By Stacie Sybersma
Grand Cayman may be the most well-known of the three Cayman Islands, but the Sister Islands — Little Cayman and Cayman Brac — are truly special locations that should not be overlooked. Each of the Islands boasts a unique geography, endemic species and historical sites that any nature lover or culture aficionado will appreciate. Grand Cayman will seem large in comparison to the Sister Islands, but don’t let their small size fool you — they have plenty of adventure, sightseeing, relaxation and culture waiting for you.
Getting to Cayman Brac and Little Cayman is easy. Cayman Airways and Cayman Airways Express offer multiple direct flights from Grand Cayman to Cayman Brac every day, while Cayman Airways Express services Little Cayman. The flight is an attraction in its own right, as the small propeller plane will ignite most people’s sense of adventure and the beautiful aerial views will inspire. The avid boater can arrange a boat charter to take them to the Islands. Depending on the charter, there may be opportunities to fish and catch your dinner for the night.
Whether you’re arriving by sea or by air, the first thing you will notice about Cayman Brac are its high cliffs made out of black rock that climb almost straight out of the ocean. The Bluff, which Cayman Brac is named after, is the Island’s most unique landmark. The Bluff gives the Island an elevation of 140 feet above sea level, more than double Grand Cayman’s highest point of 60 feet above sea level. The sharp incline of the rocks and their dark colour contradict the soft, rich, navy blue hue of the sea. The geology of the Island is rugged. However, its surrounding ocean, community spirit and friendly locals (approximately 2,000 of them) counter the drama of the landscape, which give the Brac a relaxed Caribbean vibe.
Once on Cayman Brac, adventurers should prioritise by exploring the Bluff. There are ample tours available, so there is sure to be something that fits all tastes and fitness levels. Try your hand at scaling the 100-foot cliffs or explore the inner workings of the Bluff with a cave tour, headlamps and all. Nests from the local booby population are found all along the Bluff, making for great photo ops.
Afterwards, nature lovers can continue the outdoor adventure by meandering on one of the 12 well-marked trails around the Island or at the Brac Parrot Reserve. The hiking trails take you through all of the Brac’s ecosystems, including wetlands, dry forest and beaches.
Brac Parrot Reserve is home to the endangered and endemic Cayman Brac Parrot, as well as many other non-native avian species. The reserve and the hiking trails are well-marked and feature interpretive signs highlighting important species. The wildlife will beg to be photographed and the exploration will give you a true appreciation of the natural side of this Caymanian Island. Culture aficionados will also enjoy the trails as they are scattered with plenty of historical and cultural landmarks.
Once you’ve explored the land, take your adventure into the ocean with one of the many watersport activities. Visitors can fish, snorkel, dive, paddle (via kayak or paddleboard) or simply take a dip in the surrounding waters of Cayman Brac. Like Grand Cayman, the water is warm, crystal clear and world-renowned.
Although Cayman Brac is small — 14 square miles, to be exact — it boasts a surprising amount of history and culture. Any avid historian should spend some time at the Cayman Brac Museum to learn about the Island’s unique story and quirks. Then visit the Eldemire House Historic Site, a traditional-style home from the early 1900s, demonstrating Caymanian Architecture of the past. The site is also historically significant for protecting 34 people during the 1932 hurricane.
When visiting the Brac, it’s important not to forget to relax. Make sure you squeeze in some time to sit and enjoy the Caribbean sun and eat some delicious local cuisine. The public beach on the south side is the best beach on the Brac and features huts that provide shade, which allow visitors to stay all day.
Blink and you might miss it. Tranquil Little Cayman will soothe even the most tense souls with its slow pace and peaceful environment. Little Cayman, a mere 10 square miles, is a low-lying Island similar to Grand Cayman. However, its small population of 200 and lack of development mean that there are more iguanas than people and more bikes than cars. Little Cayman is a nature lover’s paradise, offering spectacular bird-watching, some of the best diving in the world and unspoilt beaches to enjoy. Little Cayman may be the most understated of the three Islands, but don’t let that keep you away. The tiny Island is home to many secrets that are just waiting to be discovered.
Even with its slow pace, Little Cayman is full of adventure, whether on land or under water. Similar to the Brac’s Bluff, Little Cayman’s must-sees are the underwater reefs, which are internationally ranked for some of the best diving in the world. Arrange to dive the world-famous Bloody Bay Wall,
where you will likely spot sea turtles, rays and fish of every colour. If diving is not your thing, parts of the wall are shallow enough to be snorkelled.
Once you‘ve dried off, explore some of the land-based attractions, such as the Booby Pond Nature Reserve or the Salt Rocks Nature Trail. Booby Pond is a reserve for the red-footed booby, spanning more than 330 acres. The reserve is also home to the magnificent frigatebird and the West Indian whistling duck. Bring your camera and enjoy the sights and sounds of these avian species. The Salt Rocks Nature Trail is also a great place to see more birds and iguanas, and will allow you to stretch your legs as you enjoy the gentle walk.
After some bird-watching, speed things up a bit by renting a moped, car or bike and exploring the other parts of the Island. Sandy Point, located on the eastern tip, is a must-see for its pink sand and distant views of the Brac. Circling Little Cayman is loaded with surprises along the way and is a fun way to pass a few hours.
All visitors to Little Cayman should check out the Little Cayman National Trust House and Visitor Centre and the Little Cayman Museum to learn more about the Island’s unique history. You don’t need to be a historian to appreciate how much of a punch this tiny little Island packs in terms of its past. Learn more about the previous residents of Little Cayman, the storms that defined her and the seafaring history that allowed her to thrive.
If it’s relaxation you’re after, relaxation you will get. With the small population and limited development, there is a laid-back, go-with-the-flow energy that will help you heal from the inside out. After a morning dive, bring a picnic to one of the undeveloped beaches and spend an afternoon lazing about under the sun, or grab lunch and a drink at one of the Island’s waterfront restaurants. Even if you don’t plan on it, Little Cayman will show you how to relax.
Both Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are unique and special destinations. With the ease of access that Cayman Airways provides and the more adventurous travel options available, there is no excuse not to visit them. To fully explore everything, it is recommend to stay on each Island for at least a couple of days. But if time is not on your side, a day trip can also give you a good understanding of the vibe and charms of these unique Islands. So, go ahead and let your curiosity guide you to these hidden gems.
Cayman Airways and Cayman Airways Express offer multiple flights a day from Grand Cayman to Cayman Brac, and Cayman Airways Express services Little Cayman. To book your flight, call 345-949-2311 or 1-800-4-CAYMAN, contact your local agent or visit caymanairways.com.