Christopher Columbus first spotted Cayman Brac and Little Cayman on May 10, 1503 during his last journey to the New World. En-route from Panama to Hispaniola (now known as the Dominican Republic and Haiti), Columbus was blown off course by an unexpected storm. This detour allowed him to sight the sister islands.
He named these islands Las Tortugas after the many sea turtles he found there. In his notes, the explorer wrote “... we were in sight of two very small islands, full of tortoises, as was the sea about, inasmuch as they looked like little rocks.” Later maps referred to the islands as Lagartos, probably a reference to the large lizards (possibly iguanas) seen on the island.