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Cayman Brac, top side recommendations?

Discussion in 'Greater Antilles' started by Crazybaldarcher, Mar 21, 2019.

  1. Crazybaldarcher

    Crazybaldarcher Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Missouri
    25
    16
    3
    What things should I not miss when visiting Cayman Brac?

    I was looking for DrRich or KathyV post, but sadly I am posting without their superior knowledge of the island.

    Suggestions of topics:

    Restaurants
    Local tourist traps
    Sites
    Beaches
    Shops
    etc.
     
  2. drrich2

    drrich2 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    7,583
    4,594
    113
    I'm not knowledgable about it; only got 2 dives there via live-aboard, and didn't set foot on it. @KathyV would be good to ask, so I'm using the @ and her username, then clicking from the popup to direct a notice to her, which should get your message through.

    Richard.
     
  3. KathyV

    KathyV ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Midwestern US
    4,512
    2,492
    113
    Brac is a very small, quiet, rural, and beautiful island.

    Where are you staying? We usually stay at the Cayman Brac Beach Resort so most of our meals, diving, and entertainments are included, but we always rent a car for one day to do some exploring around the island. The roads are good and we just ask the front desk at the resort to arrange the car rental, but if I wanted to rent a car for week I would probably do some comparison shopping. You will need to pay $20 Cayman for a temporary Driver's License, be sure to bring your license with you. Your credit card probably covers most insurance except liability.

    Here's some general info about Cayman Brac.

    Groceries and Liquor:

    What day of the week do you arrive? Almost all stores and gas stations are closed on Sundays so if you arrive on Saturday you should plan to do some shopping. If you are renting a condo or villa the manager of your rental property might be willing to pick up a few essentials for you in advance, you could ask.

    There's a small convenience store quite near the airport where you can pick up essentials (Monday through Saturday) and there is a liquor store in the same complex. There are several small markets on the island but I believe that Kirkconnell's Market is the largest grocery store. I am guessing that it is about a 10 minute drive from the airport.

    You definitely won't starve on Brac but the availability of supplies, especially fresh dairy, produce, and meats are dependent on the arrival of the weekly supply barge, so there may not always be much in the stores. You can get fresh bread and pastries at the Pioneer Bakery on the island.

    When we travel to the Caymans, we always stop at a duty-free shop at the last airport before we leave the US to pick up some alcohol because liquor can be very expensive in Cayman. Each adult can bring a 1 liter bottle of liquor into Cayman duty free. Liquor stores are usually separate from grocery stores in the Caymans.

    You will probably have to clear immigration and customs on Grand Cayman and then re-check your bags. If you plan to bring any liquor with you, then you will have to put it inside your luggage before rechecking it for the short flight to Brac. You will have to go through GCM Security to catch your flight to Brac and you will not be able to carry it because it is larger than 3 oz and won't fit into a quart plastic bag!

    Restaurants and Entertainments:

    There are only few restaurants on Brac. The Captain's Table is a popular, casual spot that we enjoy. Star Island and Coral Isle are popular family restaurants but I have never eaten there. I would NOT recommend La Esperanza, we have stopped there for a drink during the daylight hours but we have never eaten there. The place seems a bit sketchy and I wouldn't feel comfortable going there at night. Brac is a very friendly, easy-going place and La Esperanza is the only place where I didn't feel completely safe - although nothing bad happened to us there. Maybe it was the signs forbidding the sale of illegal drugs prominently posted around the property that gave me that impression!

    We usually stay at the all-inclusive Cayman Brac Beach Resort. It's a lovely resort with a beautiful outdoor bar and pool and in addition to the buffet style meals that they serve for hotel guests (which are very good) you can also order food at the lovely, 2-level beach bar. They also have a fine dining restaurant called Island Prime that is only open a few times per week. They may also serve a Sunday Brunch, I know that I see a lot of locals there after church on Sundays. I think that the food may be expensive if you are not using their all-inclusive package. I know for sure that the drinks are expensive at CBBR because we don't take the drinks package. They add a 15% service charge to anything you buy at the bar or the restaurant, even if it is just a can of Coca-Cola.

    They offer entertainments at the bar almost every night and these are also popular with non-guests and locals. The Bingo game is a lot of fun! They also have tennis courts and free loaner bicycles for guest use.

    There are lots of opportunities for hiking, nature-watching, and watersports on Brac and if you get a chance try to visit the Cayman Brac museum. It is a small museum but very interesting and their collection of eyewitness accounts from the survivors of the terrible hurricane of 1932 brings it all to life. You can also explore the caves on Brac and Rebecca's Cave is very moving - but bring mosquito repellant with you! The island is dramatic and topographically interesting, we always drive up to the top of the bluff to check out the views and watch the Booby Birds.

    They have a nice little spa at the Cayman Brac Beach Resort and I always enjoy having a massage there, but book early because the appointments fill up quickly - especially toward the end of the week.

    Internet and Wi-Fi are readily available at the CBBR and we never had any problems with them but the TV reception is poor - but they get good reception at the bar. There is a small exercise room at CBBR and a free exchange library.

    Le Soleil d'Or is a high-end resort on Brac that is now partially closed. They used to have an upscale Farm to Table restaurant but that is also closed. However, it was recently announced that the Dart Corporation have purchased the property and will be reopening it soon - but I don't know when that will happen.

    There's not many shops or "tourist traps" but there is a locally owned shop called NIM Things, but the proprietor will talk and talk and talk so it may be hard to get away:
    NIM Things

    Diving:

    There are 2 dive ops on the island, Reef Divers at CBBR and Brac Scuba Shack and they both have good reputations. we always dive with Reef Divers because we stay at the CBBR and they are consistently excellent. The Tibbett's wreck (a Russian Frigate) is the most popular dive site on the island and the walls are lovely and healthy with abundant sea life. The Groupers are friendly and hang around divers asking to be petted! Not many sharks but we usually see some nurse sharks and maybe a few reef sharks. We also see turtles, rays, eels and other interesting sea creatures, and octopus at night, too.

    I have never gotten to Radar Reef but there is an underwater sculpture park of the Lost City of Atlantis there that was created by a local artist.

    I have never gone shore diving on Brac but there are signs and access ladders near popular snorkeling and shore dive sites and @scubadada and @vincent54 have posted threads on SB about shore diving Brac.

    Cayman Brac Links:

    http://www.alertdiver.com/Caymans_Sister_Islands

    http://www.alertdiver.com/Sister_Islands_gallery

    Shore diving on Cayman Brac?

    https://www.scubaboard.com/community/posts/8137929/

    https://www.xray-mag.com/pdfs/articles/Travel_CaymanBrac_LawsonWood_60_locked.pdf

    Cayman Brac public beach, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands - Ultimate guide (March 2019)

    https://vimeo.com/165357805

    https://youtu.be/NTcZso-Zg80

    http://www.islands.com/free-tour-you-cant-miss-cayman-brac


    Cayman Went - the movie streaming online - great scenes of Brac both above and below water.

    Hope that you have a great trip, please write a report when you return!
     
  4. South4Scuba

    South4Scuba Capt. Scott ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Tiki Island Texas
    146
    21
    18
    Brac is big enough to rent a car and explore and too big to explore by bicycle or walking. Drive along the north and south coasts and then up on “the Brac” (bluff) for a great view. There is also a small cave to check out. The Brac has an interesting history related to people seeking shelter in caves during hurricanes. You can see it all in one long afternoon deco day.
     
    KathyV likes this.
  5. backprop

    backprop Nassau Grouper

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    45
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    Just to add on what South4Scuba said: there are several caves to visit. None will take longer than a few minutes to see. The closest to CBBR is Rebecca's Cave which is named after a girl who died there while seeking shelter from a hurricane in the 1930s. There are other caves, too. Bat Cave is a little further up the coastal road from Rebecca's. Skull Cave is on the opposite side of the island, across the bluff. Peter's cave is kind of up on the side of the bluff. Climbing more than a few feet into there is tight; I haven't done it. Make sure to take a flashlight if you want to see more than just the entrances.

    The lighthouse (really more of a small tower; you can't go in) is at the top of the Brac (bluff) and that area has a really pretty view. It's an easy drive up there.

    If you go from CBBR to the complete eastern end of the island, where the road ends (close to the base of the bluff) there is a rocky beach area there, as well as a cave at the little parking area. What I like about this area is that, except for one street light by the parking area (which you can get away from), it's completely pitch black. Drive out and listen to the sound of the ocean and see the Milky Way on a clear night. The big challenge of driving out there at night is dodging the crabs constantly crossing the road...drive carefully and make sure to go out there before hitting the bar :)

    One thing that Brac literature often states is that there's a lot of hiking on the island. It's technically true..but just be aware that it's not like hiking you'd find in Missouri. The island is really made of a lot of very jagged limestone. Walking even a few hundred feet on a 'trail' is uneven, jagged, and can be rather dangerous if you're not prepared...and that means no sandals or flip flops. Even with hiking shoes I found it really difficult if not impossible to make it far..and if you're there in the summer, the heat and humidity are of course intense. There is a trail from the lighthouse that heads down the bluff a short way where you can see nesting boobies. That trail is more like crushed gravel near the top of the bluff. You can probably walk about 1/4 mile before it gets very rough and overgrown.
     
    drrich2 and KathyV like this.
  6. scubadada

    scubadada Diver Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Philadelphia and Boynton Beach
    10,167
    5,458
    113
    Where are you staying, how much diving are you doing?
     
  7. backprop

    backprop Nassau Grouper

    137
    45
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    One thing I forgot to mention: there is a walkable area called Columbus Garden about at the halfway point as you go across the bluff on the main cross-road. It's a peaceful place that serves as a memorial for notable islanders. It has a couple small bridges through the flora and a good amount of shade.

    If you or any traveling companions geocache, there are several caches on the island, including one at Columbus Garden. There's also one on the Tibbetts wreck (a 5/5, if you're going for difficulty ratings). If you don't geocache and want something to do....you may as well start :wink:
     
    KathyV likes this.
  8. Crazybaldarcher

    Crazybaldarcher Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Missouri
    25
    16
    3
    @scubadada we will be staying at Cayman Brac Beach Resort for 6, 3 tank dives.
     
  9. scubadada

    scubadada Diver Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Philadelphia and Boynton Beach
    10,167
    5,458
    113
    Hi @Crazybaldarcher

    So you will be quite busy and will not have a lot of extra time. Hopefully, you will get over to Little Cayman and have an opportunity for a night dive or two. I imagine you will have most of your meals at CBBR.

    When I was there, I missed one day of diving due to the passing of a tropical storm. I took one of CBBR's bikes and took a long ride. It was a great way to see some of the island. The west end has a good view, Divi Tiara was haunted, now being razed, went to Rebecca's Cave, visited a few of the shore diving sites.

    Others have given you many good ideas, particularly if you have a car, more time, nondivers.

    Have a great trip
     
    KathyV likes this.
  10. large_diver

    large_diver Loggerhead Turtle

    2,591
    283
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    Just came back from a week at CBBR - great time.

    Echoing some of the thoughts others have already offered - CBBR is great, but it is great to get out of the resort, at least Friday afternoon. My wife is a non-diver, so while our kids (24 & 22) and I dove, she did quite a bit of rock climbing. Just driving up to the top of the bluff is a ton of fun - interesting moonscape up there, cactus, nesting boobies with babies you can see from the trail, incredible bluff-top views. We went up there Saturday morning for sunrise before leaving....gorgeous. The bluff is a 25-30 minute drive from CBBR. Sunrise at this time of year is at about 6:30AM

    Cayman%20Brac%20Pics%202019%20%28135%20of%20139%29-X2.jpg

    For climbing, my wife used Rock Iguana, run by a woman named Angel. My wife was impressed by Angel, not only her climbing skills but the work she's done to establish the business and set up new climbing routes that she uses. She and our kids also did a full moon yoga session with Angel (candles, moonlight)....all came back very relaxed. My wife set up the climbing in advance, but Rock Igauna also comes to CBBR early in the week one evening at happy hour to advertise their services (climbing, rappeling, caving, yoga).

    Cayman Brac Climbing - Rock Iguana Ltd - Rock Climbing and Adventure Tours

    For car rental, we rented through B&S ventures...you can walk there from CBBR, plus they will drop off cars anywhere on the island, including the airport.

    Home
     
    hilljo88 and KathyV like this.

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