Written by Missy Johnston
Government House Square, Nassau
Board your yacht charter in Nassau. There are more than 700 islands in The Bahamas, with the Exuma chain reaching 120 miles south to Great Exuma Island where Georgetown is located. Enjoy lunch while cruising south to Highbourne Cay to anchor for the night. Perhaps try fishing, as at this point fishing is legal outside of the Exumas Land and Sea Park or shelling. This is a great location for water sports, swimming, snorkeling or just walking the long sandy beaches.
Allen’s Cay Black Iguana
Spend time in this area encompassing Allan’s Cay, Southwest Allan’s Cay and Leaf Cay in the morning. Explore the nearby beaches, swim, snorkel, play with the water toys. Head to Allan’s Cay to meet the large population of rare Black Iguanas that only live in a few locations in the world. As soon as these iguanas hear the sound of the outboard engine, they will come running to the beach hoping for food, however it is best to feed them iguana food only. There is very good fishing and snorkeling around this collection of small islands and reefs.
In the afternoon after lunch head to Norman Island to snorkel the airplane wreck from drug running days, now long over, when Norman Island was a center of drug activity and this airplane overshot the runway. In the early evening head to MacDuff’s for a Pina Colada. Overnight on anchor around Norman Island.
Macduff’s Restaurant, Norman Cay, Upscale
Executive Chef Jason Wallace studied abroad in England as well as the USA, then returned to his native Bahamas and pursued his passion working in top restaurants at the Grand Hyatt Resort, Wyndham Nassau Resort, and the Nassau Beach Hotel. Chef Wallace is known for his devotion to fresh, local ingredients and creative twists on Bahamian cuisine. He believes that people eat with their eyes first; therefore, each dish must be plated to impress. Skillful, passionate and creative, Chef Wallace endeavors to make each and everyone’s dining experience at MacDuff’s Restaurant and Grille a memorable one.
Warderick Wells, Exuma Land and Sea Park
Cruise to Warderick Wells, headquarters of the Exuma Land and Sea Park and be amazed at the awesome display of watercolors and sand banks. Visit the headquarters and take advantage of the walking trails and snorkeling reefs and check out the Sperm Whale skeleton on the beach. There are a great many walking trails, 4 miles in total. Legend has it a ship carrying missionaries once wrecked off this island and the locals swear on moonlit nights a ghostly congregation can be heard singing hymns. Listen for them as you dine al fresco.
As Warderick Wells is officially in the Exuma Land and Sea Park there is no fishing or shelling, so snorkeling is terrific, filled with underwater life.
Cruise to Shroud Cay and take the ship’s tender and wave runners to go riding through unspoiled mangrove creeks. The crew will have packed a picnic lunch in the tender for a lunch on a spectacular unspoiled beach only able to be reached by ship’s tender and wave runner’s, where yours will be the only footsteps in the sand, right on the ocean. Relax and enjoy this unspoiled paradise where it is only you and nature. In the afternoon return to the yacht and pull out all of the water toys for more fun in the sun and for others perhaps just laze on the top deck. Overnight on anchor.
Nurse Sharks Compass Cay Harbor
Day 5, 6 and 7: Cruise to Staniel Cay as a base and visit the quaint settlement sprinkled with brightly colored houses and the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, a great spot for afternoon drinks for visiting yachtsmen. This is an area where several days can be spent on any Exumas Islands yacht charter itinerary. First in Staniel Cay Harbor visit the placid nurse sharks that swim right off of the dock. Then there are many options for trips out of the harbor in the tender:
- Visit the Nurse Sharks in nearby Compass Cay Harbor: While Compass Cay Marina views these nurse sharks as pets, and have named each one, it is wise to remember that these sharks are wild, and decide yourself whether to visit with these sharks from the dock or in the water.
- Visit the Swimming Pigs on Great Major Cay: These pigs are feral and have learned to swim out to charter yacht tenders for food handouts. They are feral though with sharp teeth and hooves, so it is best to stay in your charter yacht tender and throw the food at them rather than swim with them. The largest group of injuries presented at the Nassau ER are those received from swimming with the pigs.
- Visit “Thunderball Cave“: where snorkelers can snorkel in the cave and visit the site of such movie hits as “Thunderball” and “Splash”
- Spend time enjoying various different types of fishing as Staniel Cay is outside of the Exuma Land and Sea Park, and
- Have a Bonfire Dinner on the beach on a tiny little deserted cay .
Snorkeling in the Bahamas
Day 8, 9, 10: Cruise on Day 8 on your charter yacht to Great Exuma Island and straight into the harbor of the village of Georgetown – a tiny community of 900 with an intriguing past. During the 17th century, pirates found Georgetown’s deep water harbor to be a useful resource. Today, this harbor is an excellent location for charter yachts to anchor. Thrill seekers and thieves were followed by business minded settlers from the “plantation aristocracy” in the 18th century, all of whom made their way down to the island from Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. After, the British and U.S. naval forces made Elizabeth Harbor a refitting port during World War II. Georgetown is a quieter place now, with quaint amenities such as gift shops, 2 grocery stores, and an outdoor straw market. Picturesque Stocking Island, which is surrounded by beautiful beaches with speculator shelling selections, is only a short charter yacht tender ride away. As you relax and lounge in the ankle-deep waters without a care in the world, pause to appreciate the amount of history that has touched the same waters in which you are wading.
There is a Four Seasons Resort not far from Georgetown for anyone that might want a Spa Appointment and if a round of golf is wanted, there is a Greg Norman designed golf course at the close by Sandals Emerald Reef Resort.
Little Exuma Tropic of Cancer
Cruise on your charter yacht to Little Exuma Island to visit ashore The Hermitage Estate in Williams Town. The overgrown ruins of this 970 acre Estate are an important reminder that cotton plantations and slavery were once part of the colonial time period in the Bahamas. Visitors can view the remains of the foundation of the Cotton House, the oldest building in Exuma. A stroll on the grounds will reveal a few old tombs that date back to the mid-1700s.
In the 1700s, after the American Revolutionary War, the islands became a haven for Loyalists who fled to seek refuge. During this time, many cotton plantations were set up, one of which was The Hermitage Estate established by the Ferguson family from North Carolina states as a cotton plantation worked by their slaves. Also among the new settlers were the prominent Lord John Rolle and his father Dennis Rolle, originally from England, along with about 140 slaves.
The cotton plantations only flourished a short time as soil exhaustion and caterpillar infestation set in. Dennis Rolle left the area and his property was inherited by his son in 1796, who generously divided up the land among the slaves. In turn, they gratefully adopted his surname, and the area came to be known as Rolle Town. During the 1820s, it was the island’s largest slave settlement. Today, the family name of Rolle accounts for 60 percent of the native population in the Exuma Islands. Also on Little Exuma are the Salt Lakes used for salt mining in the 1800’s.
Nearby Stocking Island is great to visit for the day as there are many beautiful powdery sand beaches and caves such as Blue Ade Underwater Cave, which is not very deep, with very calm water with lovely shades of blue in the water. And there are nice hiking trails on the island.
This entire area is great for water toy fun, swimming, fishing, walking the beaches, shelling and other Bahamas yacht charter water fun.
Georgetown, Great Exuma Island
Disembark your charter yacht to fly out of Georgetown on Great Exuma Island.