Climb Cayman Brac
includes a free, downloadable climbing guide. Trip Report by Anthony Stout
We step out of the tiny Cayman Brac airport and find ourselves in a new and mysterious world. The air is heavy and the wind sharp, though soft and does not sting like the desert winds we had come from. The aroma of salty ocean fills the air. We drive our rental car on the wrong side (if you’re from the US) of the road through the darkness, and I can barely make out limestone cliffs through the breaks in the densely vegetated roadside. Palm trees sway as their leaves filter the strong wind, their sound blends with thunderous waves pounding the shoreline. Soon we arrive at The Bluff View House
the place we call home for the next week, and retire. We sleep little as anticipation and sounds outside our window stir our dreams.
Awaking to early morning dawn, we rise excited to explore the mystery that was clouded by the darkness the night before. The island paradise transforms as the sun ascends above the deep blue Caribbean Ocean. We walk along pink coral and shell strewn
beaches exploring sharp gray ironstone and looking into tidal pools filled with small creatures. For the next week time slows, nearing irrelevance. The days are filled with walks on the beach, solitude, wind, waves, amazing sunrises and sunsets, climbing, snorkeling, caving, dining, relaxing, and hanging out with friends.
Cayman Brac ("Brac" rhymes with "crack" and means bluff in Gaelic) is one of the most beautiful areas I have ever been lucky enough to clip bolts. The climbing exists on a bluff that runs west to east, with large limestone cliffs rising up to about 150 feet in height on the northeast end of the island. The island has all you might expect for limestone sport climbing: steep and juggy overhangs to vertical and technical rock, stalactites and flowstone, sometimes sharp, or sometimes smooth and slick, and pockets and jugs. If you are looking for solitude, this is your place. If you are looking for lines to wait in to get onto climbs, go elsewhere. There are seven developed climbing areas on the island with 85 routes, with grades range from 5.6 To 5.13b.
Unlike many of the neighboring islands, such as Cuba and the Dominican Republic, all routes are bolted with Titanium bolts
and are therefore safe. For more info see: Bolt Safety
or a recent article in Climbing Magazine.
GEAR: There is no place to purchase climbing gear on the island, so everything will have to be brought with you. If you stay at the Bluff View House you will have static ropes and a clip stick, just bring a squid or something similar to clip the bolts. A rack of 20 quickdraws will get you up any route on the island (the longest route requires 19). Take a half-dozen shoulder-length slings with biners for routes at The Point. Ascending devices (Prussic, Ropeman, Tiblock) are also required when climbing at The Point. More details
Due to the intense tropical sun, you should always climb in the shade. Each sector has shade at different times of day. Love Shack Wall
: Just a three minute walk from the Bluff View house. 5.9+ to .13b. Shade about 3:00 in March. Orange Cave
: With a 10 minute approach, this is great place to spend an afternoon and to get used to the stone on the Brac. This area offers climbing from 5.6 to 5.11a, and includes one of the steepest 5.10s anywhere! Shade @ 2:00 in March.
The Wave Wall: With routes graded from 5.8 to 5.12+, and the greatest concentration being in the 5.10 range, this crag offers a high concentration of moderates. Unfortunately, it can only be accessed during calm seas. Shade @ 2:30 in February. The Northeast Point
: Full-on Adventure Climbing
with nothing but water and air below you. Many routes here from 5.9 to 5.12. Shade all day in February, the top of the routes get sun by mid March. Edd's Place
: Only two routes here but the length, quality and position make them must do routes. Shade @ 2:00 in February. Neptune's Lair
: Though only a few climbs here, the beauty of the area makes the 25 minute walk well worth it. If you continue just a little further beyond the crag, Neptune’s Cave is well worth exploring. Shade most of the day, with evening sun in March. Dixon's Wall
: This area is home of the best rock and the best routes on the Island with shade all day.
In the center of the Caribbean, 450 miles to the south of Miami, Florida, and 150 miles south of Cuba are the Cayman Islands. Cayman Brac is the easternmost island of the Caymans, 85 miles northeast of Grand Cayaman, and 5 miles east of Little Cayman.
Many of the major airlines offer service to Cayman Brac (i.e. American, United, Cayman Airways). A visit to your favorite online booking agent (i.e. Travelocity, Expedia, Orbitz, etc.) will lead the way. In some cases (as in ours when traveling from Albuquerque, NM), these sites mix different airlines and come to a price more expensive than you will come up with if mixing airlines on your own. For example, we traveled from Albuquerque to Tampa on Southwest, then to Grand Cayman and finally Cayman Brac by purchasing a separate flight on Cayman Airlines. Doing this was less expensive than the prices any of the online agents came up with.
On the South side of the island there are many houses available for tourists to stay. However, for climbers, I would recommend contacting John Byrnes (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visiting The Cayman Brac Website
to see if the Bluff View climber’s house is available.
Staying at Bluff View will ensure you don’t have to bring rappel ropes, which are helpful for rappelling into the climbs at The Point. He also has stick clips available which you will most certainly want to use on some of the climbs. John maintains all the routes and the climbing guide for free, so renting Bluff View also supports climbing on the island.
Two additional websites are good resources for a variety of accommodations and more detail about 'The Brac'": www.itsyourstoexplore.com www.gotocayman.com
Climate and When to go
The Cayman Islands have two seasons: winter, from November to April, and summer, from May to October (which is also the rainy season). Rainfall tends to come in short bursts of heavy showers, and rock quickly dries as the sun returns. The water temperatures range from 78 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter and from 82 to 86 in the summer. Cayman brac is hotter and drier than Grand Cayman, with the dry season during the winter. June through October is hurricane season. The most ideal weather conditions tend to occur from January through March.
Weather station 87.6 miles from here
55 Total Routes
['4 Stars',15],['3 Stars',29],['2 Stars',9],['1 Star',2],['Bomb',0]
Browse More Classics in Cayman Brac
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Cayman Brac:
Featured Route For Cayman Brac
Latest Regional Forum Messages
BEWARE of the iron shore! This is what happens wh...
For climbers who dive, there is expansive underwat...
The Bluff View climbers house, owned and operated ...
yes, the water is this blue.
A classic sunset shot on Cayman Brac.
Bussey's place, La Esperanza, with "Bob"...
Dean playing around on a palm tree.
Some of the creatures on the island.
The island has excellent snorkeling with clear wat...
looking towards wave wall
There are many caves around the island to explore ...
yet another beautiful cayman brac sunset
BETA PHOTO: Old stainless steel bolts carode easily in the sea...
Approach to Wave Wall during low seas and low tide...
BETA PHOTO: The newer titanium glue in bolts are far more caro...
By Rob Kepley
Jun 14, 2009
If you're looking for a place that feels like the "ends of the earth" then go to Brac. I mean that in a good way of course. This is the most laid back place I have ever been in my entire life. If you're looking for tourist type, night life then stay away. However, if you just want to unwind, relax and re-charge then go. Brac is a magical place you will never forget, ever.
By Skip Harper
Mar 16, 2010
Nice write up Anthony. Sorry you missed Wave Wall. It easily rivals Dixon's wall for user friendly stone and superb routes. While 'Rob' caught a dowsing and turned back, it's well worth heading there during a receding tide.
There are many alternative places to stay on the island. One of the best is La Esperanza, laesperanza.net , on the North Side. It's actually very convenient to all routes on the island, not just the South side. It is a 50's style 'motel' and/or 'houses', has a bar, restaurant, grocery and car rental. Owned by a very friendly local Bussy Dilbert, it is usually calm and quiet during the week, but on Friday and Saturday nights, they 'jerk chicken Cayman style, locals hang out and party - many times (depending) with live music. A superb place to relax, catch an incredible Cayman sunset and enjoy the 'local color'.
Two additional websites are good resources for a variety of accommodations and more detail about 'The Brac': itsyourstoexplore.com and gotocayman.com .
By Anthony Stout
From: Albuquerque, NM
Mar 25, 2010
Thanks Skip! And thank you for the awesome guide book. It was great to have it, and also helped a great deal for this page write up. Greatly appreciated.
The approach to the wave wall was being POUNDED when we were there! We were really bummed out not to have the opportunity to go there. We checked every day, and still the waves were coming. And we most certainly did NOT want to end up like Rob. God that looks terrible.
By Joe Cayer
From: Mesa, Az
Aug 23, 2012
I was just wondering if anyone had any additional information on Cayman Brac. My fiance and are are scheduled to honeymoon there from Dec. 2nd - 11th and will be staying at the Carib Sands Beach Resort.
Any current info on the island would be greatly appreciated. We are planning to dive, climb and whatever else sounds like a fun adventure...
By Vance White
Oct 16, 2012
take a look at this:
John Byrnes is an active climber and spends months on the island each year. He also rents out rooms. He leads the charge each year with retro bolting efforts as well.
By Dustin Stephens
Mar 18, 2014
Can't say I'd really recommend this place, the Wave Wall was unapproachable the whole week we were there (late December), Dixon's Wall was dripping wet, and the rest of the climbing is mediocre at best. There are also no real beaches on the island worth going to (watch out for urchins, ouch), and the food is very bad. Still, if you're going to dive, it's one of the best places anywhere.
By John Q.
From: Chevy Chase, MD
Nov 6, 2014
I went to Cayman Brac with my wife and step-son last July. Generally, people go there for climbing in the winter time because it's much cooler. But we found shady places to climb there in July. In the summer time, you should stick to climbing on the north side of the island (Dixon's Wall, Neptune's Lair). You will have shade until about 2 - 3 PM. Even the Love Shack Wall on the south side would stay shady for a good portion of the day. Anyway, our trip there was awesome. Each day we pretty much got up and would climb from about 9AM - 2:30PM, then we'd go snorkel some, have dinner, relax and sleep. If you're looking for a vacation that will give you climbing, nice weather, in a really laid back relaxed place, then this is the place for you. But if you're into Beach resort like things and tourist like stuff, then this is not the place for you. Me, I loved it. Most relaxing vacation I've had in a long time.