In part one of our complete guide to sailing the Exuma Cays, we looked at the basics you’ll need to know before you charter around one of the world’s most iconic sailing grounds, including what the weather is like, how to get there and the best anchorages (according to us!). In part two, we take a look at the top places to visit in The Exumas while on a yacht charter holiday.
Top places to visit in The Exumas
Sail 30nm south-southwest from our base at Palm Cay Marina towards Highbourne Cay. Affectionately known as the ‘Gateway to The Exumas’, Highbourne Cay sits at the top of the island chain and has eight beautiful beaches, all with powdery white sand, perfect for spending a day relaxing under the warm sunshine.
If you fancy being a little more adventurous, head off along one of the many hiking trails on the island, or maybe spend some time snorkelling or paddle boarding off the shore. There are a few very good restaurants on the island, but beware, it can get busy, so we recommend either calling in advance to book or doing so as soon as you moor up on the island.
From Highbourne Cay, sail south for 10nm to Wax Cay, one of the top places to visit in The Exumas. A breathtakingly beautiful private island right on the edge of the Exuma Land and Sea Park and offering some of the most spectacular views in the Bahamas. Head ashore to explore the island’s hiking trail that runs the full length of the island, relax on one of the quiet beaches or head to the delectable retreats for a massage or spa treatment.
Due to its location near to the Land and Sea Park, marine life is abundant and the area offers visitors a wonderful location to explore the reefs and corals and all who live within them. Its tranquillity is second to none and as you watch the sunset from your yacht at the end of the day, you’ll understand the true definition of paradise.
24nm south of Highbourne Cay, pay a visit to Compass Cay, an absolute must for those on a sailing holiday in the Bahamas. Due to its position north of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, the water is brimming with marine life and as such it’s the perfect place to spend a day snorkelling from the back of your yacht.
Sea turtles, enormous grouper and lobster are just some of the sea creatures you could encounter around Compass Cay. For an extra special adventure, spend an afternoon swimming with a shiver of nurse sharks that call the island their home. These friendly sharks are so used to human interaction that they allow visitors to pet them and feed them. The marina owners have even named them…Ross and Jack are just two of the sharks you’ll likely meet while there!
Sail 7nm south from Compass Cay to arguably the most famous island in the Bahamas and one of the top places to visit in The Exumas, Big Major Cay, home to the Bahamian pigs! It is without a doubt one of the most surreal experiences you’ll ever have, as you approach the island from your yacht on a dingy and are greeted by one of 20 pink spotted pigs and piglets!
As well as feeding and swimming with the pigs, there are a couple of quaint cafes for you to refuel at too, with Bahamian cocktails aplenty and delicious conch dishes – perfect.
From Big Major Cay, sail further south for approximately 31nm past Great Guana Cay and you will arrive at Allen’s Cay, home to the Northern Bahamian Rock Iguana, native to The Exumas and only found on three of its islands – Leaf Cay, South Allen’s Cay and here on Allen’s Cay. These endangered lizards can weigh up to 24lb, so aren’t small, and are active from sunrise to sunset, so seeing them is pretty much guaranteed.
Take your dinghy ashore to one of the small island’s little coves and spend some time meeting the locals as they wander leisurely along the beach and through the foliage that lays inland.