Location and Geography of the Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands comprises Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. The three islands are situated in the western Caribbean, about 150 miles south of Cuba, 480 miles south of Miami, Florida, and 180 miles northwest of Jamaica. George Town, the capital, is on the western shore of Grand Cayman. Geographically, the Cayman Islands is part of the Cayman Ridge, which extends westward from Cuba. The Cayman Trench, the deepest part of the Caribbean at a staggering depth of over four miles, separates the three small islands from Jamaica. This steep drop-off creates some of the most spectacular scuba diving in the World.
Grand Cayman, the largest of the three islands, is approximately 22 miles long with an average width of four miles. Of its total area of about 78 square miles, almost half is wetland. The most striking feature is the shallow, reef-protected lagoon, the North Sound, which has an area of about 35 square miles. The island is low-lying, with the highest point only about 60 feet above sea level.
Cayman Brac lies about 89 miles northeast of Grand Cayman. It is about 12 miles long, with an average width of less than 2 miles. Its terrain is the most spectacular of the three islands. The Bluff, a massive central limestone outcrop, rises steadily along the length of the island up to 140 ft. above the sea at the eastern end.
Little Cayman lies five miles west of Cayman Brac and is approximately ten miles long with an average width of just over a mile. The island is low-lying, with a few areas on the north shore rising to 40 ft. above sea level. Together, the islands have a land area of about 100 square miles. There are no rivers on any of the islands, but there are large areas of luxuriant vegetation. The coasts are largely protected by offshore reefs and in many places by a mangrove fringe that often extends into inland wetlands that play a key role in the islands' ecology.
Almost 2,000 acres of dry forests and mangrove wetland are protected by the National Trust for the Cayman Islands. An internationally acclaimed system of marine parks is managed by the Cayman Islands Department of Environment.