Leopard Owners love the Exumas! And what's not to love? Discover blissful beaches that are uninhabited and isolated. The Exuma Cays are surrounded by prosperous reefs and first-class dive spots. Luckily for you we are going to reveal the best of these paradise stricken islands.
We have created the following itinerary for cruisers exploring from North to South. But of course this can be tailored to fit your plans whichever direction the wind may take you.
First things first- fuel and water
If you are launching into your exploration through the Exumas by way of Nassau go ahead fill up on water and fuel here. You will then set sail on a 65 mile journey to your first stop. You will save a little money, and you can spend more time on the remote cays.
For those of you are following along in our "Best of Bahamas" series and heading here from Eleuthera, you will be making about a 40 mile passage to your first stop.
Highbourne Cay to Long Cay
For excellent fishing and an overnight in a marina, go ahead and drop into Highbourne Cay. If flourishing coral, excellent snorkeling and massive lobster are what you fancy, move a little farther south to drop your anchor in Long Cay. From here you can dive, swim, spear fish or snorkel about on and around both Long Cay and Lobster Cay which is just the west. We promise the underwater life here will leave a lasting impression. We suggest fulfilling your pescatorial desires here where the seafood is a plenty. Our next few stops are protected cays and the government will not allow any kind of fishing.
Waderick Wells, Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park
If you have considered a sailing excursion in the Exumas then we will safely assume this park made it onto the list of your "must see places".
Grab yourself a mooring ball in Waderick Wells, or somewhere more remote like Shroud Cay. It will cost you $20-$60 per night, depending on the size of your vessel. Shroud Cay, an uninhabited cay owned by the park, provides a sanctuary to wildlife. Follow this link for a detailed description of snorkeling spots and beaches on Shroud Cay. While Waderick Wells is the headquarters for ECLS Park, the park encompasses a number of cays within the boundaries of the park, so stretch out and explore your options!
Discovering Compass Cay
One of our favorite Leopard Owner's blog that we cannot get enough of as of late is Even Keel Traveller. If you have not discovered this page yet, do yourself a favor and give their page a visit. They have spent a great deal of time living aboard their boat in the Bahamas with their two pups, Skipper and Pilot. We have found inspiration from their page to help us write about Compass Cay.
According to our friends at Even Keel Traveller, there are plenty of reasons to love Compass Cay, but they have graciously narrowed it down to their top three.
- Nurse sharks. These sharks put up with a lot of tourists eager to swim with them and they keep a good attitude about it. Our friends mentioned that if you stay at the marina, you can have these sharks all to yourself when the tour boats are gone.
- The second reason to love this cay is because of the pristine beaches that you can have all to yourself. There are not a great deal of vacation homes on this little island and therefore you will not find any crowds.
- Sandy Paths. You could spend two days just wandering these paths and exploring the island. If you have plenty of time for discovering new beaches, Compass Cay is the perfect spot!
Grottos, Pigs and a Plane Wreck
On Staniel Cay you can discover one of the most accessible underwater plane wrecks in the world. The dive site sits in just over six feet of water and is located only 1/2 a mile from Staniel Cay Yacht Club. If you'd like to explore some of this tiny cay's beaches (it's less than a square mile wide) hoof it or rent a golf cart. A golf cart rental will set you back $50. Discover Ocean Beach and Pirate Trap Beach-- you won't be disappointed!
You will want to plan to go underwater cave diving in Thunderball Grotto where you can enjoy animated sea life and vast amounts of coral. If you are not a diver, no need to worry. Swimmers can ease their way into the grotto during low tide. This site is certainly the most famed and one of the most memorable dive spots in the Bahamas.
It would not be a "Best of the Bahamas" article if we failed to make a mention of the Swimming Pigs of Big Major's Spot. You will find them on a tiny island to the northeast of Staniel Cay. Bring food for the animals!
Black Point on Great Guana Cay
You will not find boat slips or mooring balls in black point, but we can guarantee you one of the best anchorages you will find in the Exumas. Your trash can be deposited on the government dock and you can fill jugs of drinking water. To discover happy hour and dinner specials at the local restaurants, listen in to VHF channel 16. Stop into DeShamon’s for a pizza or make a move for some delicious local cuisine at Lorraine's Cafe.
Little Farmer's Cay
This 68 acre cay is home to 55 residents. When you notice some of the most vibrant water you have ever laid eyes on, you will be eager to dive right in, but grab a mooring ball first at Little Farmer's Cay Yacht Club and Marina and do not miss the lobster dinner. It is proudly prepared by the owners of the yacht club. After dinner grab a sundowner at Ty's Sunset Bar and Grill before calling it day.
A Ghost Town
Your next stop will be a 15 mile run from Little Farmer's Cay. If you are in search of an not-so-typical experience while in the Exumas, mark Lee Stocking Island as your spot. What was once a large marine research location, is now completely abandoned ghost town. Find an anchorage and head to shore. Spend the day hiking roads and trails and peeking into the uninhabited structures. You will find this cay to be eerily entertaining.
The Capital City of the Exumas
Drop anchor somewhere near George Town. We would suggest settling off of Stocking Island at Volleyball Beach. This will put you in close proximity to Chat 'n' Chill Beach Bar & Grill. Catch a beach yoga session there in the morning and don't miss the pig roast on Sunday night! It will cost you $20 per person and we promise it will be $20 well spent. If you want to head into George Town, dinghy under the bridge into Lake Victoria which is a lagoon with a dinghy dock. For the many cruisers who do not have a watermaker you can fill up on fresh drinking water free of charge here at the local grocery store. You may also want to take a short but steep hike up to Monument Hill for spectacular views of the whole harbor from the top. If you feel the desire to venture south of George Town, then mosey to Little Exuma and discover Tropic of Cancer Beach, which is a stunning white sand beach. Potentially one of the most visually appealing beaches in the world.
The Exumas are in class of their own. The unrivaled anchorages and the thriving marine environment play a large part in what makes these islands so special. Due to the vast number of unique cays, it is easy for any cruiser to find a private anchorage and a remote beach to kick back and enjoy life on island time.