Cruising With The Chilbergs: The Great Eight Of The Exumas (BLOG)

The Chilberg's Bahamas must-see list continues to grow as there cruise continues. Next up: Joe Chilberg's list of the great eight of the Exumas.
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The Chilberg's Bahamas must-see list continues to grow as there cruise continues. Next up: Joe Chilberg's list of the great eight of the Exumas.

“The greatest risk in life is to live a riskless life.”

— Anonymous

“The one who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been before.”

— Albert Einstein

There is a risk in not going to the Exumas, and the risk is regret. If a poll were taken of, “what is necessary for the perfect cruising grounds;” I suspect that some of the top vote getters would be:

  1. Gin clear water.
  2. 10-foot-deep water in secluded anchorages.
  3. White sand for good anchor holding.
  4. Gentle prevailing winds with plenty of good leeside locations to anchor.
  5. Clean friendly marinas.
  6. Great restaurants to give the onboard chef a rest.
  7. Convenient places to reprovision in charming towns.
  8. Magnificent sunsets.
  9. Superb fishing & snorkeling.
  10. A fantastic array of knowledgeable & polite cruisers to meet.

Finally, we would want a place where we’d swear that Monet was in charge of painting the infinite shades of blue throughout the waters. Well the Exumas has all of this and more. In several of the anchorages that we enjoyed, we were the only ones there (we left some of them off our list for you to find on your own). Plus a confession: I started with the title "Fab Four," increased it to "Fab Five," then moved to "Magnificent Seven" and finally I stopped at “Great Eight.” That’s how varied and fabulous the Exumas are.


I am sure that many will disagree with us as to our Great Eight of the Exumas. Save your breath as we could have done the "Magnificent Seventy Seven" and still missed some! Now, without further ado:

#8 – Georgetown Monument Beach Anchorage. True we were not there during a regatta when Georgetown has hundreds of boats, but we loved the quiet anchorage with no one else hiking to the top of the monument or walking on the beach. ZNotice our extreme solitude in the image at the top.

Go ahead, tell me you've fished in water nicer than the water at Allen Cay.

Go ahead, tell me you've fished in water nicer than the water at Allen Cay.

The stores are good for provisioning, and Georgetown knows how to take care of the cruisers going to faraway places. Don’t miss the Prime Island Meats and Deli store. They will pick you up in town (generally Tuesday and Friday) and drive you to there store. Excellent , quality meats and deli items.

#7 – Allens Cay. This northern cay in the Exumas has a beautiful anchorage surrounded by three cays with terrific swimming, snorkeling and fishing nearby.

Don’t take your dog to Leaf Cay there because of the iguanas. Hint: it was our dog Baci’s favorite cay, but Susan said that Baci and I can not return! Ask Susan why if you want a good story.

#6 – Highbourne Cay & Marina. Both the anchorage on the lee of Highbourne and the marina are first rate.

Since we were near the end of our marina budget, we could only afford one night at the marina to fill up with water and depart home, but the dinner there was fabulous as were the people!

Baci's new best friends at Leaf Cay.

Baci's new best friends at Leaf Cay.

#5 – Shroud Cay. This is the closest we got to Bogart and the African Queen as we took the dinghy through the mangroves at least a mile and on to the Oceanside beach.

Just a fun time to explore and end up on a great beach with a magnificent view.

#4 – Cambridge Cay. This anchorage provides a mooring field, too, and it’s only a short dingy ride past Johnny Depp’s cay to ‘The Aquarium” – a snorkeling area that rivals Thunderball, but is much less crowded.

Cambridge Cay could easily move all the way up to #1 if you like privacy.

Our anchoring spot of Cambridge.

Our anchoring spot of Cambridge.

#3 – Warderick Wells North Mooring Field. This horseshoe shaped mooring field in the Exumas Land and Water Park is a must on Saturdays to enjoy the Saturday Night Happy Hour with all the boaters there.

It is a great time to meet very interesting cruisers who likely are returning from places you expect to visit next or you will see as you continue on. Low tide sand spits are great for dogs, and the “Garden” snorkeling spot is wonderful.

Wardeck wells was a fantastic mooring location.

Wardeck wells was a fantastic mooring location.

#2 – Warderick Wells Hog Cay Mooring Field. We ranked this so high because it is a secluded section of Warderick with great snorkeling right there and delightful beaches.

It is a beautiful spot which, in order to reach, you must snake through small cays and reefs to moor. We could have stayed a week easily and never tired of the stars above and sea life below.

#1 – Big Majors Spot by Staniel Cay & Thunderball Grotto. At some time this will be an entire blog, but for now, simply stated it is our favorite.

Big Major Spot is a high enough cay to protect you from 20-knot winds in 10 feet of perfect water over white sand with great holding, The beaches are varied with "Pig Beach" for those who want to swim with pigs and feed them … before they try to climb in your dinghy!

 Landlubbers beware.

Landlubbers beware.

Across the harbor is "Pirate Beach," where cruisers have provided tables, chairs, fire pits, dart board and bean bag toss items for all to enjoy. Staniel Cay Yacht Club is casual classy with superior food at a good price, and the owners, David and Christina, are great hosts. Fuel is clean and provisioning is simple at the Isles Grocery store with its own dinghy dock! You don’t have to lug your groceries far . . . just down the dock. Yeah! For those who want to swim with every gorgeous reef fish imaginable within arm’s length, then ‘Thunderball Grotto" is the place.

Susan and myself strolling the beaches of SHroud Cay.

Susan and myself strolling the beaches of Shroud Cay.

You anchor your dinghy in 5 feet of water and swim into the grotto for a spectacular show. Remember your underwater camera!

We could spend a month here as many do, because it has it all in a harbor that can easily accommodate a hundred boats without being on top of each other . . . but please don’t take our anchorage spot about 50 yards off Pirate Beach!

It is not a risk to enjoy the Exumas; it is only a risk not to go!