Stay, Play, and Eat on Cayman Brac
I imagine that unless you’re a scuba diver, that you probably didn’t even know there was a place called Cayman Brac, a sister island of Grand Cayman. A place like Cayman Brac can easily be overlooked when it has no franchises and not a single stoplight. Especially when you consider that you can drive the length of it in 30 minutes!
Nonetheless, as I found out just a few weeks ago, Cayman Brac offers a proper island experience that you can’t get on many islands. When was the last time you visited an island without a major franchise or drove for miles without meeting another car? Yet this is no Gilligan’s Island. There’s plenty of staying, playing, and eating to be had on Cayman Brac.
The challenge in planning most trips of sifting through tons of hotels is no challenge at all on Cayman Brac. That’s because there is only one proper hotel, the aptly named Brac Reef Resort. However, staying here has its benefits, not the least of which is access to scuba diving without having to leave the resort. Reef Divers, located behind the hotel on the beach, is a full-service dive operator, even offering diving courses. The hotel also has a spa, restaurant, and an open-air bar, which also serves food. Not to mention the sunsets are pretty clutch.
Just down from Brac Reef Resort is Carib Sands, a more laid-back beachfront condo-style resort with one to four bedroom options. It doesn’t have a restaurant inside the property like Brac Reef Resort, but Captain’s Table is adjacent to it. Otherwise, there are a small number of houses available to rent around the island.
Simply put, you don’t come to Cayman Brac without going into the water. Generally speaking, the Cayman Islands are considered one of the best destinations in the world for diving, and Cayman Brac is no exception. Despite its size, Cayman Brac is home to more than 50 dive sites, many of which are accessible from shore. Some sites that are just off the shore include the Captain Keith Tibbetts (330-foot Russian warship) and numerous reefs. Since the wreck is just below the surface, it’s also accessible by snorkelers. Also nearby is Stake Bay, accessible by shore, and a good spot for snorkelers to view a number of reefs.
Located just off nearby Little Cayman is Bloody Bay Wall, considered one of the best drop-offs in the Caribbean. Philippe Cousteau, son of Jacques, is claimed as having called it one of the top three diving sites in the world. Bloody Bay Wall is home to a variety of sea life, including numerous coral and sponges, and fish that include triggerfish, grouper, eagle rays, and turtles, just to name a few.
What makes Cayman Brac most interesting, however, is that most of the island is covered in a bluff, hence the name, “brac,” which is Gaelic for bluff. Throughout the island are several different caves that visitors can explore on their own, including Rebecca’s Cave, Bat Cave, Peter’s Cave, and Skull Cave. Some of these, such as Bat Cave and Skull Cave, are just off the road, while some, including Peter’s Cave, requires a short hike.
The best thing about eating on Cayman Brac is that because it’s so offbeat and small, you’ll never have to make a reservation. My first mission upon arriving on Cayman Brac was finding a restaurant I could find conch (pronounced “konk”) fritters on. I found that at my first stop, Star Island, which became my favorite restaurant on the island. They have an extensive menu, but some local standouts include jerk chicken and local seafood.
A restaurant recommended to me from a local was Paradise Desires and Creations, which has an eclectic menu and like many Cayman Brac restaurants, changes frequently. The special on the day I was there was curried chicken roti with plantain. Other local foods they serve included stewed conch, and an item you’ll see at some local restaurants, turtle, which is often in the form of stew. I recommend both Star Island and Paradise Desires and Creations for lunch.
As I mentioned earlier, Captain’s Table is located adjacent to Carib Sands, and open for lunch and dinner. As the name presumes, there’s a lot in the way of seafood, but you’ll also find plenty of chicken, steak, and pasta. For happy hour or a sundowner, your only proper option on the island is the Tipsy Turtle, located at Brac Reef Resort. Go big, with the particularly potent Mudslide, or for something lighter, they have plenty of beers. They also have a food menu, with typical pub fare, as well as conch fritters.
Sponsored by Cayman Islands Tourism.
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