This is a full day of pure fun and breathtaking scenery. A must-do trip when in Exuma! If staying at Sandals (like we did) you can save yourself over $200 per person by booking with Coastline instead of Sandals' Island Routes packages (which are virtually the same trip, except for the lunch option).
Capt Bob's boat is a 33ft Donzi centre console. The boat would be a little tight with 10-12 guests (max capacity) but we were a smaller party of 3 couples (a fourth cancelled but Bob still went ahead with the tour for us).
Be prepared for a whole day on the boat. We brought extra snacks from the hotel. Highly recommend a waterproof camera. We lounged out on the bow but seating and shade is available if you want it.
Itinerary... (between stops Bob and his crew offer local knowledge about the cays, activities, and ownership histories - celebrities, etc...)
First stop, diving for starfish! We found two and took turns taking pics. Water was ultra clear and 85 degrees!
Next up, snorkeling for lunch! We found a dozen conch at a cut between two cays where the current from the Atlantic provided the right conditions to find them.
Stopped at Farmer's Cay. Good photo op on dock and chance to use restrooms if needed.
Time to swim with the pigs! It's exactly like it looks but they are bigger than you would expect. The beach here is fantastic and the water just incredible. Two gorgeous yachts were moored nearby. A little dream candy in this idyllic setting! Otherwise, we had the place to ourselves.
Compass Cay was where we got to swim with and feed the nurse sharks. No need to be afraid - it was like playing with puppies! It's $8 each to dock there so bring some cash. We succumbed to the temptation of burgers while there.
From Compass we headed over to the 'magically appearing' sand bar. As tide went out a strip of beach appeared. We were the only ones there. Snorkeled and found about a dozen sand dollars. Great location for photos. Enjoyed Conch salad here - unbelievably fresh, tangy, and delicious!
Short jaunt over to Thunderball Grotto. The star of the show! Swimming in is easy - there's plenty of room to navigate through. Here's where you want that waterproof camera! It's more beautiful than in any pics. A couple of us climbed up the outer embankment (there's a rope) and jumped in from the top. Total rush! Bring some shoes for the climb and throw them down before jumping. Lots of fish. Underwater view from inside grotto looking out to sea is spectacular. Beautiful blue backlighting. Just awesome!
Heading home we stopped to feed Iguanas at Leaf Cay. It was pretty neat to see them all scamper out but Thunderball and the pigs are a hard act to follow.
Bob provides soft drinks, beer, rum punch, and conch salad. We were all so into the activities we didn't even crack the rum punch. Had a couple of beers. Not the type of trip where you want your senses diminished! We were all high on the experience itself.
Can't stress enough what a great excursion this is. I've done 100+ dives in exotic locations around the globe but now have a new favourite spot in Exuma and the Cays! My wife and I loved it! Booked a tour with a local Realtor the next day!
Bob and his crew will take very good care of you. Don't be shy about asking questions. He gave running commentary on each of the islands and went the extra mile to show us really neat spots and special homes.
You'll be tired on the boat ride home. Bring some loose, comfortable clothes, good sunglasses, and a hat that won't blow off.
Bob, we'll be seeing you again!
(I originally posted this in the private tour section in error. Re-posting here for more to see. I'm still telling everyone about this fantastic day and planning on going again soon with friends and family!)
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