Day 1: Nassau to Highborne Cay – Anchored / Distance 40NM (Running time about 4.5 – 5 hours).
Arrive into Nassau International Airport and join your yacht dockside at Atlantis on Paradise Island. Meet the crew and become orientated with the vessel during the Captain’s safety briefing.
Day 2: Highborne Cay to Norman’s Cay – Anchored / Distance 8NM (Running time about 1 – 1.5 hours).
Highborne is a private island, where you will find beautiful beaches and stromatolites. These are the oldest fossil remains yet discovered at 3.5 billions years old. There is also a large population of resident sharks that you can find near the fish-cleaning station in the marina. Highborne was once, like Norman’s Cay, a haven for drug lords. When they were eventually killed with help from US troops, somebody started a plantation for growing aloe plants. The plants thrived, but the growers neglected to check on the cost of shipping to Miami, so the business went under after the first harvest. From the anchorage in Highborne, take the tender over to nearby Allan’s Cay to fee the Bahamian iguanas, take a leisurely tender ride around the islands before returning to the yacht and moving South to Norman’s Cay.
Norman’s Cay has a rather notorious past, due to the Colombian cocaine smuggler Carlos Lehder. It became a transshipment port to nose-candy loving Americans back in the ’80s. Using a small plane and a professional pilot, Carlos and his henchmen began to fly cocaine into the United States via the Bahamas. The movie “Blow”, starring Johnnie Depp and Penelope Cruz, chronicled these adventures. Explore the islands ruins and snorkel the partially submerged drug running airplane. Perhaps take a visit ashore and enjoy a lunch and cocktail at the fun out-island bar and restaurant called MacDuff’s.
Day 3: Norman’s Cay to Shroud Cay – Anchored / Distance 10NM (Running time about 1.5 hours).
Lift anchor from Norman’s Cay and move South to Shroud Cay. Upon arrival, take a tender excursion through the mangroves and enjoy a lunchtime beach picnic on the Eastern shore, known as “Camp Driftwood”. Shroud Cay is an uninhabited cay owned by the Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park. It is in an archipelago of cays and rocks surrounding a shallow tidal mangrove salina which serves as a unique nursery for conch, crawfish (lobster), sea turtles, birds and many varieties of fish.
Day 4: Shroud Cay to Staniel Cay – Anchored / Distance 31NM (Running time about 4 hours).
The activities noted below are all accessible from this anchorage. With a population of fewer than 80 full-time residents, Staniel Cay is the ideal place to escape from the cares of the world. The Yacht Club is an excellent place to stop by for an afternoon Rum Runner. Enjoy a snorkel at James Bond’s famous Thuderball Cave, a hollowed-out island where thousands of colorful fish will eat from your hand. Take a tender ride to Samplson Cay, where the tidal flats that dry at low tide are one of the most picturesque locations in the Bahamas. Once called Little Birnea, it was named after Israel Sampson, who was granted the cay in 1810. Take the tender ashore and feed the famous swimming pigs at Big Majors Spot.
Day 5: Staniel Cay to Warderick Wells – Anchored / Distance 20NM (Running time about 2 hours).
Explore ashore at the home of the Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park headquarters. Warderick Wells has miles of trails for hiking, as well as beaches, reefs, and many species of tropical birds. In fact, it was selected to be the headquarters of the park due to the wide variety of naturally occurring ecosystems, as well as its centrally located geographical postion within the park. from rocky bluffs to sand dunes, mangrove creeks and sand flats, this island has it all. The skeleton of a 53-foot Sperm Whale (which died after swallowing a plastic bag) watches guard over Powerful Beach near the park office. Trails will lead you to Boo Boo Hill and the blowholes that dominate the landscape on the Eastern shore. The highest point on the island, Boo Boo Hill, is where visitors often will bring a piece of driftwood with the name of their boat carved on it as an appeasement to the gods.
The South anchorage is also know as the “Pirate’s Lair” because pirates used this protected anchorage as a place to hide out, have meetings and ambush unsuspecting ships en route to Nassau. Just off the beach you can follow a small trail to a freshwater well that the pirates used. As you follow the path up to headquarters, you cannot help but notice all the bananaquits (a small black-and-white bird with a yellow breast that is very common in the Bahamas) flitting around. You can stop and feed them just by putting a little sugar in the palm of your hand. Depart later in the evening for Hawksbill Cay or spend the night and then depart early in the morning for Hsawksbill Cay.
Day 6: Warderick Wells to Hawksbill Cay – Anchored / Distance 19NM (Running time about 2 hours).
Spend the day relaxing ashore on the beautiful beach at Hawksbill Cay before the return trip to Atlantis the following day. Hawksbill Cay is an uninhabited cay owned by the Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park. After the American Revolution, citizens who had remained loyal to Great Britain were granted land in the Bahamas, where thy hoped to cultivate large cotton plantations like the ones they left behind in the States. One of the best-preserved ruins of a Loyalist plantation in the Bahamas is on Hawksbill Cay, which belonged to the Russell Family from 1785 – 1830. In addition, the island has spectacular beaches and amazing bays.
Day 7: Hawksbill Cay to Paradise Island, Nassau – Docked / Distance 52NM (Running time about 6.5 hours).
Try your luck in the Atlantis casino inside the hotel and enjoy a stroll through the aquarium. Atlantis also has a few nightclubs for your evening entertainment. Other activities include swimming with dolphins, meeting, hugging and even kissing California sea lions, and stingray encounters. Or you may wish to go on the resort’s snorkeling adventure amid “the sunken ruins and artifacts of the lost city of Atlantis”. The Mandara Spa at Atlantis offers ancient Balinese healing touches, traditional European therapies and natural elements indigenous to the Bahamas.
Day 8: Paradise Island, Nassau – Docked
Morning breakfast and departures.
(Sample Itinerary Courtesy of Capt. Michael Foster and FYBA.org)