Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park
Set sail for the most unique boating retreat in the Bahamas – explore the overgrown ruins, live sea floors, and submerged wonders of Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park.
Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park is one of the most unique boating destinations in the world—and your ticket to the best attractions lies in your own private Bahamas charter. This exclusive collection of islands holds a wildlife sanctuary full of tropical species and it was set aside in 1985 for the sake of preserving the island ecosystems. The entire area is a protected “no take zone”, and fishing is strictly prohibited under a Bahamas National Trust order to replenish the delicate native habitats.
The park hosts prime anchorages and islands of solitude with soft, white sand beaches. You can even explore the ruins of a loyalist plantation dating back to 1785 when colonists settled these secluded Bahamian shores. Make your way around the islands on your own time and stop and relax in solitude on various jagged-rock, sandy-beach, and coral-cut shores. Below the surface lies communities along reefs, and boaters come to sail or yacht the surrounding islands and many cays with mooring fields.
What’s to see at Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park?
Exploring Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park by boat puts you in the middle of exciting dive sites full of natural wonders in biodiversity ecosystems, as well as submerged artifacts. Each island holds its own unique treasures—you’re sure to encounter exotic species when birdwatching, snorkeling, diving, and hiking. Among the islands rarest species is the Bahaman hutia, the only native terrestrial mammal in the Bahamas. Many tropical birds, blooming bromeliads and orchids, colorful coral walls, marine invertabrates, schools of fish, and even the endangered Allen Cay rock iguanas call Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park home, and it’s one of the only places in the world you can view them all in their natural scenery.
Everything comes together on the island that houses the visitor’s center, Warderick Wells, where boaters stop to relax and savor an island sunset on the horizon from the docks. This park is such a popular stop for yacht charters, as it offers an abundance of aquatic excursions and trails for encountering local species. There is much to be discovered in the waters and cays of Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park.
Exploring the Coral Reefs, Preserves, and Cays
The chain of islands that makes up Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park open up a playground for underwater excursions. A Bahamas charter makes your life easy while island hopping the cays, and exploring the different coral reef diving zones, sunken artifacts, and rare species. In Shroud Cay the sea floor comes to life, and you can get up close for viewing flourishing marine nurseries in the surrounding no wake zones that hold sea turtles, lobsters, and conch. This is just a taste of the offerings this collection of islands holds.
Relaxation at Warderick Wells
Warderick Wells acts as the activity center of Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. Boaters stop for recreation or trekking across the island to take in the natural beauty of diverse local ecosystems. The island landscape transforms between the mangroves, san dunes, rock cliffs, and salt flats. You can stop by the visitors center for more information about the area and to learn more about the 53-foot sperm whale, a skeleton on exhibit, who is said to watch over the beach nearby.
There’s more to this island than the scenery. Warderick Wells also is the place to meet and greet on the beach at the small tiki hut bar for happy hour. And with trails that stretch throughout the island, you can hike from one end to the other. Rock formations that resemble a whale’s blowhole cut the shoreline and splash with the tides on the east side of the island. This is where you can climb to the top of Boo Boo Hill to take in the scenes from the highest vantage point. It’s here that many visitors pay homage by leaving a piece of driftwood that’s written with the name of their own vessel.
The Bahamian Hutia in Little Wax Cays
A trip to Little Wax Cays puts you up close to one of the rarest species in the Bahamas — the Bahaman hutia — a small rodent that was introduced to the islands in 1973. Little Wax Cay is home to a colony of Bahaman hutia and many other species found throughout the Caribbean. Just off the coast of this cay is a unique dive site complete with an rustic anchor submerged in the reef. The location is Fire Coral Reef and can be found in Wax Cay Cut.
Island Beaches and Overgrown Ruins of Hawksbill Cay
Hawskbill Cay is a gem of an island. With two opposite morring fields and the ruins of a former plantation to explore, Hawksbill Cay allows you to capture a glimpse of overgrown ruins scattered across tropical island flora and fauna. The island was granted to the Russell family in 1785, and the land was farmed for generations. Not only does this island host its own white sand beaches, it also was once the home of loyalist plantation that can still be seen today. The ruins are scattered about the shores and can be reached on foot. You can walk among the crumbling remains of farm buildings, and even spot an old cistern that still catches water.
Swimming the Reefs and Underwater Treasures of the Exumas
As to be expected, the most exciting attractions across the cays are hidden beneath the water in the coral reefs. Hails Pond Cay is a private island that hosts a dive site just off the coast. You can’t come ashore without invitation, but Jeep Reef at the west hosts a J-shaped formation containing a sunken jeep, turtle-grass beds, and coral reefs reaching depths of 28 feet beneath the surface. Another private island, Osprey Cay, can be visited ashore with permission of the warden, and hosts a nesting site for the majestic osprey. A walk across a revealed stretch of beach in moonlight during low tide is the experience of a lifetime.
One of the most exciting underwater artifacts to dive in Exuman Land and Sea Park lies just off the island of Pasture Cay. This former cattle pasture has a triangle-shaped reef in the surrounding waters. The most delightful thing to snorkel is a plane from the 1980’s that’s marked by a floating buoy.
Add Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park to your Bahamas charter!