Cayman Brac
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Paradise, also known as Cayman Brac
There is truly something for everyone in the Cayman Islands, and this adage never proved truer than when we spent one day noshing on gourmet island cuisine in glitzy Grand Cayman and the next bird-watching in the Cayman Brac Parrot Reserve. So-named for the limestone outcrops that rise 140 feet above the sea at the island’s easternmost tip (“Brac” is Gaelic for bluff), Cayman Brac is perfectly suited to adventure and is home to world-class hiking, caving, climbing, fishing, diving, and, of course, bird watching. So after catching an afternoon flight from Grand Cayman (a breezy 40-minute puddle jumper with endless views of the impossibly blue ocean), we woke up early and headed to the reserve in hopes of catching a glimpse of the Cayman Brac Parrot, an endangered species found only on this little spit of land. We had been advised by locals that the best time for spotting the parrot was at dawn, and they were right; we spotted two within the first hour. Around noon, we headed down to the beach to enjoy a picnic and a dip in the enchantingly warm ocean. Between sucking on local mangos and floating in the clear blue water, we managed to squeeze in a little snorkeling, and now consider ourselves experts on Brac’s spectacular ecosystems, marine and terrestrial. The rest of the day was spent exploring the island’s caves, hiking trails and delightfully local bars, and, as the sun started to set, I couldn't help but think that this place might just be paradise.
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Brown Booby Bird Watching
The smallest of the Cayman Islands, Cayman Brac is about 12 miles long with a few hotels and restaurants. The island gets its name from the limestone bluff, the word for which is “brac” in Scottish Gaelic. I was able to get this picture of a Brown Booby (not as famous as its blue-footed cousin) while walking around by myself for an afternoon. I made sure to stay as far away as possible so as to not scare it away. I sat down and watched it for a bit as it dove into the water trying to catch fish. It was a relaxing afternoon, which I desperately needed after spending a few days running around with my family. The island has over 170 caves, making it a great place for animals and other wildlife to live on. The location also makes it the perfect spot for snorkeling and diving, as there are natural underwater caves that are home to various marine life. If I had more time to spend, I definitely would have found a water proof camera and gone swimming/diving near them. It was a pleasant way to spend the afternoon, a mini-vacation within my vacation so to speak. I went back to the hotel late in the afternoon, sporting a light sunburn. I would definitely recommend wearing sunscreen and bringing a hat if you’re going to walk around Cayman Brac.
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