Exploring the Exumas by Luxury Catamaran
By Captain Adam Bentley
The Exumas are an archipelago of 365 cays and islands, beginning just 35 miles southeast of Nassau. Once called Yumey and Suma (names of Amer-Indian origin), the islands have gone through many changes over the years. Today, they’re divided into three major areas—Great Exuma, Little Exuma and The Exuma Cays.
Day 1: Nassau
Atlantis, Paradise Island, Nassau (pic courtesy of Traveler Corner)
Meet your yacht at one of the many marinas in Nassau. Settle in on board as you make your way towards Shroud Cay 40nm SE of Nassau. Anchor at Shroud Cay on the leeward side in shallow crystal clear waters.
Day 2: Shroud Cay
Take the tender on a rising tide up through the mangroves to the windward side to Shroud Cay. Enjoy the natural lazy river, sand bars and beautiful deserted beaches. Great for a picnic spot and hike to the viewing point. Once back onboard enjoy the yacht’s water toys.
Day 3: Big Major Cay
Big Majors Cay is home to the famous swimming pigs. How did the pigs get to Pig Beach? We don’t know for sure. Big Major Cay is uninhabited and the pigs are not native to the island. Some say they were left by a group of sailors, who planned to come back and cook them. Or that the pigs swam over from a shipwreck nearby. Wherever they came from, there are now about 20 pigs and piglets on Pig Beach. With daily visits from Bahamians and tourists, the pigs are living the easy life on Big Major Cay.
Tender ride to the Thunderball Grotto at slack tide. Site for filming the 1965 James Bond film, ‘Thunderball’ and ‘In to the Blue’ swim through an underwater opening, through schools of fish, into this uniquely beautiful world.
Day 4: Compass Cay
Compass Cay Marina
Make the short cruise to Compass Cay Marina, swim with the nurse sharks, its an incredible experience. There are also bonefish, sting rays and other reef fish.
Head to the Aquarium just off Soldier Cay, unbelievable amount of reef fish and if time and the current isn’t too strong dive the plane wreck off Little Halls Pond Cay owned by Johnny Depp.
Day 5: Warderick Wells
The island known as Warderwick Wells was selected to be the headquarters for the Exuma National Park due to the wide variety of naturally occurring ecosystems, and it’s centrally located geographical position within the park. From rocky bluffs to sand dunes, mangrove creeks and sand flats, this island has it all. Click here to see information on three separate mooring fields adjacent to the island provide plenty of safe moorage for visiting yachts.The skeleton of a 53′ Sperm Whale (died after swallowing a plastic bag) watches guard over Powerful Beach near the park office. There is excellent snorkeling in the ‘Coral Garden’ just make sure you swim at slack tide. Also you can hike at high water to the ‘blow holes’. On Saturday nights, cruisers frequently gather around the small tiki hut on the beach for a happy hour. Over 7 miles of trails cross throughout the island allowing visitors to hike from one end of the island to the other.
Trail Guides will lead you to Boo Boo Hill and the blow holes dominate the landscape on the eastern shore. As the highest point on the island, Boo Boo Hill has become the spot for visitors to bring a piece of driftwood with the name of their boat on it as an appeasement to King Neptune and the sea gods in a hope of safe passage.
Day 6: Highborne Cay / Norman’s Cay
On route to Highborne stop at Norman’s Cay and snorkel the famous drug cartels ‘Pablo Escobar’ Plane Wreck during his drug-smuggling operation from 1978 to around 1982.
Highbourne Cay Marina is approximately 3 miles long, covering an area of +/- 500 acres. Highbourne fits its name perfectly – the island is shaped like the letter H and its highest point is over 100 feet above sea level, one of the highest elevations in the Exumas.
A 17th Century map of the island shows a flowing channel of water across what is now the isthmus connecting the two, larger portions of the cay. In those days there would have been two cays laying parallel to each other.
Eight beaches line the island’s shore. Highbourne’s East Beach is renowned world-wide for its beauty and is ranked as one of the best beaches in The Bahamas. With three miles of powdery-soft white sand, East Beach is one of the few places in the world where yours are often the only footprints in the sand.
Highborne Cay Northern anchorage, in this shallow anchorage there are literally thousands of sand dollars. The term sand dollar refers to species of extremely flattened, burrowing sea urchins belonging to the order Clypeasteroida. Some species within the order, not quite as flat, are known as sea biscuits.
Tender ride over to Allan’s Cay to see the iguanas.
Day 7: Nassau
Back to Nassau (pic courtesy of Family Vacation Critic)
Once back in Nassau why not stay In Atlantis Marina, from championship seaside golf, to tennis matches on the harbor, to inimitable experiences with marine life, there is no shortage of things to discover at Atlantis. Endless thrills and adventure await in our 141-acre water park filled with water slides, river rides, 11 amazing pools and miles of white sand beaches. Explore the world’s largest open-air marine habitat with over 50,000 marine animals in 15 exhibit lagoons. Snorkel, scuba, snuba, and dive or walk with sharks. Enjoy yoga, pilates, a fully equipped fitness center, unwind in our world class spa or indulge in our nightlife.