In the Bahamas there are two primary regions of yacht charter: the Abacos and the Exumas. The Abacos are to the north of Nassau while the Exumas are to the south. Either region is a terrific one week charter and if you want to see both, then you can plan a two-or three week itinerary.
The easiest way to charter in the Abacos is to fly into the island of Marsh Harbour, which has a small regional airport serving flights from Nassau as well as Florida. There are few real towns outside of Marsh Harbour, with most of Abacos offering smaller communities and private beaches. Most places have at least one good restaurant and bbar, and you can often find local artwork that is frame worthy.
One of the best-known stops in Abacos is Hope Town or Elbow Cay. It’s picture perfect, red and white striped lighthouse is a landmark that welcomes charterers into the harbor where pedestrian only streets are lined with shops, bakeries and bars. Rental golf carts and bicycles will let you explore the island, which is dotted with colorful private homes and pristine, private coves where you can enjoy the beaches.
Getting to the Exumas usually requires a flight into Nassau, where you can meet your charter yacht at the Atlantic Resort Casino on nearby Paradise Island. Spend an afternoon enjoying water slides, world class gaming aquariums, and restaurants before setting off for the Exumas archipelago, which is a few hour’s cruise away.
The Exumas offer a quiet contrast to the hype of the Atlantis, with white sand beaches, aquamarine waters0 and colorful reefs. You will often have the beaches all to yourself-except at Big Major Cay, where you can meet the resident pigs who swim out to collect carrots from passing yacht tenders. Another great spot is Thunder Cay, where you will snorkel inside the cave from the James Bond movie “Thunderball”.