Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park

Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park

National Parks • Nature & Wildlife Areas • Parks
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This 176-mile land and sea nature reserve is filled with beaches and family fun and has played a major role in conservation of fish native to the Bahamas.
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.

150 reviews
Very good

Madison, WI81 contributions
Feb 2020 • Couples
This boat tour was one of the best we have been on (ever!) - and it was our captain that made the difference. We saw lots of turtles and snorkeled in some great areas. We loved the sand bar and overall the entire experience. It was Capt Chris though that made it extra special by taking the time to tell us history of the island/s as we went along and even jumped in the water so we could get a closer look at the largest starfish I’ve seen! A truly enjoyable experience start to finish!!
Written February 16, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Mystic, CT295 contributions
Jan 2020
We visited four of Exumas Cays Land and Sea Park's cays: Shroud, Hawksbill, Warderick Wells and Cambridge. At Shroud we anchored in a beautiful cove, at Hawksbill we picked up a mooring, at Warderick Wells we were assigned a mooring in the Northern section, and at Cambridge we picked up a mooring. All were so different but with the most beautiful beaches, trails to hike, and places to snorkel. However, we were particularly fond of Warderick Wells where the boaters get together on Saturday nite brought all boaters together on Powerful Beach and we got to meet and talk with Exuma Park employees, Cherry and Steve, who gave us a wealth of information. They were super friendly and made us all feel very comfortable. We look forward to returning again.
Written January 28, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Cathy H
8 contributions
Jan 2020 • Couples
Went to snorkel and swim with the turtles today with Captain Chris. It was awesome! We had a little rain but it gave us a chance to experience Chat n Chill. The whole experience was great and it was a small group. Captain Chris was beyond great!
Written January 20, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Lucy D
Zurich, Switzerland37 contributions
Feb 2016 • Couples
Needless to say this place is worth a journey (even if you live in Asia!), however people seem to be picking sand dollars and other LIVE animals to take with them as "souvenirs", encouraged by tour guides to do so.
I am not sure if these people realise that white sand is made from these animals and other corals which with erosion become fine sand granules throughout the course of many, many years. Not only that this disrupts the biological environment, but they are actually killing those poor little creatures.
Also, be careful with not polluting the environment there, coke cans, straws and other plastics get easily blown away from boats.. I have seen this too..!!

Enjoy this beautiful, but fragile environment!!
Written August 26, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Woodhaven.Michigan9 contributions
Cat Ppalu Cruises, the sister ship of the Aqua Cat, offers everything in the way of diving, snorkeling, kayaking and island exploring. Since you can charter the Cat Ppalu as a group (limited to 12 passengers) you set the itinerary. If you only want to dive a little and do other activities this is the cruise for you. The crew takes the time to talk with all passengers and determine what dive & snorkel sites and islands to visit. They definitely accomodate all on board, right down to lunch and rum punch on the beach. The air conditioned rooms and facilities are more than sufficient since you spend most of the time in the water.
The Chef definitely made our cruise, cooking almost all our meals to order. Many thanks to "The Skipper" Scott, "Dive Diva" Christine, "The Imagineer" Tommy and of course "The Chef" Bruno.
Written March 23, 2004
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Toronto, Canada1,180 contributions
Dec 2018 • Family
I thought I would post this because I have been coming to Exuma for 20 years, and this trip have stayed on Hooper's Bay for a month. So many people come to this beach because they have been told they can find sea turtles. In the four weeks that I have been staying on Hooper's Bay, swimming and walking the beach every day, I have only seen one turtle, once. A local told me that about 11 months ago, a shark came into the bay and killed a lot of them. If you want to be pretty much guaranteed to find sea turtles here, either rent a boat (in Georgetown), or book an excursion (there are a lot of companies that do this) and have your guide take you, to a bay on the south side of Crab Cay (about a 10 minute boat ride from Georgetown) where there are plenty turtles. Everybody knows this spot, and all five times that we have been there, we have seen at least five turtles. The water is much deeper than Hooper's Bay, making it a much better spot to get in the water, swim with them, and photograph and film them with a GoPro or if such, but if you aren't that brave, stay in the boat and they will come right up to it and you can feed them pieces of mango or papaya. Then you can continue on to Chat'n'Chill on Stocking Island and feed the rays right from your hand!
Written December 15, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

San Luis Obispo, CA6 contributions
Apr 2012 • Friends
Anyone who has the opportunity to visit the Exuma Land and Sea Park will love the beauty both on water and land. We recently had an opportunity to moor our boat near the Park Headquarters at Warderick Wells. The beauty and serenity were ruined however by the very rude, abrasive, and unfriendly person running the headquarters. She was not interested in giving any information about moorings, directions, weather conditions ETC as we were nearing the island. Her answers were abrupt, and of little use. After finally arriving and going to shore to pay for the mooring and purchase internet, we were again greeted with an attitude of "what do you want"? Hurry up!

We purchased internet for two days. Their internet policy was not made clear to us and we accidentally used both numbers we were given on day one. I went back in the next day to explain and was more than willing to purchase internet again but she said "Sorry! you already used your allotment, It is one number per boat per day. Period. I tried to explain how we made the mistake and I was willing to pay again for the day and she made it clear that I must be some kind of moron for not understanding it and there was nothing I could do to get internet for the next 24 hours. There were issues going on with my wife's 87 year old mother back home, and with my business and it was very frustrating this woman could not be more flexible. I felt compelled to pass this information on to anyone who has the wonderful opportunity to visit the Park. I highly recommend you avoid "Darcy" if possible. It will not be a pleasant experience. I have written the Park Administrator to complain but I am afraid he will not see it as it was a generic email address for the Park and Darcy will probably be the one that gets it.
Written May 3, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

San Jacinto, California15 contributions
The Great Exumas Land and Sea Park should be on any outdoor lovers "must see" list. It is truely an amazing testimony to the beauty of nature. Cat Ppalu Cruises provides a week long adventure for scuba dives into this marine preserve, which is one of the largest in the world. The crew of this charter vessel know the park well and will plan your adventure so that you come back with a new appreciation of the natural beauty of this place. The Cat Ppalu is designed to give scuba divers the ultimate diving experience, but snorkelers and non-divers will have a great time too. From nature hikes at Warderick Wells to kayak trips through mangrove swamps and visits with rare iguanas only found in the Exumas, Cat Ppalu offers something for everyone in the Exumas. We spent a week in the Exumas aboard the Cat Ppalu in May, 2006, and are already planning to return and continue our adventure.
Written September 15, 2006
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Ft Lauderdale11 contributions
My brother & I decided to take our families on a different family vacation. We usually go to the mountains but this year decided to charter the Cat Ppalu out of Nassau. The Cat Ppalu is a schooner rigged catamaran that sleeps 12 and has a crew of 4. It was perfect for our two families and our mother. Our captain was Des, our dive instructor Chris, engineer Scott and the most important crewmember chef Kelly. Kelly is from Peru, went to culinary school in Argentina and has been working on the Cat Ppalu and its sister ship the Aqua Cat for 5 years. Her cooking was outstanding, the only negative being the 5 pounds I added to my waist. We boarded & set sail for the Exumas on Saturday. The trip to the Exumas is a 5 hour sail across a shallow bank. We stopped along the way at a shallow reef. Most of our families snorkeled the reef but my wife, oldest boy and I are divers so this was an easy dive to get comfortable on. After we got out we headed for the Exumas. We spent the night off Allen's Cay. The next morning we visited the island which is home to the endangered rock iguana. We took the dinghy ashore loaded down with treats of oranges & apples for the iguanas. My youngest daughter wanted to hand feed one of the iguanas. She held out the fruit for the iguana, but panicked at the last second pulling her hand away. This caused the iguana to lunge at the fruit biting down not only on the fruit but also her hand. She was screaming while we took her to the water to wash off the blood. After washing her hand for a little while the bleeding stopped and when our daughter looked for the cut there wasn’t much there, just a thin scratch. This caused her to start crying again because she didn’t have any cut to show her friends. After we finished feeding the iguanas we explorer the island, collected shells on the beach and did a little snorkeling in the lagoon. After getting onboard we headed south.

Our next stop was Normans Cay. Normans Cay was once the first stop for most cocaine entering the US. There is a crashed DC-3 on a sandbar in the harbor. The DC-3 is a great snorkel since it is in only 3’ of water and has amazing fish life. Huge schools of snapper and grunts swam all around it. A couple of stingrays were in the sand next to the plane but swam away as we approached. After the snorkeling the plane we took a dinghy to the island. There we explored an old hotel that was the headquarters of the drug smugglers. Then Chris our dive instructor gave my brother, his wife and 2 of the kids that were 10 a resort course while the rest of us snorkeled under the dock. After returning to the Cat Ppalu we headed south to Warderick Wells, the headquarters of the Exumas Land & Sea Park. We arrived at the park as the sun was setting. We spent the night on a mooring in the anchorage. After a fantastic dinner our families sat around the table playing games.

The next morning the dinghy took us ashore to the headquarters. There are several trails that lead away from there. We took the one to Boo Boo Hill. It starts out going down the beach by the re-constructed skeleton of a humpback whale. It then turned inland through the trees, across a shallow mangrove creek and up the hill. There were a number of informative signs along the way on the history & ecology of the island. The view at the top was spectacular. To one side was the open ocean and to the other the harbor and shallow turquoise water of the bank. We then headed down to the blow hole. The hole is above a cave where waves enter pushing air up through the hole. I had my hat blow several feet into the air while standing above it. The island to the north of the blue hole was closed off because the endangered white-tailed tropicbirds were breeding there. The Exumas are one of the only areas in the world these beautiful birds breed. There are a number of endangered seabirds that breed in the Exumas. The night before we had Audubon shearwaters flying around the boat. When we got back to the headquarters the kids fed the bananaquits. These little black, yellow and white birds love sugar. There was a container of sugar on the wall you could pour sugar onto you’re your hand. The bananaquits would then land on your hand when you held it out. My daughter had 6 on her hand at one time and one on her head waiting for a spot on her hand to open up. Everyone then bought souvenirs before we headed back to the Cat Ppalu.

We had lunch on our way south to Staniel Cay. We stopped at a beach at Big Major Cay that is just north of Staniel Cay. It is home to the swimming pigs. When the boat arrived the pigs swim out looking for handouts. In the harbor at Staniel Cay is the James Bond Grotto. It is a large rock with a huge cave in the middle. You can enter by either swimming through an underwater entrance or snorkeling between some large rocks, most of us chose the latter. The cave was used into the final scene of the James Bond movie Thunderball. The inside was amazing, the only light came through a small hole 20’ up at the top of the cave. It is really beautiful the way the light filters into the water. The locals feed the fish, so there are huge schools of all the tropical fish. We then proceeded to the Staniel Cay Yacht Club for the night. Under the dock were several stingrays and nurse sharks that you could snorkel with. We decided to give Kelly a break and at the restaurant at the club. I had a great cracked conch (pronounced “konk”).

The next morning we headed back north, stopping first at the Rocky Dundas. These are several large rocks with caves inside. The Cat Ppalu has 4 kayaks which we used to kayak over and enter the caves. These caves didn’t have the hole in the top like the James Bond Grotto, but were still fun. We then dove on the shallow reef north of the cave. It was the first dive for those that took the resort course. We saw literally thousands of fish including a barracuda, trumpetfish, many butterflyfish and angelfish and a nurse shark. We then cruised north through a channel between a several islands. We made it back to Warderick Wells, this time stopping at an anchorage on the other side of the island called Pirate’s Lair. Pirates could hide in this harbor hidden from view by another island just offshore. Several of us hiked one of the nature trails there while the others played on the deserted beach. The nature trail went inland through the woods. Not far from the beach we passed a fresh water spring that the pirates had used. It was a warm afternoon and we hiked only about a mile before we decided to return to the beach for a dip in the water to cool off.

Our first stop the next day was at Amberjack Reef. This is the spot where their other vessel the Aqua Cat does their shark dive. The sharks appeared as soon as we pulled up to the mooring. Five of us were brave enough to snorkel or dive with the sharks while the others watched them from the deck or through the underwater window on the Cat Ppalu. Our next stop was Camp Driftwood at Shroud Cay. Shroud Cay is an uninhabited island that has a high sand ridge on the ocean side of the island and mangroves on the bank side. Camp Driftwood is next to the entrance to a mangrove creek that cuts through the island. There is also a trail that leads to the top of the sand ridge where you get a spectacular view of the mangrove creeks meandering through the island. We snorkeled through some of the mangrove creek seeing our first lionfish. After returning to the boat we headed up to Wax Cut. Wax Cut is a deep channel between two islands and at mid tide the current rips through the cut. The Cat Ppalu dropped us off to do a drift snorkel through the cut. We went flying over the reef. The current started to slow down just as we passed the last of the reef. We climbed back on the Cat Ppalu and headed north. Wax Cut is at the north end of the Exumas Land & Sea Park so since we were leaving the park we were able to fish. Just before we were to head in to our anchorage for the night we hooked fish on both reels. Our kids were able to land both which turned out to be dolphin, not the mammal but a fish that they called mahi mahi in Hawaii. That night after dinner we turned the light on that was above water next to the underwater window. Almost immediately small fish show up to feed on tiny shrimp and other critters. After a few minutes we had a squid dart out and grab a fish. A few seconds after grabbing the fish it spit out the fishes guts. A little while later a different squid darted out and grabbed a fish. This one was translucent and you could see the small fish inside. We waited for something higher on the food chain to show up but without luck.

The next morning we tried our luck at trying to spear lobster. You have to do it on snorkel with a polespear. We didn’t have any luck but Des our captain was able to get 3. We then did one last dive/snorkel at Close Mon Reef. It is a shallow reef next to an island. The depth ranged from 2’ to 15’. Sadly it was then time to set sail for Nassau. We docked about 6pm. Soon after docking Kelly served us a fantastic dinner which included our freshly caught dolphin and lobster.
Written October 17, 2009
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Ft. Lauderdale, FL12 contributions
It is only by boat that the Land and Sea Park is accessable. Lovely and well maintained, the Bahamas Trust appears serious about keeping the natural beauty of the area. The only mooring is on a mooring bouy. The most protected area are those moorings in the main area, that is where the park office and general headquarters are located. Given good weather the other mooring areas are OK, but for us we perfer the main anchorage. A good dinghy, perferably a RIB, is a must to really get around the islands. Pay attention to the waters as they are very shoal. When making a reservation be sure that the size of your boat is noted as there are moorings where a boat at low tide could be in trouble from the sand bar. Bring sturdy hiking boots or shoes to take advantage of the islands. The weathered limestore is treacherous! We love the Exumas and look forward to another visit in 2007.
Written August 23, 2006
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park (Great Exuma) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

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