Cayman Brac Diving:
Which one is best for you depends on what you are looking for. I loved both our Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac diving vacations but they were very different.
I haven't been to Little Cayman yet so that is where our next dive trip to the Caymans will be. I need to dive the spectacular Bloody Bay Wall again.
Wherever you choose, you're bound to have a great trip. So let's tell you about Cayman Brac and Cayman Brac scuba diving.
Lay of the Land
As far as size, Cayman Brac lies in between Grand Cayman and Little Cayman (you can see it on our page of Cayman Islands maps).
Cayman Brac is 14 miles long and just over 1 mile wide. So it doesn't take long to explore this island. Check it out for yourself our Cayman Brac maps.
Cayman Brac has impressive limestone cliffs that run along the middle of the island from west to east. At the eastern tip, the bluff ends in a dramatic 140 foot drop. The island got its name from these cliffs since "brac" is the Gaelic word for bluff. In recent years, the island has started to become a destination for experienced rock climbers who want to take on the challenge of climbing these cliffs.
Believe it or not, Cayman Brac has the highest elevation in the Cayman Islands - all of 152 feet.
The island is dotted with many caves which are carved out of these rock formations. Island legend has it that pirates hid treasures in these caves. We didn't find any though. You may find bats, though, in the infamous Bat Cave (or any cave for that matter) on the island. Honestly, not a highlight for me - bats are not my thing.
Cayman Brac does not have high-rise hotels, lots of restaurants or shopping. If you are looking for this, Grand Cayman would be a better bet. A Cayman Brac vacation is also not the place to come if you are looking for beautiful beaches, IMHO. Much of the shoreline is rocky and coral strewn. One of the best beaches is probably the one at the Brac Reef Resort.
Cayman Brac has a population in the neighborhood 2,000 people.
Cayman Brac is located 480 miles south of Miami, 90 miles to the northeast of Grand Cayman and 5 miles from Little Cayman. The island is the most easterly of the Cayman Islands. For a good overview of where it is located, take a look at our Cayman Brac maps.
You will have to go to Grand Cayman first to get to Cayman Brac. With the popularity of Grand Cayman, many airlines now operate flights there. I believe American Airlines offers the most flights.
Once you get to Grand Cayman, Cayman Airways and Island Air operates flights between Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac.
(You might want to check out our #1 tip for cheap airfare to the Caribbean as well as our other tips for cheap airfare to help make your trip more affordable. You may also find our discussion on different types of scuba dive vacations helpful also.)
Cayman Brac Hotels
As of this writing, the Brac Reef Resort is now the only resort left on Cayman Brac. Your other options are renting a house or a condo for that Cayman Brac scuba diving vacation.
From what I have read online and on scuba forums, there are only two diver operators on the island now. One is Reef Divers, connected with the Brac Reef Resort and the other is Indepthwatersports. Both have gotten good reviews on scubaboard.com.
When we were on our Cayman Brac diving vacation, we stayed at the Brac Reef Resort. We were happy with the dive operators and had no problems. We were there awhile back so I can't vouch for current events, but as I said above, I have read many good reviews of both the resort and Cayman Brac diving.
Update: The Brac Reef Resort is now closed due to Hurricane Paloma in November 2008. See our page on Cayman Brac hotels for more info.
The weather in Cayman Brac is pretty much the same as Grand Cayman, with pleasant temperatures year round. In the summer expect a high in the 90F range during the day with temperatures falling to a low in the low 80's at night.
In winter, it is milder with daytime highs in the high 70's to low 80's. It cools off at night during the winter to around the high 60's to low 70's.
The rainy season is from May to November with the beginning (May/June) and end (October/November) of the this period typically seeing the most rain. February and March are usually the driest months. Absent a tropical depression/hurricane, rain usually comes in bursts of a couple hours so your whole day shouldn't be ruined.
Hurricane season in the Caribbean is from June 1 to November 30. The Cayman Islands are in the hurricane belt and has been hit by a few major hurricanes. The most active months are in the fall - September through November.
The last major hurricane to hit the islands was Hurricane Paloma in November 2008. There was significant damage to the island. See above for more info.
Water temperature is pleasant year round averaging 80-82F in the summer and 77-80F in the winter. We don't tend to get cold when diving so we were comfortable in just a skin during our Cayman Brac diving trip. If you tend to get cold, a shorty 2mm thick wetsuit would probably be sufficient.
Reefs and Rides
One of the pleasures of Cayman Brac diving is that is doesn't involve very long boat rides. Most of the Cayman Brac scuba sites are within a 20 minute boat ride, with many rides less than that.
If you go to Little Cayman (and you should) to dive the Bloody Bay Wall the ride there is about 45 minutes or so.
There are about 40 Cayman Brac scuba dive sites to explore on Cayman Brac (not counting those on Little Cayman). Diving is the main attraction here and it is easy to keep busy checking all the sites out. While I didn't do any shore diving is also possible on Cayman Brac.
Cayman Brac diving is a combination of reefs, walls and wrecks. Most 2 tank dive trips do a wall dive first, followed by a shallower dive on the reef. One of the most famous sites for Cayman Brac diving is actually a wreck dive, the 330 foot Captain Keith Tibbetts (you can read about it on my Cayman Brac Scuba dive site page.)
Cayman Brac diving differs from Little Cayman as diving at Little Cayman is mostly wall diving at the infamous Bloody Bay Wall. I absolutely loved diving this wall. Truth be told, I thought it was the best diving we did all week.
Not that the Cayman Brac diving was bad (far from it), but this wall was spectacular. When we go back to the Cayman Islands it will be to Little Cayman so we can spend more time on that wall.
Visibility is typically very good, in the 100+ foot range. Unfortunately when we were there, the seas were fairly rough in the beginning of the week and visibility was probably closer to 60-70 feet. When things calmed down, visibility improved to about 100 feet.
Topside, it's all about relaxation. It's a quiet island and there is not alot of activity. The most popular activity is probably caving. There are lots of caves to explore and it makes for an interesting afternoon and/or day. Some caves have ladders to make exploring them easier. Just keep an eye out for those bats!
The island also has many bird species if this is an area of interest to you. Just grab a pair of binoculars and go.
When we were there, we rented a car for a day and drove around and explored the island, including several caves. It was a nice relaxing day. No great shakes, but nice. We don't require alot to keep us entertained.
We hope you enjoy your Cayman Brac diving trip if you decide to go. It is pretty hard not to.
Here are some books you might want to check out to help plan your trip to Cayman Brac:
Have a great trip!
Thanks to Breanna and hazybluedot for the use of their photos.
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