Iguana sneaks up on our skiff at Bitter Guana Cay

Iguana sneaks up on our skiff at Bitter Guana Cay

THE BAHAMAS (Day 2 of 4) — Giant lazy iguanas on one beach…swimming pigs on another or schools of brightly colored tropical fish that swim right into your hands at a snorkeling spot off a third.

We’re in the most fantastic natural sea aquarium I’ve ever seen in, the Exumas—the 300+ islands that stretch in the Bahamas.

We’re staying at one 50-acre island Fowl Cay Resort where all we have to do is choose our adventure for the day—we have a motor boat to take us there, a cooler with picnic and another with  drinks.  If we wanted a guide we’d get one too but it’s more fun to tool around on our own

“You can be so spontaneous,” said Valerie Hughes, here from suburban New York with her 12 year old son.  “You wake up and figure out what you want to do…it’s wonderful.” 

These islands were famous for pirates—stopping Spanish galleons and then during the civil war, blockade runners heading two or leaving Nassau.

This tiny resort and these outer islands are the antithesis of giant resorts like Atlantis in Nassau.  It is also expensive—over $1500 a night for a villa that sleeps four.  But you could easily be spending that much at many tony Caribbean resorts for two rooms and not have the comfort or exclusivity as here, not to mention your own boat for the length of your stay.

We make ourselves breakfast with supplies in our kitchen—including the freshly baked muffins and fruit delivered; lunch is a picnic we take with us on our boat.  Dinner is served at the Hill House.

One of our new friends at Pig Beach begging for a handout

One of our new friends at Pig Beach begging for a handout

We stop first at Pig Beach just south from Fowl Cay to feed Rosie and her piglets some bread and scraps. They swim right to the boat!

We head to Bitter Guana Cay where the fattest iguanas I’ve ever seen make their home.   I’m amazed we find these cays—it’s not as if there are signs anywhere! 

We watch the iguanas as we eat our sandwiches and the cracked conch we’ve bought at Staniel Cay Yacht Club—though a misnomer because it is a small, informal place where locals are eating conch for lunch.  This club has been around for the 1960s and apparently is on Jimmy Buffet’s list of top ten island bars.  Sometimes, local fishermen clean their catch just outside attracting nurse sharks.  We see the hugest rays we’ve ever seen in the water

Our mission: to get to Thunderball Grotto at low tide in mid afternoon so that we could swim through the cave in the opening.. “It was if the fish were swimming right in my hands,” my husband said.  It is one of the most renowned snorkel sports in the Bahamas—with all kinds of tropical fish—parrot fish, grouper, yellow snapper—schools of them and vibrant colored color.  The James Bond movie Thunderball and the film Splash were both filmed here.

The most fun is that we can make our own adventures in “our” boat, snorkeling, swimming, lazing at windswept deserted beaches as we like.  There are no organized tours, no hoards of people. I feel like a castaway, albeit one with a full tank of gas in the boat, charts and cooler full of food and drinks.

When we get back shortly before four pm, our octagon shaped villa—actually three of them together—are spotless and we are faced with yet another difficult choice…how to spend the rest of the afternoon.

Kayak, read on the deck, take a bike ride around the island or a walk?  Or maybe, do nothing at all.