For most luxury crewed yachts, charters in the Exumas part of the Bahamas begin at Atlantis Resort and Casino on Paradise Island. It boasts the premier marina in the Bahamas that, during the summer months, is filled with the largest and most expensive motoryachts cruising in the entire archipelago. This is the place to see and be seen, the spot where you’ll feel like royalty walking down the docks to meet your captain and crew while envious resort vacationers look on.
You can make a day or two at Atlantis part of your Exumas itinerary, staying either onboard your yacht at the marina or in a hotel room onshore while enjoying the blackjack tables, water slides and aquarium that the resort offers. Or, you can cruise quickly away from the crowds and head south into the Exumas, which is just a short distance away in terms of nautical miles but feels like entering a whole new world thanks to its unspoiled islands and shallow waters that prevent access by cruise ships.
The only crowds you’ll find in the Exumas are wildlifefrom the conch just beneath the water’s surface to the iguanas that call Allan’s Cay home. There’s a small group of pigs, even, on the island Big Major, where “mother Emily” will walk right through the surf and out to your dinghy in search of a snack. Make sure you have those carrot sticks ready, as Emily has been known to climb onboard dinghies like a puppy ready for her reward!
Another favorite stop in the Exumas is at Thunderball Cave, where Sean Connery filmed the James Bond movie Thunderball back before 007 became a blond bombshell. You can still swim up and into the same opening from which Connery was airlifted in dramatic style, and on a lot of days, you’ll see the Bond-named motoryachts Moonraker and Octopussy cruising nearby.
It’s the beaches that are the thing, though, in the Exumas. That’s in large part because the water is so clear and inviting. Many charter yacht captains will anchor offshore a turquoise cove and set up water toys like skis and Wave Runners for you to play with in privacy all day, then send their crew ashore with barbecue grills and lobsters at night so that you can make the most of the sand under the stars. When you’ve had your fill of your private beach, a short dinghy ride back to your yacht will bring you to a hot shower or a bubbling Jacuzzi where you can enjoy a nightcap or a bottle of champagne in style.
And the best news of all: If you cruise all the way south to Georgetown on a one-way itinerary from Atlantis, you can enjoy this same kind of leisurely fun in the sun every day of your charter without having to go back to civilization at all.
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