Cayman Brac

Additional Information

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Cayman Brac is an island that lies about 143 km northeast of Grand Cayman in the Caribbean Sea. It is about 19 km long, with an average width of 2 km, meaning that the total area is approximately 38 square km (14.7 square miles). Its terrain is the most spectacular of the three Cayman Islands. "The Bluff", a massive central limestone outcrop, rises steadily along the length of the island up to 43 m above the sea at the eastern end. The island is named after this prominent feature, as Brac is a Gaelic name for a bluff. The population of the island was estimated at 1,822 in 1999.

Christopher Columbus sighted Cayman Brac and its sister island, Little Cayman, in 1503 when his ship was blown off course during a trip between Hispaniola and Panama. He named them "Las Tortugas" because of the many tortoises he spotted on the islands. The Cayman Islands were renamed by Sir Francis Drake, who landed on them during a voyage in 1585-86. He used the word "Caymanas", taken from the Carib name for crocodiles after he mistook the local rock iguanas for crocodilians. During the heyday of piracy, pirates used Cayman Brac as a haven and a place to replenish their supplies.

Of interest to scuba divers is a 330-foot Russian Frigate ship built in the Soviet Union in 1984 for the Cuban Navy. It was purchased and sunk by the Cayman Islands government in September 1996. Originally designated 356, the frigate was rechristened the M/V Captain Keith Tibbetts, after a well-known Cayman Brac politician. The wreck originally sat upright in approximately 90 feet  with the deck at 60 feet, until wave action generated by a storm (1999-2000) tore the ship in two. The fore section tipped to about a 45 degree angle in relation to the remainder of the still-upright aft portion.[3] The frigate is located in a sandy area with generally good visibility, approximately 200 m offshore (a fairly long swim from 'Buccaneer'), on the island's north side, near its west tip of the island. There are numerous openings in the upper portion of the ship for non-wreck certified divers. Many more openings are available since the ship broke in half. The site also serves as an artificial reef.

The Teignmouth Electron, the boat in which Donald Crowhurst attempted to sail round the world single-handed in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, has been left to decay by the beach on Cayman Brac. The Electron has been beached since at least 1989 (Hurricane Gilbert).

Cayman Brac also appeals to adventurers of many persuasions besides diving. Caves are found around the island, offering even the fledgling spelunker a glimpse of delicate underground formations. Steps, sometimes ladders, have been constructed to allow visitor access to more remote caves. One cave, Rebecca's Cave, contains the grave of a young girl lost in a struggle against the ravages of the great '32 Hurricane and it is a Cayman National Heritage Site.

Rock climbing was developed beginning in 1992 and the island is now known as a world-class climbing destination. One must be somewhat experienced to climb here as the terrain is steep, many times over-vertical.

Walking and hiking trails have been opened by the Nature Tourism Programme which allow exploration of the island's dense Karst forestation. Unique flora and fauna thrive here and can be observed 'in the wild'.

Because of Cayman Brac's unique geographic location, the pristine waters around the island are especially coveted for both surf fishing and the pursuit of big game fish.

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