Discover the wonderful outdoors in Cayman Brac
By Hannah Barnard on 18th February, 2021
Cayman Brac is not even an hour’s flight from Grand Cayman but it’s a world away from the hustle and bustle of Cayman’s main island. Often referred to as a nature lover’s paradise, Cayman Brac has retained a charm all of its own that offers peace and tranquility for those looking to get away from it all, along with lots of adventures for those looking to explore the delights of this wonderful location.
For those dreaming of a retreat centered around mindfulness and wellbeing, Cayman Brac is the place to come. We chatted with the team at Rock Iguana, the islands’ first rock climbing and adventure tour company, to find out about the best experiences that allow you to be at one with nature.
Climbing The Bluff
From the deserts of Utah to the mountains in Austria, there are many amazing rock climbing sites around the globe. David Verhoeven, the co-founder of Rock Iguana explains what makes Cayman Brac different from other locations; “there are few places in the world where you can climb world-class routes right next to (or above) the Caribbean Sea. The rock climbing in Cayman Brac is renowned for its beautiful limestone and safe reputation. You will be greeted by breathtaking panoramas of the azure ocean when you reach the top of your route. Where else can you go Wall to Wall in a single day? Climb magnificent limestone and dive never-ending walls under the water’s surface.”
Harness positive mental wellbeing through rock climbing
More recently climbing has been recognised for its mental health benefits and the positive effects it has on anxiety and depression. “Climbing is a great tool to practice focus and spatial awareness,” comments David Verhoeven. “Full concentration is required: there is no room for self-doubt, anxiety, or negative emotions in climbing – otherwise you will fall (safely and fully secured by a rope, of course!). This allows you to take your mind off any superfluous emotions or situations that you may be experiencing at the time and put them to the side. Once the climbing is finished you will leave with a sense of pride and achievement.”
Rock Iguana offers a range of tours and courses for all levels, from first-timers to experienced climbers. Their Intro to Rock Climbing course is ideal for beginners and runs over two days covering all of the basics, including knots, belaying, climbing techniques, and communication. For those looking at getting into lead climbing, Intermediate Rock Climbing is a great course and for more experienced climbers the Advanced Climbing course is a must-try – covering self-rescue, multi-pitch skills and an introduction to climbing at the infamous Point.
If you aren’t quite ready to delve into a course, Rock Iguana offers a multitude of Half Day and Full Day Rock Climbing and Rappelling tours, which includes caves exploration and nature walks. Expect to see a range of beautiful birds – the island is a hot spot for migratory birds searching for warmer weather during the winter. “This includes the elegant white-tailed tropicbird that nests in caves high up on the bluff during the winter months. Brown boobies nest high up on the bluff and their adorable fluffy white chicks are a common sight during nesting season. Their aerial acrobatics are a sight to behold when they are engaged in a battle with frigatebirds over the deep blue ocean. If you are lucky, you might even spot a rare and beautiful Cayman Brac Parrot.”
The power of the great outdoors
Along with climbing excursions and adventure tours, Rock Iguana also runs regular yoga classes from their outdoor studio Yogi Wall. “Every yoga class is special for the fact that we are practicing outdoor in nature, breathing fresh air, hearing the sound of the ocean, the birds, and the movements of the trees when the breeze comes through.” Explains Angel Robledo, co-founder of Rock Iguana. “It’s easy to feel connected, not only with nature but with ourselves. I have been practicing yoga for more than a decade now and I feel so connected to the outdoors.”
Yogi Wall is Cayman Brac’s first yoga studio and offers a range of holistic classes which include pranayama (breathing exercises), meditation, and yoga philosophy. Angel Robledo comments, “I think it’s important for all students (especially beginners) to know that yoga is way more than just Asanas (yoga poses). The first class that brought our group together was Full Moon Yoga, even before Yogi Wall was constructed, we would get together once a month to practice Chandra Namaskar (Moon Salutations) under the stars and the full moon with special music, the practice became a moving meditation – very powerful.”
Fancy trying something different? Yogi Wall’s Mandala Painting class is great for mindfulness. The class involves painting dots on to rocks in silence – a technique long used in meditation. Or give Yin yoga a go – a form of yoga that focuses on the deeper levels of the body, heart, and mind. Postures are held for longer periods than in other yoga practices, allowing for a deeper journey into the fascia, tendons, ligaments, and joints of the body.
Other great things to do in Cayman Brac
We asked the team at Rock Iguana for their top recommendations of things to do, try or visit on Cayman Brac (besides climbing and yoga, of course!) Here’s what they had to say…
Diving & snorkeling
Diving in the Brac is truly world-class with an incredible variety of breathtaking walls, unspoiled tropical reefs, and spectacular wrecks teeming with life. This is one of the few places in the world where you can dive incredible walls in the morning and climb incredible walls in the afternoon. Brac Scuba Shack and Reef Divers are the two local diving outfits.
Watch the sunrise at Lighthouse Point, the highest elevation of the island. This is a beautiful experience. If you are an early riser, cycle to Lighthouse Point for sunrise with Active Pursuit (the bicycle rental service and tour guide on the island).
Explore the caves
There are countless limestone caves on the island with many more yet to be discovered. Most are pretty easy to access, but there are some that you have to crawl through to access more hidden chambers. Many of these caves feature beautiful cave formations like stalactites, stalagmites, and flowstones. Several of the caves are home to a number of bat species – Cayman’s only native mammals. The caves are also of great historical importance to the locals, as they served as hurricane shelters in yesteryears.
The Cayman Brac Museum is a great place to learn more about Cayman’s seafaring past. Also, The Heritage House is another great place to learn about the Brackers’ traditional lifestyle and there is some amazing rock climbing right behind the grounds.
Read more: Ultimate travel guide to Cayman Brac