Key to Cayman magazine: Pack for the Brac

(Published in Key to Cayman, winter issue, 2014)

There’s something rather special about Cayman Brac, the larger of the two Sister Islands.

Perhaps it’s the laid-back island feel, the rugged landscape or the charming friendly “Brackers.” It’s hard to put your finger on precisely what it is, but there’s no doubt about it, the Brac is an itinerary must.

The Brac is not only popular with overseas visitors, but with Grand Cayman residents as well who want to truly get away from it all. Indeed, the island attracts a wide range of people, including nature lovers, adventure seekers and those just looking for some rest and relaxation.

Thanks to the Brac’s compact size – the island measures just 12 miles long by two miles wide – a two-day visit is ample time to take in the sights and enjoy some island-style hammock time. It’s just a short 30-minute flight on a Cayman Airway’s flight, meaning that you can easily island hop.

While the island is small, a vehicle is really a must to take in all that the Brac has to offer and there are several hire car companies to choose from. Driving is a breeze; there are hardly any vehicles on the road and it’s almost impossible to get lost.

There are a number of must-visit highlights which can easily be enjoyed during a morning or afternoon, leaving plenty of time to feel the sand between your toes.

A visit to the Cayman Brac Museum is well worth a visit. Located in the old Government Building, you can view fascinating artifacts from times gone by and also gain an insight into the devastation caused by the great storm of 1932 in which many islanders perished.

One of my favorite destinations on the Brac is the soaring 140-foot limestone bluff, which can be reached by car along Lighthouse Road. A path meanders along the edge offering spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea and an invigorating, cooling sea breeze.

Thanks to the bluff, the island is riddled with caves. New caverns are frequently being discovered and, while some are difficult to access, there are plenty for intrepid visitors to explore, although sturdy shoes are recommended. During my short visit I was able to take a look round Rebecca’s Cave, Bat Cave and Peter’s Cave – a traditional hurricane shelter for the residents of Spot Bay.

While on the bluff, a stop-off at the Brac Parrot Reserve is also recommended. Owned and managed by the National Trust for the Cayman Islands, the reserve is home to the Cayman Brac Parrot, a subspecies of the Cuban Parrot and found only on the Brac. Be warned, these critters can be pretty elusive. I didn’t spy any parrots on my visit although I did hear their squawks.

For such a small island there are a surprising number of accommodation choices, including resorts, luxury villas and guesthouses.

During my trip I stayed at one of the newest options: Le Soleil d’Or, or Golden Sun, which offers guests the choice of a luxury three-bedroom villa or studio-style cottage. Both are perched right on the water’s edge and come complete with their own pool.

Not only will Golden Sun appeal to those seeking an exclusive and highly private retreat, but also to those who appreciate good food and Mother Nature’s bounty, thanks to the retreat’s very own award-winning garden farm.

After a busy day of sightseeing I was delighted to return to my cottage where there were freshly-picked fruits, juices and nibbles to snack on while enjoying some down time on the picturesque beach.

It was an ideal way to wrap up a weekend getaway – a 48-hour escape that felt worlds away from my normal life.

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