A Bahamas yacht rental vacation is perfect for secluded bliss at sea. Avoid the crowded marinas and busy ports and drop anchor in one of these secluded spots in the Exumas, by far the most popular yacht charter destination in this Caribbean hotspot.
With hundreds of cays, calm blue seas, and powdery sand beaches, this tropical paradise is great for serenity. 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 to rent a yacht in the Bahamas with serious panache.
Here's what makes the Bahamas such a wonderful yacht rental destination for a peaceful vacation:
- 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Here are our top picks of the best secluded anchorages in the Bahamas:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 enjoy these incredible animals at your leisure.
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.
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 track.