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When thinking about the tropical oasis that is The Bahamas, the word paradise immediately comes to mind. With welcoming, sunny weather, friendly people, first-class fishing and breathtaking scenery at every turn, it's easy to understand why The Bahamas is consistently one of the most popular yachting destinations worldwide. Cruisers can easily access this mariner's dream from South Florida’s coast making for a short and sweet crossing. While there are tons of well-known and popular tourist attractions in The Bahamas, consider taking your yacht off the beaten path to experience the magic and serenity of these lesser known Bahamian island treasures.
Photo courtesy of Valentine's Resort.
Rated by the Travel Channel as having one of the Best Bahamas Beaches, Harbour Island is perhaps most famous for its three and half miles of picture perfect pink sandy beaches. The natural beauty of Harbour Island's pink shoreline is simply amazing. Warm, crystal clear waters also await you, offering phenomenal diving, fishing and boating while reefs protecting the shore provide safe swimming and snorkeling. Harbour Island lives up to its nickname of "The Island of Friendly People" where mingling with the welcoming locals of Dunmore Town is an absolute pleasure and part of the all around fantastic experience.
Halfway down the Exuma Island chain of the Bahamas is Staniel Cay, located approximately 75 miles Southeast of Nassau. Approaches from both the banks (West) and The Exuma Sound (East) are relatively straightforward. For 7 years running, Staniel Cay Yacht Club has received the TripAdvisor Certificate of excellence and there’s many reasons for that prestigious award. As one of the best places to stay on Staniel Cay, the yacht club offers a marina that, even at low tide, can accommodate drafts up to 12 feet and yachts up to 185 feet. Head to the island’s north side to swim and sunbathe on the island’s beautiful and secluded beaches or hike the rugged and beautiful north ridge. Staniel Cay is a phenomenal place to anchor your yacht and really immerse yourself in the gorgeous surroundings. You'll encounter the sensational Exuma swiming pigs of neighboring Big Majors Cay, who are always delighted to see visitors. As if swimming with the famous Exuma pigs isn’t cool enough, there is another amazing, must-have experience while you’re in Staniel Cay. Visit the James Bond famed “Thunderball Grotto” cave featured in two 007 films and several other Hollywood productions. When exploring this gorgeous cave with family it’s best to go at low tied. It has been said that the Thunderball Grotto is like snorkeling in an aquarium, so expect to see loads of colorful tropical fish.
Photo courtesy of Chub Cay Resort.
If you are an avid angler heading to the Bahamas, make sure Chub Cay is on the top of your list. This small island located at the southernmost tip of the Berry Islands, just 200 miles SE of Ft. Lauderdale, is the definition of a fisherman’s paradise. A remote oasis with a local population of only 50, Chub Cay provides an exclusive retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life that adults will truly appreciate. Chub Cay is absolutely legendary for the best sport fishing and diving in the world and is known as the "Billfish Capital of The Bahamas." It borders the Tongue of the Ocean and bait fish are drawn into the deep-sea gully with larger fish following. World record catches have been made of mackerel, blue and white marlin and sailfish. Bonefish, snapper, lobster and conch are also plentiful here. There are miles of sandy beaches and a protected lagoon with outstanding snorkeling opportunities. Less than a mile from Queens Beach sits a popular reef called the aquarium which boasts the reputation of having the greatest number of exotic fish in all the Bahamian family islands.
Green Turtle Cay
Photo courtesy of Bluff House Beach Resort and Marina.
A barrier island off mainland Great Abaco, Green Turtle Cay is well suited for families and romantic getaways as it features plenty of things to do and places to explore. Downtown Green Turtle Cay, known as New Plymouth Village, has a New England feel to it. The colorful clapboard buildings are homes to many of the 500 island residents. The stores offer beautiful jewelry and artwork portraying breathtaking island scenes. Local restaurants prepare savory homemade food with island flair. Visit any of the beaches along Green Turtle Cay and you'll find them to be incredibly beautiful and totally unspoiled by excessive tourism.
A Taste Of The Bahamas
On almost every island you visit in the Bahamas you're bound to discover a watering hole that will deliver the laid back, tropical vibes you're in search of. To really experience the flavor of the Bahamas, check out these bars and restaurants that come highly recommended by veteran Bahamas visitors. These locales are off the beaten path and are gauranteed to enhance your experience in every way.
Nippers, Great Guana Cay
The atmosphere at Nippers Beach Bar and Grill on Great Guana Cay will have you in vacation-mode at first glance. The colorful beach-front establishment offers great food, infamous cocktails, and gorgeous views. You can chill out right on the beach or float around in the refreshing pool. As you soak up the sun you can expect to unwind to the most beloved Carribean music by legends like Barefoot Man, Bob Marley and Jimmy Buffet.
Sip Sip, Harbour Island
Sip Sip on Harbour Island is a quaint but unmistakable lime-green cottage that offers patrons umbrella-shaded seating on a terrace overlooking the sea. Only open Monday - Thursday, 11:30am - 4pm, this heavenly hideaway fills up quickly so don't be late. You won't want to miss out on Sip Sip's famous lobster quesadilla nor it's fantastic view of Harbour Island's famed pink sands.
Pete's Pub, Little Harbour Abaco
Nestled away in the secluded location of Little Harbour, is a casual and sandy outdoor pub that is popular with locals and visitors alike. Pete's Pub is known for its authentic seafood dishes and its signature rum punch drink, the Blaster. Just steps away from the pub, you'll find an eclectic shopping experience in the art gallery that features the work of Pete Johnston and other artisans.
Miss Emily's Blue Bee Bar, New Plymouth Town
No visit to Green Turtle Cay would be complete without a stop at Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar in New Plymouth Town, the birth place of the famous "Goombay Smash", a rum punch now found throughout the Caribbean (The Bahamian National drink). For decades Miss Emily's has been a landmark establishment for travelers visiting Green Turtle Cay not only for the refreshing Goombay Smash but for the fresh seafood dishes and great hospitality.
Staying at Anchor
While each of these Bahamian island destinations offer exceptional resorts and modern, full-service marinas for docking and disembarking, there's something really special about enjoying your time in the Bahamas anchored up, surrounded by million dollar views. There are no shortage of great spots at which you can anchor your yacht and easily take your tender to land. Here are a few tips to guide you if you decide to take advantage of staying at anchor in The Bahamas.
Anchoring in The Bahamas can present some unique challenges. Often heavy grass will blanket large sections of some of the better anchorages, which prevents the anchor from setting properly. Look for sandy patches seen as white patches within the grass. Pull forward to the edge of the sandy patch, drop the anchor and back down slowly until the anchor has set in the center of the patch. Once the anchor rode is stretched out, back down slowly until you are comfortable the anchor has set. It’s a wise idea to snorkel over the anchor to be sure it is indeed set. Beware of what might look like a sandy bottom but is actually a thin layer of sand over rock or coral. If the anchor appears to be set, it may only be in a narrow crevice and will release as soon as the boat shifts on the line. Many times the anchor will simply skip across the bottom. In this situation, it’s often best to try and relocate to another spot. Weather conditions wind strength and direction will of course play an important role in where to safely anchor.
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