Cayman Brac is an island that lies about 143 km northeast of Grand Cayman in the Caribbean Sea. It is about 19 km long, with an average width of 2 km, meaning that the total area is approximately 38 square km (14.7 square miles). Its terrain is the most spectacular of the three Cayman Islands. "The Bluff", a massive central limestone outcrop, rises steadily along the length of the island up to 43 m (140 feet) above the sea at the eastern end. The island is named after this prominent feature, as "brac" is a Gaelic name for a bluff. The population of the island was estimated at 1,822 in 1999.
Christopher Columbus sighted Cayman Brac and its sister island, Little Cayman, in 1503 when his ship was blown off course during a trip between Hispaniola and Panama. He named them "Las Tortugas" because of the many tortoises he spotted on the islands. The Cayman Islands were renamed by Sir Francis Drake, who landed on them during a voyage in 1585-86. He used the word "Caymanas", taken from the Carib name for crocodiles after seeing many of the large crocodilians. Many people today believe he had only seen the Rock Iguanas that inhabit the island today but, it is a well known fact that the large crocodilians lived in the swamp areas on both sister islands. The animals were all killed after causing a number of human deaths in the late 1800's.
During the heyday of piracy, pirates used Cayman Brac as a haven and a place to replenish their supplies as there are a number of fresh water wells on the island and had many sources of food included in the local flora and fauna.