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

 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