You will have an incredible time cruising the 200 mostly uninhabited islands with their many beautiful beaches in the northern Exumas. The charter sailboat Cat Ppalu can take you to isolated beaches where you can sunbathe, explore, kayak, snorkel, scuba dive, stand-up paddle board (SUP), wind surf and fish. Become bedazzled by the diversity of the Bahamas!
You are never too young or too old to try snorkeling! Just take one look below the surface and you'll see that's where all the action is! Snorkeling is an easy and enjoyable activity for all passengers. Our instructor is available to assist and instruct those who are unfamiliar with snorkeling and take you on snorkeling tours. All you need are mask, fins and snorkels. If you don't have your own, we have snorkel gear for rent. We provide snorkel vests. The Cat Ppalu has a dinghy for transporting passengers to the remote and pristine islands of the Exumas Cays where they can snorkel from the beach in shallow waters. Make the most of your snorkeling adventure by sharing it with the entire family!
Saddleback Cay On most trips to this beach, we encounter stingrays that venture close to snorkelers in the hopes of a hand fed a tidbit. Swimming with stingrays is always an exciting adventure. There are also a number of small coral heads located at one end of the beach where snorkelers may observe many juvenile fish.
Warderick Wells Park Headquarters
There is a beautiful beach right next to the park headquarters. While there aren't a lot of fish right off the beach, you can swim or snorkel around to the headquarters' dock where schools of grunts, jacks and snapper swarm. A resident lemon shark may also appear.
Mangroves provide haven for marine nurseries for the juveniles of many fish species including gray snapper, barracuda and grunts. During a recent snorkel in the mangroves on Ship's Channel Cay, we saw over 100 small barracuda! The creeks of Shroud Cay are another great area for snorkeling the mangroves.
Close Mon Reef -
This is a beautiful shallow coral reef with a depth that ranges from 2' to 10'. Large schools of snapper and grunts are seen here. You will also see trumpetfish, puffers, filefish, angelfish, and butterflyfish.
Norman's Cay DC-3 Airplane -
In the harbor of Norman's Cay lies a DC-3 in 3' of water. This plane crashed in the 1980's while smuggling drugs. It is a popular spot of underwater photographers. The plane is surrounded by large schools of fish.
Many of our scuba sites are also excellent for snorkeling. The wall dives that run along the Exuma Sound begin shallow and slope gently until gradually falling over the edge. These sites offer awesome diving and snorkeling simultaneously! Dive sites like Parrotfish Reef or Flat Rock Reef have a depth of 5' to 10' near the islands with huge schools of fish.
The Cat Ppalu has four 2-man Ocean kayaks onboard. Everyone will find them easy to use. Visit the many beautiful deserted beaches. Explore the mangrove creeks of Shroud Cay or Ship's Channel Cay. Visit Pirate's Lair where pirates hid 250 years ago to avoid capture.
Sailboats visiting the Bahamas find cruising the Exumas Islands to be one enjoyable areas of the Bahamas. Adventurers enjoy the many trails on the islands of the Exumas. The islands are rich in terrestrial flora and fauna.
Pirate's Lair is perfect for exploring the interior of the island. Hikers heading west can experience the most beautiful sunset from the shores of this deserted island. Booboo Hill is another great place to hike. The rugged shore line of this island has majestic views of the Exuma Sound.
There are several nature trails on Warderick Wells that meander around the island. Maps are available at the park headquarters. If you are lucky you might see a hutia, a rare, local rodent. There are some ruins on the eastern shore that date back to 1780. Be sure to climb Boo Boo Hill to enjoy the spectacular view.
The Park is made up of 15 major cays encompassing 176 square miles. The Park Headquarters is known as Warderick Wells. Warden Ray Darville welcomes visitors to the Park and Headquarters building. As you climb the steps of the Park Headquarters, one of the first things you will notice is the view.
Don't forget your camera. In the office you will find a reference library with many books on topics covering corals, sea life, animals, plants and history. You can also pick up trail maps for the over 4 miles of trails on Warderick Wells. Just outside the office you'll be greeted by several dozen Bananaquit. Put a little sugar in your hand and before long you'll have several eating out of your hand.
Allan's Cay is one of the last homes of the rare Bahamas rock iguanas. They were once common on most Bahamian Islands, but early settlers nearly hunted them into extinction. As you approach the beach, watch for iguanas crawling out of the woods. They are looking for handouts of bread or fruit from the guests to their island. You will get a kick out of these indigenous iguanas on Allan's Cay! Feed the iguanas and take lots of pictures since you can only see them on two islands on Earth!
There are over 100 islands in the Northern Exumas, many with beautiful deserted beaches for you to enjoy.
Each day we saw groups of white tailed tropicbirds circling near nesting sites. We saw the 7 terns that nest in the Exumas, bridled, sooty, least, sandwich, roseate, royal and brown noddy. Among the local species we saw Bahamas woodstars, Bahamas mockingbird, greater Antillean bullfinch, Bananaquits, red-legged thrush, thick-billed vireo and black-faced grassquit.
The Cat Ppalu is a schooner rigged sailing catamaran. While she only draws 2.5 feet, the two center boards can be lowered to an eight feet draft. Charter passengers are welcome to assist the crew if they wish. Cruise among the uninhabited islands under full sail, no noise, just the wind in your face.
Anglers get thrills fishing the waters of the Bahamas. Captain Steve is an avid fisherman who enjoys sharing his expertise with any passengers who show an interest in fishing! Trolling from site to site, the catch of the day is prepared for dinner.
Cat Ppalu actively participates in the Diadema antillarum Recovery Project. This project was spear headed by the University of Miami RSMAS team over 3 years ago. The long spiny sea urchin is a voracious eater of algae, the same network algae that is overtaking the reefs. Watch this movie clip
by Reef News to learn more about it.
STANIEL CAY-- JAMES BOND GROTTO & SWIMMING PIGS
South of the Land & Sea Park is Staniel Cay. This island is a popular stopping point for cruising sailboats. The James Bond Grotto lies in the harbor. The grotto is a cave in the middle of a large rock. There is a small hole in the top of the 40' high island that lights up the cave. Large schools of fish fill the cave. You enter by squeezing between rocks on one side or by swimming through an underwater entrance on the other side. In the 1st James Bond movie, Thunderball, the last scene had James being lifted by helicopter through the hole in the top of the cave, giving the grotto it's name.
The swimming pigs are wild pigs that live on Big Majors Sport, just north of Staniel Cay. As boats approach the beach, the pigs swim out looking for handouts.
Staniel Cay also has a marina with several bars if your group would like a night ashore. There is no scuba diving in the area of Staniel Cay, so for dive groups it would mean missing a day of diving.
At the southern edge of the Land & Sea Park, lie the Rocky Dundas. These are two large islands with cave in them. You can enter the caves by kayak or snorkeling.