I ‘love’ the Bahamas – Exumas. Just a short 30 – 45 minute flight from South Florida brings you to a culture and scenery that is worlds away from life as we know it in the US. The Bahamas is an archipelago nation of approximately 700 islands, only about 40 of which are populated. We begin our jouoney in the capital, Nassau, which is the heart of the country and offers excellent facilities for the beginning and end of your private yacht charter holiday cruising the Exumas in the Bahamas.
After flying into Nassau, a uniformed crew member will meet you at the airport and arrange transportation for you and your luggage to your yacht which will be docked at the Atlantis ResortMarina. This is a spectacular resort with first class marina and a perfect place to board your yacht and unwind from your flights to the Bahamas. Spend the afternoon and evening exploring the myriad of activities in this magnificent resort including a six story water slide, a lazy inner tube float trip around the Lazy River, swimming with the dolphins and an impressive casino. Be sure to visit The Digs, which offers an underwater view of millions of gallons of water and thousands of sea creatures. This is a perfect place to settle in before heading out on your yacht (the perfect way to explore a nation of 700 islands) for the rest of your time in the Bahamas.
Many charterers choose to explore the Exumas on their cruise. The Bahamas – Exumas area is only 50 miles from Nassau and is an almost unbroken chain of islands for 90 miles. Click here for a video visit to the Exumas. The Exumas are one of the most exquisite cruising grounds in the world and certainly filled with out of the ordinary adventures. Swim with sharks! Swim with pigs! Visit an island filled with Iguanas. Enjoy amazing snorkeling in James Bond’s Thunderball Grotto – Staniel Cay. While almost impossible to count, the locals claim that there are 365 cays in the Exuma Group – one for every day of the year – offering some of the most beautiful anchorages and harbors in the world. Settlements are few and far between – remember only about 40 of the 700 islands in this country are inhabited – and those settlements tend to be small, picturesque, a bit primitive with friendly locals that will welcome you in true Bahamian fashion. Most are low with minimal vegetation. A few, like Highborne Cay will have small rolling hills with vegetation and even small trees. However, they all have one thing in common, the trademark signature of the Bahamas – crystal clear waters that shimmer between the colors of azure and sparkling turquoise.
At night the stars will amaze you. Since there are no large cities and almost no developments once you leave Nassau, the Bahamas – Exumas sky is like black velvet studded with stars that you haven’t seen since you were a kid – or perhaps, if you’re a city dweller – you’ve never seen stars like this! Go out on the deck of your yacht, have a glass of wine or after dinner liqueur , perhaps even enjoy the on deck Jacuzzi, and look up at the sky. This is heaven!
We are going to begin our exploration of the Exumas in Highbourne Cay, one of the more northern cays in the chain. A private island, this is the favorite outpost of seasoned yachtsman. There is a small marina and guests registered at the marina are allowed full access to the cay. The eastern shore of Highbourne Cay is one of the nicest beaches in the Bahamas, a perfect place for a picnic on the beach.
Continuing south our next stop is Warderick Wells, one of the most popular cays in the Bahamas – Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. The Land and Sea Park is one of twelve parks managed by the Bahamas National Trust. In 1959 an Act of Parliament established the Bahamas National Trust in an effort to save the West Indian Flamingo from extinction. It is a statutory, non-profit, non-government organization devoted to the conservation and management of the country’s natural and historic resources. Volunteers make up a large part of the manpower needed by the organization to keep up with the work required to maintain such a vast undertaking. The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park was established as the first marine fishery reserve in the Caribbean area. When you are snorkeling and admiring the vast array of fish and coral, you can thank the foresight of the early conservations in preserving the beauty of Warderick Wells for now and future generations. As a side note – the West Indian Flamingo that started all of this was brought back for the brink of extinction to a thriving colony of more than 60,000 birds now living in Inauga National Park. Perhaps your captain can arrange a visit to Inauga to see this environmental success story for yourself.
Warderick Wells has more than four miles of nature trails that will lead to rare plants, caves, wells and the ruins of a small Loyalist Plantation. This is a pristine area strictly protected to preserve it for future generations. You are asked to “take nothing but photographs and leave nothing but footprints in the sand”.
We now head to Staniel Cay. A very popular stop for yachties because there are two marinas, two restaurants, three stores (The Pink Store, The Blue Store and the General Store) a library and post office. Compared to most other islands Staniel Cay is a buzzing metropolis. Staniel Cay has also been discovered by Hollywood. It was home to James Bond’s Thunderball and Never Say Never and Splash was also filmed here. You can visit Thunderball Grotto and just north of the island is a cave – which can be entered by snorkelers through an underwater passage. After a day of exploring the island, be sure to check out the restaurants and shops at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club where your yacht will probably be docked. This is a great place to enjoy some wonderful local food. Beware that the Bahamians love spices and your food may be flavored with local pepper or limes. These are wonderful new tastes for many palates but may be a bit spicy for some. Just ask your server if you need to ‘Americanize’ the seasoning.
One of the largest settlements in the Bahamas – Exumas is George Town on Great Exuma Island. At one time there were several large plantations here which flourished because of the fertile rolling countryside perfect for crop cultivation and growing livestock. George Town is actually a village with one street circling Elizabeth’s Harbor. The hub of the town centers around Government Wharf where locals wait for the daily mail boat and fishing vessels returning with the day’s catch. George Town is also a meeting place for yachties who have abandoned a land based life and now explore the islands while living on their boats. Because of well stocked stores, excellent anchorages and a local airport with frequent flights to Nassau and South Florida you will find many charter yachts here as well.
OurBahamas – Exumas trip is coming to an end and we are heading back to Nassau tomorrow. But this is only one small part of the Bahamas, we will be back to explore some of the other great islands in this beautiful part of the world. Come find out for yourself why they say, “It’s better in the Bahamas”.