don't work or don't show up properly, what am I doing wrong?
Answer: The left main menus are Javascript based. You must have scripting enabled for your computer to display them correctly. With Internet Explorer for instance, these settings are found under the menu Tools/Internet Options/Security/Custom Level.

Question: I can't seem to find a single email link anywhere on your site, even when they are mentioned. What good are invisible email links? I really need to send you guys an email, hoe do I do?
Answer: The answer is the same as above. To see our email links, you must have your scripting enabled. We have encrypted all our email links via javascript in order to prevent robot web crawlers to harvest them and use them for spamming us. These crawlers look for the typical email address format, smith@somewhere.com for instance. The encryption simply renders the link unreadable. Now, since that won't do you much good, and assuming that for some reason you can't or don't want to turn your scripting on, here's our email address; it's an image and it's not clickable but you can type it into your favorite email program... Our Email There you have it ;-)

Question: The whole page display is messed up and re-loading the page doesn't fix the problem. What can I do?
Answer: First of all, make sure that your browser is recent enough to offer our site overall compatibility. We designed the web site with the main and most recent browsers in mind, so it should work perfectly with Internet Explorer 6 and close to perfect with Netscape 7.1, Mozilla 1.6, Firefox 0.8 and Opera. I.E. 5 and 5.5 will work decently but some features will start degrading, hopefully in a graceful way. Intermediate versions of Netscape haven't been tested too extensively, but we know for a fact that Netscape 4.x will NOT render the web page correctly. Compatibility with that version was too much of a compromise to make when statistics reveal that 80 to 90% of web surfers use an up to date browser. You can always go to our simple version page where the important content of the site is summarized. You might also consider upgrading your browser; most of them are available as a free download from their respective company's web site.

Question: I'm missing some of the functionality of your most amazing web site ;-), probably because my browser is too old. I would like to upgrade to a newer browser, what do you recommend?
Answer: See above. Our choice would be Internet Explorer 6, not because we want to encourage Micro$oft, but because it seems to be the most advanced browser available right now.

Question: Some of the items on the page seem to overlap (for instance the upper language selection bar comes over the logo on the left); is there a way to change this?
Answer: The most probable cause for this is a low screen resolution. If your computer screen is set to 800x600 for instance, you will get the overlapping effect since only the center column (the one with the main content) has the ability to resize itself. The other two are fixed, and the upper bar can only shrink itself so much. You shouldn't loose anything crucial, but you could probably use a higher resolution setting (if available), even if only for aesthetic reasons. To change your screen resolution, right-click on your desktop, choose Properties and then the Settings tab. There you will see a slider with available screen resolution settings. We recommend at least 1024x768 or even bigger if you can. Be aware that changing your screen resolution WILL rearrange all your neatly organized desktop icons, though. You were warned ;-)

Question: When I open the main page (index.htm) my second or third level menus disappear behind the image on the right, the one with the pretty moving titles that says "take a deep breath"... Well I have, but how do I see my menus?
Answer: Sadly, you must be using an older browser, or even a version of Netscape older than v7.0. This little bug is due to the nature of the image you mentioned, which is in fact active content in the form of a flash movie. Active content tends to be drawn on top of everything else (including your menus) except if your browser supports a windowless property available only to recent browsers. There are no work arounds to this issue from your end; however, you could try maximizing your browser window so that the flash content will be positioned further away from the menus.

Question: Why do the left cascading menus sometimes forget to disappear after I move the mouse away from them?
Answer: Because of the fade out effect, there is a slight delay between the time when you move the mouse away and the time at which the variables are reinitialized. If you go quickly over a different menu set (like for example going from Help to Photo galleries), the old menu might stay on while the new one is being drawn on top of it. This is no big issue, however if it does bother you, just move your mouse back over the stubborn menu and away again, waiting a second before going to a different selection.

Question: My Netscape 4.x browser won't display any part of your site correctly, is this normal?
Answer: Sadly, Netscape 4 and similar versions have become almost obsolete. The scripting languages have evolved rapidly and Netscape failed for a while to keep up with the changes, loosing it seems, a good share of the market. Things are better now with the newer versions, so now might be a good time to upgrade..

Question: The weather icon on the main page doesn't show any weather, does it mean it will be sunny and warm 24 hours a day, seven days a week?
Answer: We're afraid we just can't guarantee that ;-) We do wish you the best possible weather though! In the meantime, the lack of weather report could be due to your computer being offline, or to a server issue on the weather web site end. Sorry, this is out of ours hands. Clicking on the link should still get you to a more complete weather forecast.

Question: I have just found a broken link on your page, will I get a reward for reporting it to you?
Answer: You will be awarded our most profound, everlasting gratitude, to say the least! Please click here to send us an email about it. Thank you!

Question: I click on the left navigation menus but nothing happens; should I click harder?
Answer: Definitely! The harder you click, the better your chances of success. Or as an alternative, make sure you are clicking on the last item to the right in a series of cascading menu items, as an intermediate title (one that still has options to the right of it) will not return any results. (i.e. in the News section, clicking on "Spring 2004 ** New **" will not get you anywhere; you must choose one of the 3 choices that unfolded to the right, "Paradise-Divers.com gets a new look", "New air service" or "Our images on Rodale's". Got it?

Question: The time shown in the upper right corner of the web site doesn't match my home town time. Does it mean it is showing Cayman time?
Answer: The script uses your system's time to update this display and compute the Cayman local time at the bottom left. Make sure your system is set to the correct time (in your lower right screen corner, on the task bar).

Question: You talk about Javascript, HTML and other weird things, what exactly are they? Did Javascript come from the Island of Java?
Answer: Yes, and HTML stands for Hating The Media Lies ;-) But seriously now; HTML means Hyper Text Markup Language. Big deal. The guys who invented it certainly didn't have a clue that it was going to revolutionize the world or they would've given it a friendlier name. It is the corner stone of all internet content. Most of what you see on the web even today is written in HTML, which is basically a <tag> based scripting language, saved in plain text format. Then came more powerful scripting languages like javascript, php, xml and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), that gave web designers a lot more control over their pages, and mightier tools to achieve their goals. One of the advantages of Javascript and CSS is that they can be saved as separate files and only referenced to from the main page, making traffic lighter (most browsers actually cache these and so only download them once per session) and streamlining the pages' code.
Is that all too technical, now? All right, new answer: we talk about it because it sounds really cool, dude ;-)

Question: When I click on a gallery's thumbnail and get a picture to appear on a blank screen, I then have to hit the "Back" button of my browser and reload the page completely to then repeat the process for the next picture. It's a little time consuming, wouldn't there be a more efficient way to browse the galleries?
Answer: Indeed there is one. At the top of each gallery you will find a link that invites you to view the slide show. Clicking on it will take you to a page designed especially for the galleries, and from where they are all available in a few clicks but without having to reload the page. A Previous and a Next button allow you to easily navigate and the only thing that changes accordingly is the picture, making for much faster browsing.


Diving related issues (or back to top of page)

Question: I have lost my c-card years ago but would like to come diving? Will you accept my word that I am or have been certified?
Answer: As much as we would like to do just that, we will need a valid proof of certification (i.e. c-card, c-card, or c-card. Did we mention a c-card?) As an alternative, you can get in touch with your certifying agency and request a proof of certification, and even better a new c-card.

Question: My logbook is falling apart, will you guys request to see it or can I leave it home?
Answer: No, a logbook will not be necessary; however, we do have a collection of cool official stamps just waiting to jump at your logbook pages ;-)

Question: How long after flying could we start diving with you? We arrive on the first morning flight, will the boat wait for us?
Answer: As long as you feel in good shape, there are no restrictions on how soon you can dive. Do make sure that you are well re-hydrated, especially after a long flight. Sometimes though, common wisdom dictates a half a day or even a full day of rest. As far as waiting for you, you should get in touch with us prior to your arrival for that. Our scheduled morning departure time is 8:00 am, mostly for weather and dive site availability reasons. We do occasionally delay departure until arrival of the first plane, according to many factors. The best way to find out is to call ahead.

Question: How long prior to departure should we stop diving? Can we still dive the day before flying back to Grand cayman, since the little bitty plane doesn't fly very high?
Answer: We entirely agree with and follow the DAN recommendations regarding flying after diving: therefore, a minimum of 18 hours is required between diving and flying; longer is better. In practice: we will let you do 2 shallow morning dives the day prior to your departure, provided that we make an on time departure. No afternoon diving will be allowed if you are flying the following morning.

Question: We are planning to take a day off of diving during the week, when do you recommend we take it?
Answer: The 2 competing schools of thought on the subject are: 1 - mid-week, to let yourself outgas a little and relax; and 2 - the last day before departure, to outgas before your flight.

Question: I own a second dive computer, should I bother bringing it along since I just had my main one serviced?
Answer: Absolutely! We highly encourage the use of a redundant computer for safety purposes, and also for a very practical reason: should your main computer fail during a dive, you a required to abort the dive and stay out of the water for 24 hours... Unless you have been using a back-up and have had it with you at all times!

Question: My husband's computer's battery is down but mine is brand new; we will both follow it. How close should he stay from me?
Answer: A computer is a personal tool and we cannot allow anybody to share computers. Keeping your safety in mind at all times, we request that each diver use their own computer or dive under a table profile, in which case they must stay with a body diving the same profile or with the group.

Question: I am planning to do deep dives, how deep will you let me go alone?
Answer: Our island-wide maximum authorized depth is 110 feet. Keep in mind that the nearest recompression chamber is located in Grand Cayman. In addition, we do not allow solo diving at any time. We will, however, be happy to take you down to 110 ft when the groups level allow it, and some of the swim through's leading there are breathtaking!

Question: Do you allow gloves and knives on the reef?
Answer: Good question! We do not allow gloves in the marine park, in accordance with the global island reef protection practice. Gloves encourage people to touch the coral or just to be a little careless about their buoyancy. You will find that our reefs are extremely healthy and it is no doubt attributable to our very strict no-contact rules. As for knives, they are a safety item and every diver should consider wearing one. Our waters are, however, surprisingly free of fishing filament, fishing in the marine park being prohibited.

Question: I get a little sea-sick. Should I take sea-sickness medication or eat something special before the dive trip, or nothing at all?
Answer: Not being doctors ourselves, we wouldn't dare prescribing you any medication on that matter. Use common sense and go with what you know works. Remember that one often feels better underwater when slightly nauseous topside. A normal or light breakfast is perfectly all right before diving provided you don't over do it. An empty stomach might actually be worse. Avoid acidic products like orange juice. Once on the boat, sit near the stern where the roll and pitch movements are minimal, and look at the horizon or something far enough that it doesn't seem to move with the boat. And think positive! The boat rides are short and well worth it :-)

Question: I have been sick recently but seem to be feeling better. I am however still taking medicine. Will it be all right to dive?
Answer: You are the only who can answer this. So might your doctor. In case of doubt, do NOT force yourself to dive, or once in the water, your ears to equalize. Equalizing should ALWAYS be easy. Fighting for a dive is not worth an ear drum.

Question: My asthma hasn't manifested itself in years but I carry my inhaler along just in case. My doctor says I'm ok to dive, what do you think?
Answer We regret to inform you that, despite what you might have been told, asthma is still a relative to absolute diving contraindication. In any case, we do not possess the necessary knowledge to medically clear you to dive with a restrictive decease. Only a doctor could do so and yet some general practitioners don't seem to fully understand the meaning of diving and pressure changes. We would highly recommend a dive specialist. In most cases, diving will not be allowed. If it is approved by a physician anyway, please bring an official record of that clearance and be aware that we ultimately reserve the right to refuse to allow you to dive; this is for your own safety, as well as that of others around you.

Question: I have heard about an organization called DAN that issues dive and travel insurance to divers. Are they worth considering? It sounds like a bit of a scam, I'd rather stay with my own insurance.
Answer: DAN is a non-profit organization that has contributed tremendously to the diving industry in terms of research, statistics, and education. They are THE most knowledgeable entity when it comes to dive medicine. We highly recommend subscribing to their membership and insurance package. It includes travel insurance and they can help better then anybody else in case of a diving related accident/injury.

Question: I have just bought a digital camera and its casing and I'm dying to try them out. Do you have any recommendations? Will I be able to download my pictures to something so that I can save some space on my memory card?
Answer: Congratulations! Underwater photography will open up a new world of possibilities. It is a fascinating, but also quite demanding activity that will require greater concentration underwater as one tends to focus (pardon the pun) more on the subject and less on buoyancy. It would be wise to leave the camera on the boat for your first dive in order to get back in the swing of things, especially if you haven't been diving for a while. As for the rest, we'll be more than happy to discuss the technical aspects with you on the boat. Two key points to remember, though:
always keep your casing's o-ring impeccably clean, and do a test dive with an empty casing when using it for the first time. A sheet of paper towel with ink markings stuffed in the casing will help detecting any leaks: if the water gets in, the ink swells up very noticeably. Also note that we should be able to transfer your images to a disc if you need to free up some storage space.

Question: I'm not sure underwater photography is for me. Is there a way I could rent a camera to give it a try?
Answer: We do have a couple of cameras available for rent, on a first come first served basis.

Question: Our son is going to be 9 years old next week. Our older son already is certified and is pushing the younger to follow. When can we get him started? Should he learn to snorkel first?
Answer: The minimum age decided by PADI for a junior certification with restrictions is 10. NAUI does not recognize this and requires 12. We believe that (in most cases) 12 seems to be a reasonable age. There are exceptions both ways of course; some kids are more mature then others. But diving is a potentially dangerous activity and kids often fail to realize what danger means. Their body also hasn't fully developed and the effects of diving on them are still pretty much unknown. As for snorkeling, it is the ideal introduction to diving and a good snorkeler will almost invariably make a better diver.


Island and travel related issues  (or back to top of page)

Question: Should I bring a wind-breaker? This is the Caribbean after all..
Answer: While the temperature on land is usually quite hot, it can get chilly out at sea, where the wind is stronger and since divers are by nature often.. wet ;-) A wind breaker that will fit nicely in a backpack would be a great addition to your luggage for the winter months.

Question: What is the best season to come and dive in Little Cayman?
Answer: There is no perfect answer to that question, it all depends on what you're seeking. The hotter months (both air and water) are maybe June to August. Sometimes almost too hot. They usually also have the best average visibility. June is however the official beginning of hurricane season, even though things don't normally get dicey until autumn. Winter months can be calm, and sometimes rougher. We don't have a very rainy season, but it does rain more often in early winter.

Question: I like to travel light, will I be able to buy some duty-free liquor in the Grand Cayman lounge before flying to Little Cayman instead of buying it in the States?
Answer: No. You will no be able to purchase duty-free within the Cayman Islands just like in the States if you are flying domestic. We recommend stocking up on your favorite brand before leaving the States as the local prices tend to be a little.. juicy.

Question: Is there anything I should bring to Little Cayman that I won't be able to find once I'm there?
Answer: Batteries of the size you need are always a good idea. Any specific or rare food you might want, keeping the customs restrictions for meat and fruits in mind. A great book if you are an avid reader; you can always leave it behind when you leave, because so are we ;-) This being said, we do have a fairly well stocked grocery/hardware/video/drugstore on the island and you should find pretty much anything you need there, provided the supply barge has been able to come on schedule ;-)

Question: Will I be able to have breakfast at the Hungry Iguana before I go diving or should I bring cereal and coffee?
Answer: The Hungry Iguana only opens at noon but our Villas are very well equipped (microwave, coffee maker and fridge) and you will be able to prepare breakfast for yourself before the dive. We recommend bring along your favorite breakfast supplies.

Question: How do I submit a question that this page hasn't answered for me?
Answer: Well, that's a tough one.. You could always send us an email here, but really, how could there be an unanswered question after all this? ;-)

Thanks for your time!!!


About This site (or back to top of page)

Our web site was originally created and is still maintained from Little Cayman, although hosted in the States.

The site is best viewed with a good cup of coffee, a screen resolution of 1024x768 or more (1280x1024 recommended), and was optimized for Internet Explorer 6.0. It is not 100% Netscape compliant although the latest version (v7.1) only suffers from minor cosmetic flaws. We apologize to Netscape users for the inconvenience.

We decided to include many features of Javascript, DHTML and CSS since they seem to have become a standard on the web. We also have done our best to comply with the new XHTML 1.0 Strict code; XHTML will be a newest version of HTML combined with XML, replacing HTML 4 with similar but cleaner and stricter code. It will be readable by different media (PDA's, cell phones, TV, etc.) and will allow better cross-browser support, while not being limited in growth.

Some of the DHTML / JavaScript provided by TwinHelix Designs. Great scripts!

Again, our apologies to those of you who's browser does not support these features, but like we wrote four years ago, the web is a dynamic, very rapidly changing medium, and one gets left behind easily (it's actually even more true today). You might want to upgrade your browser version, you'll be amazed at the results! It's possible to get most new browsers as a free download from their respective company's web page. These include Internet Explorer v6.0, Netscape v7.1, Mozilla v1.6 (Netscape-like), Opera, Avant and others.

If you are experiencing difficulties with the advanced features of this page, all the information is available in a plain form here. You can also read the FAQ's that answer the most common issues and questions.

Some of the pictures that appear throughout the site are a courtesy of our guests, others are our own. They all remain the property of their author. We always appreciate new materials but reserve the right to select and edit if necessary what will be posted ;-)

The French and Spanish sections are a little thinner due the lack of traffic from none English-speaking countries. They were both translated locally to reflect our multiligual team. French by Vince with proofing by Sabine, Germaine and Brigitte Mounier; Spanish by Vince with initial proofing from our good friend Harold Swearingen. Lots of patience and occasional swearing (pardon the pun!)

Thanks for your interest and enjoy your visit!

Vincent Mounier
Webmaster


Reading Room (or back to top of page)

Digital Underwater Photography

As technology improves, digital cameras are getting smaller, more sophisticated and... cheaper! Major brands like Canon now offer their own underwater housings for select cameras, water-resistant to 40 meters and for a fraction of typical third-party manufacturers' prices. More and more divers are suddenly interested in underwater photography. Old timers are trading their good old Nikonos and Sea & Seas for a new digital. We know, we have too.

With the endless possibilities of digital computer editing, underwater photography has taken a sharp new turn. It has become an entirely new art form in which the actual shot during a dive is merely the beginning of the creative process. One no longer has to rely on the expensive services of a professional lab to achieve professional results - to crop, enlarge, print, modify, enhance and distribute his work. Anyone who owns a computer now also owns a whole potential photo lab. The rest is up to each one of us. There is no limit to creativity. But while luck and a juicy budget will increase your chances of good results, the key ingredients remain the same as always: know your stuff and practice. And practice. And practice.

Of course, with a digital camera in your hand, mistakes are easily corrected soon forgiven. There no longer is a need to wait until back at home to realize that all your Whale Shark shots have failed because your film was not properly loaded, or the settings were wrong. You can instantly review your work, discard what's obviously bad, save the rest for later analysis, and keep shooting while correcting your errors.

Still. There is no way around one thing: you MUST know you camera. You must be intimate with it. You must be able to operate it quickly, barely looking at it, and without having to wonder about the settings or how to kill the auto flash. To achieve this, only one way: read the manual over and over again, and then play with your camera. And practice.

There are a number of very basic rules to remember about digital underwater photography:

If you are not yet an addict, you can browse through our photo album to get an idea of what underwater photography is about.

Flying After Diving (or back to top of page)

The following are DAN's recommendations for flying after diving. They are based on a maximum altitude exposure of 8,000 feet (or 2440 meters.) That's the max. cabin pressure of commercial airliners. The Twin-Otters and other non-pressurized aircrafts used by Cayman Airways and Island Air typically fly back to Grand Cayman at an altitude ranging from 6000 to 8000 feet (that's also a cabin pressure, there's just no pressurization).

A minimum surface interval of 12 hours is required after any single dive before ascending to altitude in a commercial jet airliner. Divers who intend to make daily, multiple dives over repetitive days should extend that surface interval to a minimum of 18 hours before flying. The greater the duration before the flight, the less likely decompression sickness is to occur.

Extended surface intervals allow for additional off gassing and may reduce the likelihood of developing symptoms. For those diving heavily during an extended vacation, it may be a good idea to take a day off at midweek, or save the last day to buy those last-minute t-shirts.

 

Exercise & DCI - Should one exercise before or after diving? (or back to top of page)

Nitrogen absorption and elimination is largely a matter of temperature and circulation. Gas exchange works very well at constant temperature. After diving when body tissues have been loaded with nitrogen, activities such as running, weight lifting or a heavy workload can "shake up the bottle of soda", so to speak. So exercise after diving requires that you give tissue nitrogen levels time to drop, making bubbling generation less likely in the tissues. You should always start off a dive well rested with your muscles cooled down and not calling for more oxygen and blood flow.

We typically enter the water being warm and take on nitrogen at a standard rate. Once in the water we begin to cool, vasoconstrict, and take on less nitrogen. Which means that after the dive, we are still cool and not off gassing as a mathematical model may predict. This would appear to favor a diving after exercise procedure rather then the opposite. In the 90’s, an altitude study by Mike Powell Ph.D., found that if you waited 2 hours to go to altitude after doing a series of deep knee bends, the number of Doppler bubbles produced at altitude deceased to a baseline level after a two hour wait.

Although there are no definitive answers, a two-hour wait might be considered a minimum waiting guideline for diving after exercise. A more conservative suggestion would be four hours to allow you body to cool down and rest before you add a nitrogen exposure.

Remember to re-hydrate after exercise. Although dehydration doesn't cause decompression illness, increased fluid losses decrease your off gassing efficiency, so be sure to get plenty of water on dive and exercise days.

 

Equalizing Ears and Sinuses - Problems & Techniques (or back to top of page)

Middle ear and sinus barotrauma are the most common injuries associated with exposure to increasing and decreasing pressure. Descent in the water adds approximately one-half pound of pressure for each foot of descent and diminishes a similar amount on ascent. According to Boyle's Law, as the pressure increases on descent, the volume of a gas in an enclosed space decreases proportionately. As the pressure decreases on ascent, the volume of the gas increases proportionately. On descent it is imperative that all enclosed air filled spaces be equalized actively or passively. On ascent, the increasing volume usually vents itself naturally.

For equalization to be effective, you should be free of nasal or sinus infections or allergic reactions. The lining of the nose, throat and Eustachian tubes should be as normal as possible. If this is true, the following techniques are effective in reducing middle ear and sinus squeeze.

Prior to descent, neutrally buoyant, with no air in your buoyancy compensator, gently inflate your ears with one of the techniques listed below. This gives you a little extra air in the middle ear and sinuses as you descend.

Descend feet first, if possible. This allows air to travel upward into the Eustachian tube and middle ear, a more natural direction. Use a descent line or the anchor line.

Inflate gently every few feet for the first 10 to 15 feet.

Pain is not acceptable. If there is pain, you have descended without adequately equalizing.

If you do not feel your ears opening, stop, try again, perhaps ascending a few feet to diminish the pressure around you. Do not bounce up and down. Try to tilt the blocked ear upward.

If you are unable to equalize, abort the dive. The consequences of descending without equalizing could ruin an entire dive trip or produce permanent damage and hearing loss.

If at any time during the dive you feel pain, have vertigo (the whirlies) or note sudden hearing loss, abort the dive. If these symptoms persist, do not dive again and consult your physician.

Equalizing Techniques

Valsalva - increase nasopharynx pressure by holding nose and breathing against a closed glottis (throat);

Toynbee - swallowing with mouth and nose closed - good for ascent!

Frenzel - Valsalva while contracting throat muscles with a closed glottis;

Lowry - Valsalva plus Toynbee - holding nose, gently trying to blow air out of nose while swallowing - easiest and best method!

Edmonds - jutting jaw forward plus Valsalva and/or Frenzel (good method);

BTV (Béance Tubaire Volontaire - Voluntary Tubal Opening) - Described by the French doctor Georges Deloncas, the BTV is a hands-free technique mostly used by free divers, for it is very efficient even during a fast descent. Deloncas reported that a small percentage of divers (around 30%) are actually able to train their throat muscles to contract and open the Eustachian tubes on demand, as a prolonged action and not a simple spasm. The tubes' shape must be near perfect and a lot of training is required; it is, however, the ideal solution since it frees both hands, is none-forceful and works as well during descent and ascent;

Miscellaneous - swallowing, wiggling jaws - good for ascent!

Difficulty equalizing the air spaces of the middle ear and sinuses is the most common problem and injury among recreational divers. If you're experiencing problems with equalizing, the first thing to do is consult with your personal physician or an ear, nose and throat specialist who can evaluate your problem. Believe it or not, it may be something as simple as a chronic inflammation from allergies to household plants or pets. The irritation and inflammation resulting from an allergy can narrow the air passages and restrict the flow of air in and out of the middle ear.

Finally, remember to clear before you get into the water. You may also need to simply add something new to your current clearing technique, such as clearing as often as every 1 to 2 feet in order to prevent further difficulty. Make sure that when clearing you do it gently and before the problem becomes severe. Waiting too long will cause unnecessary pain, and a forceful clearing attempt by pinching your nose at that time may cause middle ear damage. Several gentle maneuvers and switching back and forth between swallowing and pinching your nose and gently blowing may be the ticket to a trouble-free dive. Above all, if you cannot equalize, then abort the dive.

 

 

Asthma and Scuba Diving (or back to top of page)

In general, asthma is a lung disorder in which there is a tendency for the muscle surrounding the bronchi (breathing tubes) to contract excessively, causing narrowing, or broncho-constriction. As a result, this causes increased breathing resistance, which can manifest as wheezing, chest "tightness", cough, or breathlessness. In asthmatics, broncho-constriction can be precipitated by exposure to allergens, noxious fumes, cold air, exercise or respiratory infections such as a "cold". People with asthma may experience broncho-constriction due to more than one of these factors, but many asthmatics will experience a measurable increase in breathing resistance after exposure to any one or several of them. The increase in breathing resistance caused by bronchial narrowing may be compounded by the accumulation of mucus within the airways.

Serious potential risks may make scuba diving, which is often performed in isolated locations and far from competent medical care, an unwise elective sport for an individual with asthma. There are primarily two issues.

During scuba diving the diver experiences a reduction in breathing capacity due to the effects of immersion and an increase in breathing resistance caused by the higher gas density at depth. At 33-feet underwater, the maximum breathing capacity of a normal scuba diver is only 70-percent of the surface value. At 100-feet underwater, this reduction is approximately 50-percent. If, for example, a diver’s breathing capacity is already reduced because of asthma, there may not be sufficient reserve to accommodate the required increase demanded by exertion.

Both narrowing of the bronchi and excessive mucus production can inhibit exhalation of air during ascent, and could predispose the diver to pulmonary barotrauma leading to pneumothorax, pneumo-mediastinum and/or arterial gas embolism.

For these reasons, physicians trained in diving medicine have traditionally recommended that people with asthma should never dive. However, a consensus of experts at a 1995 workshop held under the auspices of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) proposed more liberal guidelines. Essentially, the UHMS workshop panel felt that the risk of diving is probably acceptable if, the diving candidate with some asthmatic ‘history’ demonstrates normal pulmonary function at rest (FVC, mid-expiratory flow, FEV1, FEF 25-75) and then again after strenuous exercise. It was also concluded that the degree of competency in making a medical assessment of diving fitness is enhanced if the examining doctor has relevant knowledge or experience of the diving environment and its associated hazards.

 

 

Bladder Discomfort (Aka the "Checking the Current Syndrome") (or back to top of page)

The key to this all too common issue is based on an understanding of dive physiology. The phenomenon is known as immersion diuresis and occurs whenever the body is emerged in water. Immersion, along with a water temperature that is colder than air, causes narrowing of the blood vessels in the extremities. This vasoconstriction occurs primarily in the skin and superficial tissues of the body as well as in the muscles of the arms and legs. The result is an increased volume of blood sent to the core organs of the body such as the heart, lungs and large internal blood vessels.

The hormone that controls the production of urine by the kidneys is called antidiuretic hormone (ADH). It controls when and how much urine your kidneys make. The increased blood volume to the major vessels is interpreted by your body as a fluid overload. This overload causes ADH production to stop, which in turn allows the kidneys to immediately produce urine to lower the centrally circulating blood volume; that's the body's automatic response to preserve blood volume. Once you exit the water, circulating blood volume returns to near normal - less the fluid taken to produce urine, which is quickly replaced as the body draws fluid from body tissues, such as muscles.

Unfortunately, you probably will also leave the water with a full bladder. Since wet suits are sacred tools (and rightly so) for most people, the best course of action remains a quick jump back in the water after the dive...

If your coffee is caffeinated, you may wish to switch to a decaffeinated brand, as caffeine is a known diuretic that also interferes with the production of ADH.

 

Here are a collection of links to very interesting articles on different topics:

About Medical forms/waivers
Can the Truth Hurt?: Is It Dangerous to be Totally Honest on the Dive Medical Questionnaire? A DAN article summarizing this important issue.

Menstruation and DCI
An interesting DAN article about the research being conducted on the correlation between menstruation and DCI (Decompression Illness).

Cayman Islands Marine Parks
Marine Parks, Replenishment Zones, Environmental Zones and Animal Sanctuaries have been set up on the Islands to ensure that Cayman's treasures will be in pristine condition for generations of visitors to enjoy. Read the details in this Dive Cayman feature.

Little Cayman Nature
Share the Natural Wonders of the Caribbean. A web site with a nature-oriented description of the island.

 


Photo Album (or back to top of page)

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Virtual Tour (or back to top of page)

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Copyright © 2004 - Paradise Divers

Last update: 20 March, 2004