We knew very little about the Bahamas, other than a playground of celebs and well – “swimming pigs”! I shall have more to say about them later.
The Exumas’ crystal-clear waters are perfect for sailing and fishing, as well as an assortment of water sports. Travellers in search of a secluded slice of paradise can bounce among small, uninhabited isles in the Exuma Cays.
But how to get there? We leave from Costa Rica for Houston, connecting onto Nassau, then again onto Staniel Cay Island where most people fly to for day trips or pull in by boat. We had decided to stay for three days.
The moment we are airborne, we are gifted with insane views of stunningly clear water, along with dozens (365 to be exact) of cays, islets, beaches (as well as a calm baby) overlooking blue water. Riley is the only child not screaming on the small, 12 seater turbo prop plane. Instead, he is smiling and laughing with the other passengers onboard. Little flyer isn’t bothered by the loud engine noise at all.
Flamingo Air drops us at the tiny airport, where we are picked up in golf buggies and a short time later we arrive at The Yacht Club situated on sapphire water like nothing I have ever seen. Husband is an ocean lover itching to dive in.
Our reaction is no surprise to the staff, humbly aware of their surroundings. Once our check-in formalities are complete, we pack our beach bag, arrange a day boat and waste no time in exploring the water.
Our private boat is complimentary with our room, with full day use; our package also includes a boxed lunch with a great menu to choose from.
The boat bounces along the waves, baby in giggles, and we are surrounded by glassy water shimmering in the sun as we approach the beach run by healthy happy “swimming pigs”, or “kuni kuni” as we call them back home.
The pigs eagerly race along the beach to greet us – of course, they are aware of the food we are about to dangle in front of them to get them to show us their breaststroke. They are super friendly. Dozens of people visit Morgan Island on day tours to snap a pic with the little babes. We stay away from the crowds, jump into the salty clear water to cool off, and the piggies come straight for us, splashing with excitement. Riley was a little unsure, clinging to me until the pigs carried on their way. We hang about, swim and feed the pigs for around 45 minutes before heading home for sun, shade and a cold beer.
We are in luck! It is the first day of the Bohemian lobster season. Dozens of super yachts and other boats prepare to head out for a big catch and, when they return with a load of large lobster, as well as conch and fish, they share their underwater harvest with the rest of us.
Eagle rays, barracuda, spiny lobsters, and all manner of sponges, corals, and Technicolor fish make their home here.
For dinner that night we are spoilt with fresh lobster tails. The end to a perfect day.
We rise with the sun, take a walk along the water, and enjoy breakfast overlooking the wharf. Then, we order our box lunch and head out for an early day on the water.
Today we are en route to see the baby sharks at the top of the Exumas: Compass Cay. We are told the story of the sharks by a long term boatman. Apparently, the fishermen would tap the shells of the conch, releasing the meat inside which would sometimes fall into the water. This attracted the sharks to feed their hunger. From then on, the sound of the conch thumping brought them in. Now, tourists can tick off their bucket list here for a 10 dollar fee, jump in, and swim about with the sharks. Some have been mistaken for food and lost a fingernail or two. Ouch! We aren’t that daring; instead, we stand back and watch dad play bait.
On our way home, we spotted a perfect sandbar. Pulling up slowly, we perched there to eat our lunch while Riley played, naked under the umbrella in the water. It was paradise! Soft sugary sand, cold beers with soothing water cooling our feet. This is a moment I never wanted to end, but it was time for baby to get inside for a cool nap. Sadly, we leave our moment in dreamland and head home. Nice timing too – a storm was brewing!
The “land” part of this environment is pretty too and provides a protected habitat for iguanas and nesting sea turtles. Some of the islands are private with warnings to trespassers but there are still plenty to explore.
The Yacht Club provided full board, offering an a la carte menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner (inclusive of the lobster!) as well as a wonderful room and wicked staff.
We leave behind the truly dazzling ocean, incredible people and fond memories.
If the Exumas aren’t already on your bucket list, put it on there.