5 reasons to visit Staniel Cay, Bahamas

in Adventure Travel / Bahamas / Sailing the World
staniel cay exumas bahamas

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):

  1. Trails or roads for running
  2. A well-protected or secluded anchorage
  3. A point of interest (iguanas, sunken plane, swimming pigs, etc.)
  4. A bar (or restaurant)
  5. 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.

staniel cay bahamas home of the grandmaster

Could Ryan be the next grandmaster?

blue store staniel cay bahamas

Walking up to “The Blue Store,” where you’ll find a modest selection of grocery items.

sailing big major spot bahamas

Swimming pigs are the main attraction at Big Major Spot.

big major spot pigs bahamas

These pigs appear to like apples and lettuce, but careful when you feed them!

thunderball grotto bahamas fish

Underwater world at the Thunderball Grotto.

sailing blog bahamas staniel cay

Enjoying the view of the harbor at sunset

staniel cay sunset bahamas

The sun sets over the pristine beaches of Staniel Cay.


For more photos of Staniel Cay, visit the Staniel Cay Photo Album on our Facebook Page! Like Turf to Surf’s page while you’re there if you want to keep in touch with us as we travel.

0 Comments... Be the first to comment
  • Kim February 25, 2013, 9:35 am

    I love this post 🙂 And I miss you. Keep the beautiful pictures coming…

    • Tasha February 25, 2013, 11:16 pm

      Kim, please get your butt down here pronto. I would so love to have you here 🙂

  • Susan Kilroy February 26, 2013, 3:02 pm

    Please stop telling everyone about this magical place!! It’s keeps getting harder to rent a cottage in this paradise…..

    • Tasha February 26, 2013, 10:12 pm

      I’ll try for your sake alone, Susan!

  • Jessica - MJ Sailing March 2, 2013, 10:33 am

    These photos are gorgeous! I know we’ll be speeding through the Bahamas, but this is one stop I want to make for sure!

    • Tasha March 2, 2013, 1:12 pm

      Can’t wait for you to get moving again!

  • Miriam March 6, 2015, 1:02 pm

    I really enjoyed your post! I’m taking my boyfriend to Staniel Cay, for his birthday! It’s a complete surprise for him; all I told him was to pack light and get ready for incredible beaches! Any suggestions during my stay? Are sand flies an issue?

    • Tasha April 1, 2015, 11:26 pm

      Hi Miriam!
      Sorry for the delay on this reply – I hope you haven’t already come and gone. There’s lots to do in the area – we loved snorkelling in the Thunderball Grotto, and of course swimming with the pigs are a must! But just walking the island and getting drinks in the yacht club is a nice way to spend the day, too. As for sand flies, I’m not sure. No-see-ums come out at dusk though and will drive you mad.

  • Dreaming O'Sailing May 30, 2016, 6:14 am

    Tasha, loving your posts on the Bahamas especially since I’ve been to many of these places while on a scuba live-aboard. Trip # 7 this coming weekend. Unfortunately we don’t get to sail that much during the week as the focus is on the diving. However, when we do, it is magical, and that’s where the dream started. Beautiful water, topside and below. Just curious, did you guys ever consider adding a compressor to Cheeky Monkey? Or do you go on some Scuba adventures? Apologies if it’s covered in an upcoming post I haven’t got to yet. Great blog, thanks so much for sharing.

    • Tasha June 5, 2016, 2:09 pm

      Hey there! The Bahamas has the most beautiful water I’ve ever seen apart from maybe the San Blas Islands. We did actually consider putting a compressor on board Cheeky Monkey — we’re still considering it. But they’re quite heavy and from talking to other cruisers, it’s not difficult to get dive tanks filled up. So we might just get a few tanks on board and get them filled in ports we pull into. We’re in the Galapagos right now and we’re all itching to go diving here!


  • Laura January 7, 2019, 2:32 pm

    I realize this is an old thread, but was wondering if you could recommend some running routes near the Staniel Cay Yacht Club?

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