Destination Guide: Hidden Bahamas

Set within the sights of Florida’s coastline just 50 miles away, The Bahamas covers 3,884 square km, has over 700 tropical islands and 2,000 secluded cays...

Whether you’ve come in search of paradise or to get closer to nature and the exotic wildlife, The Bahamas offers a unique experience to every visitor. Joei Aranha, owner of local superyacht agency, Island Purveyors spoke to SYOG about some of the more unexplored islands.

Hidden highlights of The Bahamas

The Bahamas is world-renowned for its crystal-clear water, which ranges from a deep midnight blue, to bright bottle greens, and its remote and dazzling white and pink coral beaches. Littered with coconut palms, the islands epitomise paradise.

From swimming with wild pigs in Fowl Bay, to the famous lagoons of Shroud Cay, it comes as no surprise that the widely publicised and celebrity-inhabited islands of the Exuma’s are some of the most famous. With six full-service marinas including Highbourne Cay and Emerald Bay, the Exuma’s is a popular choice for superyacht charters. However, The Bahamas has many more hidden highlights to enjoy.

Inagua

With over 60,000 flamingos, Inagua is home to the world’s largest breeding colony of West Indian flamingos, making the island a birdwatcher’s paradise. Inagua’s national park takes up almost half the island and, in addition to various species of exotic birds, visitors can see wild donkeys and endangered freshwater turtles. If eco-tourism is your thing, Inagaua is your dream destination. There are no natural harbors on Inagua, however a pleasant anchorage can be located one mile to the north of the Matthew Town airstrip.

Acklins and Crooked Island

The secluded paradise of Acklins and Crooked Island, one of the least known and most well preserved islands of The Bahamas. There are no marinas or official superyacht docking facilities here, but yachts can enjoy exploring the many attractions that are only accessible by boat. Cruise past miles of untouched white sand beaches, dive in the crystal clear tropical waters and try your hand at traditional bone fishing and deep-sea fishing, before returning on board for your chef to cook up your catch of the day.

San Salvador & Rum Cay

On the eastern edge of The Bahamas lies San Salvador and Rum Cay. Surrounded by protective reefs, the islands are the ultimate destination for divers and fishermen alike. With a local population of just 1,000, chartering here offers you secluded beaches, hidden harbors and a plethora of marine life, with plenty of opportunities to drop anchor and enjoy a glass of Dom Perignon whilst the sun melts behind the horizon.

The lone marina of Summer Point in the southeast corner of Rum Cay offers a variety of facilities as well as cottage-style accommodation overlooking the picturesque St George’s Bay.

Cat Island

With miles of deserted beaches, crystal waters and rolling hills, Cat Island is considered to be one of the most beautiful islands in The Bahamas. Home to the world-famous pink sand beach, the untouched landscape is perfect for those looking for a place to relax and unwind. Hawk’s Nest Resort & Marina lies on the southwest of the island and offers all the amenities and services visiting yachts require.

Eleuthera & Harbour Island

Sandwiched between the deep blue Atlantic and the turquoise Caribbean Sea, Eleuthera is The Bahamas’ home for watersports. The Devil's Backbone is a popular spot, just north of Spanish Wells. A long stretch of fringed reef, this vast playground for fish is a fantastic wreck dive spot. For the more relaxed visitor, the island is home to a number of superb restaurants and boutique hotels.

Berry Islands

Despite the natural deep-water passage that leads to the Berry Islands, few superyachts visit the Berry Islands, instead favoring the more publicised Exumas, but this cluster of tropical islands is not one to be missed.

For divers, two unmissable places to head for are Mamma Rhoda Rock, a shallow coral reef only 16ft deep and Hoffman Cay, a 600ft blue hole whose only living inhabitants are oysters.

The luxury marina Chub Cay lies at the south of the island and is home to a private airstrip and infinity pool, all overlooking the deep-sea trench Tongue of the Ocean, regarded as the billfish capital of The Bahamas.

Regulations, requirements & sailing conditions

The Government of The Bahamas requires that all foreign charters secure a license in order to sail in Bahamian waters. A foreign charter license can be processed in just one week, and costs $3,750 for yachts over 46m (151ft) LOA.

All yachts arriving into Bahamian waters must immediately clear with customs and immigrations officials at the nearest port of entry.

Bahamas Ports of Entry:

Abaco: Marsh Harbour, Sandy Point, Walkers Cay, Spanish Cay, Treasure Cay Marina

Andros: Fresh Creek, Mangrove Cay, Morgan’s Bluff, San Andros

Berry Islands: Great Harbour Cay Marina, Chub Cay Club Marina

Bimini: Alice Town, Bimini, Cat Cay Club Marina

Cat Island: Bennett’s Harbour, Smith’s Bay

Eleuthera: North Eleuthera, Harbour Island, Rock Sound, Spanish Wells, Powell Pointe at Cape Eleuthera

Exuma: Black Point, Staniel Cay

Grand Bahamas: Freeport Bell Channel marina, Port Lucaya Marina Village, Freeport Harbour, Sunrise Resort & Marina, Xanadu Marina, Ginn Sur Mer @ Old Bahama Bay

Inagua: Government Docks at Matthew Town

Long Island: Stella Maris Marina

New Providence: Atlantis Resort and Marina, Bayshore Marina, Brown’s Boat Basin, Clifton Pier, Coral harbor Marina, East Bay Yacht Basin, Hurricane Hole Marina, John Alfred Dock, Kelly’s Dock, Lyford Cay Marina, Nassau Harbour Dock West, Union Dock

San Salvador: Cockburn Town

Mayaguana: Government Docks at Matthew Town

The name Bahamas is derived from the Spanish baja mar, meaning 'shallow water' or 'low tide' - the waters of The Bahamas can be shallow, especially within the lagoons and bays where water may only be one or two meters deep, making the islands an ideal cruising ground for catamarans and superyacht tenders.

Originally written for MegaYacht News.

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