Staniel Cay is the jewel in the center of the long necklace of Exuma islands stretching for 100 miles southeast of Nassau. Less than a mile square and home to about 100 people, Staniel Cay is the hub for the Pipe Creek area, a group of islands stretching for eight miles north to Compass Cay.
With its 3,000 foot airstrip, little stores (Isles General, Pink Pearl, Blue Store), village, clinic, church, marinas, restaurants and vacation rentals, visitors to Staniel Cay find the best the Bahamas has to offer.
Of particular interest is "Thunderball Grotto," a hollowed-out island where James bond movies "Never Say Never Again" and "Thunderball" as well as "Splash" were filmed.
Snorkelers can swim into the natural fish bowl at slack tide and become one with the many varieties of fish. Light streams through the top where rain has eroded natural skylights.
There are several entrances and passageways to explore. Look but don't touch... Thunderball islands are protected by the Bahamas National Trust. For the more adventurous, the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, a 176-square-mile reserve, is a short boat ride away.
Anglers are treated to some of the best bonefishing flats in the world, (there's an annual Bone Fishing Festival each summer), while Exuma Sound offers blue water fishing only minutes offshore. Local guides are always available.
Staniel Cay is a favorite for cruising yachtsmen. While some choose to tie up at the marina facilities or moorings, the majority tend to anchor in the many protected bays.
Those visiting on land have the choice of several cottages and private homes. Although everything on the island is within walking distance, golf carts are the norm for getting around on land, while small boats give visitors access to the many beaches and cays where the "rule" is: If someone's on a beach, go to the next one!
The east side of the island overlooking Exuma Sound boasts a long dune-type beach with a reef just offshore.
The west side of the island faces the shallow banks where several deserted islands await beachcombers. Sunsets are incredible...watch for the "green flash" as the sun sinks into the sea.
Staniel Cay and neighboring Sampson Cay, recently renovated by new owners, provide the setting for Martha Wohlford's novel "Drumbeat No Lie"
a fictional tale of drug smugglers on a laid-back, pristine little island that has been likened to "Don't Stop the Carnival." If you can't visit Staniel Cay right away, this book gives a fun "armchair visit."
Annual Staniel Cay New Year's Day Regatta - held the first day of the year, cruising boats compete in a friendly race. There is an auction at Club Thunderball, small native boat races at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club where visitors are paired with native sailors, and festive dinner and awards ceremony at Happy People Marina.
Cook-outs are held on the village beach throughout the year during holidays and fund raisers for the library, clinic, church - any excuse will do! - a great chance for visitors to meet the friendly people of Staniel Cay.
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