Laid out like a string of pearls along the eastern edge of the Grand Bahamas Bank, the Exuma Islands offer a one-of-a-kind cruising paradise for experienced and amateur sailors alike. While sailing along the 130-mile archipelago, you’ll encounter everything from solitude white sand beaches to popular island destinations. Whether you choose to sail the deep, open ocean to the east or navigate your way through the shallow, calm waters to the west, you won’t want to miss out on these top must-see anchorages.
Lee Stocking Island –
Lee Stocking Island, located just east of Great Exuma, provides an interesting afternoon of exploring. Get a bird’s-eye view on the dizzying summit of Perry Hill. At only 100 feet above sea level, it may not seem like much of a hike, but you’ll be impressed by the views to the north and south. You can even visit the old abandoned marine biology research station on the island which still houses the laboratories, fish tanks, generators and offices.
February Point –
After you work up an appetite, sail across Elizabeth Harbour and stop by The Rusty Anchor Restaurant to grab a bite to eat. Located at February Point’s new oceanfront Beach Club, this crowd favorite is the perfect waterfront setting for tropical dining, live music and entertainment. Not to mention, the new floating dock marina offers provisioning services available through the February Point concierge staff – making it convenient to restock your supplies.
If you’re looking for a break from the water, sooth your soul and rejuvenate your senses at The Beach Club’s Hollis Day Spa offering an array of top-notch treatments. Want to make Exuma your homeport? Stop by the sales office to see residential offerings at February Point.
Leaf Cay –
Every wildlife enthusiast must visit Leaf Cay to say hello to a colony of rare Exuma Island Iguanas (only 1,300 remain). You won’t have any trouble finding these chunky, armor-clad creatures, as they will scramble out on the beach to greet you in search of a handout.
Rudder Cut Cay –
Rudder Cut Cay is one of 11 islands that David Copperfield purchased in 2006. While his islands are private, the beaches are public up to and a little beyond the high-tide mark, and Rudders Cut has a wonderful long white sand beach that you don’t want to miss. Look for a small sea cave at the northern end of the beach; it has a “mini beach” inside that’s just big enough for two and makes for a perfect shady lunch spot.
For the Snorkel fans, the coral and marine life here is pretty amazing. If you’re up for an adventure, search for The Musician, an underwater sculpture of a mermaid resting on a piano by Jason DeCaires Taylor, which was sunk here by Copperfield back in 2011.
Staniel Cay –
A favorite destination for large yachts, Staniel Cay has a good-size marina, a little village, a few restaurants and hotels, and a grocery store — very important, if you need to restock your supplies.
Staniel is also home to Thunderball Grotto, named after the 1965 James Bond movie that was filmed here. This protected spot — no fishing allowed — is rich with colorful tropical fish and beautiful coral, all mysteriously illuminated by light filtering into the cave through underwater tunnels.
Big Major Cay –
Located around the corner from the Grotto is Big Major Cay where you can get up close and personal to the Exumas’ famed swimming pigs. Story has it that these pigs were abandoned here by merchant ships many years ago and have since taken over this small island. However, instead of being a nuisance, they’ve become quite a tourist attraction.
Compass Cay –
Compass Cay is part of the Exumas Cays Land and Sea Park, a string of protected islands just north of Staniel Cay. Here you can explore a winding mangrove river that ends at a large pool called Rachel’s Bubble Bath. The “Bath” is fed by ocean surf crashing over a ragged reef barrier, giving it the look and feel of a seawater Jacuzzi.
Wardericks Well –
Wardericks Well, home to Exumas Cays Land and Sea Park’s headquarters, offers some of the best snorkel spots in the area. The marine life is rich here, and the park rangers can provide you with a map that lists all the snorkel sites. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled because you may just encounter some spiny lobsters battling each other across the coral.
Shroud Cay –
Shroud Cay, located at the north end of the Exumas Cay Land and Sea Park, has a mangrove river that winds through the island. This scenic river takes you to a large, beautiful, white-sand beach on the ocean side where you can explore an old abandoned “camp” that drug-enforcement agents set up in the ’80s to spy on neighboring Norman’s Cay.
In the bay to the southeast of the island, you can snorkel one of the cargo planes that Carlos Lehder and his gang used to fly drugs “under the radar” to dry lakebeds and other remote locations in the United States. The plane is pretty much still intact, even the engine and propellers are still there, although now they are home to beautiful coral and tropical fish.