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The Berry Islands

Discovered by a lucky few and pristine in beauty, the Berry Islands consist of more than two-dozen small islands and almost a hundred tiny cays stretching in a thin crescent to the north of Andros and Nassau. Most of the Berries have breathtakingly beautiful beaches. Although a few of the islands are privately owned, most of them are uninhabited—except by rare birds who use the territory as their nesting grounds, or by visiting yachters dropping anchor in secluded havens. The Berry Islands start in the north at Great Stirrup Cay and Coco Cay where thousands of cruise passengers enjoy Bahama-island experiences and the Stingray City Bahamas attraction on neighboring Goat Cay. The Berries end in the south at Chub Cay, only 35 miles north of Nassau.

Most of the islands' 700 residents live on Great Harbour Cay, which is 10 miles long and 1 mile wide. Great Harbour Cay, the largest of the Berry Islands, is tranquil, self-contained, and oriented toward yachting, family, beach, and water-sports vacationing. Its main settlement, Bullock's Harbour, aka "the Village," has a couple of good restaurants, two grocery and liquor stores, and small shops. A mile west, the Great Harbour Cay's beach area, partly owned by the company that owns the marina, was developed in the early 1970s. More homes, condos, and villas have been built since then, and many of the older beach villas and cottages have been remodeled. The 65-slip protected marina has also been renovated and is once again popular with yachties. There are no big resorts on Great Harbour; instead, there's a delightful, world-class boutique hotel, a motel, and homes and villas for rent on the marina and beaches. The GHC Property Owners Association is active and provides many fun activities and events, including the partial upkeep of 9 holes of the original golf course. Many private pilots have homes and fly in here. The Berries are reputed to have one of the world's highest concentrations of millionaires per square mile, but, surprisingly, there are no banks or ATMs. So, make sure you bring some cash.

Although the area has long been geared toward deep-sea fishing, in recent years, family, wedding, honeymoon, and beach-seeking vacations and bonefishing have become more popular. In the south, Chub Cay is close to a deep-sea pocket where the Tongue of the Ocean meets the North West Providence Channel—a junction that traps big game fish. Remote flats south of Great Harbour, from Anderson Cay to Money Cay, are excellent bonefish habitats, as are the flats around Chub Cay. Deeper-water flats hold permit and tarpon.

Chub Cay, a popular halfway point for boaters crossing to and from Florida, is also experiencing a comeback with millions having been recently invested in the Chub Cay Resort & Marina. It's a project in progress. For deep-sea fishing and bonefishing fans, Chub Cay's extensive flats and deep ocean canyons are pure heaven. It's a bit quiet for families where kids have to be kept occupied—unless they are fishermen, divers, and beach fans, too. On Chub, you'll certainly connect with your friends and young ones but make sure you have a boat to get off land and give you freedom to explore, dive, and fish—and unless you want to dine at one place the whole time, bring lots of home-bought supplies: food, drink, etc. in a couple of coolers. Most rentals come with kitchens. Blessed with serenity, sea life, and beaches, the Berries are a tucked-away secret that vacationers wish they could find.

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