Cayman Brac, in my opinion is in itself a hidden gem. It is the 2nd largest of the three Cayman Islands, 12 miles long and about a mile wide. However it is a treasure throve of amazing hidden places to uncover. Unlike the Grand Cayman the terrain is more rugged and is a hikers paradise.
With the pandemic still raging and our islands closed to international travel, The Brac is the hottest destination for us islanders! When I relocated here in 2019 it was always my intention to explore every nook and cranny of the islands. So, over the Christmas holidays, grounded and with rock fever setting in, it was time to explore Cayman Brac. The plane ride was short, but long enough to give me that ‘I am traveling feeling’. I even took above the clouds pics to showoff to my friends 🙂 With a full itinerary I sat off to discover the hidden gems of this tiny island.
The Brac is best known for its great dive sites but there is plenty to see and do overland and I was ready to explore. My flight arrived just in time to enjoy the sunset from my hotel balcony, cocktail in hand. It was the perfect start to what would be 5 days that turned out to be too short. I can see myself making multiple trips to find even more hidden treasures and revisit my favorite finds.
1. The Park
Firstly, let me say, if you are a fitness enthusiast then this discovery will have you jumping for joy. Literally! In fact, you may just consider moving to the Brac and working remotely for the rest of your time in the Cayman Islands! As you exit the airport it is very easy to miss the sign especially if you are concentrated on finding and getting to your hotel as I did on my arrival. However on my second trip back to the airport to collect friends I made a mental note to check out this ‘Park’
This Community Park is a well kept secret by the locals and I can tell why. With over 16 different workout stations a walking trail and plenty opportunities to rest and enjoy nature I too would want to keep this top secret! But alas I found it and now you too can enjoy a brisk workout or some quiet time on your next visit.
2. Pioneer Bakery
Another gem that is not very hidden, as its reputation spans the far corners of the main island, Grand Cayman. I was introduced to the delights of this fine bakery by a co-worker and now she is my personal courier :). I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get my hands on some fresh loaves to sustain us during our stay.
3. The Westerly Ponds
I wanted to start my day welcoming the sunrise with a leisurely walk. With no plan, I exited my hotel I made a left and was in for a real treat. The signs indicated I was approaching the Westerly Ponds heritage site and trail. There are over a dozen hiking trails on The Cayman Brac.
Along the route were opportunities to watch the birds wake up and greet their neighbors while the sun took its time to crawl across the morning sky. At the very end of the trail is the west end lookout that is perfect for alfresco breakfast while watching the sea birds fish for theirs.
4. The Bluff
After spending some time on the very flat Grand Cayman, you may wish to rise to the bluff in The Brac. The Bluff is the highest part of the Cayman Islands and rises over a hundred and forty feet above sea level. Walking/hiking along the rocky beach is an excellent way to experience the bluff as you get to see the water, the bluff and the rock formations. Also, if you are up for a bit more adventure then I would recommend a guided climb or rappel.
First, we took the opportunity to do a bit of rappelling and rock climbing with Rock Iguana. The exhilarating feeling from the climb is incomparable. On our way up we found a hidden cave that we would have missed on our beach walk. We then drove up to the top and hiked the length of the Bluff. The views were amazing and a great opportunity to burn off those calories from our bakery haul.
5. Le Soliel d’Or Farm
The Le Soliel D’Or is a boutique hotel and restaurant on a 20 acre farm. The hotel is pure luxury, however, the hidden gem is The Farm. If you are a not a guest of the hotel its quite possible you would not have heard of the farm. We found out about it from enquiries to book the hotel for our trip. They were full to capacity but invited us to still come for a visit and take their farm tour.
The tour was about an hour long. With so much to see and explore, it was a delight for the senses. We were greeted with homemade cookies and sorrel drinks to sustain us for the climb to the farm above the bluff. Yes, the farm sits on the bluff and the views were worth the climb even before we started the tour.
Our visit coincided with market day. As a result we were able to shop the produce along with the locals which was a cool experience. One of the highlights of the tour for me was eating the miracle berry. The miracle fruit contains a protein that coats the taste buds and changes their receptivity so that sour foods taste sweet. We were sucking on sour limes to much glee as if they were sweet oranges.
6. Salt Water Pond – beyond the trail
This little gem is hidden just a few meters beyond the end of the Salt Water Pond trail. A few of us were eager to explore beyond the trail in hopes of finding water or the cliff edge. On our way to chart new lands we made the fine discovery of this amazing unnamed hidden cave. With my newfound status of discoverer, I am definitely up for exploring that trail some more on my next trip! 🙂
7. The Bubble House
What is so hidden about this egg shaped house that is spectacularly displayed as you journey along the south side road. The unique design of the bubble house is meant to be hurricane proof. The building comprises a main house and 4 one-bedroom apartments. The gem for me is the ability to hold all your guests in one location. And a great launching pad to explore the bluff.
8. Village Art
As I strolled along the byways and highways of The Cayman Brac, I found lots of interesting sculptures and garden art on display. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a closer look at the home of Mr. Foots with his displays of alternative art. Suffice to say that was the topic for the rest of the car ride that day.
I am amazed that I regularly meet people, locals and expats alike who have been on Grand Cayman forever and never been to The Brac!
I hope this posts inspires you to give The Brac a chance. Whether its to relax, reconnect with nature or both, The Brac will not disappoint. Go at your own pace, after all we are on Caribbean time. Walk good.