Cayman Brac and Little Cayman were accidentally discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1503 when his ship was blown off course in one of his trips between Panama and Hispaniola. The islands were teeming with turtles that the islands were named Las Tortugas. In 1585, Sir Francis Drake landed in the Caymans and renamed the islands “Cayamanas”, which is crocodile in Carib, for the numerous crocodiles on the island. It is speculated that Drake mistook the resident rock iguanas for crocodiles.
Cayman Brac was a haven for pirates during the days. It was the point for replenishing their supplies as there are fresh water resources in the island as well as abundant food sources.
Scuba diving enthusiasts flock to Cayman Brac to see the Russian frigate ship built for the Cuban Navy. The Cayman Islands’ government bought the 330-foot ship and rechristened the frigate M/V Captain Keith Tibbetts and then sunk it in 1996. Today the wreck is located in an area some 200 meters from Buccaneer, a point on the island’s northern side at the western tip. Non-wreck certified divers can dive and observe the numerous openings in the ship’s upper portion. The site is also an artificial reef.
The Teignmouth Electron has been beached on Cayman Brac after the 1989 Hurricane Gilbert. The Electron is the boat owned by Donald Crowhurst, the sailor who attempted to sail across the world single-handedly during the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race.
There are many things to do in Cayman Brac. Caves around the island attract both seasoned and novice spelunkers in search for the wonders of underground formations. There are ladders and man-made steps to facilitate access to remote caves. Part of Cayman National Heritage Site is Rebecca’s Cave which contains the remains of a young girl who lost her life during the great 1932 hurricane.
Rock climbing is now a favorite outdoor activity in the island. The steep terrain, where in other parts are almost vertical, offers untold challenges to climbers thus making the island a much-sought after prime climbing destination.
Trails for walking & hiking were laid out for the public by the Nature Tourism Programme to better access the Karst forestation in the island. Cayman Brac’s flora and fauna abound in their natural habitat.
Fishing in the unspoiled waters of Cayman Brac is coveted by anglers in pursuit of those big game fish. Surf fishing is a water sport unique in the Caymans.
Economy & Tourism
The economy of the island is focused on tourism, local enterprises and municipal government. There is a decline in the hospitality industry in the island as most of the tourism industry is focused on scuba diving.
Unique in Cayman Brac are artists who make jewelry and tiny stone carvings from Caymite, a local stone. Tenson and Eddie Scott are stone artists who won National contests for their work. They were also the artists whose work was given to Prince Andrew and Queen Elizabeth II in 1994. Distinguished names that originated from the island are the Scotts, Waltons, Fosters and Kirkconnells, have become wealthier through business and real-estate ownership in Cayman Brac.