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A 17th-century Scottish fisherman dubbed this 19km-long (12-mile) island Brac (Gaelic for "bluff"). The Bluff is a towering limestone plateau rising 42m (138 ft.) above the sea, covering the eastern half of Cayman Brac. Caymanians refer to the island simply as Brac, and its 1,400 inhabitants, a hospitable bunch of people, are called Brackers. Pirates occupied the Caymans in the early 18th century, and Edward Teach, the infamous Blackbeard, supposedly spent quite a bit of time on Cayman Brac. The island is about 143km (89 miles) east of Grand Cayman.

More than 170 caves honeycomb the limestone heights of the island. Some of the caves are at the Bluff's foot; others can be reached only by climbing over jagged limestone rock. One of the biggest is Great Cave, which has a number of chambers. Harmless fruit bats cling to the roofs of the caverns.

You won't see many people on the south side of the Bluff, and the only sound is the sea crashing against the lavalike shore. You'll find the island's herons and wild green parrots here. Most Brackers live on the north side, in traditional wooden seaside cottages, some of which were built by the island's first settlers in the 1700s. Looking at the variety of flowers, shrubs, and fruit trees in many of the Brackers' yards, it is clear that many of the islanders have green thumbs. You'll see poinciana trees, bougainvillea, Cayman orchids, croton, hibiscus, aloe, sea grapes, cactuses, and coconut and cabbage palms. Gardeners grow cassava, pumpkins, breadfruit, yams, and sweet potatoes.

There are no actual towns on the island, only settlements -- among them Stake Bay (the "capital"), Spot Bay, the Creek, Tibbetts Turn, the Bight, and West End, all of which are clustered by the airport.

Hotels quote their rates in U.S. dollars. Restaurant menus vary in which currency they list, so ask if you're not sure. Most restaurants give you a choice of paying in U.S. or local Caymanian currency.