Where to Stay on Staniel Cay, Exumas
Located roughly 120 km south of Nassau, Staniel Cay can only be described as a five-kilometre square piece of paradise. It is one of the countless islands in the Exuma Cays. The island's 118 full-time residents are warm, charming and welcoming. In your rental golf cart, you can travel from one side of the island to the other in less than five minutes. Around the island, you will find beautiful unoccupied beaches, channels, and bays with water that shimmers turquoise colours you have to see to believe. If a getaway is what you have in mind, there is no better place to do it than here.
For your shopping pleasure, you can wander into either one of the two tiny grocery stores or the bakery for a selection of whatever they have when you get there. Unlike shopping at home, they have what they have, and when it's gone, you will have to wait for the next boat to bring more. The island boasts exceptional dining experiences at three restaurants which serve locally prepared Bahamian fare. All the food is delicious and made with love.
Aside from the feeling of getting away from it all, Staniel Cay's real perk for travellers is the convenient location to many of Exuma's top attractions. Iguana Island, Compass Cay, Pig Beach, and untold numbers of sandbars are a short boat trip away. From the Staniel Cay Yaught Club, you can even see the infamous Thunderball Grotto of 007 fame.
This proximity to everything makes Staniel Cay a great home base. Best of all, after a day on the water, the little island jewel is an inviting and quiet respite from any day to day grind.
The runway is long enough to service small planes, including Bahamas charter companies who make daily flights from Nassau. You can also charter planes from Fort Lauderdale, but you need to clear customs in Exuma, Nassau or another point of entry into the Bahamas. Your other option is to fly to Exuma and take a boat to Staniel Cay. (about a 1.5-hour trip albeit a very scenic one.)
Staniel Cay Yacht Club:
Staniel Cay Yacht Club and Marina is a 2-minute cart ride from the runway. Staniel Cay Yacht Club, SCYC for short, is a full-service marina. Its facilities include a pool, restaurants and a bar. Flanking the shoreline of both sides of the marina, are 14 charming bungalows, a perfect place for a tranquil, and comfortable stay.
The accommodation at SCYC ranges in style and size; most rooms are situated directly on the water. On one side, you will find multi-coloured houses named accordingly: Pink, Blue, Orange, Lavender, and Yellow. These rooms come with queen-sized beds and covered balconies that overhang the water. They all face west, so they are aligned perfectly for watching the sunset.
Periwinkle, Keylime and Ocean Blue are two-story units that have two full baths, one patio facing the pool, and one balcony overlooking the water. The upper room boasts a queen-sized bed, and the main floor has a living area with a day bed and rollaway trundle, perfect for children. A spiral staircase charmingly connects the levels.
On the other side of the marina sits the newer addition to the hotel. The clapboard bungalows and suites all have cute Bahamian botonny handles; Buttonwood, Sea Grape, Sugar Apple, Dilly Gum Coco Plum. Each of these units is outfitted with king size beds, ample bathroom vanities, closet space, vaulted ceilings with exposed beams, and extra large covered porches with more than enough room to sprawl out.
Coco Plum, the largest of the five bungalows, is two separate structures connected by an expansive deck. The bedroom has a king bed and full bath. The living area has a half bath, and a day bed, creating extra sleeping, and living space. My favourite feature in Coco Plum's suite is the dreamy outdoor shower.
The most considerable lodging space available is the newest addition to the Staniel Cay Yacht Club. Coral Villa has views of the pool and gardens. It boasts three bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms, king beds and walk-in closets. Two bedrooms open onto a porch with ocean views, the 3rd room is on the main floor with views of the resorts private pool. Coral Villa is equipt with a full state of the art kitchen and a propane grill on a private patio, allowing guests the option to cook and eat in privacy. The common living area includes oversized couches, and a TV and DVD player. The bonus feature of the villa is a 22-foot boat with a 90 horsepower motor. Coral Villa comes with a price tag of 1500-2100 USD a night depending on the season.
Don't expect to find a beach at Staniel Cay Yacht Club, it's more of a small sandy semi-circle of sand, where you can access the paddle boards or kayaks. The rooms are all built on the rock which lines the coastline, and there are many docks that you can use to access the water if you prefer swimming in the ocean vs the pool. I don't consider their lack of beach a drawback, as there are beaches on the other side of the island which are easily accessible by bicycle or golf cart (the front desk staff can help arrange this for you) and numerous deserted beaches and sandbars are mere minutes by boat.
The resort facilities include two restaurants, a bar with indoor, and outdoor seating, a pool, a small souvenir shop where you can purchase yacht club tanks, tees and sweatshirts, wifi, and fuel pumps for boaters.
The hotel offers a package plan, and depending on your room category, with this plan, you will have access to either a 13 or 17-foot skiff which includes fule, and you can hop in it each morning to explore the neighbouring cays. Kayaks and paddleboards are also accessible to you, as well as snorkel gear. Bicycles are available on a first come first serve basis, and you can ride them around most of the island.
Sea Level is the more formal dining room, with large accordion windows that open fully letting in the beautiful Bahamian breeze and offering an unobstructed view of the waters.
Breakfast: 8am -10am
Breakfast includes American staples such as eggs, bacon, pancakes, fresh fruit, and a few Bahamian options such as fish and grits, and johnny cake.
Lunch: 12pm - 3pm
Lunch includes soup, salads, sandwiches, burgers, and tacos.
Dinner: Two seating choices: 6:30 pm or 8:30 pm.
Do not forget to go to the bar by 4:00 pm each day to put in your dinner order. I did mention this is a small island right? The appetizers, salads, and desserts are the same for each dinner, they do rotate them through the week to offer variety. As for your main course, they provide excellent choices of ribs, chicken, lamb, beef, fresh fish and lobster, pasta, etc.
There is no dress code for lunch or dinner, but you are asked to wear resort attire in the evening, no swimsuits, speedos, tracksuits and such.
The Captains Lounge is Staniel Cays original, casual, dining room. It's recent, much-needed, decor overhaul restored the dark, dated interior into a bright tropical and cheery space. The floor to ceiling windows, ship wood walls, and soft hues of turquoise are paled only by the incredible view of the Caribbean Sea which they frame. My kudos to the designer for keeping the original 1950's Cuban floor tile. It is a little piece of history that finishes this great space perfectly.
Breakfast: 8am - 10am
Lunch and Dinner: 12pm to 9pm
An outdoor dining/drinking patio that is open all day, a great place to enjoy a cocktail and take in some of the warm Caribbean suns. They offer a casual menu which includes small bits such as chicken wings, conch fritters, cracked conch, and fried shrimp. It is also the perfect place to take in all the action at the marina.
The daily nurse shark feeding is a must see. The resident school of sharks gather as the local fisherman and resort guests clean their daily catch. Often times you will get a glimpse of the majestic rays swimming in for a nibble too.
In the evening as the sun sets you can be sure to get some of the most awe-inspiring sunsets on the planet. If your an Instagrammer, you can't take a bad picture here, no matter how hard you try.
At the bar, cocktails start flowing at 10 am (it is the Bahamas after all) and continue till midnight. If you want a very laid back dining experience, you can pull up to a stool and enjoy a quick bite or listen to your bar mate tell you about his a fishing adventure. The longer you sit there, the bigger the stories get. The bar is you come as you are until 5:00 pm when they kindly ask you to wear a coverup. The bar is a lively place from noon on, with energetic music and a fun mix of locals and tourists. I have never made it until closing time, but I am sure it would be something to experience.
If you are heading out for the day, you can request a boxed lunch. Each room includes a monogrammed cooler which can be packed up by request in the morning. You can place your lunch order when you arrive for breakfast. By the time you are finished your lunch will be packed. Food options include a selection of salads and sandwiches; and include fresh seasonal fruit, Pringles, and water. You pick up your cooler beside the bar where you can add beer, coolers or soda.
What we Love:
Because there are no direct flights and "all-inclusive resorts", Staniel Cay is a little harder to get to. The upside is it ensures fewer crowds and an exclusive, boutique travel, experience for everyone. Relaxing on your porch at night you get the sense you are the only ones there.
Other than in the Yukon you will not see any better night time sky because there is almost no light pollution.
The extra options package plan which includes all meals, daily access to a 13-foot skiff (boat), snorkel gear, kayaks, paddleboards, and bicycles give you the freedom to do as you please and not worry about the little things.
Your room is literally minutes away from the Compass Cay Sharks, Swimming pigs and Thunderball Grotto, and if you do not want to captain your own boat, there are friendly, reasonably priced locals who love to show you their country.
Sugar Apple's porch has a dreamy swinging bed with views out to the sparkling turquoise water, perfect for getting lost in a book or taking an afternoon nap. The only problem is, you may not want to close your eyes because you will miss the view.