I wanted to do the Sandals Thunderball tour, but at $375/person, it was just too much. On the way out to the taxi at the airport, I was handed a brochure. Normally I never take brochures from people, but I am very glad I did. At $160/person, it was less than half of the price and I was sold. It is essentially the exact same tour as Sandals, only it is done by a third party. The operator even used to work at Sandals.
The Sandals trip doesn't make stops at other hotels to pick up guests. This tour does, although it only takes a few minutes. The tour bus for the 4 C's isn't allowed on the Sandals property and you have to meet them out front at the security gate. The tour isn't run every day. We wanted to go on Monday, but they said no one had signed up for that day, so we were moved up to Saturday. I'm glad I called when I did or we would have missed out. Also, lunch is not included. The brochure says "enjoy a Bahamian lunch", but you have to pay for it. You also have to pay $20/couple at the shark place, which no one was informed about. This was mildly irritating, especially since the woman next to us specifically asked if there were hidden charges and was told no. Lastly, there is no tipping on the Sandals tour. It is obviously allowed on this one. So we paid $320 for the trip, $40 for lunch (it's expensive!), $20 for the shark tour, and $60 in total gratuity for Andrew and Smiley. $440 total. Still a great deal overall.
The office where you pay is very small and run down. It seems sketchy, but I actually appreciate low overhead businesses and there appears to be little overhead here. We made a few stops during the the trip for Andrew to pick up "envelopes", which was fine, except we sat waiting for one for 5-10 minutes that never showed up.
The snorkeling in the grotto is fantastic. We went on the Sandals free snorkeling trip a couple of days after we did this tour and got back on the boat in 10 minutes because we were underwhelmed.
Only one swimming pig came out, which was a bummer, but he kept us pretty well entertained. The sandbar was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life.
If you have a bad back, the water is choppy and the ride is long. I brought Advil and I was fine. It was sore on the way out, but good on the way back.
1. Bring grapes and bread. The iguanas LOVE grapes. The pigs love bread. It would have been nice if the tour had provided us these, but I planned ahead.
2. You can drink on the tour. Bring a bottle of wine and some beers from your room and ask to toss them in their cooler.
3. Bring towels.
4. Bring an underwater camera and a regular camera.
5. Bring a blanket/bath robe/extra towel/shirt for the ride back.
6. I am vegan and there wasn't anything for me to eat at the restaurant for lunch. Bring snacks if you desire. My wife had a great lunch, however.
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