It took us 25 days from our arrival in the Bahamas (not without wonderful stops en route, of course) to reach the spot I’ve been dreaming about ever since we left it: Warderick Wells, in the Exumas, and the headquarters of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. Even the wind and seas were cooperative, since we sailed almost all the way from Cape Eleuthera. And once in radio range, we were lucky enough to snag the last available mooring (no anchoring permitted where we were going).
(It was only our arrival day for which there was a shortage of moorings; the mooring field has since emptied, with only a handful of boats left.)
It started to drizzle as we approached the cut, but the sun shone through as we entered the mooring field, and I had to take my sunglasses off to make sure I wasn’t just imagining the crystalline purity of the water and sand. The mooring field can best be described as a giant sand bar between Warderick Wells Cay and neighboring cays and rocks, covered in varying (but mostly very shallow) depths of water.
Through the sand bar runs a fishhook-shaped river of deeper water, and that’s where the moorings are. To call it a river isn’t an exaggeration; the current runs so briskly through here that you constantly hear running water, like rapids.
Except for where the moorings are, at low tide, some of the sand bars dry – although that’s deceptive, since we found ourselves sinking knee-deep in some of the sand as we tried to explore some of the exposed bars.
As we cruised slowly to our mooring, a southern ray lazily crossed our path, and further along, a huge manta ray leisurely made its way out of the basin. They can do that here; the Exuma Park is a “no-take” zone, so none of the sea creatures have any human predators or threats.
On shore, there is a ranger station, a residence for the ranger, and some picnic tables for beach parties. No other facilities, other than pay-per-use WiFi.
Calypso moored in Exuma Park (left), and a view from Park headquarters. A symphony in blues, and Calypso is dressed to match.
The Park threw a New Year’s Eve party at – get this – 11:00 p.m.! We heard some cruisers ask them to schedule it for 8:00 p.m. – which is one hour before “Cruiser Midnight,” or 9 p.m., which I’ve concluded is a more-than-respectable hour to go to bed when your life is governed by the elements, including the rising and setting sun. Rick and I had every intention to make it to the festivities, and even set an alarm, but ultimately decided (at 8:30) that there was no way we could stay up that late. We opened a bottle of Prosecco, each drank a glass, and called it a night.
We did a bit better the following Thursday night, when an impromptu happy hour was convened on the main beach at 4:30. Some of the Park staff joined us, as well as – after dark – lots of the creepy little cat/rat/possum-like mammals called a HUTIA that have overrun the island. Evidently, these little guys are the only mammals native to the Bahamas, went nearly extinct, and then were re-introduced to Warderick Wells. Unfortunately, lacking any predators, they are everywhere and don’t fear humans. Luckily, they are herbivores, so they don’t bite.
Aside from enjoying libations on the main beach, there are many interconnecting trails all over the island. One of them leads to Boo Boo Hill, one of the highest points in the Exumas which offers a commanding view of the mooring field. Also, over the years, it has become a spot for cruisers to leave mementos – which may only be made of driftwood. Of course, we left ours – crafted of highly-sophisticated materials: driftwood found at Cape Eleuthera, Sharpie, and nail polish. One other notable feature of Boo Boo Hill is that it’s the only place in the entire area that we can get a cell signal.
Wonder how long our artifact will last?
We also encountered lots of curly-tailed lizards during our hikes. They don’t spook easily, and are happy to pose for photos.
I wonder of the Geico advertising team has been to the Exumas? I mean, geckos and pigs….
The Exumas being the paradise they are for beach-lovers, there are many, many beaches on Warderick Wells Cay, as well as the other cays within a short dinghy ride. Certainly enough beaches that the only beach we shared was Powerful Beach – adjacent to Park headquarters, where a whale skeleton makes its home.
The sands a Tabebuia beach make patterns as the tide recedes. Meanwhile, tide waters rush through tree branches.
We spent 5 consecutive nights here. And we’ll likely be back.