When we first started making our way down the Exuma chain, we were a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of islands there were to see. 365, apparently: one for every day of the year. So to help us sort through which islands to visit and which ones to skip, we jotted down a list of 5 criteria for what we’d want in an island (with the baseline assumption that every island has a stunning beach). And if we could check off two or more items on our list, we’d stop for a visit.
Tasha & Ryan’s Island Criteria (in no particular order):
- Trails or roads for running
- A well-protected or secluded anchorage
- A point of interest (iguanas, sunken plane, swimming pigs, etc.)
- A bar (or restaurant)
- A store, laundry and/or WiFi
According to our criteria, Staniel Cay scored a whopping 5 out of 5. So, as soon as the winds died down over Warderick Wells, we let go of our mooring ball and made a bee-line for the burgers and social interaction we were so badly craving after a week on the boat with just each other.
And Staniel Cay did not disappoint. Well, that’s not exactly true; we couldn’t find anywhere to do laundry. But we’d heard that Black Point on Great Guana Cay was home to an amazing woman named Ida who offered laundry, hot showers, haircuts, homemade bread and coffee. It had been three weeks since we last did laundry, so what was another couple of days in dirty clothes, anyway?
In any case, Staniel Cay turned out to be the perfect place to stop after a period of isolation. Not only did we soak up our share of burgers, rum punches and cruising stories in the bar at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, but we ran the island from top to bottom and sweated out any dregs of cabin fever left in us. We also did all the touristy things, like snorkel at the Thunderball Grotto, a cave named for the James Bond movie it was featured in, and swim with the pigs at Big Major Spot.
We love disappearing and having a secluded island to ourselves as much as the next cruiser, but it’s also nice to find an island full of amenities after being out on your own for a while. But even the busiest islands out here in the Exumas are still, by no means, urban. You won’t find a Starbucks or a McDonald’s, for example, or even an island with a population of over 100 until you get to Georgetown. But you might find a little old lady who sells vegetables and does laundry for you in the back of her house. Or you might find a clapboard shack on the beach that serves grilled fish and conch salad.
And it’s those moments, when I’m eating conch salad on the beach, watching the sun set over Hideaway in the distance, that it feels like my soul is being fed, more than my stomach.
And I’d have to say, Starbucks would really struggle to compete with that.