The Bahamas Islands are a dream destination to explore under sail! In the heart of the Caribbean Sea, the archipelago offers the chance to enjoy sailing through splendid scenery, pleasant places to stop off and memorable activities. In this article, the Outremer team tells you what they consider to be the essential stages of a catamaran cruise in the Bahamas.
Sailing the Bahamas, an exceptional voyage
A renowned destination for catamaran sailing
Made up of 700 islands and 2,000 islets covering an area of almost 250,000 km², the Bahamas is an immense playground for sailing enthusiasts. Every year, a large number of yachtsmen head for the destination in monohull or multihull yachts. Most arrive from the American coast, with Miami and Florida only 200 nautical miles away. Other sailors come from several islands in the Caribbean arc: Cuba, the Dominican Republic, the British Virgin Islands, Saint-Martin, Guadeloupe…
Whether sailing a sailboat or a catamaran, yachtsmen in the Bahamas enjoy variable conditions depending on whether they are sailing along the windward or leeward coasts. Most of the time, sailing is comfortable, in a particularly pleasant environment.
The seabed is rich and shallow: catamarans in particular can sail and anchor in very shallow waters, in sumptuous spots. Finally, with the tropical climate, it’s pleasant to swim all year round, whatever the time of year.
Planning to visit the Bahamas by sailboat? Whether you’re cruising with your family, as a couple, with friends or on your own, there’s always plenty to discover. The islands of the Bahamas offer an incredible variety of activities: whether the crew of your boat want to party, relax or go on an inland adventure during stopovers, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy!
A must-see in the Bahamas: Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park
If there’s one place not to miss on a cruise in the Bahamas, it’s the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park: in the largest marine park in the Caribbean, covering more than 450 km², you can sail through idyllic waters and fantastic landscapes. The marine and underwater fauna and flora are exceptional and will make your stay an exceptional experience.
Our best catamaran ports of call
When you choose to sail to the Bahamas, you’re sure to experience some exhilarating moments. Whether you start your journey from Nassau – the capital of the Bahamas – from George Town – on the island of Great Exuma, or come from further afield, you should be won over by the destination! Here, for us, are the most beautiful stop-off points to add to your itinerary.
The Exumas archipelago
The Exumas archipelago alone contains 365 islands, suitable for young and old sailors alike. Most of them are easy to visit on foot. On land, you can eat, hike or relax on the magnificent beaches. At sea, you can indulge in a multitude of water sports: swimming, stand-up paddling or kayaking, fishing, diving or snorkelling… always in crystal-clear waters!
To the north of the Exumas archipelago, Norman’s Cay is one of our top recommendations for a stopover in the Bahamas. Whether you choose to moor your catamaran in a marina or to stay at anchor, you’ll be delighted by the discovery of this island! Don’t miss Norman’s Cay Sunken Plane in the south-east: the wreck of Pablo Escobar’s plane, sunk in just a few metres of water. Diving here, you can admire how, since 1980, the underwater flora and fauna have reclaimed the area…
A little further south, the island of Shroud Cay is also well worth a visit! Anchor your catamaran on the leeward side, to the west of the island, and head for The Washing Machine beach! It’s a famous site where, halfway between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, the water is particularly rough. Here you can go scuba diving or, if you don’t prefer to dive with a tank, simply enjoy some nice snorkelling sessions or a swim. The sharks here are harmless and it’s not unusual to be able to get close to them, or even stroke them.
Wardewick Wells Cay
If you enjoy walking in the heart of nature, you’ll love your catamaran trip to Wardewick Wells Cay. The island offers an exceptional setting and a number of waymarked paths, which are particularly well-suited to this activity. Boaters frequently climb Boo Boo Hill, the highest point on the island. The view from the summit alone is worth the climb! The beaches of Wardewick Wells Cay are not only some of the most beautiful, but also some of the least frequented in the archipelago.
Big Major Cay
Iguanas are a common sight on the beaches of the Exumas Islands, but it’s a different species that you’ll come across here on Big Major Cay: the island is not inhabited, but you’ll find plenty of pigs on Pig Beach! Fortunately, they are harmless and used to the passage of yachtsmen. Will you be brave enough to enjoy these picture-postcard landscapes while swimming with them?
To the south of the Exumas archipelago, the island of Staniel Cay also regularly welcomes catamarans. There are two places worth visiting here: Pirate Beach and Thunderball Cave. Both sites are easily accessible from the anchorage to the north-west of the island. Depending on the equipment on board your catamaran in the Bahamas, you can also go stand-up paddling or kayaking at Staniel Cay.
It’s the largest island in the Exumas! In Great Exuma, the town of George Town is a key destination for yachtsmen sailing in the Caribbean. As with many of the islands in the archipelago, the coastline here too is lined with fine sandy beaches and turquoise waters. Of course, in the heart of the natural park, Great Exuma also boasts remarkable underwater flora and fauna.
Also read : Sailing around the world on a catamaran
Other ports of call outside the Exumas archipelago
Do you have more time, or would you like to get away from the Exumas archipelago? The good news is that the Bahamas has many more charming places to stop off at on a catamaran.
The Abacos Islands
The second-largest archipelago in the Bahamas after the Exumas Islands, the Abacos Islands are also very interesting for a catamaran cruise. During your stopover, you’ll enjoy typical, authentic colonial villages, as well as numerous tourist facilities – accommodation and restaurants. The Abacos Islands are also renowned for fishing and diving. One coral garden in particular attracts many yachtsmen: The Catacombs, on the shores of Green Turtle Cay.
The island, which is 130 kilometres long and 6 kilometres wide, offers a number of great catamaran anchorages. If you’re a snorkeller in particular, this is a stopover not to be missed: on Long Island, you can discover the famous Dean’s Blue Hole: a blue hole over 200 metres deep…
It is best known for its coral reef, which is an impressive 300 kilometres long! But Andros is also the largest island in the Bahamas, with plenty of opportunities for stopovers and activities. Over the years, Andros has managed to remain peaceful and is still rarely visited. You can visit the national park or the underwater caves, and make historical and cultural discoveries.
The island of Eleuthera is another great destination to explore on a catamaran in the Bahamas. Renowned for its authenticity and wild landscapes, it offers numerous anchorages right next to beautiful beaches. Choose white sand and surf in the north of the island, or pink sand and calm waters at Pink Sand Beach. Before setting off again, you can also try the natural pools at Queen’s baths.
You should now be ready to design your perfect cruising itinerary. Of course, this list of catamaran ports of call in the Bahamas is far from exhaustive: sailing in the Caribbean always offers wonderful surprises and is far from being limited to a handful of islands. Our final piece of advice is not to hesitate to leave the usual sailing routes to discover the territory for yourself. We look forward to hearing from you…