If you’ve ever wanted to swim up to a school of large tarpon, there are few better places than Tarpon Reef off the southern shore. Along a reef with myriad corals, a series of sand gullies and ridges pockmarked with tunnels and swimthroughs in fairly shallow (20 to 50 feet) water is home to several clusters of the silver-scaled fish that reach up to 5 feet long – and the tarpon tend to ignore divers when approached slowly. Bring your camera.
Bonefishing here doesn’t quite match that found in the shallow water flats of nearby Little Cayman, but it’s good – and a good guide should be able to put you on fish in the 2- to 4-pound range. Looking for bigger fish to fry? Head offshore on a charter boat for wahoo (winter), mahi-mahi and yellow fin tuna (spring), and blue marlin (year-round).
Well-marked trails lacing the island range from easy strolls to a series of caves on the southern shoreline to 2 miles of nature trails through a reserve set aside for the rare Cayman parrot on the island’s bluff. (The reserve is also home to some 150 other bird species.) Bring a pair of sturdy hiking boots, because the limestone on the bluff is rugged – and the panoramic views of the sea from the edge of the bluff, which reaches an elevation of 140 feet, is well worth a little exercise. And for the adventurous, the sheer limestone bluffs have become a favorite with rock climbers.