Harbor View Vacation Rental in Exuma

Planning A Day Boating In Elizabeth Harbour-part-two

In the last story I suggested how to spend a morning on a Minns rental boat exploring Elizabeth Harbour.  I left you feeling hungry and on the south side of Stocking Island.  Well, we are spoilt for dining choice !  

chat N chill

We can go to Chat and Chill, anchor off their soft sand beach, and visit our host KB and wife Kwanza, at the bar and enjoy a drink and meal, or stroll along the beach to the Conch Shack.  Here we have a conch salad, a Bahamian speciality, which we can enjoy while we watch the family of Sting Rays that live offshore and are waiting for your conch scraps.

stingrays

Alternatively we can sit down in the restaurant and experience a wider selection of fare at St Francis Resort.  Run and owned by George and Jillian

Recently the Peace & Plenty Hotel in George Town set up a beach bar. Again we anchor just off their soft powder sand beach, listen to some Bahamian music and down a Kalik, the local and highly rated beer,  while waiting for a wholesome burger from their BBQ.

Peace & Plenty Beach Bar

If we are in the mood for something a little more fancy,  with a touch of luxury, then we would go into the Eastern hurricane hole and tie up at the dock of Kahari Resort Restaurant.  Your not limited here to just burgers, their cuisine is more exotic, and delicious.

Before closing the book on eating on Stocking Island. Let me remind you that you don’t have to rent a boat to dine there. You can get the water taxi from Town to take you to any of these welcoming spots.

So we have quenched our thirst, downed some food and we are ready to continue exploring the Harbour.  Next stop is about a mile west where we find a dock. Now for some exercise. Those of us who are fit and able start the path that climbs through twists and turns, and is steep.  Eventually you come out at the monument on the highest point on Stocking Island (maybe the highest in all Exuma  !).  Stop. Catch your breath and admire the 360 degree view. 

Salt Monuments

The monument was build centuries ago as an indication to passing ships that salt was available.   Return to the dock and energy permitting, walk along the beautiful beach to a deserted building which marks the start of the footpath that takes you over to the Ocean. Tide permitting,  you may be able to walk and explore some of the rock pools and search for some attractive shells.

All aboard !   After a leisurely swim in the 80+ water we will head across the Harbour, traveling southwest and skim past the February Point development and on towards Flamingo Bay where we can pass under the “Bridge to Nowhere”.  This elaborate structure, built in the Italian style, was originally planned to provide access from Great Exuma to the planned development of Crab Cay.  I related in a previous story how Crab Cay was bought by the Murphy Family, the largest pig farmers in the US.  Their plan was to build an Italian style village with restaurants and top end health facilities and then multi-million dollar villas, plus a marina capable of docking some of the Worlds dream yachts. After a couple of years of expense the construction came to a holt.  All we have left to record the sad story is the Bridge to Nowhere.

Crab Cay Exuma

Want to see more?  or do you want to just sit on one of the many beautiful and deserted beaches and relax in the blue tropical waters?  

Time is marching on and I suggest we head back.  Skipper the boat through Kidd Cove, so named after the famous pirate Captain Kidd, who was reputed to have spent some time in Exuma (he did not stay at Harbour View although a few of his doubloons would have been appreciated). Slow down as we approach the low bridge we have to pass under to get into Lake Victoria.  Don’t slow down too much or the strong current will take over and steer you off course. So engine up, under the bridge and back to Minns dock where their efficient staff will refuel the boat while you complete the paperwork in the office.  You will be pleasantly surprised at how little fuel you have used.  So an eventful day, hope you  enjoyed it. 

Minns Water Sports Exuma
Minns Water Sports Exuma

Sailboats in Exuma

Exuma Sound

Every year from November onwards cruising yachts start arriving in Elizabeth Harbour in Exuma. Then over the next two months we get a daily intake, weather permitting, of more yachts until we have a fleet of around 400 cruising yachts in Exuma.

cruising yachts in Exuma

The boats arrivals coincides with the end of hurricane season and on a calm day you will see a line of sails on the horizon approaching the entrance to the harbour.

Each yacht will fly a flag at the stern of their boat,  the flag of their country of registry. So you will see mainly US Stars and Stripes, Union Jacks, and Canadian maple leafs.  Amongst that fleet will also be boats from many Europian countries and probably some Australian. As they arrive they will fly a yellow flag from the spreaders which indicates that the yacht has yet to check in with customs and immigration.

Some yachts are live-aboard cruisers, whose boat is their home, many of them will live on board for several years and some have children aboard. Some are snowbirds, heading south to escape the winter weather others will be cruising the Caribbean islands.

The boats vary in size and design, from 30 foot monohulls and catamarans, to 100+ foot mega yachts.  With 400 boats  that equates to over a thousand persons, which obviously plays a significant part to the local economy. The social life of the boaters is pretty hectic with daily volley ball matches, mass organized dinghy trips to various beaches and restaurants and culminating with  week long festivities at the cruising regatta. Events will include competitions in: The round-the island-yacht-race, talent shows, treasure hunts and sand sculptures.

boats at dock

Each morning the boats will listen to their vhf radios for weather forecasts and if there is a threat of strong winds in the future days then they often move their vessel to a more sheltered location, which is easily done in a large harbour that encloses many smaller islands.

The season starts in November and runs through to Easter, when many either start heading North to their summer home, or head  South to continue their Caribbean or even their circumnavigation.

This coming winter is expected to be busier than ever due to the devastation in the Northern Bahamas caused by hurricane Dorian. This monster storm ravaged The Abacos and Grand Bahama islands. Two of the islands that many cruisers visit. So where will they go this year?  Only time will tell, but many are expected to head on down to Great Exuma thus increasing the boat count for 2019-2020, and some years to come.

How to Save Hundreds on Your Next Vacation

Exuma marathon

On November 9th 2019 the fifth annual Exuma marathon will take place. This year will be special as much of the funds raised in this non profit event will go to a special cause. That special cause will be comfort and education of the 40+ students living and studying in Exuma, who are displaced from their homes in Abaco and Grand Bahama.

Exuma marathon
Exuma marathon

These young people, a sample of the future of The Country,  watched their homes ravaged by hurricane Dorian with over 200 mph winds for an unbelievable 40 hours non stop. Many escaped and were rescued with only the clothes they were wearing.

hurricane damage

The race organizers have pledged at least $5000 towards the fund, with the Bahamian Government adding a further $3000 prize money. Spectators who line the route are being asked to provide items that benefit the students.

The Exuma Marathon caters for all skill levels. From a 2k dash to half and full marathons. There is even a 50k ultra marathon. So November 9th looks like a busy day.

finish of Exuma marathon
finish of Exuma marathon

Black Point Sailing Regatta

sailing regatta

Last weekend was the annual Black Point Sailing Regatta. Held every year on the public holiday commemorating The Bahamas emancipation from Great Britain.

sailing regatta at Black Point

The event is held off the shores of Great Guana Cay, one of the many small islands which form part of the chain of islands known as The Exuma Cays.

This is the 56th year of this annual event and the commodore Gregory Adderley is the son of the founding commodore Lawrence Adderley who died earlier this year.

Black Point regatta

The 2019 winner was a local sloop “Crazy Partner”. Second was “Lady Eunice” and third “Sacrifice”. The races were in temperatures hovering around the high 90s with light winds.

The 66th Annual Family Island Regatta

Exuma Sailing Regatta

On April 23rd 2019 The  Annual Out Island Regatta starts.

Over the next five days the population of Exuma escalates as visitors from many of the family islands descend on Great Exuma to enjoy some great boat races, loads of Bahamian food and one heck of a lot of Kalik, rum punches and Bahama Mamas.

disaster!

The regatta started 66 years ago with the intention of preserving the boat building skills that the islands possessed from generations of fishermen and boat builders. The type of boats are called skiffs. They are entirely built of wood, usually around 30ft long with a forward mounted mast of exceptional length.
The long boom means the boat can carry enormous sails for such a  small craft.  The boat carries several lead blocks for ballast and a crew of around 10, some of which will sit on a hefty plank well out to the beam of the boat, to act as a counter-weight to the sails and wind force.
The skill is to slide back into the boat and back out the other side as the boat rounds a marker. 

regatta 3

The boats are divided into classes A thro’ E depending on their size. Each boat must be designed, built and skippered by a Bahamian.
Each race is two laps around a triangular course inside Elizabeth Harbour and there are some large financial prizes.

There are about ten boats in each race and they line up and anchor on the start line. The commodore of the Regatta fires a cannon to signify the start of each race. Then its chaos as the crew scramble to lift the anchor, raise the sails and steer clear of the competitors.

reggatta 4

Following the race are a series of spectator boats cheering on the boat from their island.  In addition there are more spectator boats at the turn bouys, which is where collisions and capsizes are most frequent.

While the main focus is on the water, back on land you find wooden shacks lining the streets of George Town, each offering drinks and/or food and LOUD music. !  So by early evening you can imagine that many visitors and locals are well lubricated and dancing the night away.

Sailboats in Exuma

Sailboats At Anchor in Exuma

Every year here in Exuma we watch a community of sailboats grow in our picturesque islands. Many are known as snow birds and they bring their boats to Exuma to escape the bitter winter weather  in their home area.

The migration starts around November as we see a trickle of  boats enter into Elizabeth Harbour and drop anchor in one of the many perfect locations that offer access to the soft sand beaches and protection from the prevailing wind.

Elizabeth Harbour is a beautiful area extending some 7 to 8 miles East to West and around a mile North to South. The southern shore is Great Exuma, the main island. The northern shore is a string of islands starting with Stocking Island at the western end, followed by Elizabeth Cay, then Guana Cay and finally Fowl Cay at the eastern end. So this Harbour is both large and well protected from the Ocean swells.

Inside the Harbour area are more small islands so during their stay in Elizabeth Harbour, which can vary from a few weeks to maybe 6 months, the boats can change their anchorage and their surroundings based on changes in the weather and the pure desire to change their setting.

Who is on these boats? Well it is a real mixture of solo sailors, many couples, and some families with children. The majority have travelled from Northern America and Canada.

The boats they are living aboard also vary from sailboats ranging from the 30ft to 60ft, some catamarans, mostly monohulls then a few power boats.

As Christmas approaches the numbers continue to increase, until by the New Year the totals are around 400 to 500.

So you are on a sailboat in a beautiful tropical setting, escaping the crappy weather up North, but what are you going to do with yourself each day?  Well we can swim, snorkel and scuba in 70 degree water, we can play volleyball each afternoon with your fellow boaters on the four courts on Stocking Island.  We can set up groups to play bridge or mahjong. 

Each of the boats will have an inflatable run about of 10ft to 15ft that they use as their personal transport to get ashore, go shopping, visit other boats.

At the end of the season, usually starting at Easter, the numbers start to decline as some boats leave to return to the East coast of the US where the boat will be stored for the summer and the owners fly home. Others leave their boats in Elizabeth Harbour when they head home. There are areas in the Harbour where many moorings have been placed ready to accept stored boats. The boats are managed by local boatmen who check the security of the boats, run the electrics to keep the battery charged, and open them occasionally to avoid stale air.

There is another category of boater that I have not mentioned. That is the true cruiser. Usually a couple, sometimes a full family, that are fortunate enough to be able to adopt the cruising lifestyle and travel the world at a leisurely pace (Ah sweet memories !). Not surprisingly you will be able to pick them out by the national flag at their stern.

So there you have a short version of the life on those many boats that visit this boaters paradise. 

Why don’t you visit Exuma and experience it for yourself. If you don’t have a boat you could stay with us at Harbour View.

Cruising sailboats

Memories in Exuma

Manta Ray in Exuma

After 20 years in Exuma I have, as you might expect amassed a considerable amount of fond memories and I would like to share some of them with you.

One of the main reasons for visiting or living in Exuma is the Ocean. It’s always warmer that 65 degrees, even in Winter. Its colors are vibrant, and vary from sandy white to deep blue. On a calm day you can clearly see the coral, the fish, the reefs, even to depths of thirty feet.

Its ever changing with sandbars at low tide and amazingly as you explore the beaches chances are you will see more fish, more baby sharks, more rays, more turtles, than you will see people. (and long may it stay that way).

So back to my promise to tell you of just a few of my more memorable events that few folks have the good fortune to experience.

Swimming with a Manta Ray

If you visit Exuma one of the trips you MUST try is to visit Chat N Chill, not just to experience the bar and restaurant and the beautiful beach, but more importantly to see, and swim with the Sting Rays.  These tame docile beautiful creatures will brush against you as you stand in the shallows, you can pet them and feel their velvet like skin, you can feel them take food from your hand.  Well my fond memories tops that experience !

We were renting a cottage on Hoopers Bay and I looked out over the blue Ocean and could see a shape of something large swimming parallel to the beach about 10ft offshore. I watched as it reached the end of the bay, turned and swam back, still just offshore. It was something I had never seen before.  It was a Manta Ray !  From wing tip to wing tip it must have been eight foot across.

Luckily I had my snorkel and mask handy, but not my camera, I ran down to the beach and stood chest deep as the majestic creature came towards me, with the graceful flying wing motion, till about 20 feet away it just stopped, facing me.  For a full minute neither of us moved but I felt so calm and safe and peaceful.  If you have ever had the opportunity to swim with dolphins you will know that serene feeling.
After a minute the Manta Ray slowly moved in a full circle around me, always some 15ft away, then majestically turned and continued on its track.  I was so excited !

Manta Ray

Nurse Sharks Mating

Close by our home at Harbour View is the deserted island Man O War Cay. I have spent many happy days kayaking there and then walking the soft sand beaches of the eastern shore then crossing over to the western shore for the walk back. The western side tends to be a series small coves with sandy beaches then a rocky outcrop.

As I walking back on a warm sunny day I approached a rocky section and could see something flapping beyond the rocks, so I slowed and crept forward being as quiet as I could thinking it was probably a heron.  As I got closer I could see a large dark shape half in and half out of the water.  It was a nurse shark !  No, wait, its two nurse sharks and they are noisily mating !  The male is biting the back of the neck of the female  but as he sees me just yards away, he releases her and slides off into deeper water.  She just laid there for a further few minutes before she to slid into the water.  I could see the male swimming back and forth some 100 yards offshore.  Probably very unhappy at my arrival.

Nurse Shark

The Snorkeling Dolphin

My last story is a fond memory that happened in Elizabeth Harbour.  Here you can see bottlenose dolphins. Not every day but often. These majestic creatures are playful and love to swim alongside moving boats. Most boat skippers will tell you how a pod of dolphins will swim alongside their boat and continually cross in front of the bow just inches away.

Well in my story I was taking a 20 ft boat across the harbour to Stocking Island. As I got close to the shore I saw about eight or nine adults standing chest deep in the water very excited and agitated, so I stopped to see what was the cause of their commotion. Then I saw a dolphin surface in amongst them then dive again. It continued to dive and surface in amongst the group such that they never knew where it would be next, but the dolphin always managed to be just out of arms reach.

As I watched, one person, wearing snorkel and mask, bent down to get an underwater view, took water down the snorkel, and came up coughing and spluttering having dropped the snorkel. So our attention returned to the dolphin. Where would he surface next?  Then it happened !  The photo opportunity of a lifetime !  The dolphin surfaced with the snorkel in its mouth ! 

bottlenose dolphin

I hope you enjoyed these three fond memories.  There are many more..but that’s for another day

Our Favourite Beach in Exuma

coastline adventures

Here are our top ten reasons to visit Exuma. 

Here are the top 10 reasons why you should visit the island of Exuma in The Bahamas. Some are well know, some not so well known. Have a look around as we have included photos, videos, information and links. They are in no particular order:

1. Explore Exuma’s Best Beaches

When was the last time you had the opportunity to explore a deserted island?  To travel there under your own power and not see another soul. To walk through warm clear water and see fish of  all sizes.
To walk the powder soft sandy coastline and find one of many sheltered bays each with the gentle waves lapping at your feet.  Of course Moriah Cay is just one of the many beaches we recommend, follow this link to see more Exuma Beaches

2. Day Trip to See Swimming Pigs

We have recommended to almost all of our previous guest that they devote one day to the trip to see the swimming Pigs and without exception they have returned saying it was a trip to treasure for a long time (just check our guest reviews to see their words).

Your all day trip will include passing the Cays bought by the stars, stops to see wild Iguanas, Swim with Nurse Sharks, visit the swimming pigs, and explore Thunderball Cave, but rather than me go on about it, watch the video and see for yourself. want to see more of swimming pigs? Just click on this link

3. Rent A Boat

Minns Water Sports based on Lake Victoria in George Town will rent you a self-drive boat for a day or half day. Enabling you to build your own adventure and explore Elizabeth Harbour. you have many beaches to visit, snorkel areas to explore, and a choice of Restaurants to visit….check out the video.

Or maybe you want to travel outside of Elizabeth Harbour, or just want to rent a boat with a knowledgeable skipper for the day. No problem contact  Coastline Adventures.  Whichever you desire, click here for more information.

coastline adventures
photo by Nelson Ranger of ibababahamas.com

4. Dining Out

One of our favorite ways to spend a day is to lunch out at one of the many beachside restaurants, get a Kalik (local beer) and enjoy a meal such as lobster  at Santanna’s.

On the way there we visit one of the beaches, and if we have the energy, another beach on the way home…heaven!

Talking of restaurants, I invite you to check our Restaurants page.

dining at tropic breeze

5. A Kayak Trip

My perfect day is to be in Exuma and to take my kayak to explore. It could be a trip through the mangroves, It could be around Moriah Cay to the Ocean or past Man O War Cay to the sandbar. I may see a Turtle, a Dolphin or a Sting Ray. Then home with a smile on my face and some good pictures in my camera,
talking of good pictures take a look at our kayaking page.

kayaking

6. Kiteboarding

Over the last few years the sport of Kiteboarding has blossomed and Exuma is the perfect location. Which ever way the wind is blowing there is a shallow coastline to visit. For more about this sport in Exuma follow this link

7. Scuba Diving & Snorkeling

Exuma Scuba have been taking divers on thrilling trips for some years now. With their base on the town dock at the edge of Elizabeth Harbour they are ready to take you on your next adventure. They carry PADI certification and have a wide range of locations to take you.

If you are looking for a snorkel spot we have a list of locations for you.

More information if you go to our Scuba & Snorkel page 

8. Jet Skis in Exuma

Jet skis, you love them or hate them ! Whichever, they are a perfect way to explore the many islands that surround Exuma and also the adjacent string of islands called the Exuma Cays. For more information follow this link

9. Beach Weddings in Exuma

Want a wedding that is laidback and off the charts? We can organize your beach wedding free of charge if you stay at Harbour View for at least a week. We know the rules, we know the cost, we know the locations.

10. Bonefishing in Exuma

One of the areas to bonefish favored by the professional guides is directly in front of our home in the shallows by Moriah Cay. You are allowed to fish alone if you wish but you do need a reasonably priced license. For more videos of this difficult sport visit our bonefish page

https://youtu.be/znd-C9Mf1LY

Snorkeling close to home

coastline adventures

Just yards from our home, Harbour View, and in less than 10 foot of water lies one of the best snorkel spots in Exuma. Located just off shore between Hartswell and Moriah Harbour Cay.  While the area of the reef is not large it is well populated with all sorts of fish, from medium sized Grouper and Permit, to the dreaded Lion Fish, and even some lobsters, It’s a rewarding swim.

A Day Trip with Robert’s Island Adventures

swimming pigs

Want a day trip on a boat, full of adventure, great scenery, pristine blue waters, including the famous swimming pigs?  Then give Roberts Island Adventures a call and they will make it a reality.

Robert Thompson, born and bred in Exuma has spent his life with boats and the Ocean. Now the proud owner of Roberts Island Adventures, he has a fleet of power boats including a 38 foot Rabco that takes crew and four guests, and a 35 foot Avanti that takes up to 6 guests and crew. All boats are regularly maintained and have all necessary safety gear.

Robert and his son William are the skippers and they are just itching to take you and your friends on either a full day or half day trip of a lifetime. Whether your interest in going snorkeling, spear fishing or fishing, the boys know where to go to get the best results. They know where the turtles can be found, they know where the lobsters are hiding, so you can be sure of getting those pictures you crave or that fish dish you were planning.

Their all day trip starts by wending your way through the smaller cays, passing by the islands of the stars, David Copperfield, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Tiger Woods, they all have homes on a Cay (an island). The order of the stops will vary with the tide but you will stop at Leaf Cay and go ashore to see the iguanas, unique to the Bahamas. Feed them some grapes, pose for the photo op and off we go.  Next stop may be at Big Major Cay where you will be greeted by the sight of pigs of various sizes swimming out to the boat, looking to be fed. Be warned, these are wild animals and they do not like their backs scratched as they get sunburn.  After a fun time and more pictures its “all aboard” and off to swim with the sharks! No panic, their nurse sharks, large and intimidating but basically harmless. The last part of the trip is to Thunderball Cave close to the island of Staniel Cay. This picturesque location was in one of the first James Bond films, and it truely is spectacular. More fish of all varieties and the hole in the roof provides beams of light which reflect down into the water.
Now its time to digest the exciting places you have visited as the boat makes its way back to Exuma.

Robert’s adventures come with a knowledgable and smiling crew and a cooler of cold beverages. So indulge yourself, and let Roberts Island adventures provide you the trip of a lifetime. To book go to his website

roberts island adventures