Many different ways to explore the Bahamas!
I have been exploring the Bahamas for almost a decade aboard Black Diamond a 39 foot Jeanneau. My first attraction to the Bahamas was its close proximity to the US east coast and that it is not too far from Canada either. You arrive in the Bahamas from either of these countries in about 3.5 hours by plane. With a sailboat, you are a few days sail from anywhere on the east coast, and by cruise ship you can arrive within a day or two. The Bahamas is so close, yet when you get there you feel like you are so far away. Once you’ve settled in on one of the small, secluded islands, you feel like you’re completely secluded from the busy world. When in the Bahamas, I often feel like I am somewhere in the middle of the south pacific on a remote island. But wait, I can have a similar experience at a fraction of the cost and shorter travel times just of the coast of Florida!
The Bahamas islands are not in the Caribbean.
The Bahamas is not in the Caribbean. Some believe Christopher Columbus gave it that name when he landed there on one of the cays, he also named, “Saint Salvador” meaning my salvation, as he made it to land, and did not die at sea or fall of the edge of the world. The name “Bahamas” comes from the Spanish Baja mar meaning shallow sea, and is an archipelago of over 700 islands, 600 of these islands are uninhabited stretching over 258,998 square km in the western Atlantic Ocean. The area of The Bahamas is almost equal in size to all the Caribbean islands combined. Turks and Caicos is another country that is part of the territory of The Bahamas.
With a population of about 250,000, most of that population resides in Nassau on the island of New Providence. The other most populated areas are Freeport, Grand Bahama, Marsh Harbor, Abacos and Great Exuma. The remaining populated islands often have some small settlements of only 50 to 300 people. While the rest of the islands are uninhabited.
The raw untouched islands are my favorite feature, many Caribbean destinations are over populated with private villas, resorts and homes. When I travel, I’m not looking for a busy island experience. I have sailed through most of the Bahamas, from Bimini, to Grand Bahama, Abacos, Eleuthera, The Berries, New Providence, Long Island, Mayaguana and of course Exuma. The Exuma islands, are by far, my favourite of all. About half of The Bahamian islands, are in the Exumas and about 300 of these islands are uninhabited. If you have only been to Nassau, then you haven’t had the true Bahamian experience, in my opinion.
The playground of the 1% one percenters!
Many millionaires and celebrities have claimed the Exumas as their personal play ground. Johnny Depp, Sean Connery, David Copperfield, Lenny Kravitz, John Travolta and the Agah Khan to name just a few. With so many islands in the Bahamas, you can claim one as your own for an afternoon. Interestingly enough, there are no private beaches in The Bahamas, anyone can come ashore to the high tide line, even on the private islands. I have personally been on many islands that belong to celebrities, except for Musha Cay which is owned by David Copperfield. He charters out the island to celebrities for about $300,000 a week. He has received an exemption to the beach rule, for the privacy of his guests.
What attracts so many to the Exumas? One of the most memorable features is the crystal clear, cyan blue colored water, which is also the color found on the Bahamian flag. What causes the color of the water to be so? Well, all the Bahamas has an average depth of about 10 feet, this on the banks and the lee shores of the islands, there are some deep seas between the island chains. As the sun reflects off the white sand, only 10 feet beneath, it gives the water its bright blue color. You can even see the cyan blue color reflecting back in the middle of the night during a full moon, what an awesome sight!
The Bahamas is also known as the playground for the rich and famous! These privileged folks can be found on many mega-yachts that cruise the cays while others stay on their private islands. The nice thing is, you don’t have to be rich to enjoy the Exumas. There are about 20,000 smaller private boats that visit the Bahamas each year. Some are affordable, older, used cruising yachts, while others are more expensive, newer yachts. You can charter your own bare sailboat in the Abacos, or in Nassau and sail to the Exumas very easily. If you need a skippered boat with a captain, excursions guide and chef, you can visit www.sailboatcruise.ca and we can help arrange one for you. You can charter a boat any size, with any number of crew, to accommodate your needs and comforts.
Differernt strokes for differnt folks, more than one way to enjoy the Bahamas.
There are many villas and cottages that can be rented by the day, week or longer. Staniel Cay has very interesting little cottages that come with use of a power boat, which allows you to explore the nearby cays. You can make your own meals, or take their all-inclusive package and eat very well at the yacht club. You will enjoy lounging by the fresh water pool or on one of many beaches. Black Point and many other surrounding islands in the Exumas also rent cottages. The Exumas are affordable and easily accessible with daily flights out of Nassau to George Town, Staniel Cay, Black Point, Little Farmers and other islands in the Exumas. Check BahamasAir, Sky Bahamas, and Flamingo Air for flights to the small cays for less than $125 each way. Once you arrive, there are speedboats that can take you between islands.
From Nassau there are several charter boats that do interesting day excursions to Exuma. Whether you arrive by cruise ship or are staying at a resort in Nassau, this is an excellent way to see a bit of the Exumas. Powerboat Adventures in Nassau’s paradise island, will zip you over to Exuma in about an hour to visit the iguanas on Allan’s Cay and then to Ships Channel Cay, a private island, where you will pet wild stingrays, wrangle sharks, and snorkel the natural protected reef. These activities are followed by a lunch buffet and rum punch, then back to Nassau. Other day charters out of Nassau will also zip you over to Staniel Cay, where you can snorkel the grotto which is famous from the 1960’s James Bond film Thunderball, with Sean Connery. After lunch you will visit Big Major Spot to see the swimming pigs, then to Bitter Guana Cay to see the iguanas, then back to Nassau. Similar day charters also run out of George Town, where you’ll find many resorts such as, Sandals Emerald Bay.
In addition to the above experiences, I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy snorkeling, scuba diving, shark dives, sailing, parasailing, surfing, shelling, fishing, hiking, beach frolicking, exploring caves and local settlements, enjoying local fresh seafood at the fish fry’s and a Junkanoo festival. The locals are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet anywhere in the world. I hope I have given you enough reasons to come and explore The Bahamas for yourself. With Black Diamond Yachts, we customize the fullest of these experience aboard one of our yachts. Looking forward to seeing you there.
by Psycho Skipper Ed – Blogging Aboard Black Diamond