Geography of Cayman Islands
Sparsely populated, mostly flat and partly marshy, the Cayman Islands have a corner of the Caribbean all to themselves. The island country is comprised of the three islands of the Grand Cayman, the largest and most populated of the trio, and the sister islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, which lie approximately 89 miles east-northeast of Grand Cayman and are separated from each other by a channel about seven miles wide. The total land mass of the three islands is 100 square miles, with Grand Cayman occuping 76 square miles, Cayman Brac 14 square miles and Little Cayman just 10 square miles.
The largest, Grand Cayman, is shaped a bit like the Little Dipper and is approximately 22 miles long from the lip of the cup on the western end to the tip of the handle on the eastern end, and 8 miles at its widest point, reaching a maximum elevation at East End of 60 ft. It lies 150 miles south of Cuba and about 180 miles west of Jamaica.
Cayman Brac is 12 miles long and just over a mile wide and has the most dramatic topography of the trio. Its majestic Bluff rises west to east along the length of the island to 140 feet at the eastern tip, ending in a sheer cliff. Many mysterious caves are carved throughout this awe-inspiring natural attraction.
Little Cayman, only 10 miles long and a mile wide, is flat and reaches a maximum elevation of 40 ft. Its famous Bloody Bay wall Marine Park has been called one of the world's best dive sites. Inland, the 203 acre Booby Pond Nature Reserve is a RAMSAR site and nesting ground for the Caribbean's largest population of Red Footed Boobies.
The three islands are limestone outcroppings, the tops of a submarine mountain range called the Cayman Ridge, which extends west southwest for the Sierra Maestra range off the southeast part of Cuba to the Misteriosa Bank near Belize. The islands lack rivers or streams because of the porous nature of the limestone rock. It is this lack of runoff which gives the surrounding Caribbean Sea exceptional visibility, often well over 120 ft.
Between the Cayman Islands and Jamaica lies the deepest part of the Caribbean, the Cayman Trough, which is over four miles deep. South of Cayman is the Bartlett Deep where depths of over 18,000 ft. have been recorded. All three islands are surrounded by healthy coral reefs which lie at the top of dramatic walls and drop-offs close to shore, creating ideal conditions for diving and sportfishing.