From the window of a Bahamasair twin-engine Dash 8, the 120-mile-long Exuma island chain looks like a turquoise thread floating in the ocean, so skinny that you wonder if there's room to land the plane. But from the helm of a 21-foot Sea Pearl expedition sailboat, with 80-degree sea spray blowing in your face, the string of uninhabited cays off your bow conjures a scene from Robinson Crusoe: deserted white-sand beaches, sky-blue shallows, and wind-battered limestone sea cliffs.
Just 30 miles southeast of Nassau's high-rise resorts, the Exumas (fly into Exuma International Airport near George Town) are among the last wild places in the Caribbean and perfect for a deserted-island sailing adventure. The tranquillity is startling as you skim over sandbars and coral heads, making camp on remote beaches inhabited solely by five-foot Bahamian rock iguanas. It's likely that the only time you'll see another soul is when you feel like pulling into a sun-bleached, one-dock marina for a frosty Kalik and a cracked-conch lunch.
Because the nimble, canoe-shaped Sea Pearl needs only a foot and a half of water to sail in, your trip tracks the calm, shallow western shore of the Exumas – averaging seven miles an hour in typical 10- to 20-mph easterly trade winds – instead of the rough, 8,000-foot-deep Exuma Sound. Spend a week navigating around palm-topped islets, spearfishing yellowtail snapper for dinner, and visiting the occasional windswept fishing town to resupply – or to book a room if you just want to get the sand out of your ears. Launch Gallery >>
Sail Remote Bahamas, Day 1: Baraterre
Hit Exuma Markets for groceries, then head to Out Island Explorers (camping is illegal in the Bahamas unless you rent gear from a local outfitter). Pick up your boat at the Baraterre town dock, 25 miles north. Boats come with camping gear, Hawaiian slings for spearfishing, and even guides if you don't know your jib from your mainsail.
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