When it comes to pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters and incredible underwater adventures, the Bahamas is in a league of its own. A cruise around this beautiful archipelago makes for a relaxed luxury yacht charter with exciting excursions en route.
The Bahamas is made up of over 700 islands and 2,400 coral reefs (Cays). While some remain strongholds of mass tourism, the remote Out Islands, on the other hand, are sparsely populated and completely at one with nature: with turquoise waters and miles of perfect beaches without a single footprint in sight. Gentle winds escort yachts to anchor bays where adventures of one’s youth come to life – from treasure islands and pirates to the castaway life of a Robinson Crusoe.
1. GEORGE TOWN / EXUMA
The marina in George Town is akin to a united nations: Yachts from many different countries head to the main town in the Exuma Islands before sailing on to the Exuma National Park. The island of Shrout Cay is traversed by flat fjords dotted with mangrove forests. The ideal place for a dinghy ride through nature: with not a soul to be seen far and wide, and only the birds overhead and the lobsters, conch snails and turtles underwater for company. It is perhaps the contrasts that make the Exumas so fascinating. Some islands are under private ownership. The jet set are at home here, including the likes of the actor Jonny Depp. Yet at the Big Major’s Spot it is pigs who play the starring role: Having fled from a farm many years ago, around 25 of them live here, play around in the water and enjoy being fed. They have long been superstars on the Bahamas tourism scene. Just along from the bay of pigs is the island of Staniel Cay and the Thunderball grotto. It was here in “Thunderball” (1965) that secret agent James Bond discovered atomic bombs hidden away. Fortunately the reality is much more appealing: after passing through a low-lying tunnel, a cave opens up inside the cliff full of brightly coloured fish. Later on in the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, the day can draw to a fitting close with Kalik beer and snacks. Association and national flags from around the world hang from the ceiling, while photos on the walls are a reminder of the bygone days when 007 was sat at the bar.
2. CAT ISLAND
Heritage & Heights
Does the name come from the pirate Arthur Catt who is said to have buried his treasure on the remote islands at the beginning of the 18th century? Many storytellers, musicians and actors have grown up in the gently rolling hills of Cat Island, perhaps most famously Sir Sidney Poitier, who won an Oscar in 1964. Ancient churches and decaying plantation houses are testimony to the history of the settlers. Cat Island is also where the Bahamian rake-and-scrap music originates, played on accordion and musical instruments made from saws and old washing machine drums. Excellent diving and snorkeling awaits from the marina at Hawk Nest Point in the southwest of the island. While anyone who feels like setting their sights a little higher can rent a car and drive to Mount Alvernia, the highest point in the Bahamas – at 63 metres.
3. SAN SALVADOR
Getting Deep with C.C
In 1492, Christopher Columbus entered a new world. A large white cross marks the spot, if legend is to be believed. It may be the most popular place for a holiday snap, but the island’s true attractions remain the diving and kite-surfing to be had. Divers of all levels will enjoy an experience to remember here in “Devils Claw” and “Vicky’s Riff”, surrounded by trusting stingrays and gentle nurse sharks. Meanwhile you can get very close to the wind in the lagoon on Snow Bay Beach, one of the best places to kite-surf in the world. And for all those less interested in that: the immaculate beaches of San Salvador are deserted for the most part and simply begging to have someone lay a beach towel down on them.
4. RUM CAY
Peace of Mind
Nassau, the bustling capital of the Bahamas, and Rum Cay are just 296 kilometres apart – and worlds apart at the same time. Port Nelson, a small village nestled between coconut palm groves, is the only inhabited place on the entire island. Its central point where people come together is the Sumner Point Marina, with a cosy restaurant and bar. A diving excursion from here to discover the wreck of HMS Conqueror is also well worth it. Great Britain’s first propeller-driven warship hit a reef here in 1861 and sank, thankfully without any loss of life.
5. LONG ISLAND
So close to Paradise
130 kilometres long, almost 6.5 kilometres wide – with coastlines that could hardly be more different. Cliffs facing out towards the Atlantic descending down into the tossing dark blue waves, and dazzling white beaches on the “Caribbean” side that glide gently into still turquoise waters. Upping anchor in Calabash Bay is a moment for pure relaxation. Surrounded by lovely people and cool drinks enjoying the sunset. Can it possibly get any better than this?