Thunderball Grotto: An Incredible Snorkeling Spot in the Exumas

In a paradise known for its amazing snorkeling spots, Thunderball Grotto is hands-down one of the best in the Exuma Cays. Located in the middle of the Exumas, near Staniel Cay, Thunderball Grotto is stunningly beautiful; a sprawling cave that you can only reach by a quick swim.

There’s a reason this spot was featured in 1965’s James Bond film Thunderball. It’s a place that looks more like a movie set than real life. Of all the destinations for yachting in the Exumas, Thunderball Grotto is one that can’t be missed. Not to mention, it’s near numerous other must-see attractions, like the swimming sharks of Compass Cay, the iguanas of Allen Cay, and the world-famous Staniel Cay Yacht Club.

Think you might want to take in Thunderball Grotto on your next trip to the Exumas? Here’s everything you need to know about the James Bond cave, including how to get there, what to expect, and nearby attractions.

Getting to Thunderball Grotto

Thunderball Grotto earns its nickname as the James Bond cave. Not only was it featured in the 1965 film, but it actually reprised its role in 1983’s Never Say Never Again. More recently, the grotto was featured in the Tom Hanks’ Splash, and the Jessica Alba and Paul Walker movie Into the Blue.

Arriving. Thunderball Grotto is only reachable by water, which is one reason it’s such a favorite destination on yacht charters. The grotto is in one of the best locations in the Exumas, directly between Staniel Cay and Big Major Cay (home of the swimming pigs). In fact, it’s close enough to both islands that you can actually swim there (although it’s best if you’re a strong swimmer).

Another advantage: The James Bond cave is only about 80 miles south of Nassau, and as such, it’s a top itinerary stop on Nassau charters to the Exumas.

Where to Stop

  • Staniel Cay Yacht Club – The world-famous Staniel Cay yacht club has a beautiful marina, with accommodations for yachts up to 200 feet.
  • Big Major Cay – There are several moorings on Big Major’s southside. Essentially, at these anchorages, you’re as close to the grotto as you can get.
  • Compass Cay – Although Compass Cay is a few islands away to the north, it’s home to one of the best marinas in the region. (Not to mention, you can swim with pet nurse sharks here!)

What to Expect at Thunderball Grotto

Thunderball Grotto looks unassuming from the sea; in fact, it’s just a plain limestone formation, with a bit of water rushing underneath. After a short swim, though, you’ll see why so many visitors flock here.

As you swim up to the grotto, you’ll notice several hidden entrances. Dive and snorkel under the water, and pass into the cave. The cave opens up to a gigantic domed rotunda, and the sunbeams in through a large hole at the top, casting brilliant light on the aquamarine water. It’s a truly spectacular sight. The lagoon in the grotto is the perfect place for an afternoon dip.

During your visit, here are a few of the things you can do:

  1. The cave is a rich coral ecosystem; as such, visitors regularly get swarmed by colorful tropical fish while swimming and there are many beautiful coral formations to explore. This is a great beginner snorkeling spot, and there are many more nearby as well.
  2. Rock climb. The limestone walls of the cave offer a number of jumping platforms, if you’re looking for a Thunderball Grotto jump in point. Scale the walls and jump in for a thrill.
  3. Soak up the sun. Neighboring Staniel and Big Major cays have several sandy beaches, including Pirate Beach on Staniel and the world-famous Pig Beach on Big Major. Swim or take a tender ride to the beach and relax in the sun!

Thanks to its close proximity to other great destinations, a visit to Thunderball Grotto is the perfect day trip before heading on to Staniel Cay, Compass Cay, or the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park to the north.

What to Do Near Thunderball Grotto: Top Attractions

If there’s one area in the Exumas to visit, it’s here. Start your journey at Staniel Cay, home to an airport with daily service into Nassau. In addition to Thunderball Grotto, other must-see attractions include:

  1. Swimming with the Pigs – The swimming pigs of Big Major Cay are one of the highlights of the Exumas. Another benefit: Pig Beach on the cay is within swimming distance to Thunderball Grotto. Go visit the friendly pigs after a day of adventure.
  2. Explore the Disappearing Beaches – Pipe Creek Sandbar is a beautiful beach that can only be visited at low tide. Stop in for a beach day, while it lasts!
  3. Dive a Plane Wreck – Another amazing snorkeling spot near Thunderball Grotto is the cartel plane wreck. Sometimes called the Exuma Plane Wreck, this snorkel spot is visible in the crystal-clear waters and is great for a quick dip.
  4. Cocktails at Staniel Cay – Staniel Cay Yacht Club is a historic club, known for its breezy open-air vibes and excellent food and drink. Stop in for dinner or cocktails and to enjoy a dazzling sunset.
  5. Hiking at Bitter Guana Cay – Located just south of Staniel Cay, Bitter Guana is a beautiful island, that’s home to beach iguanas. Stop here to snap photos with the endangered Northern Bahamian rock iguanas.
  6. Swimming with Sharks at Compass Cay – Located several islands to the north, the marina at Compass Cay is where you’ll find resident nurse sharks. Swim with the sharks, before enjoying a cold beer at the marina café.

Want to escape to the Exumas on a private luxury yacht charter? We can help you explore Thunderball Grotto and the surroundings. Contact your broker with Worldwide Boat today to learn more.