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from each other by seven miles of ocean. Cayman Brac covers about 15
square miles and Little Cayman, 10 square miles.
The three islands are similar, but not identical, in their landforms. Grand
Cayman is irregularly shaped and includes the North Sound, a shallow
bay of about 35 square miles. The elevation is low (about 60 feet above sea
level at its highest point). These are not volcanic islands so you won't see
mountains, just primarily low-level hills and bluffs.
The sister islands are each amoeba-shaped and small. Cayman Brac,
about 12 miles long and a little over a mile wide, rises highest. The bluff,
from which the island gets its name (Brac is Gaelic for bluff), soars to a
nosebleed level - by Caymanian standards - of 140 feet above sea level.
This cliff falls off into the sea and is one of the most picturesque features of
the islands.
A few miles west, Little Cayman is the flattest of the three islands, reach-
ing just 40 feet above sea level in its middle.
These three islands are the peaks of a submerged mountain range,
Cayman Ridge , part of a chain running from Cuba to near Belize. The is-
lands are actually limestone outcroppings with little soil, so vegetation is
not as lush as that found on other Caribbean islands.
Two types of limestone form most of the surface: bluff limestone, formed
about 30 million years ago, and ironshore, a substance created about
120,000 years ago, combining limestone with coral, mollusk shell, and
marl. Ironshore accounts for the pocked surface that holds little pockets of
soil (and makes walking barefoot just about impossible) on much of the
The limestone is very porous and most rain is quickly absorbed, so the is-
lands have no rivers or streams. Because there is so little runoff, there is
greater clarity in the surrounding waters. Divers rave about the visibility,
often as much as 100 to 150 feet. Each island is surrounded by coral reefs,
producing some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving in the Caribbean.
Divers have a chance at spotting a wide array of marine life, partly be-
cause of the deep water located nearby. The Cayman Trough , the deepest
water in the Caribbean, lies between this nation and Jamaica, with depths
that plunge over four miles into inky blackness.
Blessed with cooling trade winds, the Cayman Islands enjoy a
temperate climate year-round. The hottest months are July and
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