Written by Missy Johnston
Many people think the Bahamas is a winter charter location, just like the Caribbean, but what many do not know is that the Bahamas can experience “winter” weather where a cold front can come through and temperatures can drop, just as can be experienced in nearby Florida from time to time. The time to have guaranteed warm weather in the Bahamas for a private yacht charter is in the spring and summer. The shallow, sandy cays stay warm from the sun’s rays, and the nighttime temperatures are marvelous. In fact, summer is considered the Bahamas High Season, and is the best time to enjoy a Bahamas Yacht Charter.
With numerous different Bahamas yacht charter itineraries to choose from, with many different Bahamas Out Islands and Out Island Chains, there are new things to experience on each yacht charter cruise, so that one can charter in the Bahamas over and over and always have a new experience. Among the many choices, there is the classic Nassau experience with islands in the top of the Exuma Chain, something off the beaten path on a lower Exuma yacht charter, or relaxing on the pink sand beaches of Harbour Island, including the other nearby colonial ports.
Here are some of the sights and experiences that a Bahamas luxury yacht charter has to offer and some of the different charter areas in the Bahamas to consider.
Eleuthera has been a getaway for several famous golfers over the years. Arnold Palmer routinely played the course at Cotton Bay, and Tiger Woods’ course at Jack’s Bay will soon welcome visitors to the private resort with a 10-hole course that exhibits the island’s stunning coastlines. However, the picture-perfect island of Eleuthera has plenty more to offer than just golf.
The Ocean Hole, for example, is a mesmerizing blue sinkhole—one of the many “Blue Holes” located in the Bahamas—and a top-notch place to go scuba diving. Divers can safely go about 110 feet (34m) down, but the hole is technically “bottomless.” It connects to the ocean by way of a tunnel so deep that not even ocean fish can use the passageway.
Cape Eleuthera is home to the island’s best marina, and it’s just a short jaunt away from the quaint and historic Colonial Governor’s Harbour and the aptly named Surfer’s Beach, where surfing is quite popular. Or, guests who enjoy fishing are able to bonefish with the locals at Deep Creek.
The most spectacular Bahamas beach lies at the very southern tip of Eleuthera. It is a paradise of unparalleled beauty.
This peaceful paradise is a wonderful place to visit during a private yacht charter in the Bahamas.
For one thing, the pink beaches of Harbour Island are widely regarded as some of the best beaches in the entire Bahamas.
Snorkelers and scuba divers take advantage of the plentiful opportunities to hop in the crystal blue waters of the island’s nearby reef system. There are underwater caves, shipwrecks to explore, and countless beautiful, tropical fish.
On land, it’s not unusual to see some familiar faces. Celebrities including George Clooney, Jennifer Aniston, and Blake Lively frequent the island as their vacation spot. Harbour Island is well-known for its glitz and glamor among the famous and the not-so-famous.
Harbour Island is also home to some of the most delicious food the Bahamas has to offer. One well-regarded place to eat is at Tingum Village Hotel.
Even though the island has high-class patrons, the atmosphere is very laid-back and peaceful. No one uses cars to get around; visitors instead rent golf carts to explore Harbour Island’s interior.
Norman Cay, in the Exumas, is beautiful and peaceful, but its legacy is a little less so, since it was used as a headquarters for drug runners in the 1970’s and 1980s. One of the most interesting facts about Norman Cay is that it was used by Carlos Lehder as a place for his planes loaded with Colombian drugs to stop and refuel before completing their journeys to the United States.
The island has also been home to its share of pirates, not to mention some Civil War and Prohibition-era blockade runners.
Today, though, Norman Cay is a quiet island only accessible by yacht or private airplane. For visitors seeking peace and quiet on a beautiful beach, Saddle Cay Beach at the north end of the island fits the bill. Cracked Coral Head is known for snorkeling and diving opportunities, where visitors share the water with dolphins, lionfish, angelfish, and some hammerhead sharks who call the area home. And left over from Carlos Lehder days is a sunken plane in waters shallow enough to be explored just by snorkeling this underwater plane wreck.
There’s a good reason the Exuma Islands were chosen as the setting for Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (fun fact: Johnny Depp now owns one of Exuma’s 365 islands). The area is stunning. More than that, it’s a quintessential example of a Bahamas paradise. If the turquoise water and gleaming white sand aren’t enough, there are many opportunities to explore deserted cays, tour historical sites, and swim with pigs.
Staniel Cay’s Swimming Pigs are perhaps the most famous of Exuma’s many attractions. It’s not unusual for yachters to see pigs swimming right up to their yachts to say “hi.” What they are looking for is food, so be prepared, but do not try to feed the pigs with your fingers, lest the pigs mistake a fingertip for a tasty morsel. Instead, just throw the food into the water.
And do not jump in the water to swim with the pigs. Let the pigs do all of the swimming because their hooves are very sharp (they are wild pigs, after all,) and they are not trained in synchronized swimming with people. Guests have been known to end up with nasty hoof cuts created unintentionally by getting too close to the pigs in the water while swimming. Overall, the pigs are generally friendly and sociable with their human visitors keeping in mind certain precautions!
Speaking of pigs, a pig roast is held every Sunday at Chat n’ Chill on Stocking Island, just across from Georgetown on Great Exuma. It features authentic, Bahamian-style smoked pig and beachgoers can work their meals off playing sand volleyball.
Conch diving is popular in the Exumas, but only during conch season, which is strictly regulated. Visitors who decide to participate, dive in, collect their conches, and take them home (your yacht chef will be happy to prepare your catch for dinner).
Dean’s Blue Hole is known for its sparkling clear water that allows divers and swimmers to see an impressive 115 feet down. But Dean’s Blue Hole is much deeper than 115 feet; at a depth of more than 660 feet, this diving spot is the deepest Blue Hole that’s ever been measured in the world.
Thunderball Grotto is known as the location for the filming of several James Bond films. If visited when the sun is right, the interior is a lovely blue color.
Visit Allen Cay where rare black iguanas live. Visitors can feed them. In fact, in a Pavlovian response, these iguanas often come running to the beach when they hear the sound of an outboard motor that signals approaching tenders bringing food. Be prepared to feed the iguanas by bringing iguana food so that the iguanas are kept healthy with a balanced diet.
These are only some of the highlights of the many Bahamian Out Islands and Out Island Chains, all of which can be explored on a private crewed charter yacht on a Bahamian yacht charter.