Local's Guide to the Bahamas
The Bahamas - a stunning strip of islands with crystal blue waters, sunny beaches, and of course, the famous swimming pigs. Most people stay in Nassau (the Capital) when booking their trip, but the best kept secret to vacationing like a local is to stay in the Exuma Islands.
My family has been traveling to The Bahamas since I was a little girl, and we always stay in the small island of Staniel Cay. Most commonly known for its Yacht Club, Staniel Cay has a population of less than 118 full-time residents. This is the perfect spot to get away from all the tourists – the food is authentic, the people are friendly, the location is safe, and my favorite part…everyone drives around in golf carts!
Here are my tips for traveling to The Bahamas….local style.
Getting to the Island
Staniel Cay is about 75 miles south of Nassau, so the only way to get there is to fly into either Nassau or the Grand Bahama airport and then take a teeny tiny plane into the Exumas. This plane may look a bit scary (especially for those afraid of flying), but I promise they are perfectly safe. Not to mention the views you see on the way are stunning!
Where to Stay
A lot of tourists stay in the Yacht Club bungalows, which are colorful little huts that sit right on the water. These can be a bit more expensive, so if you are looking for a cheaper option, opt for an Airbnb.
**This island is extremely safe and the people are friendly – I’ve never felt unsafe walking alone in the village at night so don’t be opposed to going with an Airbnb here**
What to Do
The best part about Staniel Cay is it’s close to a lot of the popular tourist attractions, so you won’t need to book full-day excursions like you would when traveling from Nassau. In fact, me and my friend rode jet skis right to the Pig Beach and Iguana Cay!
1. Pig Beach
This is probably the most popular tourist attraction of The Bahamas. Like I mentioned before, if you’re in Staniel Cay you can take a jet ski to the island so you won’t need a full day for this trip but seeing the swimming pigs is a definite must. But be careful, they do bite!
2. Compass Cay
Another popular attraction is Compass Cay – the home of the pet nurse sharks. I’d recommend taking a boat to see these little guys since this is a bit farther away than Pig Beach. You can swim with these finned friends, feed them, or just take a picture with them when they come up on the dock. Don’t worry they’re just nurse sharks – I’m DEATHLY afraid of sharks and even I got in the water with them!
You can also take a jet ski to the Iguana Island from Staniel Cay – I combined this trip with the one to Pig Beach to make a day out of the jet ski rental. Iguana Island is exactly how it sounds…and island full of Iguanas. You can feed them bread but they WILL chase you so don’t tease them!
Although Staniel Cay is a smaller island, there are still plenty of activities for tourists. You can rent jet skis, paddle boards, go on a fishing trip, parasail, snorkel, visit the local bars, or just hang out and enjoy the beach!
Where to Eat
There are plenty of great, authentic food options in Staniel Cay. In town along the coastline (near the Yacht Club bungalows) there are a bunch of places to try! Some of my favorites include the Staniel Cay Yacht Club Restaurant and Taste and Sea.
Things To Know
The Bahamian Dollar is equivalent to 1 U.S. Dollar. They will accept U.S. Dollars throughout Staniel Cay!
I’m not going to lie, the wifi throughout the entire country of The Bahamas is pretty spotty. So just enjoy your vacation without being glued to your phone!
Make sure to bring your passport! Coming into the country before you get on your plane to the Exuma Islands, the line for customs is going to be LONG especially if you’re traveling during peak season. Just be patient because you’ll probably be there for about an hour (maybe two).