When we were last in the Bahamas, in 2019, we sailed east to the Exumas from Nassau. This year we traveled west from Eleuthera, which allowed us to sail deep water in the Exuma Sound instead of nervously eyeballing our way through the coral heads of the Yellow Bank. Highbourne Cay was a day away from Rock Sound, Eleuthera, and we got anchored there in time to eat dinner at the marina. And while we sipped our drinks and waited for our food, we had our first encounter with a UFO!
My seat was facing out toward the harbor when I saw something strange in the sky. It was way too big and fast to be an airplane, but way too slow to be a meteor. We took the video above, and Andy texted it to family while we oohed and aaahed with the other restaurant patrons and exchanged UFO jokes.
Andy’s sister’s later replied that SpaceX had launched another rocket that afternoon. How cool to see it flying over the Exuma Cays, on its way into orbit around Earth!
The next morning we moved down to our first anchorage in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. The ECLSP is a Bahamian national treasure, y’all. It’s a whole chain of cays and reefs that are protected from development and fishing. The only way to visit is by boat, either on a tour from Nassau, or your own vessel. We stopped first at Shroud Cay, which is a huge interlocking web of mangroves and creeks. The photos below were taken on a dinghy ride through the northernmost creek.
But the gold-standard highlight of our visit to this marine park had to be Warderick Wells. This cay holds the park headquarters and three mooring fields for visiting boats. Somehow we bypassed it altogether when we sailed the Exumas in 2019. This year, we took a mooring for five nights, and I probably could have stayed for five more! There is hiking, swimming, snorkeling, beaching, stargazing, and awesome sea-life watching to be had here.
The trail leads down a hill and across a beach, with more visual treasures to discover.
The only sad report from this incredible national park is the loss of my underwater camera. We went out to the bay entrance to snorkel a new reef, but the strong current compelled us to turn back. I needed to “really” swim, using arms and legs, and at some point I noticed my camera strap was no longer around my arm. I did about 10 minutes of doubling back to search, but I couldn’t risk staying longer, getting exhausted, and finding myself unable to get back to the dinghy. Andy was already there waiting on me.
So you will just have to imagine the last photo I took from my trusty Olympus TG-6, which was of a giant grouper (I think). I’m sure it would have been a good one.
Our next stop after the ECLSP was Staniel Cay. Staniel is home to a yacht club, Thunderball Grotto, the famous Exuma Swimming Pigs, two good grocery stores, and – wait for it – the LIQUORMAT! You may laugh – but a place where you can wash your clothes AND restock your bar is a very attractive proposition.
Our next stop in the Exumas would be George Town, to pick up my friend Lauri Bonilla for some buddy time. But I intend to find my way back to the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park one day… with a new camera that has a floatie-strap.