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A Robinson Crusoe island with quail on the dinner menu Add to ...

Touching down on this flyspeck of land somewhere in the western Caribbean, I half expected to see the little guy who points to "da plane, Boss, da plane."

Arriving in a six-seat prop plane on Little Cayman Island is so much like the opening of the old television series Fantasy Island, there was even a party of locals assembled to greet each fresh crop of escapists.

Reality soon became altered without drugs.

On this island with a full-time population of 50, a wooden shack does triple duty as Little Cayman's air terminal, its post office and its fire station.

Ricardo Montalban has been recast as a driver dressed in white from the Little Cayman Beach Resort who loads the luggage into a jeep. From there on, you can create your own fantasy.

The rules of the only road on the island are simple: Keep on the left-hand side when passing and remember that iguanas have the right of way.

But you may go though an entire stay on Little Cayman without ever having to remember which side to pass. Generally you will have the place to yourself and whatever traffic you do see is on bicycles or on foot.

There are a few landmarks, like the bank, which opens two mornings a week, although no one is quite sure which days those are. And there's a general store, which specializes in suntan lotion and very cold beverages.

But the island's biggest claim to fame may be boobies.

This is the home of the world's largest flock of bizarre-looking red-footed booby birds. But you don't have to go to the wildlife reserve to see them, they hang around in the trees everywhere.

So, hop in a hammock and relax. Getaways don't get much more away than this.

The Little Cayman Beach Resort's rooms are equipped with kitchens and private terraces and lavishily furnished. The well-groomed, white-sand beach is artfully embellished with arrangements of conch shells and coconuts from palm trees that seem to be just close enough together that hammocks can be strung between them.

In the distance is a tiny island where you can be alone with your thoughts or a significant other pondering a sea that ranges from inky blue to luminous turquoise.

Just because you're on a Robinson Crusoe island, there's no need to rough it. Tell me how many resorts anywhere serve specialties like quail and frog's legs for dinner?

When not eating, many of the guests seem most interested in spending as much time as possible below the surface. Diving magazines consistently rate the island as among the world's best scuba diving attractions for the unspoiled reefs that circle what is in reality the tip of an undersea Caribbean mountain.

The biggest challenge of a day here may be waking up early enough to head out diving on the morning boat, but once aboard it is only a short ride to the dive site, where a world of colourful corals and sponges is inhabited by schools of fish.

There are also attractions for those who don't even contemplate getting their bathing suits wet.

The resort's new fully furnished spa is so popular it often requires reservations a day in advance. Therapist Renee Crockford came here from a spa in Houston, Texas. "It's small, they said. I guess I didn't realize how small," she explained, while giving me a "revive the soul" massage, an anointing with aromatic oils to the accompaniment of relaxing music and sounds. It helped that I was as far away from stress as possible on this isolated island, but after the treatment I really did feel in another dimension.

Crockford and her assistants have put together combinations of treatments that include such things as sea -salt manicures and marine -algae body masks. The "skindulgence body polishing" is guaranteed to "shed the iguana skin on you" while the "booby bird special" is a series of treatments designed to nourish the skin.

Nearly everyone who comes to Little Cayman leaves a mark before leaving. Visitors often grab a piece of driftwood and paint a memorial plaque, which becomes part of the décor of the resort's bar.

The Diving Doctors from North Carolina spent last Christmas here. Bob and Roberta from Mississauga have made three trips here, according to their latest driftwood carving.

My tribute, hung over the poolside bar, read simply: "Fantasies can come true."

 

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