5 Days on Staniel Cay, Part 3 – Off the Cay

In 5 Days on Staniel Cay, Part 1, we talked about the beaches on Staniel Cay and in Part 2, we highlighted some of the other attractions on island that we were lucky enough  to experience. In this last part, we’re going to feature the area surrounding Staniel Cay – which are just a short boat ride from Staniel Cay and definitely worth exploring!


Exuma, a long chain of stunningly beautiful islands, or cays – 365 of them, that start about 35 miles south of Nassau, Bahamas. The Exuma Cays are the northernmost part of this chain and much of it is easily accessible from Staniel Cay.

Map of Exuma Cays
If you have boating experience, you can rent a boat for the day or the week from Coral at Staniel Rentals, or 1/2 day and daily rentals from Nicole at 3N’s Vacation Services. If you’re not comfortable navigating your own boat, Nicole can also arrange a guided tour of the surrounding cays for you.

During our all too short stay, we first took a guided tour of the surrounding area, which included snorkeling at Thunderball Grotto,

Thunderball Grotto - copyright Rum Therapy
Swimming with the pigs at Big Major Cay,

Pig Beach - copyright Rum Therapy

Swimming with the nurse sharks on Compass Cay,

Compass Cay - copyright Rum Therapy

And a fun afternoon playing on the sandbar near Little Pipe Cay.

Beach Walk - copyright Rum Therapy Exuma Cays - copyright Rum Therapy
We enjoyed the day so much that several days later, we decided to rent a boat of our own to explore more of the incredible area. We swam with the pigs again, then headed north for more time on Compass Cay, where we spent time chatting with Tucker, the proprietor of Compass Cay Marina,

Compass-Cay-copyright Rum Therapy
Exploring the stunning Crescent Beach on Compass Cay,


Boating through some of the clearest, bluest water we’ve ever seen,


Then spending the last several hours of our day on Sandy Cay, exploring the tiny uninhabited island and the long arc of white sand sandbar that appears during low tide.

Exuma Cay Sandbar - copyright Rum Therapy
Have you spent time on Staniel Cay or in the Exuma Cays? Tell us about it!

Find these cays on the map above, or on our Bahamas Map

To see more posts on the Bahamas and other islands, check out our Island Blog Directory

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Pictures and other content may not be re-used without written consent from Rum Therapy, LLC

5 Days on Staniel Cay, Part 2 – The Island

In 5 Days on Staniel Cay, Part 1 – we covered the beaches of Staniel Cay, and although we spent a lot of time on those beaches, there are other things to enjoy on Staniel Cay and here are some of them. You can locate these attractions on the map below.

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Sign on the back of Club Thunderball

On a cliff overlooking Thunderball Grotto, this closed down bar called Club Thunderball must have been a happening place in its day! Regardless, we enjoyed exploring the exterior and imagining sipping a cold rum punch with fellow island lovers while looking out at the gorgeous blue water.

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Moving down toward the “town” of Staniel Cay, we spent several fun evenings at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club – the place to be at night on Staniel Cay.

Cold drinks and lots of great conversation with other happy sailors, vacationers and islanders alike make for a great place to hang out.

Hungry? We had  several delicious lunches at Staniel Cay and one absolutely delicious lobster dinner. Reservations are required for dinner and the dinner bell rings promptly at 6:30 and 8 – don’t be late. Our dinner was pricey, but worth it.

We also enjoyed hanging out on the dock at the marina during the day.

You never know what you’ll see swimming around in the incredibly clear water.

To the south of the SCYC there are two other dining options.

Taste & Sea Café, casual food with a nice view of the water,

And Big Dog’s.

Just down from Big Dog’s is Emil’s Bakery.

The selection varies with the time of day you stop by, but this is the place to get fresh bread and baked goods while on-island.

There are three grocery stores on Staniel Cay and two are in this area.

Burke’s Convenience Store

And Pink Pearl. Don’t expect the type of grocery store you may find at home, but do expect fantastic and friendly service. We asked the owner of Pink Pearl, Eleanor, if she had any plastic containers that might be suitable for microwaving and she said she didn’t have any in stock, but proceeded to go next door to her house and bring us two of her own bowls to use for the week!

Continuing down the road you will find the oldest house on Staniel Cay/Museum/Library. Sadly, it never appeared open when we passed it as it would have been fun to check out.

There is one church on Staniel Cay and it stands prominently on a “busy” corner.

Mount Olivet Baptist Church sits right on the edge of the water and must offer quite the view for parishioners during service.

Isles General it the 3rd of the 3 grocery stores and is located farther south on the island.

Need a golf cart or boat, or want to plan a wedding on Staniel Cay?

Nicole can help you arrange a golf cart or boat rental and many other services you may need and also runs Embrace Resort.

Heading up the northeast part of the island again, we found a trail along the cliffs heading north.

This was a beautiful hike with great views, just pick your footwear carefully. We did not and the volcanic rock can get pretty painful in sandals.

Do as little or as much as you want on your Staniel Cay vacation, but as the sign on the beach next to SCYC says,

While you are here: Stop awhile Sit awhile Observe awhile Listen awhile Relax awhile Meditate awhile Live awhile longer…

Coming up in the Part 3 – what to see in the area around Staniel Cay!


Find Staniel Cay on our Bahamas Map

To see more posts on the Bahamas and other islands, check out our Island Blog Directory

 Copyright©Rum Therapy Pictures and other content may not be re-used without written consent from Rum Therapy, LLC

5 Days on Staniel Cay, Part 1 – The Beaches

Staniel Cay, a small island in the middle of the Exuma Cays, a chain of beautiful islands and cays in the Bahamas, is a hub for the area because of the amenities it offers: a small airstrip, three grocery stores, three restaurants, a clinic, church, marina, gas and a variety of accommodations.

We got to spend 5 days on this lovey island (thanks to Embrace Resort), which is only about a square mile in size and home to about 100 people. What’s it like to stay on a small island, or cay such as Staniel Cay?

Bench on the beach - copyright Rum Therapy
Well, if you like spending lots of time on beautiful deserted beaches, if you like an island where on-island transportation is via golf carts, bicycles or walking, if you don’t mind that there’s really only one nightspot – but it’s a good one, if you enjoy getting to know the locals and other visitors to the island by name, and if you don’t mind “island time”, you would probably love Staniel Cay. We absolutely did.

Flamingo Air - copyright Rum Therapy
Our arrival from Nassau was by Flamingo Air on a very small plane that seated about 8 – less if the passengers have much to carry on. The views over the Exuma Cays were spectacular and we could hardly wait to land and start exploring.

Exumas from the airplane - copyright Rum Therapy
From the moment we set foot on Staniel Cay, we felt welcomed. Smiles and greetings from everyone – even other visitors were abundant and we quickly started to relax and get on island time ourselves.

Welcome to Staniel Cay - copyright Rum Therapy
Our first day or so was spent exploring the island by foot and golf cart. What’s there to see? We’ll show you!

 Exuma is known for its stunning beaches and sandbars and there are secluded ones around every corner in the chain of cays, but if you don’t want to leave Staniel Cay, there are several great ones right on island to explore, such as,

Ocean Beach - copyright Rum Therapy
Ocean Beach.
On the east side of the island, you can access this long expanse of beautiful sand from the bluff above it. We took our golf cart, parked at the top of the bluff and walked down to the beach.

Ocean Beach - copyright Rum Therapy
Once on the beach, you can find just the perfect secluded spot to spend the day. As you can see, you won’t be competing for a little space.

Ocean Beach - copyright Rum Therapy
The surf was very calm the two days we visited and we spent a lot of time in the water snorkeling and floating, but I imagine it could get rough on stormy or windy days due to its orientation.

Ocean Beach - copyright Rum Therapy
Find all of these beaches marked on the Staniel Cay map below.

Another beach that we really enjoyed was Pirate Trap Beach.

Pirate Trap Beach - copyright Rum Therapy
The beach itself is not huge and varies with the tide, but the views from the cove are stunning and the water was calm and great for swimming when we were there.

Pirate Trap Beach - copyright Rum Therapy
Although the Ocean Beach and Pirate Trap Beach were our favorites, there were several other beaches on island that are worth exploring.

Ho Tai Cay was a bit hard to find, but had a nice little park with picnic tables, a tire swing and a volleyball net in the water. The beach is located on an inlet on the islands southeast side and gets very low during low tide, but is probably always calm due to its location.

Ho Tai Cay - copyright Rum Therapy
Just over the hill from the park was another beach that we believe was the upper edge of the South Beaches. We couldn’t find a public access path to the South Beaches (beside this little area) as the beach is dotted with private homes, but it looks like another beautiful area.

Ho Tai Cay - copyright Rum Therapy
And last, but certainly not least – the beach next to the Staniel Cay Yacht Club. It was calm and fairly shallow. Looked like a perfect place to kayak or SUP.

SCYC Beach - copyright Rum Therapy
Did we do anything other than visit beaches during our stay on Staniel Cay. Yep.
Check out Part 2 – The Island and Part 3 – Off  the Cay. We’ll let you know the other fun things we got to experience on this beautiful cay!

Find Staniel Cay and its beaches on our Bahamas Map

To see more posts on the Bahamas and other islands, check out our Island Blog Directory

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Pictures and other content may not be re-used without written consent from Rum Therapy, LLC

Embrace Resort, Staniel Cay

Imagine a small, intimate eco-friendly resort with 7 well appointed themed villas, a spa, pool, cabana and upscale restaurant all on a beautiful, quaint little island in an exquisite chain of small islands in the Bahamas called the Exuma Cays. The island is Staniel Cay and this resort, Embrace Resort, is the dream of owner Nicole Ferguson and daughter Natajia, who are well on their way to realizing their vision.

Embrace is an acronym for the names of the 7 villas that will soon grace the resort: Exuma, Mayaguana, Bimini, Ragged Island, Andros, Cat Island, Eleuthera – all named after Bahamian Islands.  4 of the villas are already complete and range in size from 1 bedroom (including a honeymoon villa with indoor spa tub) to 3 bedrooms.

Andros – 3 bedroom villa with  complete kitchen

Bimini – 2 bedroom villa

Ragged Island – 1 bedroom Honeymoon Villa

Once completed, the resort will host the only spa, fitness center and meeting space on the island and will also include a pool and restaurant. Nicole and Natajia also run a business called 3 N’s Vacation Services which offers destination wedding planning, boat rentals, tours & excursions and golf cart rentals. Guests of Embrace Resort will certainly benefit from their expertise, knowledge of the island and services available.

Owner Nicole Ferguson

We were invited to visit and learn about Embrace Resort and stayed in Mayaguana, an intimate 1 bedroom accommodation with a refrigerator, microwave, large en-suite bathroom, air conditioning, wireless in the room, and flat screen TV with dish network.



Although the resort is not directly on the beach, it is close to several of the islands fine beaches and they are easily reached by walking or by golf cart. It is also just minutes away from the islands restaurants and grocery stores and the popular bar and nightspot at Staniel Cay Yacht Club.  Staniel Cay is easily reached by air via Nassau or Ft. Lauderdale on either Flamingo Air or Watermakers Air.

Every effort is being made to make Embrace Resort sustainable and eco-conscious in the choice of building materials and systems used in the construction of the resort, which is important anywhere, but especially on a small island where every action leaves a mark on the delicate ecosystem.

Staniel Cay and the entire Exuma chain is an area that is getting more and more attention lately due to the diversity of activities available in the area, from fishing to boating to experiences you won’t find anywhere else. From our base at Embrace Resort, we were able to visit Big Major Cay and its swimming pigs,


Swim with the nurse sharks on Compass Cay,

Snorkel through Thunderball Grotto – used in the filming of the 1965 James Bond movie “Thunderball”,

and spend lazy afternoons floating in some of the clearest water we’ve ever seen…


 Embrace Resort is scheduled for a Grand Opening in 2016 once the entire resort is finished, and although the restaurant, swimming pool and spa are not yet complete, the 4 villas that are already constructed are available to rent and can be booked through their website: Embrace Resort.

To find out more about Embrace Resort, be sure to follow them on their Facebook page and Twitter.

A big thanks to Nicole and Natajia for hosting our stay at Embrace Resort and we look forward to visiting again next year to see all that Embrace will have to offer!

Staniel Cay Yacht Club

On Jimmy Buffett’s list of “10 great places for a Waterside Drink”, the Staniel Cay Yacht Club is a great place for just that, and a whole lot more…

The Staniel Cay Yacht Club & Marina (SCYC) is located on a small cay named Staniel Cay in the middle of the chain of stunning islands known as the Exuma Cays in the Bahamas. SCYC offers a full service marina, cottage and suite accommodations, a shop, and a bar/restaurant.

copyright Rum Therapy
It’s one of the few places to gas up a boat in the area, so there are always boats, large and small, in the marina and boaters in the bar. The SCYC bar sits in the middle of the marina and is a colorful, eclectic, laid-back, nautically themed place to enjoy a few drinks and some laughs with visitors from around the world. 

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It’s well known by those who navigate the crystal clear Exuma waters, and frequented by a number of celebrities, such as Johnny Depp, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, Tyler Perry and David Copperfield who have purchased islands (not just homes – islands in the Exuma Cays!) Jimmy Buffet,we were told, used to fly in on his seaplane.

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The walls and ceilings contain a multitude of frayed sailing flags and memorabilia and pictures of the crew from the James Bond movie Thunderball hang close to the bar, as some scenes from the film were shot in the nearby Thunderball Grotto.

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Although the entire resort emits a decidedly relaxed vibe, the SCYC bar is the place to be for nightlife on Staniel Cay.

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As the evening gets later, the bar fills up and the chatter and laughter gets more and more lively.

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From inside the bar, you can glimpse the huge boats harbored in the slips – a great view while savoring a blackened mahi sandwich from the lunch menu.

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And there are plenty of drink options available from the local beers to specialty rum drinks, such as this frozen rum punch.

copyright Rum Therapy
Additional seating is available outside, where you can enjoy the sunshine and crystal blue water.

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Or take your drink to a rocking chair on the front porch and enjoy the sights and sounds of the busy marina.

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Whatever you do, relax and enjoy every moment. It’s one of those places that you’ll take a mental escape to when life gets hectic back home. As a sign on the bar says,
“What’s your hurry? …you’re here”

Have you enjoyed a “waterside drink” at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club bar? Tell us about it!

Thank you to the wonderful folks at Embrace Resort who sponsored our stay on Staniel Cay. The Embrace Resort is within walking distance of SCYC and an even shorter golf cart ride!

Find Staniel Cay Yacht Club on our Bahamas Map

To see more posts on the Bahamas and other islands, check out our Island Blog Directory

 Copyright©Rum Therapy
Pictures and other content may not be re-used without written consent from Rum Therapy, LLC

Thunderball Grotto, Exuma Cays

Just off the coast of Staniel Cay in the beautiful Exuma Cays, lies an underwater cavern paradise called Thunderball Grotto. It acquired its name because it was one of the filming sites for the 1965 James Bond movie “Thunderball”. Thunderball Grotto has since been used in the filming of several other movies such as Never Say Never Again, Splash and Into the Blue.

By boat, Thunderball Grotto is just a couple of minutes from Staniel Cay and we were so excited to get to explore it during our recent stay at Embrace Resort. The island itself is composed of sharp rocks and a few shrubs – not giving away a clue as to the wonderland underneath.

Grotto-3-(a)--(600)-OA faded sign on the island indicates the location of the grotto and says
“Welcome to Thunderbird Grotto – No Fishing – Take Only Photos”

During low tide, snorkeler’s can enter the cave through a small opening on the west side of the small island.

Our guide pointed us in the direction of the opening and encouraged us to swim right in.

Not quite sure just what we would be swimming into and hoping that it would be more spacious than the original opening, we ducked down and made our way in.

Sure enough, just a few feet in, it began to open up.

Once inside, we began to get a glimpse of the cavern. The colors of the water and the walls were absolutely amazing and it was soooo much lighter inside than we imagined.

Underwater, rays of sunshine highlighted the beautiful coral.

And sergeant majors were abundant.

But we thought the most amazing feature of Thunderbird Grotto was the grotto’s size and colors once inside. The openings in the ceiling let generous amounts of light in and apparently the adventurous sometimes jump into the cavern through these holes. Yikes.

The current eventually brought us to the other end of the grotto,

Where we swam out through a much larger opening to our waiting boat.

Have you been to Thunderball Grotto? Tell us about it!

Find Thunderball Grotto on our Bahamas Map

You might also be interested in the following posts from this area:

The Swimming Pigs of the Exuma Cays

Swimming With Sharks on Compass Cay


To see more posts on the Bahamas and other islands, check out our Island Blog Directory

 Copyright©Rum Therapy
Pictures and other content may not be re-used without written consent from Rum Therapy, LLC

The Swimming Pigs of the Exuma Cays

Big Major Cay, an uninhabited cay north of Staniel Cay in the chain of islands known as the Exuma Cays is famous for one unusual thing. Pigs. Not just any regular pig mind you, but pigs that swim.

These cute little oinkers have become rather famous in the last few years as evidenced by the number of boats moored in the beautiful bay in front of what is now appropriately known as Pig Beach.

We were invited to go and swim with the piggies recently during our stay at Embrace Resort on Staniel Cay. The view of Pig Beach coming in is spectacular. No wonder the pigs enjoy living there!

We could spot a few pigs as our boat got closer, but by the time we got to the beach, there were several more making their way out of the bushes to greet us.

They were a bit bigger than we had imagined and were not shy about coming right up to us to see if we had brought them any scraps.

I mean, right up to us.

A few adorable piglets made their way out to greet us as well, but were a little more timid.

Wondering how the pigs got here in the first place, we asked our guide who said that there are quite a few (pig) tales about their arrival on Big Major Cay, but that truthfully they were simply transported over from Staniel Cay a number of years ago by their owners who had gotten tired of complaints from neighbors who were fed up with the pungent porkers.

After giving them what little we had (they also seem to like it when you pour cold water from a water bottle in their mouth!) we got in the water to watch them swim.

They seemed content to wade in the crystal blue water that looked more like a clean swimming pool than an ocean until another boat approached.

They then “hog-tailed” it out to the newcomers to see what treats they might have in store.

If you get to go to Pig Beach, be careful if you’re bringing food. We saw a guy who brought in a large bag of scraps get instantly surrounded by the large and hungry pigs and sustained a nip to the stomach when he didn’t dole it out fast enough!

Have you been to Pig Beach? Tell us about it!

Find Pig Beach on our Bahamas Map

To see more posts on the Exuma Cays and other islands, check out our Island Blog Directory

 Copyright©Rum Therapy
Pictures and other content may not be re-used without written consent from Rum Therapy, LLC