Over the years we have helped rental guests at Harbour View plan a days boat rental in Elizabeth Harbour. So if you are planning to enjoy a day on the water exploring the delights of Elizabeth Harbour you may find the following story helpful in getting the most out of your trip.
Minns Water Sports have a fleet of boats ranging in size from 15ft to 22ft. Most of the smaller boats are Boston Whalers. A catamaran hull with a 50 horse outboard. They are based in George Town and after a briefing, which includes anchoring, limits of travel and safety equipment, you self drive from the pond into the main Harbour. Each boat has a hand held radio, an anchor and safety vests and a map.
One thing you need to know before you set off is the times of low tide and high tide. Knowing the time of low tide enables you to decide in which order you visit the many attractions the Harbour has to offer. Let’s assume that low tide is around 9am. In that case we recommend you head East down the Harbour, passing between the colored buoys ( red right returning) that mark the gap in the coral reef halfway down the Harbour. Keep going for about half an hour till you reach the sandbar on the West side of Man O War Cay. Anchor the boat in the shallows on the eastern side of the sandbar and explore this pristine sandy stretch for about half a mile.
If you find starfish on the sand put them back in the water.
Taken enough photos? Let’s up anchor, circle round the southern end of the sand bar. Always remember that the paler the color of the water, the shallower the depth. Now with a quick check to the map, head for Fowl Cay. This Cay is the Eastern most of the Cays that surround Elizabeth Harbour, and its also the best snorkeling area. Upon arrival attach your bow line to one of the mooring buoys. Do NOT anchor. If you anchor your anchor will almost certainly damage the coral. Plus it may get stuck and you could have trouble retrieving it. So snorkel to your hearts content in the gap between Fowl Cay and Guana Cay. The area is sometimes subject to a swell from the Ocean so if your snorkel skills are limited you could wait to the next stop.
Untie from the mooring buoy and head West staying several hundred yards offshore. always watch out for dark patches which are probably coral heads. The grey patches you also see are usually turtle grass or just shadows of clouds. You get acclimatized to read the water after a few trips. After Guana Cay the next island is Elizabeth Cay. As you motor, look over to your left and find those red and green buoys you passed between earlier. This time motor over there slowly and anchor in sand. Not in the channel. Now you are in about 4 to 7 ft of calm water easy for snorkeling to see the many brightly colored fish of all shapes and sizes.
Back over towards Elizabeth Cay. At the western end is another shallow patch with ankle deep water that is worth exploring and hunt for sand dollars. These circular creatures live in and on the sand. The live ones are grey. Leave them alone. Find the white ones, they are dead and make a nice decoration. Problem is they are fragile (paint them with clear Elmers Glue to preserve them).
Up anchor and head West to the hurricane holes. These are on the South side of Stocking Island, and as the name implies, this is where boats would anchor when a hurricane was forecast. Two areas of water surrounded with hill and just a narrow entrance. Motor into the western hole and you will be faced with about 30 offshore cruising boats that owners have parked while they fly home for some reason. Check the map to locate a “Blue Hole”. This is a vertical cave which extends out to the Ocean. It’s not safe to dive as there is a strong current.Blue Holes are always swarming with fish in clear water.
It is worth noting that a large part of Elizabeth Harbour is part of the Moriah Harbour Cay National Park.
Ready for lunch? You have several options. There are four options on Stocking Island.
But let’s leave that for another story. Along with ideas of how to spend your boating afternoon.