Staniel Cay is pretty well know for a few things. One of the most well know things is the Thunderball Grotto in which we have been snorkeling on. The Grotto got it’s name from the 60’s James Bond movie “Thunderball”. Parts of the movie were filmed here and in the SCYC are all the old pictures from those days when the movie was filmed. Now that we’ve been here it goes without saying that the movie is now on our list to acquire and see. The other well known thing about Staniel is the Class A sloops that the locals race with. The boats are shallow draft and have very tall masts for the length of boat. They look to be about 25 foot long, but I’m not sure of the exact length. When they are racing, the boats carry these long boards which stick out from the side of the boat. On these boards is where the crew crawls out and counter-balances the boat to keep it from turning over. The boats are very fast and great fun to watch. Google ” Bahamas class A sloops” and you see what I mean.
The other thing that Staniel is famous for are the swimming pigs. I’ve meaning to ask the locals how the swimming pig thing got started, but haven’t as of yet. When you get to the beach, which is located about a mile from the Staniel Cay settlement on Big Majors Spot, the pigs will spot you and start swimming towards the dink for food. I was surprised at how big they were, and if I were to guess, I would say they clocked in at over 200 pounds! Another thing is that they are surprisingly fast swimmers. Especially if you have never seen a pig swim, which until now I didn’t think they could. The challenge is to get close enough for good picture but not too close as they will try to climb up on the dink. They have been known to put holes in the dinks that were too careless and got close enough for them to reach.
We did see people in the water swimming along side the pigs, but I’m not sure how prudent that is. From what I’ve heard the pigs can be aggressive and you wouldn’t want a 200 pound pig coming at you in the water or on land.
Today we’re just chillin’ and went to the market for some fresh baked coconut and banana breads. Michele picked up some fresh produce as the delivery boat was in a couple of days ago and all three stores were well stocked for the time being. Around noon we’ll head back to the grotto one more time and then over to another snorkel spot to check it out. Sometime after the first we’ll head to Blackpoint to do some laundry and check out the settlement. Another cruiser has told us that you can get a haircut there for ten dollars and put in an order for lobster at the same time. Cost? Ten bucks for the haircut and ten bucks for the lobster! We’ll see..:)
Having been here at Staniel for almost a week now, I have to say that this is our favorite spot so far. The place is beautiful, provisions are readily available if you need them and the anchorage is calm. And now that we know some of the locals it’s going to be really hard to leave this place. Everything you may need is within walking distance or a short dinghy ride away. In the next few posts I will fill you in on what we have been doing here to fill the days.
The anchorage we are in is fantastic. It’s a shallow area on the south side of the big rock opposite the Grotto. At low tide we have about a foot of water under us. This means very few boats anchor around us for fear of grounding. Very few, as in maybe one or two boats. The big rock blocks the current and keeps any surge down to a minimum. If your boat draws four feet or less, then this is the spot to be in. Also, from here the dinghy landing at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club is only a couple of hundred yards away. Same with the fuel dock and water. Maybe half a mile by dinghy is the Isles General Store with it’s own dinghy dock. It’s a very short walk from the dock to the store, we’re talking a hundred foot or less, so loading up is very easy.
Tomorrow the swimming pigs!
The anchorage we are sitting in. You can just see the corner of the big rock. The Grotto located at the end of the next big rock to the left. The small rock in the middle is just, well, a small rock. 🙂
The road leading into Staniel Cay Yacht Club..
El Camino sitting on the hook. SCYC is directly to the left from where I’m standing..
Rainbow over the anchorage..
The dinghy dock at Isles General Store. Of all the stores ( two) on the island, this one has the best frozen food and also carries marine supplies.
The airport at Staniel. LAX it’s not..:)
The “terminal” building at the airport..I mean, how cool is that??
The thing that we’re finding really cool about the Bahamas is that each little island or Cay is different then the next. They may be only a few miles apart but the differences can be amazing. Shroud Cay is only five miles or so south of Norman’s but is completely different then Normans. Shroud is part of the Exuma Land and Sea Park which means everything is protected there. No fishing or taking of anything, dead or alive. In several places on the island there are these small creeks that head into the island. Some of them you are allowed to take a dink on, but most of them you can only go non-motorized. We decided to explore the northern most creek because that one you can dink on at idle speed only. The creek itself is beautiful as it winds around the mangroves through the interior of Shroud. It reminded me of the Jungle Boat ride at Disneyland. In some places it’s very shallow and at low tide you would probably have to get out of the dink and walk it through the low spots. No problem though, the bottom is sand and the water is warm and clear.
At the end of this particular creek is the other side of the island and a small beach for landing the dink. After you leave the dink and walk about twenty steps, the view in front of you is impossible to put into words. The water goes from gin clear to the deepest shade of blue with every shade of blue in between the two. The sand is milky white and soft as can be. The Bahamas keeps throwing you these zingers. When you think it can’t get any more beautiful, the Bahamas says ” oh yes it can”! And it does..:) The pictures here on the blog just can’t capture what your eyes take in.
Here is the entrance to the creek on the north end of Shroud Cay. In front of us are our buddies with whom we’ve been traveling with at times.
After winding through the mangroves you come to the end of the creek and the other side of the island. This is the little beach you land the dink on..
And these are the views that greet you. We were all speechless just taking it in..
About 50 yards up the beach is this trail that takes you to a lookout point.
Here is the view from the top of the trail. The top picture is looking west into the interior of Shroud Cay with it’s creeks and saltwater marshes. The bottom picture is looking east. When Norman’s Cay was held by Carlos Lehder of the Columbian drug cartel, this high point was used by federal agents watching for drug laden aircraft landing at Norman’s..
In some places here the sand was so soft that if you wiggled your feet they would slowly sink into the sand. It was both a cool and weird feeling at the same time…
We only spent a day here at Normans so we didn’t make it over to the plane wreck or other great snorkel spots. We did however enjoy some of the micro reefs around the boat. Michele explored the island via a small road network and brought back reports on how beautiful the west side was. When we make our way north we will spent a little more time here. Normans has an interesting backstory in that in the 80’s it used to be owned and controlled by Carlos Lehder who was part of the Medelline drug cartel. For years the island was off limits to locals and tourists alike. The famous DC3 plane wreck that is in the bay was a part of the cocaine trade in that era. Now it’s a great snorkel spot.
I did manage to find our underwater camera and take some shots of one of the micro reefs. The pics don’t nearly show how beautiful the reef was. The day was a little cloudy and the camera isn’t the greatest so some the colors are muted. But hey, I did get the shots..:)