Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cayman Brac

I've always had mixed feelings about the Caymans. I've been to Grand Cayman three times. Once for a week and twice as stop overs on cruises. Each time I've had a decent time, but there was nothing there that I couldn't get at half the price somewhere else and no particular desire to come back again. This is not a criticism by the way. Grand Cayman has a lot going for it and a lot of fans. I wouldn't try to talk anyone out of going there. Its just that for my buck I can find better value elsewhere. Cozumel gives me the same thrils and more bang for the buck.
And yet, since it keeps appearing towards the top of the diving lists I decided to give it another shot, but this time go strictly for the diving and go straight to where the diving is. This leaves you with two options. Either Cayman Brac or Little Cayman. Flip of the coin and Cayman Brac it was.
And now I know why the Caymans are always towards the top of the lists. The diving is indeed excellent and even better than Cozumel. I am not going to go into every single dive site they all have something going for them and in my five days of diving I only got to experience a small fraction. I probably enjoyed Wilderness Reef the most due to its many nooks, crannies and swim troughs, but that's purely subjective.
I dove with Reef Divers. Great group. Very professional, courteous and friendly. Just the right mix. They do what's called valet diving. You leave your gear outside of your room (virtually no crime on the island so you can safely do that) they pick it up in the morning and hook up all your gear on the boat. All you have to do is show up and jump in the water. The first dive was always deep water (110 max) and they always gave you and option of either exploring on your own (assuming you had a buddy) or you could just follow the divemaster. The dive briefings on the boat were always thorough and detailed so either would work.
I stayed at the Brac Reef Beach Resort. At first blush it might not seem like much from the outside. Has a sort of Florida motel (a nice motel) look to it, but don't let that fool you. The rooms are great and the staff and service top notch. The biggest surprise was the food. Being cheap I figured I'd get a better deal on my own so opted out of the meal plan, but eventually ended up eating all of my meals at the hotel anyway. If I have to stay here again I would definitely go with the meal plan. Not that there are many other options available anyway (more on that shortly), but that's not the point. Simply put. The food at the BRBR is that good.
The other thing that the BRBR has going for it is that they have bicycles available for the taking included in the price of the room. Its a great way of exploring the island. The island is relatively small and while you probably won't be able to cover all of it on a bike its a good option to have. Just don't do it the way I did. If you see signs that say restaurants with an arrow pointing that a way, don't believe them. I am sure eventually there will be some restaurants that a way, but I gave up after a few miles. And remember to bring along some fluids because once you've gone that a way you still have to pedal back.
The Brac itself is an ideal place for those who love the water and what's under it. There are quite a few caves and nature trails to explore, but other than that there really isn't much. No real shopping meccas to speak of. No large boisterous entertainment strips. If that's more your speed than you are better off sticking to Grand Cayman. However, if you want some peace and solitude then the Brac is the perfect place to be.