Cayman Brac was put under the spotlight in a recent edition of the Canadian Globe & Mail and came through shining brightly for its peaceful atmosphere, wonderful diving and adventure tourism.
The article, by Laszlo Buhasz, and headlined ‘Brac to Basics’, appeared on Saturday January 14 2006 and depicts a typical scene there in its intro. ‘It was a busy February afternoon on Cayman Brac: A half-dozen sunbathers were turning the colour of mahogany armoires on a curve of the public beach, a boatload of scuba divers left the dock at the Brac Reef Beach Resort, and I passed two cars along the entire length of the island’s South Side Road.’
The teaser above the article indicates, ‘Forget Grand Cayman glam. Laszlo Buhasz discovers the real action is beneath the waves on its laid-back Sister Island.’
While the author does incorrectly state that Grand Cayman has casinos, he paints a pretty picture of its Sister. ‘The island – 19 kilometres long and less than two kilometres wide – may be small, but it’s certainly the most dramatic of the three-island archipelago. Brac means ‘bluff’ in Gaelic, and that word perfectly describes the island’s main feature: a great wedge-shaped slab of limestone that slants up from west to east and ends in a 43-metre-high cliff that drops to the crashing waves.’
The writer points out that the tiny communities and a handful of beachside resorts are spread around the bluff ‘where the main focus seems to be the cultivation of a sun-drenched somnolence that keeps the party-hearty crowds away but draws others back year after year’.
That article quotes tourism spokeswoman Mitzi Scott saying, ‘It’s quiet and not for everyone. But many of our visitors are regulars: people who come for a quiet do-little break; or divers and snorkellers’.
The article goes on to describe some of the spectacular dive opportunities off the coast of the island. ‘Since the 1970s, when it was first discovered in a big way by scuba enthusiasts, it has perennially been ranked by the sport’s magazines as one of the top dive destinations in the world.’
Dive Operations Manager at Brac Reef Beach Resort is quoted as saying, ‘Underwater visibility is up to 100 feet, water temperature is usually in the low 80s and there are more than 50 designated dive sites around the island. People can come here for two weeks and never dive on the same site during their stay.’
It puts top of a must-do list for divers, the MV Capt. Keith Tibbets, an intentionally sunk Cuban frigate lying 15 to 21 metres underwater in the west end, and the Prince Frederick, a wreck in the island’s southern reef.
Artificial underwater attraction the Lost City of Atlantis is also mentioned, describing how more than 100 submerged sculptures will eventually be a part of it.
The author goes on to describe the natural underwater treasures, ‘numerous shallow reefs swarming with queen trigger fish, trumpet fish and reef sharks; and awesome walls – pocked with a labyrinth of tunnels and coral arches – that drop into the black abyss. Fishing is also excellent around the island, either from shore for bonefish, pompano and tarpon, or from charter boats for deep-water battles with blue marlin, wahoo, dorado and barracuda.’
Exploring the bluff
Other inland attractions readers are encouraged to explore are the bluff trails, to spot some of the 200 bird species that have been seen on the island. It mentions frigate birds, brown boobies, owls, peregrine falcons and the rare Cayman Brac Parrot.
The article carries the reader through the Parrot Reserve, from Major Donal Drive through to the bluff on the south coast. However, just in case readers get too comfortable, the writer warns, ‘In places, the elements have carved the limestone into serrated daggers, and tripping would be like falling into a shredder. Sturdy hiking boots are recommended and it’s wise not to get too close to the edge of the cliffs.’
The article also talks about the sheer cliff on the Eastern end of the Brac that has become a big attraction for rock climbers.
The Brac’s caves that often serve as shelters during hurricanes are also touched upon, as was the 1932 storm. ‘Seventeen-month old Rebecca Bodden was one of 108 people out of total population of less than 2,000 to die in a fierce hurricane that devastated the island in 1932.’
The tiny museum in Stake Bay that depicts the storm is also cited, including information on how it depicts life on the island from the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Now it is tourism that most locals make a living from, he said. ‘Along the beach in front of the small resorts at Brac’s southwest tip, clusters of hand-painted driftwood signs left behind by vacationers sprout from poles and decorate the sides of dive shacks. Locals say it’s a display of ownership by those who plan to return. One at the Reef Beach Resort said it all: ‘I’ll be Brac’.’
At the end of the article there is information on how to get to Cayman Brac from Canada, where to stay and where to obtain more information for a vacation from.