Bahamas Yacht Charter Guide
The Bahamas are perfect for cruising – the key is to know which of the many distinct islands you should include in your itinerary
With some 700 islands and uninhabited cays, The Bahamas were made for the waterborne. Lying in a gentle east-west curve just 50 miles south of the US coast of Florida, the cruising possibilities during a Bahamas yacht charter are endless. Fortunately, both nature and practicalities will help to narrow the choice of which islands to discover. From New Providence Island and the cosmopolitan Nassau, to the Exuma islands’ remote string of pearl-like cays or the scalloped bays and coves of the Abacos, there is something for everyone.
NASSAU & PARADISE ISLAND
Embark on your luxury charter yacht in the vibrant Nassau. The cosmopolitan capital and neighboring Paradise Island lie in stark contrast to the peace and solitude of the Exumas.
PARADISE ISLAND TO WARDERICK WELLS CAY (40 NAUTICAL MILES)
Cruise towards Warderick Wells Cay. Home to brilliant coral reefs and exotic marine life that are part of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park – a 35-mile long nature sanctuary with numerous cays, islets and unspoiled beaches. Explore the underwater world known as the undersea Garden of Eden.
WARDERICK WELLS CAY TO STANIEL CAY (20 NAUTICAL MILES)
Anchor off Big Major’s Spot for a morning of watersports before cruising down to Staniel Cay. Take the tender to Thunderball Grotto where the eponymous James Bond movie was filmed. If deep-sea fishing captures your imagination, a trip can easily be arranged. The waters off the east coast of the island are a mecca for mahi-mahi, wahoo, tuna and marlin. Those left behind can still enjoy the marine life from the more shallow waters, snorkeling among the dazzling plethora of colorful fish.
STANIEL CAY TO COMPASS CAY (10 NAUTICAL MILES)
It is a short cruise to neighboring Compass Cay. A natural paradise, Compass Cay is made up of 450 acres with 15 beaches to explore, the most spectacular of which is the long Crescent Ocean Beach. Drop anchor and take the tender ashore, or the adventurous in the party can jump straight in and swim with nurse sharks.
COMPASS CAY TO SHROUD CAY (30 NAUTICAL MILES)
A deep, crystal-clear lagoon on the northwest of Compass Cay, Rachel’s Bubble Bath is one of the finest swimming holes in the Caribbean. At mid to high tide, ocean waves splash into the pool creating white foam: nature’s very own Jacuzzi. For more thrills, take a jet ski ride to the mangrove-edged archipelago known as Shroud Cay. Time it right to catch the high tide for the famous Mangrove Run.
DAYS 6 & 7
SHROUD CAY TO HIGHBOURNE CAY (20 NAUTICAL MILES)
Spend the morning fishing off the east coast of Highbourne Cay, followed by an afternoon of diving and snorkeling. Directly off Highbourne Cay is a drop off that faces the Exuma Sound – a vertical, 72-foot (22m) coral wall that is populated by all manner of sea life. Jump in for a last swim in the blue Bahamian waters before returning to Nassau for disembarkation.
Scattered across some 100,000 square miles, the islands and cays of The Bahamas provide endless cruising possibilities. The shallow waters are home to more than 30 diving destinations, unspoiled reefs, shallow fishing waters and fantastic beaches. From visiting friends and exploring the inland sights to fishing from the comfort of your yacht and taking in the Hollywood-worthy locations – in The Bahamas you’ll truly be spoiled for choice. The Exuma Islands are the most popular cruising area in the archipelago, but don’t let the moniker “popular” make you think they are crowded as they are anything but. Comprising 365 islands, islets and cays with anchorages anything from an hour to seven hours apart, there is plenty of space to find privacy, even during the peak cruising season – so where you go really depends on how many islands you want to visit.
Being located so close to Florida and the shipping channels, the islands have history and culture aplenty, with each one enjoying a distinct personality and appeal all of its own. On the larger islands, you’ll find quaint restaurants and bars, golf courses, and boutiques. While the smaller isles being remote and unspoiled, offer luxuries that money can’t buy. Sampling a bit of both worlds is the ideal combination.
Start your journey by boarding your yacht in the vibrant capital Nassau and cruise towards the Exumas to the south. Glide from idyll to idyll as you relax on board.
- Tides permitting, swim and snorkel through the waters of Thunderball Grotto
- Dive the relics of an old DC-3 airplane, Norman’s Cay
- The Staniel Cay Yacht Club is where the Exumas social scene converges
- Throw hot dogs to the nurse sharks in the shallow waters of Compass Cay
- Snorkel with stingrays, Staniel Cay
- For artisans and authentic Bahamian crafts head to the Straw Market in George Town, Great Exuma
- MacDuffs at Norman’s Cay Beach Club is the perfect spot for curry conch chowder and a varied rum cocktail menu
You can fly direct to The Bahamas capital Nassau from most US cities, as well as increasingly from many international destinations like London, from where you can either hop on board your yacht or take a local seaplane to the islands of your choice. For those with the desire, and time, to prolong their Exumas itinerary then extending a few days to encompass Harbour Island and Eleuthera is a must.