Staniel Cay Trip Report - January 2007

Jan 14th, 2007, 05:17 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 84
Staniel Cay Trip Report - January 2007

Photos here http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/557011038YMwcqF
The camera is a Pentax Optio WPi and can go underwater without being in a housing.

http://www.stanielcay.com

We flew from Charlotte, NC to Nassau via JFK on JetBlue. We enjoyed the JetBlue "experience" as they call it and would definitely fly JetBlue again. We spent the night in Nassau at Orange Hill, which was fine for what we needed but not luxurious. Rooms have fridges and microwaves and there is a pool. We had dinner on the patio at the Poop Deck at Sandyport, and after dinner walked down to the beach. There is one very private and romantic table on the beach, well away from other diners. Dinner entrees ~$25/person; excellent meals and service.

The next morning, we flew to Staniel Cay on Flamingo Air. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 9am. It was oversold. Due to various technical and mechanical difficulties, it was 2pm before our flight left, and Flamingo actually chartered with Pineapple Air to get us to Staniel. The plane was a 5 seater Piper Aztec; those afraid of small planes need not apply!!! While everyone we dealt with at Flamingo was very nice, we learned that these delays are not uncommon, so we suggest using Watermakers Air service from the Fort Lauderdale executive airport. (The same family owns Watermakers and the Staniel Cay Yacht Club.) The Watermakers planes are slightly larger.

We stayed 4 nights at SCYC in the lime green cottage on the "plan", meaning we received 3 meals per day, use of snorkeling equipment, kayaks, bikes, a Boston whaler, and soft drinks with meals. There is a tiny office, and the bartender is the main point of contact so when it's busy at the bar, you might have to wait for service. However, without exception, the staff was friendly, personable, and willing to do anything they could to help. My mother broke her foot 3 days before this trip and was determined to go anyway, so we needed some extra care!

There are 9 cottages; the lime green one is a "tower" with a twin day bed plus trundle and bathroom on the first floor and king bed and bath on the second floor. The staircase to the second floor is round and narrow. Negotiating the stairs came to be known as our sobriety test. Both levels have decks that overlook the water. All cottages have refrigerators and coffee makings. You can buy water, soda, beer, liquor, etc. in the gift shop to keep in your cottage. Bathrooms were nice; plush towels including beach towels and Caswell-Massey bath products supplied. No tvs or phones in cottages but there is a tv in the bar.

Food was not fancy but was excellent and plentiful. Breakfast choices included eggs, omelets, french toast, and pancakes. For lunch you could order from the menu or ask for a cooler to take adventuring; this included ham/cheese, turkey/cheese, or tuna sandwiches, fruit, Pringles, and drinks. Dinner orders were placed at the bar by 5pm for a 7:30pm seating. Dinner nightly included a soup, a salad, entree, and choice of dessert. Entree choices included chicken, ribs, fresh catch (usually mahi), lobster tail, steak, cracked conch, and rack of lamb. The clubhouse building is a wifi spot and there is one computer with internet access for 50c/min.

Our first morning, we decided to take out the whaler and explore the area. We had a book of Exuma charts, and while we are novice boaters we have some experience on a local lake. Suzanne, the friendly SCYC hostess, encouraged us to start with a guide for a half day to become familiar with the area. We decided to try it on our own. This was a mistake. When they tell you to get a guide, get one. I won't bore you with the whole story, but suffice it to say that we came back to the yacht club sans boat after being rescued from the back side of Big Major by the "Seattle" and her owners. Thanks again to them!!! Kudos to our lunch packers that day since the cooler survived submersion and everything was still edible. (The boat was recovered by the marina staff and turned out to be fine.)

The next day, Captain Cliff helped us regain our sea legs. He took us to Big Major to feed the swimming pigs, to Compass Cay to meet Tucker Rolle and play with his pet sharks, and then to the Exuma Land and Sea Park headquarters at Warderick Wells. On the way back, we went Sampson Cay and then to Thunderball Grotto to snorkel. Cliff brought lots of bread to encourage the fish to stick around. Cliff did an awesome job and was a terrific guide; we can't recommend him highly enough.

On day 3, we rented a golf cart from TC Mobile (behind the yacht club) and explored the island. There is a nice beach across from the airstrip in a dredged out cove. There are TONS of shells there. I also saw a stingray while snorkeling. We drove along the ridgetop and took pictures of the ocean side of the island, and if you're nimble you can get to beaches there too, but the surf is pretty strong. We went back to SCYC for lunch and then in the afternoon went to Pirate's Cove beach at the tip of the island, past Club Thunderball. There, we found the remnants of the "Pirate Bar" which we assumed was a failed Club Thunderball venture. We also saw whelks on the rocks, which we were told could be steamed with garlic and butter, but we didn't try that delicacy. The water was shallow there and the contrast between the sound and the ocean was striking. Good snorkeling there along the edge of the sandbar and against the rocks near Club Thunderball.

Overall, I was pleased with the snorkeling everywhere. The water was very clear and I saw a wide variety of coral and critters, including a barricuda at the Staniel Cay public beach!

Our departing flight on Flamingo Air was on time, and we spent another night in Nassau at Orange Hill on our way home.

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip and recommend SCYC highly IF you are understanding of the concept of island time! We overheard some complainers in the bar who couldn't seem to leave the real world behind. Our advice to them is to drink more rum.
eaf2007 is offline  
Jan 15th, 2007, 01:22 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 259
great photos! thanks for sharing!
ElaineF is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 05:56 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,350
Very nice snorkelling pics. thanks for posting.
mnag is offline  
Jan 19th, 2007, 07:08 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 745
great trip report, thank you.

we are going to great exuma in august and will have our three young adult children with us. i was wondering if visiting the pigs and the iguanas was a do-able trip for us? would we be able to rent a boat and head out for a day excursion to these islands? i know my kids would be thrilled to see and swim with the pigs !!! we took them on the powerboat adventure and they loved the iguanas. is it the same island? wondering if this is a day excursion that we can book or if it is too far from great exuma.

thanks very much.
albee622 is offline  
Jan 19th, 2007, 02:13 PM
  #5  
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Join Date: May 2006
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Unfortunately Great Exuma is about 80 miles south of Staniel. I have not been to Great Exuma, but there are others who are experts. I'm sure you can find a boat/guide there, and explore more of the islands in that area. Have fun!
eaf2007 is offline  
Jan 20th, 2007, 06:39 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 1,567
Enjoyed your trip report and pics. The water looks fantastic and I love the look of SCYC. Thanks for sharing!
caribtraveler is offline  

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