Family Vacations to Little Cayman and Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Family Overview - Little Cayman and Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Little Cayman's beaches offer a respite from the more crowded Grand Cayman beaches (courtesy, Cayman Islands Department of Tourism)

Little Cayman and Cayman Brac Family Travel Tips

  • Watch red-footed booby birds battle with magnificent frigate birds.
  • See scores of iguanas.
  • Dive Bloody Bay Wall, one of the Caribbean's best scuba sites.
  • Snorkel Jackson's Bight.
  • Explore Cayman Brac's many caves.

Many more iguanas than people live on Little Cayman, a ten-mile-long island with a year-round population of 170. Across a seven-mile-wide channel lies Cayman Brac, population just under 1,800. Both islands lure divers the 89 miles northeast from Grand Cayman.

Postcard pretty Little Cayman serves as a true Caribbean escape, where signs declare "Iguana! Drive Carefully." Wild cotton, scrub brush, and palm trees grow along the roadsides and the occasional West Indian whistling duck flies overhead. Bountiful reefs lure divers and snorkelers, and birders travel here to see the largest colony of red-footed boobies in the Caribbean.

During February's nesting season, thousands of boobies and hundreds of magnificent frigate birds make the Booby Pond Nature Reserve home. Around sunset, when the boobies bring back their catch to feed the young, the frigate birds swoop in, harassing the food-bearing birds until some of them regurgitate or release their fish. Take a tour and observe these natural behaviors. If you book a property bordering the reserve, keep in mind that if the wind shifts late at night, the stench of booby guana can be a bit overwhelming.

Why do iguanas cross the road in the west end? Because they hear a guide's car horn, the food arriving signal. Soon after the honking listen for the crunch of breaking leaves and twigs as iguanas slowly emerge from the underbrush. When the guide throws bread toward one, prepare to be surrounded by a half-dozen pairs of beady red eyes, a fun experience for kids. Bone fishing is another popular activity on Little Cayman as is kayaking to nearby Owen Island for a swim and picnic.

Families with experienced divers come to Little Cayman for good diving and a quiet getaway. More than 500 types of fish and 100 species of coral inhabit the 56 walls, wrecks, and sites off Little Cayman. Most snorkelers go out on dive boats, but a few snorkel sites such as Jackson's Bight may be accessed from the beach. This mini-wall begins about 50 feet from shore, where schools of blue tang and parrot fish hang out amongst the bright orange boulders of brain coral and beds of purple fan coral. Drawn by the iridescent, almost eerie light, float toward the wall's edge to peer down into the vast blue emptiness.

Scuba experts rank Little Cayman's Bloody Bay Wall one of the best dives in the Caribbean. The wall, which begins at about 20 feet, teems with marine life from whale sharks to colorful sponges, eagle rays to tiny anemones. Eagle Ray Round-Up, Jackson Wall, and Fisheye Fantasy also draw dive aficionados.

Cayman Brac also draws divers, especially to the northwest coast where the wreck of the 330-foot M/V Captain Keith Tibbetts, a Russian-built Cuban naval frigate, sunk and now attracts abundant fish and marine life. Cayman Bracs' other popular attraction consists of the more than 150 caves carved into the island's limestone bluff. Ask your hotel for local guides who can take you to Great Cave, known for its ocean view, Bat Cave, named for the critters that dangle from the ceiling, and others.

Tip: Enjoy Cayman Brac's nature trails—grab a free brochure from their tourist office.'s resident family expert Candyce Stapen has written the book on family travel, having authored some 1,400 travel articles and 27 books, 26 of them on family travel. She is the winner of the 2004 "Caribbean Travel Writer of the Year for North America" award and a three-time winner of the Society of American Travel Writers' Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism award. Her articles have appeared in publications including Nick Jr , FamilyFun , Parents , Better Homes & Gardens , Conde Nast Traveler , National Geographic Traveler , and the Family Travel Network , among others. Her book, the National Geographic Guide to Caribbean Family Vacations is available from

Published: 26 Nov 2007 | Last Updated: 9 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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