written by – Natalie at teachersonatrip
COVID-19 hasn’t been kind to anyone. (Except maybe the mega-billionaires who continue to thrive during these troubling times, but I won’t get into that now.) It is made even more difficult when you live abroad. Visiting family comes to a halt, major life events happen without you, and it’s extremely hard not to feel completely isolated. But we continue to truck on and try our hardest to keep up the positive attitude. So while keeping with the theme of finding the good, we decided to take a vacation. But before you get your hair twisted, you should know our “vacation” was from Grand Cayman to Cayman Brac, another island in The Cayman Islands. But to us, that 30 minute plane ride was still a major vacation.
It has been almost a year since we’ve left Grand Cayman, with the last time being at Christmas last year. So it was much needed for us to get off our little rock in the middle of the ocean and go to another, smaller rock not far away. Because of our low amount of COVID-19 cases, our government is allowing travel between The Sister Islands. You can read all about our government’s initial response to COVID here, which I believe is a direct reason why we have such few cases. But as long as we stay between Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman, we won’t need to go into a mandatory 2-week quarantine. So when our October break started approaching, we knew we needed to go somewhere.
The only way I can describe the airport was… unusual. We received an email telling us to still arrive an hour before our flight. But when we got to the airport in Grand Cayman, the long-term parking gates were up with nobody passing out tickets or taking money. After walking in, it was like a moment out of a post-apocalyptic movie. Not a soul was in the airport minus the ticket clerks. The bars and restaurants were closed, not that there are many to begin with. And we were the only customers in the entire airport.
Long story short, people eventually showed up for the flight. We got seated in the exit row, which had the most leg room I’ve ever seen. I could stretch both of my legs at a 90 degree angle in front of me and still not reach the seat in front. And the fact that the flight was super short was a bonus.
Arrival in Cayman Brac
We landed in Cayman Brac, got our luggage, and headed out to the parking lot to find our rental car. Oh boy…. I was both shocked and giggling at the sight of our new ride for the week. We received the most amazing car I’ve ever laid my eyes on. It was an older, white Mazda Demio with a green and red stripe passing horizontally around the entire car. We affectionately called it The Pizza Mobile and have already agreed to get the same car each time we return.
One thing that I truly loved about Cayman Brac was that everything was locally owned. In Grand Cayman, you can find a Starbucks, Wendys, Popeyes, etc. But in Cayman Brac, you meet the owners, order food that they love, and build connections. So here are some of my favorite food places we stopped at will definitely return to!
Barracuda Bar- We ordered a large pizza, which is actually a MASSIVE pizza from their wood-fired oven. We also tried out plenty of cocktails, played darts and shuffleboard, and enjoyed some karaoke. If you’re going to stop at Barracuda Bar, try out their Barracuda shot! It’s a mix of I’m-not-sure-what, but the lime on top is dusted with 1/2 sugar and 1/2 ground coffee. I think my group of friends agreed to always want to dust our limes with sugar and coffee for any shots in the future. It was SO good.
Popo Jebs- $3 big ice cream cone. Enough said.
Pioneer Bakery- The bakery moved and now it’s on Creek Road across from the boat ramp and next to the police station. They make everything from scratch and it is seriously SO good. If you’re looking for handmade baked goods, this is your place! We ordered their coconut bread (an absolute must and comes with 6), a cinnamon roll, and a patty (a Caribbean specialty) and it was only $6.20. It’s cash only, but so SO good. My friend Claire and I decided to split a piece of coconut bread and a patty and sat at the boat ramp watching the snorkelers and divers head out to the buoy.
Sights to See
There are so many fun things to do in Cayman Brac, and a lot of them you can easily fit into your schedule even if you’re pretty booked! You’ll definitely want to see The Bluff, preferably from both the top and bottom. To see it from the top, head to the lighthouse! Although the actual lighthouse isn’t much of a beautiful sight, the area is enough to still your breath. It’s gorgeous and awe-inspiring to be up that high and feel the breeze on your face.
There are also a ton of caves throughout the island. Great Cave was fun to get into because you have to climb up some wooden ladders and then crawl down some rocks to get inside. There were a few fruit bats flying around, but not much. Skull Cave is where you want to go to see the bats! It’s much easier to get inside Skull Cave than Great Cave and the bats are everywhere! We also went to Bat Cave and Rebecca’s Cave. Both of which were special in their own unique ways, but I’ll let you see those for yourself! It truly takes 5 minutes to stop in the caves, so I highly recommend just pulling over and looking if you realize you’re passing one!
The diving is stunning, as is the diving in Grand Cayman. But we noticed different fish and marine animals than what we normally see, even though we weren’t far from home! It’s crazy to think that animals can develop such a taste for a particular area. On Cayman Brac, it’s typical for dive masters to spear lion fish and feed them to the groupers and snappers. Lion fish in the Caribbean are actually extremely invasive, and were accidentally introduced to this part of the world where they have no natural predators. So the dive and environmental community are working on introducing predators to the lion fish. But regardless, if you’re certified, diving is a must! We were lucky enough to see turtles, sharks, eagle rays, and massive amounts of lobsters.
While you’re enjoying the beautiful island, please remember to help keep it that way! Avoid buying anything in plastic, as the dump can’t hold much more than it already has. Plastic typically litters the shoreline, so enjoy a nice beach clean to help take care of our planet! You would be helping the local environment and showing that you care beyond the typical vacationer. We spent only 48 minutes cleaning and found 66 shoes! Of course we also filled two large garbage bins with other garbage as well, but it’s so easy to do a really quick and effective beach clean!
Cayman Brac was filled with natural beauty (and some garbage). But it was such a peaceful vacation. The romantic in me thinks that it would be a perfect place to go to sit on the shoreline and reevaluate life. You know? The kind of place you can find some inner peace and harness the creative in you.