Nassau to the Northern Exumas (Highbourne Cay, Norman’s Cay)

We spent 3 nights in Nassau at the marina, using their free 2-hour courtesy car to pick up our motor, provision, get some things from the marine store, and have lunch “under the bridge” at one of the food stalls. We picked the right one (“The Burning Spot”), the cracked conch and conch salad were outstanding!

On Saturday May 8 at noon, we left Palm Cay Marina in Nassau for the Exumas. It was extremely tight to get out of the boat slip, and we enlisted a dock hand to help from shore. We had met David from S/V Boom Sharkalaka in the previous days (I had remembered signing him up as a Stream2Sea ambassador, so I walked over to introduce myself), and he was nice enough to come over on his dinghy and help us get out of the slip.

When we got out of the Marina, we went directly into a huge squall with consistently over 22 knots of wind and 5 ft waves. No fun! We went between Yellow and White Banks for extra depth, just to be on the safe side.
At 7:15 pm, we arrived in the anchorage at Highbourne Cay, the trip having taken over 7 hours instead of the projected 4-5. We found a good anchoring spot and finally relaxed.

May 9 found us out and about exploring our first Exumas island. We took the dinghy over to the beautiful beach, and walked and explored. Back to the boat to rest, and a rain shower gave us a free much needed boat wash.

Monday we dinghied into Highbourne Cay Marina to check out the ship’s store and buy some rum. We are loving our Dark’n’Stormies for sundowners!

Parrot at Highbourne Cay Marina

Then we dinghied over to Highbourne Rocks, anchored the dinghy, and went for a nice snorkel over the coral heads there. Fun, fun, fun! The next day we took the dinghy to the east side side of the island, to a 3 mile long white sand beach. The waves were pretty high, and we nearly capsized the dinghy when a wave broke over us, turning us side ways. You should have seen the look of terror on both our faces! We made it, bailed the dinghy, and went for a loooong walk along the beach.

We then had a nice picnic of crab cake sandwiches and grapes, and we had even packed a cold Kalik for the occasion.

In the afternoon, we went over to Oyster Rocks to find some reefs to snorkel on. We just looked into the water south of the rocks to find some dark spots, and hopped in. That way we found 2 beautiful small reefs, teeming with corals and sealife. We same two HUGE lobsters mating, lots of small conch, a porcupine fish with pricks extended, and unfortunately a few lionfish. Too bad we hadn’t brought the speargun to get rid of some lionfish!

On Wednesday May 12, we lifted anchor at Highbourne Cay at 2 pm to head south to Norman’s Cay, our next stop. We were able to sail most of the way although we had to tack. At 4:30, our anchor was down at Norman’s Cay. We anchored pretty far out to avoid the sand banks, and decided to move into an anchorage that is closer to the island tomorrow.

The next day we woke up to overcast skies, and at 9 am the rain started. It poured down until about 10:45, another free boat wash! We left the anchorage at 2 pm to move closer to the beach. Because of the sand banks we had to go around, it was a 6 mile trip to go 400 yards as the crow flies!

Finally closer to land, we went over to the beach to go for a walk and check out Mac Duff’s Restaurant (nice but a bit out of budget). At the end of the beach we found a beach bar, and had a cold Kalik there. Then back to the boat for a nice dinner!

Friday 5/14 was our “explore Norman’s Cay day”. We took the dinghy around the south end and onto a beach there, looking for ruins we didn’t find. Then further west and north around the island, and into a tiny cut the goes into Norman’s Pond, a big lagoon that is inclosed almost like a lake. The caves there that were described in our book were a non-event unfortunately, they were just overhangs, but we zipped around the “lake” until it was lunchtime – picnic time! We found a nice beach and settled down in the shade to eat.

After lunch we took a walk along this beautiful beach with the stunning colors of blue in the water.

Coming around the north end of Norman’s Cay, we rounded the corner and started to look for dark spots again, which usually means there is a small coral reef. We found a really beautiful one and snorkeled it, and when we came back saw the dark clouds on the horizon. We decided to snorkel one more reef, and then it was REALLY time to head back! We made it back onto the boat just in time to batten down the hatches for a big dark squall with strong winds and a big downpour. Had we been 5 minutes later, it would have poured into our wide open hatches!

On Saturday May 15 we took our dinghy to go snorkel the plane wreck. There are a lot of stories about this wreck as it used to be part of the big drug running operation out of Norman’s Cay. What a great snorkel spot, and the Sergeant Majors are so curious the will swim directly up to your mask!

2 Replies to “Nassau to the Northern Exumas (Highbourne Cay, Norman’s Cay)”

Comments are closed.