Blown off course on his way to Panama in 1503, Christopher Columbus became the first person to lay eyes on a small island in the Northwestern Caribbean. Surrounded by thousands of turtles Columbus decided to name the island Las Tortugas, effectively claiming it for Spain. From then on the calm waters and abundant resources of the island made it known as a safe haven for all those sailing the Caribbean seas, offering them a place to rest and refuel as well as a calm island setting. Now known today as Cayman Brac, the island still offers the same easy lifestyle as it did hundreds of years ago, as well as a rich history and plenty of adventure to keep the heart racing.
Originally discovered on May 10th, 1503 Columbus named Cayman Brac Las Tortugas, Spanish for turtles, because of the abundance of them. In his journal he wrote that there were thousands on the shores and in the water, so many he thought he could have walked to shore on their shells. These ...view middle of the document...
These caves which offer spectacular scenery and adventure, have also served an important purpose to the island people who have used them as shelters from hurricanes. In 1932 when the 1932 Cuban hurricane struck the island, flattening it almost completely, residents took shelter in these caves, protecting themselves and their belongings as the 35 foot storm surge destroyed their homes down below them. Although these caves are now being phased out of use, Peters cave located along the western edge of the island atop the bluff still is an active hurricane shelter with room for over 200 displaced occupants. While native islanders and visitors enjoy the caves above the water, the scenery and tunnels below are also just as impressive.
Divers from all over the world are familiar with the diving offered in the Cayman Islands particularly the dive sites around Cayman Brac and its sister island, Little Cayman. With the two only 5 miles apart many divers get the opportunity to visit both dive areas while in Cayman Brac. On these dives divers are able to see the amazing fish life and turtles that surround the islands as well as the Bloody Bay Wall, a familiar icon throughout the diving world due to its almost 90 degree vertical drop down to 5000 feet. Cayman Brac also offers those who love nature a way to enjoy it above the water, with its large bird reserve that plays host to several rare bird species.
Located in the forested middle of the island the Brac Parrot Reserve contains the nesting sites of several rare bird species such as the Red legged Thrush, the Black-whiskered Vireo, and the West Indian whistling-duck. Bird watchers from all over the world will travel to see these rare birds especially the Brac’s very own endangered Cayman Brac Parrot. Found only on Cayman Brac the parrots number less than 350, making spotting one a very rare treat.
Cayman Brac, so small size, can easily be overlooked on a map, however for the locals who live there and those who travel there it offers so much. From the many activities and rich history, all who spend time on the island will enjoy it and fall in love with the tiny island. Since the day Columbus laid eyes on Cayman Brac it has been and will continue to be written into the books as a place for all to see.