Where to begin?
-The Night Before and Airplane Ride-
We started our adventure by going to Fort Lauderdale the night before and staying at the Merriot right near the executive airport. It was beyond convienient for the 7AM flight the following morning.
Upon walking into Watermaker Air’s lobby and seeing how nice it was, I knew that this was going to be a great experience because they own the yacht club as well. The lobby is decorated with what seems like Restoration Hardware furniture with a “beachy” twist. It was quite nice for an “airport” lobby, and it even smelled quite nice. The staff member there took our bags and weighed them. Thankfully the bags were at 70LBS on the dot (which is the limit for two people). Our pilot took us to the plane promptly at 7AM, and our real journey began!
We stopped at Chubb Cay for customs. Honestly, it was joke. The customs personnel were late getting there, and the airport was quite utilitarian and basic. The pilot took our passports to them, and we didn’t even have to get off the plane.
Nick (the pilot) was very pleasant and calm. He remained professional while having some personality. The ride was very smooth.
Note: There are no bathrooms on the plane, so you will need to go before you get on. :)
When we arrived at Staniel, the yacht club staff took our bags away, and we were left to explore the island while our room was getting ready. It was 9AM, and they estimated we wouldn’t be able to get into our room until 2PM. Fair enough – check-in wasn’t until 3PM. I have to say my partner and I were very nervous when our baggage was taken; we brought a lot of expensive technology. The OUTSTANDING front desk clerk, Natajia, assured us that our bags would be fine and no one would bother them when they are placed on the front deck of the yacht club. We were hesitant to trust her because of our American culture - in our minds, everyone steals. We came to realize after staying there for six days that stealing is simply not in their culture, and our initial reaction was not warranted at all.
While our room was getting ready, we rented a golf cart for 40 bucks and drove around the island. The island is humble and small, and it is definitely not luxurious; however, there are few beaches on the island that are wonderfully calm and beautiful. I thought that no other beach could beat the ones on Staniel – boy was I wrong! (read on)
We got back to our blue room around 1PM, and it was ready. The room is quaint. It has everything one would need – shower, bathroom, little closet, fridge and AC. There is no TV, so if you need something to fall asleep to, bring a portable DVD player, iPad, or Kindle. Wi-Fi is very spotty and pricey, so it’s best to download movies before getting to the island.
My partner and I have decided that the blue room has the absolute nicest view. There is a tree blocking you from your neighbors on the left, and your neighbors on your right cannot see you on your porch because there cottage is pushed back. We would love to see an outside fan added because of the heat.
The blue cottage is not remodeled like the newer ones, but again, the views are worth it. We also enjoyed taking late afternoon and nighttime swims off our dock (beautiful stars!), and we also enjoyed seeing the workers coming to work by boat in the morning. They parked right at our dock; it was quite humbling to watch.
-Service / Dining-
The service on the island is truly “island time” like other posters have mentioned. I found this, personally, one of the most gratifying experiences about the yacht club. In America, everything is NOW, NOW, NOW. The slow service gave me some time to slow down and appreciate everything around me. All of the staff members are very friendly.
The yacht club is probably my biggest gripe; however, they are remodeling it soon.
Currently, the yacht club has no air conditioning. It could be downright nauseating to eat a four course meal (with soup and wine) in very hot conditions. We found ourselves rushing through dinner to get out of the club because of the July heat. The other four nights we took our dinners to go to eat in our room. I’m truly hoping that they will have AC with new remodel.
Every meal we have had at the yacht club was phenomenal. Food is no issue here. Note Worthy Mentions: the Bahamian bread, cauliflower and broccoli soups, blackened chicken sandwich, conch fritters, and the VERY filling French toast.
[Big Major (the swimming pigs)]
It’s about a five minute boat ride over from Staniel. The swimming pigs are cute AND wild animals. They will bite for more food. If you decide to get out of the boat please be conscious that they will hound you for more food and will nip you to get more. We personally stayed in our boat at all times after I got nipped. They will not tip over the boat, but they will put their hooves on the side of the boat.
This place is located directly across from Big Major. It seems pretty far from the pigs with your eye, but it only takes five minutes. While there, my partner and I basked in the glorious sandbar area for bit. The sandbars were quite marvelous; we loved watching the two bodies of water crash together over the sand bar.
Please do yourself a favor and go at LOW SLACK tide. We went in between high and low tide, and the current was very forceful. If we weren’t great swimmers, we would have been in real trouble.
The grotto is beautiful. There are three openings at the top that shined light into the grotto. We brought crackers to feed the fish, and they literally swam around me as they were feeding. I got to touch a few even! We honestly kept on repeating “Wow!” and “Oh my God!” the whole time inside. Honestly, you need to just experience it; there are no words.
The plane is located on the way to Iguanas. We spent about an hour here because it was quite fascinating. There are many fish that call this place home. It’s very shallow here during low tide, so no need to be worried about a current or danger.
My partner and I spent the most time (2 hours every day) at our perfect found beach (see the picture). Honestly, it was the highlight of our trip because there was not one person on the island. We saw maybe two or three passing boaters a day. The sand there was so soft and untouched. We would normally have a few beers and just enjoy the silence.
No, I will not tell you where this beach is lol. It’s part of the fun finding your own slice of paradise. ;-P
We only drove right near the island, so I do not have much to say about it. We have seen iguanas before, and we were more hungry the interested so we went back to the yacht club.
We opted to do a tour with Dreeco for a half day (4 hours) for $350 (plus a $50 tip). We’d definitely recommend doing this if you are not comfortable going far on the (sometimes) unreliable skiffs. Dreeco was great, by the way!
[Land and Sea Park]
This place was the best for snorkeling and admiring the reef. Plus, the ride there was gorgeous. There were so many different colors of blue! It’s the furthest away from the yacht club we went. (~30 mins on the faster 100 horse power boat).
[Rachel’s Bubble Bath]
This was my second favorite part of the trip. The beach in front of the “bath” is gorgeous. You walk down an inlet, and it leads to the other side of the island where the Atlantic Ocean is crashing over the rocks into a tide pool. This creates the “Jacuzzi” affect. It’s hard to explain; you’ll need to see it yourself. We could have spent all day there, and I can assure you next time we will.
Here, you find an abundance of nurse sharks. They will not bite, but they will if your hands smell like bate. Be sure to wash your hands after you handle bate before you get into the water. There’s lots of bonefish there to admire too (if you’re into fish). It’s 10 dollars per person. It’s a MUST see.
This trip was one of the most active “vacations” I’ve been on. I would also say this was the least commercial vacation I have been on as well. This is not the Ritz or Atlantis. The power will go out. You will be hot. You will sweat. You will be tired at the end of the day.
I hope this place always keeps its non-commercial and “local” charm.
We have booked trips already to go back for November 2014 and July 2015.
1. You may want to learn how to drive a little whaler if you have no boating experiences
2. Purchase A LOT of sunscreen prior to leaving your country. It’s expensive on the island, and you will use it daily.
3. Tip your maid for extra love and because it’s the right thing to do. :)
4. You do not need to bring beer on the plane. Beer is cheap here. (4 dollar KALIKS)
5. We brought our own Scuba gear. I suggest it.
6. We also brought a VERY large dry bag. We put all of our day for the boat adventures.
7. You may want to consider bringing a small foldable chair to sit on for when you find that perfect beach.
8. Order EVERYTHING when your waitress comes over to take your order. This includes: entrees, beers, drinks, water, day cooler for the boat, scraps, etc. It will cut down your wait time tremendously.
9. Go down to the cleaning station nightly to see the nurse sharks feast.
10. Do yourself the favor and higher someone on day one to take you to the Land and Sea Park, Rachel’s Bath and Compass Cay. Not only will you get those awesome adventures, but you can also orient yourself and pick his mind.