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Coronavirus and Social Distancing Vacations: How to charter a yacht in the Bahamas

By Katia Damborsky   1 May 2020

When travel restrictions are eased and lockdown is lifted, the Coronavirus is expected to create a rise in the demand for Social Distancing Yacht Charters. The Bahamas is a great destination for seclusion and solitude, but that doesn't mean you have to miss out on all the yachting hotspots. Here's how to charter a yacht in the Bahamas amid the COVID-19 crisis. 

Thinking about Social Distancing at sea? You're not alone; many travel experts believe that yacht charter will become the future of luxury travel when quarantine comes to an end, as superyachts are self-contained, hygienic and perfectly suited to Social Distancing vacations. 

And where better to escape the crowds than the Bahamas? With hundreds of cays, calm blue seas, and powdery sand beaches, this tropical paradise is great for serenity and self-isolation. Expect to explore untouched islets, play with water toys in shallow water, and see some spectacular sights that you can't experience anywhere else in the world. 

By far the most popular destination for a Bahamas yacht charter is the Exumas island chain. Read on to discover how you can charter a yacht in the Bahamas during the Coronavirus pandemic. 

What makes the Bahamas perfect for Social Distancing vacations?

pig swimming in shallow blue sea of the exumas close to big major cay, a popular yacht charter destination

It's hard to imagine a charter destination so well-suited to a Social Distancing vacation. Here's what makes the Bahamas so perfect for yacht charter after quarantine:

  • Natural beauty and scenic wonders
    Most yacht charter itineraries around the Bahamas include plenty of natural attractions and landmarks, as opposed to beach clubs, restaurants or other social venues. 
    This means it's easy to practice Social Distancing while exploring the Bahamas by boat, and you can still experience most, if not all, of the region's famous and iconic attractions. Plus, the flexibility of a yacht charter means that you can choose the best times to visit each point of interest, so you can avoid the crowds if you want to. 
  • Lots of anchorages and moorings
    Shallow waters and calm weather means the Bahamas is home to plenty of anchorages and mooring opportunities away from the marinas. You can spend your whole charter out at sea, and avoid visiting marinas and harbours where large groups of people tend to gather. 
  • Good connections for private flights
    A selection of smaller airports make private aviation simple and straightforward. For those who wish to avoid flying commercially, the Bahamas has a good selection of airports which cater to private flights.

How can I fly privately into the Bahamas?

private chartered plane flying across the blue sea and islands of the exumas
private plane interior, with white leather seats
small private propellor private taking off from the bahamas

The following airports all cater to private jets and chartered flights arriving to the Exumas:

  • George Town Airport
  • Black Point Airport
    Be aware that there is no refueling station here
  • Darby Island Airport
    Private island- your plane needs permission to land here
  • Rudder Cut Cay Airport
  • Staniel Cay Airport

We would typically recommend Staniel Cay for those arriving to begin a superyacht charter, as Staniel Cay is located close to the centre of the Exumas island chain and has a great range of attractions. It is located in close proximity to Big Sampson Cay (listed below) and Big Major Cay, where you'll find the famous swimming pigs. 

If you’re flying internationally, you need to be aware that Staniel Cay is not a port of entry. However, if you let customs know two weeks' in advance and agree to pay all extra transport charges and fees, customs and immigration officials can meet you at Staniel Cay. 

Alternatively, your flight will have to make a brief stop at an international entry point. San Andros, Fresh Creek, Chub Cay, Nassau or George Town are good options, but the latter two are typically more crowded with longer wait times. Regardless, the stop won’t take long, and customs officials will come out and meet you at your plane.

If you're considering a scheduled charter flight, Makers Air is a great aviation option that provides daily flights to a number of islands in the Bahamas. They are based in Fort Lauderdale, FL, and offer a selection of different aircraft which suit the runways of the Bahamas. You can also fly privately with Makers, and a private departure lounge ensures you can maintain Social Distancing every step of your vacation.

Types of yachts for charter in the Bahamas

charter superyacht loon in the blue waters of the exumas practising social distancing

The name ‘Bahamas’ derives from the Spanish word ‘baja mar’ meaning ‘shallow water’ or ‘low tide’.

You’ll need to charter a yacht with a low draft when chartering around the Bahamas, as much of these cruising grounds are extremely shallow. In fact, did you know that the name ‘Bahamas’ derives from the Spanish word ‘baja mar’ meaning ‘shallow water’ or ‘low tide’?

The best anchorages in the Bahamas

The unique geography of the Bahamas means there’s no shortage of places where you’ll be able to drop anchor and enjoy calm seas and a tranquil setting while practicing Social Distancing. 

When the time comes to get back out on the water after the COVID-19 pandemic eases, here are our top picks for secluded anchorages in the Bahamas:

West side of Norman’s Cay

Head to the west side of Norman’s Cay for a quiet and sheltered anchorage. Here you’ll be tucked away from the wind and located in close proximity to some spectacular diving sites; expect pristine coral, giant grouper and turtles floating through the turquoise waters. Norman's Cay is also home to the famous sunken plane that supposedly once belonged to Pablo Escobar. Head over to the south of the island to take a closer look- our Point of Interest below includes accurate co-ordinates.

From this spot, you’re also in a great position to visit the Exumas’ famous sand bar. Just north of Norman’s Cay, this swirl of sugar-soft sand rises up from the sun-warmed water at low tide, and makes a great spot for a beach picnic or a sunset stroll.

Little Pigeon Cay, near Shroud Cay

Located in the Exumas Land and Sea Park, this bay is the dreamiest spot for anchoring away from the crowds. Anchor here, then take a tender up to explore Shroud Cay. Enjoy the feeling of isolation as you splash in the sea or paddleboard through the tidal creeks; you’ll be totally protected from the winds.

It’s easy to visit the other side of Shroud Cay if you want to check out the Washing Machine (a natural tide formation that creates rapids) via a short tender journey through the mangroves. The water on the west side of the island is shallow and as clear as glass so be sure to have some fun with your yacht’s inflatable toys.

O’Brien’s Cay

Also located in the Exumas Land and Sea Park, there is a great opportunity to anchor or moor (there are some mooring balls here) in the water surrounding the uninhabited O'Brien's Cay. This tiny island is popular among tour operators during the day, but as the sun sets you'll more than likely have the whole place to yourself. Turn on the underwater lights on your yacht, and you’ll have a front-row seat to an enthralling nature show as the fish flock to your yacht. 

You can jump in the tender to explore the sand flats or step on shore to do some hiking. But the real treasures lie below the surface of the sea, where there’s the O'Brien's Cay sunken plane wreck and a dive site known as the Aquarium, where you’ll be able to see a kaleidoscope of brightly-colored fish. If your yacht has a Go-Pro, be sure to take this out for a quick spin.

North side of Bell’s Cay

The pellucid sea surrounding the private island of Bell’s Cay is great for dropping anchor in a peaceful and secluded setting. It also puts you in close proximity to several popular sites over on Compass Cay, such as Rachel’s Bubble Bath. Set course for this naturally-occurring phenomenon in the morning, and experience the unique wonder of a thermal spa mixed with a water park. 

Nearby, you’ll also find the Rocky Dundas caves near Conch Cut. These incredible rock formations feature stalagmites and stalactites that create a natural cathedral setting. There’s a buoy close to the southernmost island where your yacht crew can tie up your tender if they need to.

West side of Pipe Cay

The Pipe Creek area is bound together by the islands of Thomas Cay, Joe Cay, Pipe Cay, Little Pipe Cay and Rat Cay (also known as Wild Tamarind Cay). These islands form a mass of creeks, sandbanks, reefs and cuts which make a spectacular sight to soak up; it truly is a rainbow of blues.

While these cruising grounds may be beautiful, they are also tricky to navigate, so you’re better off anchoring close to Pipe Cay. Then, hop in your tender to explore the lagoons and fine-as-flour sand. The waters are perfect for kites-surfing so be sure to spend an afternoon mastering the art; or jump in the water and take a closer look at the region’s resident lemon sharks. 

Sampson Cay

For those eager to see the most iconic sights of the Bahamas, anchor at Sampson Cay and wake up early to visit all the most famous attractions in the Bahamas before the crowds arrive. Staniel Cay is just a short cruise away, and it’s here you’ll find the notorious sunken drug plane lying on the seabed.

Now serving as an artificial reef, enjoy a quick snorkel through the plane before heading onwards to Thunderball Grotto, a semi-submerged cave named after the James Bond movie which it starred in. Cruise onwards to Big Major Cay for a chance to see the swimming pigs. Arrive later in the day after the pigs have been fed, and they’ll be relaxed and calm. The tours will have also left, meaning you can continue to practice Social Distancing.

Musha Cay, near Big Farmer’s Cay

Big Farmer's Cay is another spot with extremely shallow water in places, so once you’ve dropped anchor you’ll most likely be spending most of your time exploring by tender. There’s a pretty, crescent-shaped bay on the west side of the island, with a narrow creek that usually plays host to small sharks. If you’re looking to try your hand at spearfishing, Big Farmer’s Cay is a great spot to do so.

One of the most beautiful attractions of Big Farmer’s Cay is the Musha Cay sandbar, which stretches out for around a mile just south of the island. It’s usually deserted, meaning you can leave fresh footprints in the sand and enjoy beach picnics or sunbathing in this remote and peaceful spot.

Bahamas Social Distancing Yacht Charter Itineraries

blue water in shallow tidal creek in the exumas

Feeling inspired? Our 9-day Bahamas Social Distancing Itinerary includes most of these hotspots, and has been tailored to ensure you can maintain Social Distancing every step of your vacation. Use it as a template and ask your broker to tweak it for you to give you the ultimate bespoke travel experience. 

This itinerary will allow you to soak up all the splendor of the Exumas and experience everything that makes this destination so famous. 

If you're looking to travel further afield and see another side to the Bahamas, our 10-day Bahamas Out Islands Yacht Charter itinerary might be better suited to you. For diving enthusiasts and those with a keen sense of adventure, this itinerary is ideal for getting off the beaten path.

Ready to start planning?

Take a look at all our Bahamas yacht charter itineraries, which includes a number of Social Distancing itineraries.

View itineraries

If you would like more information about booking a yacht, please reach out to your preferred yacht charter broker.

For more information about COVID-19, superyacht charter, Social Distancing, travel updates and news, please refer to our Yacht Charter and Coronavirus Guide.


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