Cayman Brac Climbing

As our third anniversary approaches tomorrow, I find myself daydreaming about heading to the Caribbean to climb. You may be surprised to find out that there is indeed climbing in the Caribbean. Phil and I honeymooned at Cayman Brac, seeking to have both a beachy and a climbing-filled trip.

The flight to Grand Cayman from Charlotte is quick and easy, and allows some cool views of Cuba. If I were a jet setter, I would do it more often! Then, you grab a puddle jumper to head to The Brac. This small plane flies a triangular route from Grand Cayman, roughly 88 miles to Cayman Brac, on Little Cayman and back to Grand, giving you a chance to peak at the two lesser known islands.

We landed on Cayman Brac and grabbed a trusty rental car. The island is only 12 miles long, but the car gave us a lot of flexibility to climb and explore.

Your first impression upon arrival is that Cayman Brac is tiny. With less than 2000 inhabitants, this is not the place to go if you are looking for nightlife. This IS the place to go for world class scuba diving and a quirky, off the beaten path beach hideaway. If you are a do-it-yourself'er looking to climb or dive and not see many people, the Brac is for you.

For Sale signs dot nearly every lot and beach villa, which makes you feel like everything is for sale. Still, the housekeeper of our beach house arrived right when we did, and left us with delicious crab soup and conch fritters to welcome us. If you rent a house, it would be worth it to stash some food staples in your luggage. Everything is imported on Cayman Brac, which means it is pricey and not necessarily fresh. Luckily, right down the road we found a fabulous restaurant and bar, which is know for its jerk chicken.

We vacationed at Cayman Brac the first week of May, which is really just after the best climbing weather. It was quite hot in the afternoons, which meant we planned our climbing day according to the sun, or called it a day by lunchtime and went snorkeling. We never saw another climber, and enjoyed having each crag to ourselves.

All of the climbing areas are pretty easy to get to, although some climbs must be rapped into from the cliff top. The titanium Tortuga bolts are a blessing and certainly weather the salt air well. There are very few beginner routes. Most of the routes are 5.10-5.12.

We climbed at:

The Northeast Point
This area on the tip of the island is super fun, and accessed from the top. Watch out for the sharp rocks at the top! They feel like broken glass and will swiftly cut packs, clothing and ropes. A cloth or mat to protect your rope is an excellent idea. We would rap in with a lead rope backpacker coiled. This enabled us to lead routes, but the rap line ensured we could retreat if needed. Think twice about your safety here, as you won't find any climbing friendly SARs! Also, be respectful of rare Boobie birds. The Devil Wears Flippers is outstanding.

Love Shack
This easily accessed spot is great for a quick burn. The short routes are steep and pumpy. A roaming cow watched us flail since there is really no easy warm up.

The Wave Wall
This fun crag keeps you on your toes. The crashing waves below can be intimidating and can actually prevent you from climbing here when the sea is turbulent.

The Orange Cave
Near the Wave Wall, this was the first area we checked out. There is actually a 5.8 to get you acquainted with Cayman Brac climbing!

Dixon's Wall
Ask permission before heading into backyards to access this climbing area full of bizarre toofa stalactites. Super fun and walking distance from our cottage!

Check out Rock & Ice October 95 and December 97 Issues for more info on climbing at Cayman Brac. Don't count on encountering locals or other climbers to show you the way! We never saw another climber or found a local who knew much if anything about climbing.

Send us pics if you head there to check it out and I will keep dreaming of returning to Cayman Brac!

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