The Bahamas is a major cruising ground thanks to its proximity with United States, short half-day sailing distances in safe protected waters, a plethora of exciting destinations and secluded anchorages near hundreds of islands and cays to choose from. And of course, there is the clearest bluest water in the world, coral gardens, and tropical fish. But we missed land. The islands are small flat and rocky, covered with thick low impassable shrubs and trees. There are no mountains, no volcanoes, no forests, no rivers, no lakes; nothing to do on land. We enjoyed ourselves and had good times in the Bahamas but we wouldn’t return there any time soon.
We spent three months exploring some of the Bahamian wonders on Berry Islands, Cat Island, Exumas, Long Island, Crooked Island, Aclins, and Mayaguana where we met the most welcoming people, we had great adventures, and we found the best snorkeling spot, the best anchorage and the best settlement.
Most Welcoming People
The most welcoming people we met in the Bahamas were in Great Harbour, Berry Islands. If you are walking around Great Harbor the first car that passes by will surely stop and offer you a ride. Here, we got invited to a local celebration with tons of free food and drinks, and here we met Angie and Marty, a British couple, the owners of hotel-boutique Carriearl, who let us use their bikes and invited us to a pizza-dinner.
Best Snorkeling Spot
We found turquoises clear waters and coral gardens ideal for snorkeling virtually everywhere in the Bahamas, but our favorite spot is Thunderball Grotto near Staniel Cay, Exuma. Inside and around a dramatic underwater cave we marveled at corals and rock formations surrounded by a dense cloud of tame fish expecting to be fed.
Most Beautiful Nature
The most beautiful island nature we found on Shroud Cay, Exumas, which is part of Exuma Land and Sea Park. We spent two unforgettable days kayaking in shallow tidal channels between mangroves and white-sand fields traversing the island from one end to the other, discovering the most beautiful remote beach and shallow pools with crystal warm water.
The most surreal and funny thing was without doubt the Swimming Pigs near Staniel Cay, Exuma. These pigs are charming, friendly, and very gracious swimmers. They will come up to your dinghy expecting handouts and will follow you on the beach for as long as you have any food in your possession.
Most Unexpected Experience
We met a humpback whale 20 miles off the coast of Great Exuma.
The Place We Got the Most From
The place we got the most from is Little San Salvador. It is a small island with a beautiful lagoon property of Carnival Cruise Lines. We spent two weeks there enjoying the free island buffet every day at lunch infiltrating the cruise ship crowds.
The Place We Gave the Most To
The place we gave the most to was Cat Island. There we volunteered to help repair a historical heritage site, Father Jerome’s hermitage damaged by a lightning.
Our favorite settlement is Pittstown on Crooked Island. This is one of the most remote tiny communities in the Bahamas, south of the Tropic of Cancer, where life is slow and relaxed, the waters near the shores are teaming with fish, wild birds populate the trees and the rocks near the shores, and there are more giant coconuts lying around than a boat can carry.
Booby Cay, Mayaguana is our favorite Bahamian anchorage. No one goes there as there is no civilization near-by; no facilities whatsoever and the cruising guides do not recommend it. It is the most remote wild place we have been to in the Bahamas where hundreds of West Indian Flamingos come every year in March and April to mate and raise their chicks.
Least Favorite Anchorage
George Town, Great Exuma did not win us with its crowds, noise, organized activates for cruisers, regulations, and polluted waters. Although we enjoyed our stay there, met some wonderful people, and made new friends, we didn’t appreciate the segregation between the cruising community and the locals, the rules against fishing in the harbor and visiting some of the many private islands around, and the tight space for anchoring.
When our friends came to visit us for a week we took them for a boat ride to Rudder Cay, Exuma and we had the most fun kayaking to a cave, jumping from the boat, making a bonfire in the evening, going on an expedition to the other side of the forbidden island property of the famous illusionist David Copperfield, meeting and befriending his abandoned dog, discovering an underwater statue of a grand piano and a mermaid, and eating barracuda for the first time with no tragic consequences.
· Water: it is the best water in the world, beautiful!
· Climate: between December and march, the months we spent in the Bahamas, are just perfect, beautiful not too hot weather with a few cold fronts with north winds.
· Fish: the waters around some of the populated areas are depleted of fish, but as a whole, fishing is still good in the Bahamas, especially in more remote areas.
· Security: one of the safest cruising grounds. Except near Nassau, you can leave the boat unlocked at any time and be sure that nothing will go missing. If you visit a settlement and you lose something, it will be returned to you.
· Tranquility: this is the place to take your time and relax.
· 700 islands: there are so many islands and cays, you will be sure to find what you are looking for whether it is a secluded beach, a community of yachts, an authentic local experience, or a luxurious yacht club restaurant.
· Food: food and food products are extremely expensive , sometimes up to 4 times the prices in USA and Canada, and there are no big shopping centers or grocery stores. Stocking up before heading to the Bahamas is a must.
· Alcohol: beer in the Bahamas is expensive, rum is cheap.
· People: very welcoming and helpful, very ‘laid back’.Share