The top 10 reasons we loved the Bahamas, specifically the Exumas this year! Although we’ve been to the Abacos and loved cruising there too!
1. Seeing a huge ray or nurse shark swim under the boat as we sipped morning coffee. We never tired of watching the underwater life directly from the boat — the snorkeling is good, but the water is so clear, we saw anything that swam under the boat! And it was delightful seeing the anchor and chain — several times we didn’t even need to snorkel to check the anchor because we could just see that it was buried!
3. What a refreshing experience! The Bahamian islands seem safe — no constant cruiser conversation about who had their dinghy or outboard stolen. Literally for the first time in our cruising experience, we didn’t lock the dinghy with a heavy duty cable in places, although we did keep the outboard locked to the dinghy transom or it’s perch on the boat’s rail. Of course, safety is more of an issue close to Nassau and I’m sure it would not be prudent not to take everyday precautions, not flashing expensive jewelry etc, but we weren’t a bit worried about our dinghy or outboard being stolen while we were in the Bahamas. Aaahhhhhh, what a good feeling!
4. Sailing across the Great Bahamas Banks is an experience in itself. Averaging only 10 feet of water, is a bit disconcerting at first with our 5 1/2 foot draft, but as we sailed across we loved watching the starfish on the bottom. With the mostly white sand bottom and a few scattered coral heads, sailing across the banks was less stressful than we imagined. The coral heads or patches of coral heads were fairly widely spaced and not a problem to dodge, although I’m sure not paying attention could end badly because there are coral heads that come within a few feet of the surface.
5. No overnights necessary to get to the Bahamas depending on where you’re headed and where you start. We left Rodriguez Key close to Key Largo at 3 AM and sailed up to Bimini at 2:30 PM – a bit less than 12 hours. We had a beautiful sunrise over the gulf stream and and a great sail! If you’re headed to the Abacos, I understand it’s even closer from Ft Worth to West End.
6. The Bahamians themselves are warm and inviting, friendly and helpful. Not too different than most of the places we’ve cruised, but the Bahamians have to rank either first or second depending on how you rank the Columbian Islands, Providencia & San Andreas where we had the same over the top hospitality. Of course, the Kunas in Kuna Yala (San Blas) win the prize for the best bread, but the fresh Bahamian bread was a close second!
7. Marinas … unlike some places we’ve cruised where there are literally no marinas even if you wanted one, it’s nice that there are marinas scattered around if you just want a day or two respite from being on the hook. Of course, all these marinas are overrun with mega-yachts which are squeezing out the normal boats, but we can’t blame the marina managers, the mega’s pay much more per foot than us normal people. But $2 – $7 a foot with no discounts for multi-night stays is a bit steep if you need to fly home unexpectedly!
8. Every 15-20 miles a new adventure awaits! No need to sail long hard days, often leaving before dawn, to arrive at distant destinations! It’s really fun to sail a morning and explore after lunch. We thoroughly enjoyed this benefit of the Exumas!
9. For whatever reason, it seemed to us that boats anchored at more respectable distances in the Exumas than in the Western Caribbean. Of course, while many anchorages were protected only from easterly winds, many of them were very large with good holding. We never did figure out the rationale, but we appreciated it nonetheless!
10. The Exuma Land & Sea Park is a must. I’ve done several posts on this national park, so I won’t elaborate except to say, do NOT miss it!
What did YOU love about the Bahamas? I know we didn’t get to see some places because we ran out of time … where would you recommend we not miss next time? Please post a comment and let us know! Cheers — Jan