If you are trying to cram a week’s vacation into four days or just don’t want to travel far, you can choose to sail the Bahamas and Florida Keys. Both are great for a fun family vacation or a romantic get-away and both are less than 50 miles from the mainland, but you will find yourself in a world so different that you might as well be on another planet. There is an endless choice of amazing islands, and a crewed yacht can take you to places you would not be able to visit in any other way. Your captain will know all the secret spots, but here are just a few high-lights to whet your appetite:
Fort Lauderdale is the undisputed yachting center in southern Florida and is home to a huge fleet of mega yachts. You can also find small sailing boats and catamarans for charter that fit most budgets. Start your cruise here, and head for the Keys! You will find everything from long sandy beaches to world class fishing and from immaculate golf course to elegant boutiques, but as you move into the Florida Keys sophistication slowly gives way to natural beauty.
If you are interested in fishing, stop at Islamorada and explore the six keys where you find bone-fish in the shallows or try for a sailfish off-shore. Stop for a snorkel in the Looe Key Marine Sanctuary, and sail on to Key West. This is a charming island with beautifully restored houses and boutiques along Duval Street, and you can join the nightly Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square with tightrope walkers, palm readers and bagpipers . . . and everything in between.
However, if you want to sail the Bahamas and explore the more than 3000 islands and cays, they are only a fifty minute flight from Miami and less than three from New York . . . and make sure to get a window seat so you can admire the incredible colors of sandbars and water below.
In the Abacos, you will find well maintained houses painted in pastel colors behind picket fences and old candy striped light houses. These low laying islands have endless sugar white beaches framed by an incredible background of blue in any shade you can imagine. Make it a fun family vacation or gather some friends for a dive adventure, spear your own lobster, or try out a few golf courses; the Bahamas has it all.
Green Turtle Cay is a paradise for bird watchers, and at the Abaco Wild Horse Preserve you can see wild horses descending from the Spanish Barbs which were brought here centuries ago. Man-of- War Cay has been famous for its boat builders for many years, and the old traditions and knowledge has been handed down for generations. However, this is a conservative and “dry” island, so go back to your yacht and enjoy your chef’s delicious drinks and appetizers.
As you sail further south the islands get a more Caribbean feel to them and the motto, “Nobody moves nobody gets hurt”, is a great description of the local mentality which is unhurried and friendly.
The Exumas had a well earned reputation for drug smuggling in the 1970’s and 80’s, when Norman Cay was owned by a flamboyant Colombian drug lord. His villa is still there, and his airplane, forced down in the shallow water by the police, has been taken over by fish, which are just as colorful but harmless. However, things have changed since then, and the Exumas are now a sailors Paradise. George Town on Great Exuma offers great restaurants with delicious seafood and bars where you can enjoy a “sun-downer” and meet others for Happy Hour.
Visit the grotto at Staniel Cay where some scenes in the James Bond movie “Thunderball” were shot in 1965, and don’t miss Major Cay with its hilarious and famous swimming pigs! Ask your captain to stop at Allan Cay and visit the iguanas which are up to four feet long; they look prehistoric and intimidating when they come running up to greet you, but they are friendly creatures.
Most of these places are only accessible by private yacht so please call us +1 704 257 47 66 for more information on sailing vacations in the Bahamas and the Keys or send us an email.