Top 5 Must-Visit Exumas Yacht Charter Destinations: Explore The Bahamas
With Charter Expert Louis Lamprell

🕦 Jun 13, 2024

Check out the VIDEO

I want to share with you the top 5 must-visit yacht charter destinations in the Exumas. – The heart of Bahamas yachting!

These spots are loved by our clients for their amazing natural beauty, perfect water, fun activities, and iconic attractions, such as snorkeling on one of Pablo Escobar’s drug-smuggling planes, swimming with Pigs, and diving in a cave featured in the James Bond Movies.

1. Norman’s Cay

Norman’s Cay is located at the northern end of the Exuma Islands and will probably be your first stop when coming down from Nassau.

Norman’s Cay offers excellent opportunities for snorkeling and diving, making it a perfect spot for underwater exploration.

Norman’s Cay holds a rather notorious chapter in history due to its past as a hub for drug smuggling activities in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Boats Anchored Around a Plane Wreck at Norman's Cay, Bahamas
The famous plane wreck at Norman's Cay. The WWII-era plane belonged to Pablo Escobar's drug cartel. It was thought to be carrying cocaine when it landed in the water, just shy of the runway in 1980.

The island was essentially commandeered by Carlos Lehder, a key figure in the Medellín Cartel, who transformed it into a base for cocaine trafficking operations to the United States.

This dark period left several remnants, including the infamous wreckage of a drug smuggling plane submerged in shallow waters just off the cay.

Dive on Pablo Escobar’s drug smuggling plane wreck

Today, this wreckage has become a popular site for divers and snorkelers. It rests in crystal clear waters that are shallow enough for snorkelers to enjoy, typically no more than 10 feet deep at high tide.

The plane, now encrusted with coral and home to a variety of marine life, offers an eerie yet fascinating vista, creating a unique underwater experience.

Divers and snorkelers can explore the fuselage and wings, observing schools of tropical fish that have taken refuge there.

Paddleboarding Around A Plane Wreck in the Exumas, Bahamas
The famous plane wreck at Norman's Cay.
Tidal channels between Shroud Cay & Wax Cay & Norman's Cay

2. Shroud Cay: Kayak or Paddleboard on the river straight through the island

Shroud Cay is a beautiful mangrove island known for Sanctuary Creek, which runs straight through the island, perfect for exploring by kayak, paddleboard, or tender.

It is home to many marine species, including turtles, lobster, conch, and nurse sharks, as well as many birds.

It’s an ideal spot for those looking to escape the more crowded destinations and enjoy some quiet time surrounded by nature.

This stunning aerial photo shows Shroud Cay in the Bahamas, beautifully capturing its diverse landscape and vibrant turquoise waters. The image highlights the intricate network of mangroves and the meandering channels that snake through the cay, which are typical of this area. These channels are shallow enough to explore by kayak or paddleboard, allowing visitors to navigate through the serene natural environment closely. The surrounding waters, famous for their clarity and richness in marine life, offer fantastic opportunities for snorkeling. This secluded area is a perfect example of the unspoiled beauty of the Exumas, providing a peaceful escape in a natural setting.
Shroud Cay and Sanctuary Creek, Bahamas

Kayaking or Paddleboarding on Sanctuary Creek

The best thing to do at Shroud Cay is play on the Sanctuary Creek. On the main creek, motorized vessels are allowed at idle speed, and a slow trip with the tide in the tender is a great way to watch the wildlife.

The rest of the creeks are off-limits for engines, but never mind, for the best way to explore is by kayak or on a paddleboard!

I would also highly recommend that you check out the so-called “washing machine.” – On an outgoing tide, when the water empties from the shallower Exuma bank to Exuma Sound, it forms a water slide-like rapid, which is awesome to play in.

Enjoy a lunch and snorkel on Driftwood Beach

The beach where the waterslide is located is really nice and a great place to stop for lunch and relax before your afternoon island exploration.

Sanctuary Creek, Shroud Cay in the Exumas, Bahamas
Sanctuary Creek, Shroud Cay in the Exumas, Bahamas
This image depicts a lone yacht floating in the shallow, tranquil waters surrounded by the natural beauty of the cay’s landscape. The vibrant turquoise of the water contrasts strikingly with the lush greenery of the cay, creating a serene and inviting atmosphere for any sailor or visitor.
Catamaran Anchored at Shroud Cay, Bahamas
Shroud Cay in the Exumas, Bahamas
Shroud Cay in the Exumas, Bahamas

Hike to Driftwood Camp, where the DEA once spied on Pablo Escobar

This brings us to my last Shroud Island recommendation, the hike to Camp Driftwood.The well-used trail is easily found just to the north of the washing machine.

There’s not much left of it now, but the camp was established in the 1960s by a sailor who lived aboard his boat at Shroud Cay.

The location later gained notoriety in the 1980s when it was used by the DEA to spy on Pablo Escobar’s activities to the north at Norman Cay.

You’ll also enjoy panoramic 360 views from the top.

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3. Thunderball Grotto

Famous for its appearance in the James Bond film Thunderball and, of course, named thereafter, this underwater cave is a must-visit for divers and snorkelers on a yacht charter in the Exuma islands.

Thunderball Grotto is located near Staniel Cay. It is teeming with exotic fish and offers a surreal experience as you swim through the sunlit caverns.

Once inside the cave, you’ll discover multiple underwater caverns and hidden passages that lead to additional chambers waiting to be explored.

This image showcases the striking entrance to Thunderball Grotto in the Bahamas, an iconic underwater cave known for its use in the James Bond film
Beautiful water at the entrance to Thunderball Grotto, Bahamas

Thunderball Grotto is accessible for both novice and experienced snorkelers and divers. The grotto’s entrance is just beneath the water’s surface at low tide, making it easy to enter, and its interior is lit by natural sunlight filtering through holes in the rock, creating a mesmerizing underwater experience.

Note that entering at low tide is best for novice snorkelers when the entrance and caverns are close beneath the surface of the water.

Hollywood put Thunderball Grotto on the map

Thunderball Grotto gained international fame as a filming location for the 1965 James Bond film Thunderball, starring Sean Connery. Later, it was actually used again in another James Bond Film, Never Say Never, in 1983.

The film’s underwater scenes showcased the grotto’s stunning natural beauty and helped cement its status as a popular tourist destination.

Beyond the Bond franchise, Thunderball Grotto has appeared in other Hollywood films, such as Splash (1984), where it added a magical backdrop to the mermaid-themed romantic comedy starring Tom Hanks.

It was also featured in the action-thriller Into The Blue (2005), starring Jessica Alba and Paul Walker, which highlighted the grotto’s appeal for underwater adventure scenes.

4. Staniel Cay Yacht Club

After a few days of island jumping around the northern Exumas, you will reach Staniel Cay and Staniel Cay Yacht Club. This venue provides not only a safe harbor but also a chance to enjoy fine dining near the water’s edge and some socializing with other charter guests, yacht owners and sailors.

Staniel Cay Marina offers docking for vessels up to 210 feet as well as moorings in the bay. They also host several events such as the Superball, St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Dive Competitions, and Parties such as the James Bond Casino Royal Party.

Catamaran and motor yachts docked at Staniel Cay Yacht Club in the Exumas, Bahamas
Staniel Cay Yacht Club in the Exumas, Bahamas
Motor yachts docked at Staniel Cay Yacht Club in the Exumas, Bahamas
Staniel Cay Yacht Club in the Exumas, Bahamas

Snorkel on the most accessible drug smuggling plane in the world

Also, don’t miss the opportunity to dive on another drug smuggling plane. This plane wreck, located only about half a mile from the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, is one of the most accessible underwater plane wrecks in the world. So, it is a super opportunity for beginner snorkelers and children to explore at ease.

Unlike the plane wreck at Norman’s Cay, this one isn’t directly linked to Pablo Escobar but is believed to have been used for smuggling marijuana between Colombia and Miami.

The theory of its crash is that the plane ran out of fuel before managing to land on the Staniel Cay airstrip on a dark night. The two passengers died in the crash.

The Famous Staniel Cay Plane Wreck, Bahamas
The Famous Staniel Cay Plane Wreck, Bahamas

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5. Big Major Cay’s Pig Beach

Did you say you wanted to go to a paradise island with turquoise water, white sand, palm trees, and swimming pigs? Perfect, I know where to go!

What you are looking for is Pig Beach on Big Major Cay. This unusual attraction is exactly as it sounds – a beach inhabited by swimming pigs. AND they are quite friendly and approachable, especially when you feed them. I promise you, this is the place for unique and fun photo opportunities and an unforgettable part of any yacht charter.

The famous swimming pigs of the Bahamas are a unique and popular attraction. Found on Big Major Cay in the Exuma Cays, these feral pigs have become a beloved part of the region's charm. Visitors can enjoy the surreal experience of watching and interacting with these friendly pigs as they swim in the crystal-clear waters, creating a one-of-a-kind encounter that has captured the hearts of many.
The famous swimming pigs of the Bahamas are a unique and popular attraction. Found on Big Major Cay in the Exuma Cays, these feral pigs have become a beloved part of the region's charm. Visitors can enjoy the surreal experience of watching and interacting with these friendly pigs as they swim in the crystal-clear waters, creating a one-of-a-kind encounter that has captured the hearts of many.

But why are there swimming pigs on a beach in the Bahamas? you might ask. As for how these pigs ended up on the cay, no one knows for sure. But there are several fun theories floating around:

Some believe a group of sailors left the pigs there, intending to return and cook them, but they never came back. The pigs managed to survive on scraps from passing ships.

Another story suggests the pigs survived a shipwreck and swam to shore.

There are also tales of the pigs escaping from a nearby islet. And one theory proposes that the pigs were brought to the island as part of a tourist attraction scheme. If that is the case, it certainly worked!

Whichever story is true, the pigs of Big Major Cay have become beloved residents, making this beach a must-visit destination in the Bahamas.

Swimming pigs at Pig Beach, Big Major Cay, Exuma Islands, Bahamas
Swimming pigs at Pig Beach, Big Major Cay, Exuma Islands, Bahamas

Some Info about yacht charters in the Exuma Cays!

The Exumas, or Exuma Cays, is the best part of the Bahamas and where most Bahamas Yacht Charters choose to go. If you only have one week to charter, focus on the Exuma Cays!

The Exuma Cays lies right in the heart of The Bahamas, easily reached from Nassau, where you will fly into. (On a catamaran charter, you can expect about a 5-hour sail from Nassau to the top of the Exuma Islands. A motor yacht can reduce this journey to about 2 to 3 hours, depending on the yacht’s size and power.)

Sheltered by the outer islands to the north and Cuba and Haiti to the south, this is a very protected cruising ground. For this reason, an Exuma yacht charter is ideal even for those new to yacht charting.

Other than the 5 locations presented in this article, also check out Compass Cay, Highbourne Cay, Warderick Cay, and Sandy Cay – all located within the Exuma Cay land and Sea Park.

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From $35,000/week
3 cabins
68 ft
Sirena
6 guests
Built: 2022
20 US Gall/Hr

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LIMITLESS

From $54,900/week
4 cabins
101 ft
Hargrave
8 guests
Refit: 2021
113 Litres/Hr

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HULYA

From $34,000/week
4 cabins
64 ft
Lagoon
8 guests
Built: 2019
5 US Gall/Hr

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Jetski

C-DAZE

From $55,000/week
4 cabins
87 ft
San Lorenzo
8 guests
Built: 2020

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SOVEREIGN

From $40,000/week
4 cabins
100 ft
Burger
7 guests
Refit: 2020
28 US Gall/Hr

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3 reviews
Jacuzzi

TAIL LIGHTS

From $80,000/week
5 cabins
116 ft
Azimut
12 guests
Refit: 2021
80 US Gall/Hr

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3 reviews
Jacuzzi

PURSUIT

From $95,000/week
5 cabins
124 ft
Trinity
11 guests
Refit: 2022
100 US Gall/Hr

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5 reviews

AQUA LIFE

From $75,000/week
5 cabins
90 ft
Horizon
10 guests
Built: 2020
40 US Gall/Hr

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9 reviews
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LEVERAGE

From $105,000/week
5 cabins
125 ft
Palmer Johnson
10 guests
Refit: 2020
75 US Gall/Hr

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6 reviews
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KASHMIR

From $99,900/week
6 cabins
133 ft
Splendor
12 guests
Refit: 2021
50 US Gall/Hr

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9 reviews
Jetskis: 3
Jacuzzi
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SWEET ESCAPE

From $115,000/week
6 cabins
130 ft
Christensen
12 guests
Refit: 2022
50 US Gall/Hr

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9 reviews
Jetskis: 2
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MEMENTO VIVERE

From $120,000/week
5 cabins
130 ft
Westport
10 guests
Refit: 2021

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AT LAST

From $125,000/week
5 cabins
145 ft
Heesen
11 guests
Refit: 2017
100 US Gall/Hr

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Ready to start your Bahamas yacht charter adventure?

Daniel's Contact
Louis

LOUIS LAMPRELL

Charter Broker

Email: [email protected]

Phone (USA): +15187651956

Contact us

Who are We?

At DMA Yachting, we are proud to have a team of individuals who have real on-water experience. Many of our brokers have worked or lived on yachts themselves.

This firsthand experience allows us to truly understand life at sea in both the shoes of crew and guests and the details that make a yacht charter exceptional.

We closely inspect yachts and meet in person with captains and crew to ensure every element of the charter meets our high standards.

Our yearly participation in yacht shows like the Bahamas Charter Yacht Show and the BVI Yacht Show helps us stay on top of industry trends and client needs.

We are here to guide you through every step of your charter, from the moment you reach out to the moment your yacht charter ends.

Find us on:

Where do we Charter?

East Mediterranean

Emerald water idyllic beach at Nassau, The Bahamas in a sunny day.

Bahamas & Caribbean

DF

Donna Foster

May 14, 2024

This vacation of a lifetime was not possible without Louis Lamprell of DMA Yachting. When I began my broker search, I reached out to several and Louis was the first to respond (and he responded quickly!). He devoted a lot of time in helping us select a catamaran that best suited our family needs. He stayed in touch before, during and after our charter. To me, that says a lot about Louis‘ commitment to exceptional customer service. Our family of 4 adults and a child had the best vacation. I wouldn’t have changed a thing. THANK YOU LOUIS!

RS

Ryan Shirley

Feb 9, 2024

Louis was great from beginning to end and walked me through the whole process. He helped me find a great boat that fit within our time and cost preferences. He explained the differences between the different builds and the pros and cons. Once we selected the boat, he explained and walked me through the whole booking process, and answered all my questions. Finally, he checked in with me before, during, and after the charter to make sure everything met our expectations and addressed any concerns. I can’t recommend Louis enough if you are planning a charter and will definitely be in touch for our next trip!

CS

Chris Swanson

Feb 23, 2024

After some disappointments using one of the larger charter companies, we used Louis at DMA to help us select a yacht for a week trip in the BVI. We ended up selecting the ADEA which met our needs well, had an outstanding crew and provided a truly memorable experience. Louis was helpful at each step; narrowing down potential boats, selecting a boat, managing payment and then answering questions prior to departure. He checked in several times during the trip, but since the original selection was done well, there were no issues that needed resolution. Finally, after the trip he followed up to better understand our experience so that he could continue to pair customers with the right experience. Great Experience for first brokered charter. Would recommend Louis at DMA and use him again in the future.

CS

Chelsea Schipper

Jan 12, 2024

I met Louis Lamprell, at DMA Yachting through a Google search inquiry for a charter in the BVI. I was impressed with his immediate follow-up via phone call, text and email. Louis spent hours on the phone with me understanding our expectations of our family trip. Since we had never booked a charter, he put our mind at ease throughout every process. He found us the perfect match on a charter in the Bahamas. Louis made sure to connect with the Captain on our questions to make sure there was nothing that did not exceed our expectations. Louis was always available to us for any questions or concerns. He even arranged an e-foil rental on our behalf so that I didn’t have to spend time looking. His services were very professional, honest and exceeded our expectations.

What Our Clients Say about Louis Lamprell

Our clients speak of unparalleled service, exquisite yachts, and a seamless booking process, highlighting the excellence of their charter vacation in the Bahamas.

Our Team

Booking a Bahamas yacht charter is easy with us—just contact one of our Expert Charter Brokers and tell us what you want!

Marcelle Hailwax
Marcelle Hailwax

Charter Broker

Louis Lamprell
Louis Lamprell

Charter Broker

Yanna Pristas
Yanna Pristas

Senior Charter Broker, Associate CYBA Member

Martina Asmus
Martina Asmus

Owner, Charter Broker, Active CYBA Member, IYBA, ECPY

Andrea Pristas
Andrea Pristas

Charter Broker

William Mc Nally
William Mc Nally

Charter Broker

Sarah Klische
Sarah Klische

Charter Broker

Mo Pristas
Mo Pristas

CharterGuru

Daniel Asmus
Daniel Asmus

Owner, Charter Broker, Active CYBA Member, IYBA, ECPY

Alex Hailwax
Alex Hailwax

Charter Broker

Chris de Kock
Chris de Kock

Charter Broker