Our next stop after Black Point was Staniel Cay, an easy, lazy 11 nautical miles up the Exumas. With one of the few places to get diesel and water in the area, Staniel Cay was the busiest place we had been since leaving Georgetown and it was initially a little jarring. I can only imagine how much starker the contrast will be when we return to the United States at the end of the month! Boats ranging from regular to mega yachts went in and out of the harbor, and the anchorage was busy with dinghies of all types and sizes zooming back and forth.
Despite all of the activity, we really enjoyed Staniel Cay. The water was crystal clear and had the most beautiful shades of blue that we had seen so far. The pictures really couldn’t capture it.
In addition to the water, the settlement itself was colorful with pretty painted houses and buildings. Two of the three markets in the settlement are even known as the “pink store” and the “blue store.” The mailboat had shown up the day before we arrived so we took advantage of the opportunity to buy some ginger ale and tonic water ($22 for a case – not bad at all for around here), produce ($8.75 for a cabbage – ack!), and snacks.
Staniel Cay is particularly known for two things: the swimming pigs and the Thunderball Grotto. We weren’t there to see the pigs, however. It wasn’t something that appealed to us. What we did want to see was Thunderball Grotto. Thunderball Grotto is the same one that was filmed in James Bond’s “Thunderball”. We could see it from where we anchored, so we were able to time our visit when it wasn’t inundated with tour boats. We had read that you should wait until slack low tide because the current was very strong, but of course that’s also when it’s most crowded. I think next time we won’t be as concerned about the timing, because snorkel fins can make up for quite a bit of current.
We had been lamenting the lack of fish that we’ve seen so far on this trip, but I think that’s because they were all hanging out in the grotto! We didn’t have an underwater camera with us, so I took these off of Google Images instead:
We really enjoyed the grotto and will definitely go again on our next visit.
An added bonus of our stay in Staniel Cay is that we were able to share an anchorage once again with our friends on S/V Laura Jack. We met them in St. Augustine, rafted for awhile together in Vero Beach, and went to the Junkanoo in Marsh Harbor with them. We enjoyed getting together on their boat for two evenings, catching up and trading tips. As is often the case, we parted ways with Laura Jack heading further south and us going north, but we hope to see them again in the Chesapeake or New England later this summer.
All in all, Staniel was a very nice stop and we enjoyed spending several days there. With friendly residents, a wide selection of provisions, R/O water at the marina for 40 cents/gallon, and diesel, we can see how Staniel Cay would be an easy place to base yourself out of in the Exumas. We liked it quite a bit and it’s a “must stop” when we come back to the Exumas later this year.