Step on board your luxury crewed yacht waiting for you in one of the marinas upon your arrival from Nassau International Airport. Your crew hands you a local cocktail before a brief orientation on what to expect for your week aboard. Cast off the lines and sail the 30 Nm passage across Yellow Banks, known for the coral heads below the crystal-clear surface. Explore Allen’s Cay where a calm anchorage awaits and you have a chance to mingle with indigenous iguanas which are a subspecies of Bahamian Rock Iguanas. Allen’s Cay is one of the few places where you can still find these interesting gentle creatures, which are protected by law. They are friendly and welcome to visitors, especially if you bring something to eat.
After a short sail to Highbourne Cay, your captain will “drop the hook” in the safe and protected anchorage of Horseshoe Bay. Here you can swim, wade ashore to explore the beach or kayak around the bay. There is a small marina with hammocks on the beach and the hilltop restaurant offers a 360-degree view of the Exuma Sound and nearby cays. Overnight here for a good night’s rest after a full day of activities onboard.
After a delicious breakfast served by your private chef, continue South to your next destination and enjoy some fishing along the way. Once at anchor on the Northside of Norman’s Cay, enjoy snorkeling or diving sites like “Octopus Garden” and “Hammerhead Gulch”. Spectacular beaches and lagoons with colorful fish and coral make this island special. There are also ruins and a sunken plane from the drug smuggling days of famous drug lord Carlos Lehder. Your captain will take you in the tender to explore “Twinkie Beach” with its lone palm tree and is great for shell collecting. For the avid fishermen, there are flats nearby for bonefishing and local guides are available for hire. Enjoy cocktails at sunset and of course the amazing meals served by your chef.
Your next stop is Shroud Cay situated in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. This larger island offers multiple mangrove rivers which can be cruised by tender, kayak or stand-up paddleboard. Breathtaking beaches on the East side of the island await and the view from “Camp Driftwood” offers spectacular views of the Exuma Sound. Play in the current of the rivers flowing strong with the tides in crystal clear shallow waters or follow the trail across the island with ruins of the plantation from the 1700s. Another stunning beach waits at the end of the trail where you can swim and sunbathe. Spend the night at anchor under the brilliant night sky.
The headquarters of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park is located at Warderick Wells and this is a perfect spot to spend some time in this naturalist’s paradise with surrounding sandbars and turquoise waters and mooring
balls to moor for the night. Stop by the park office for map guides and friendly advice. There are more than 4 miles of trails on this protected island with stunning lookouts along the way. White-tailed tropical birds nest in the bush and look out for the Bahamian Hutia, a large furry animal the size of a small dog. They eat the local vegetation and are harmless. Climb up to Boo Hill and the views from Park Ranger’s porch are unforgettable. Dinghy around to small cays nearby and snorkel, kayak, paddleboard in a very protected bay. Nearby Danger Reef offers Scuba diving to the adventurous looking to get close to ocean sharks and big fish and a little further South lays “Jeep Reef” which is a great dive at slack tide exploring the colorful coral heads and the old Jeep sitting on the ocean floor around 40 ft deep.
Compass Cay lay further South with the ancient Lucayan burial grounds of Rocky Dundas caves nearby to the West. Swim into and explore this amazing natural cathedral ceiling where light shines through exposing the fantastic colors of the stalactites and stalagmites along the walls of the grotto. A good time to visit these water caves is at low tide making for easy entrance. On the Northern end of the cay is “Rachel’s Bubble Bath”. Here you can soak in a natural whirlpool and can be bubbling or calm depending on the tide and ocean swells. Hike to the East side of the island and see ruins and a beautiful crescent-shaped beach with unspoiled beauty. There is a small fee to swim with the tame nurse sharks here and it is definitely an adventure not to be missed. After a “Burger and Beer” at the little shack in the Marina, sail off to Fowl Cay for another calm anchorage for the night.
Swim with the pigs on the beach of Big Major’s Cay in the morning and watch as they swim out to the dinghy begging for scraps. Chickens can also be found roaming the beach. Motor around to nearby Staniel Cay Yacht Club. Here is another opportunity to observe dozens of Nurse Sharks circling the fish cleaning station while you enjoy some local Conch salad and a cold beer. Explore this beautiful island by golf cart rental or just laze on the beach. Anchor the tender outside the entrance to “Thunderball Cave” where the famous James Bond movie “Thunderball” was filmed in 1965. At slack low tide, swim and snorkel into an aquarium. Colorful fish and coral heads shine in the light beaming from holes in the magnificent ceiling of this grotto. Anchor for the night in the shallow waters near Sampson Cay.
Spend the morning in the calm protected waters near Pipe Cay and Little Pipe Cay before sailing north for a leisurely cruise to your night anchorage either at Highbourne Cay, Norman’s Cay or Allen’s Cay. Look out for Osprey Birds in the indigenous pine trees as they wait to swoop down to catch a fish in the shallow waters. Take a dip at sunset and gaze at the stars enjoying an after-dinner drink.
After one more dip in the turquoise blue waters set sail for Nassau across the Yellow Bank to arrive in the bustling capital, where casino’s with water parks and golf courses are plentiful and stay another night in a hotel in paradise or fly back home after waving farewell to your crew after an unforgettable vacation in one of the most beautiful destinations in the world.