Staniel Cay is the first stop as you cruise down the Exumas where you can re-provision, have a part flown in or fly out yourself. Adequate anchoring, lots of wide open anchoring at Big Major Spot for winds from any easterly component plus anchoring between the Majors for winds from any direction, make it OK for a cold front too. We stayed 2 nights at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club which is a fun spot that cruisers tend to hang out because of the convenient dinghy beach or dinghy dock, not to mention the great little bar. You can get laundry done, dispose of trash (fee) and explore the island from the Staniel Cay Yacht Club base. Staying there was convenient, but not easy — there are no cruiser showers and since we shower in the cockpit, it forced us to alter our routine a bit.
The south dock at Staniel Cay Yacht Club. What you don’t see is all the mega-yachts lined up on the other side of the marina. It’s a small marina and all those mega-yachts make it look even smaller. But there’s fuel, both diesel and gasoline.
There are also lots & lots of nurse sharks and different types of rays. They like to congregate near the fish cleaning station. I was amazed how many people wanted to snorkel with the sharks – there are convenient steps down into the water, and some little fish as well. You couldn’t get me to swim with these sharks in less than five feet of water! No way, I don’t care if they are “docile nurse sharks”!
Head on over to Isles General Store — you can walk or take your dinghy… probably better to take your dinghy if you’re planning a major re-provisioning (or as major as it gets in the Central Exumas). After the mailboat comes in, the fresh vegetables are less expensive here than the other two stores. Be sure to ask when the mailboat is coming in because that afternoon is the best time to get fresh produce before it sells out. It is expensive though so take lots of cash. One boat we knew got all their veggies and then had to leave the captain hostage while the crew went back to the boat for more cash!
David enjoying his first Kalik (pronounced click) Bahamian beer at the purple restaurant, Taste & Sea. Have lunch or dinner at Taste & Sea, but don’t be in a hurry. The view is terrific, right on the “beach”, the food is good and priced well below the yacht club bar. A fresh fish dinner was $15 at Taste & Sea, but $30 at the yacht club. We were hoping to buy a case of Kalik for the boat, but the least expensive we could find was $65 a case — same price for Bud — so we passed & David ended up a bit short on frosty cold beer.
Taste & Sea is open for lunch, closed mid-day and then re-opens at 6 PM, and not a minute sooner mind you.
Enjoy the use of the “dinghy beach” – protected by it’s own seawall at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, but be sure to buy a drink or dinner for the free use of this great spot. There’s also a dinghy dock, but we liked the beach better – much better protected from wakes and waves.
Thunderball Grotto is where the 007 movie Thunderball was filmed back in the mid-1960′s. It’s a major tourist attraction with boats full of on vacation snorkelers kicking each other as they try to negotiate the narrow opening to the cave. But we went a few minutes ahead of low tide while there was still a bit of current but no tourists and had the cave to ourselves. Despite being a tourist attraction, it was very very cool – way beyond my expectations. It’s always a pleasant surprise when something that you expected to be hohumm turns out to be fabulous!
Another shot of Thunderball Grotto – lots of reef fish because the tourist boats feed them.
We visited Club Thunderball which in it’s heyday was a happening place. But for now, it’s all locked up with lots of broken glass and trash strewn around. Too bad because it looks like it has so much potential.
Mural on the outside wall of Club Thunderball — I love it — “Mailboat’s commin’ loaded with women & beer! Fire off Thunderball! Kalik makes me slick, Bud makes me wiser, Wine and I feel fine”. This place must have been lots of fun.
There’s a really nice walk/hike — you cross the island north of the airstrip on paved/dirt roads & watch for the sign that says “beaches” — then follow the trail until you find this trail branching off. It follows the spectacular rocky shoreline and has some beautiful vistas. We enjoyed it immensely and consider it a “don’t miss”! Afterward, you can return via the trail or follow the small road behind the under construction house back down the other side of the island & have a nice cold one at the yacht club bar to quench your thirst!
The rocky shoreline was alive with crashing waves and salt spray. Mezmerizing to watch. The walk itself was on rocky sharp pointy rocks – my crocs were definitely not the right choice of shoe, but we thought it was a sand trail. And it was for awhile. Note to self — anytime you decide to try a “walk” in the Exumas, put on more sturdy shoes than crocs!
The view from the deck of the under construction house just past the end of the trail. You can’t see it clearly in this small a picture, but the water is boiling, as the current rushes through between the three islands.
What a beautiful island! Have you been to Staniel Cay? What “must does” did we miss? Need to compile a list for next time! Cheers! J