The Ultimate Guide to Staniel Cay – The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need
WRITTEN BY LOCALS
If you are planning a trip to Staniel Cay in the Exuma Cays, Bahamas, you will definitely want to read our thorough travel guide to this heavenly island southeast of Nassau. From how to get here to what are the best places to stay, you’ll find all important Staniel Cay information in one place, so keep reading.
Where is Staniel Cay Located?
Staniel Cay island is located in the Exuma Cays. This tiny magical island lies in the center of an archipelago of the Exuma Cays’ 365 islands. It is located 75 miles (120km) southeast of Nassau and 48 miles (77km) from Great Exuma, the largest of the Exuma islands. *Note*: Though Great Exuma is nearby and bears the same name, it is extremely difficult to travel from GGT airport to Staniel Cay. We recommend flying into Nassau instead en route to Staniel Cay.
In addition, this island is conveniently located only 5 minutes from popular Pig Beach, so Staniel Cay is a perfect place to stay at if you want to take a day trip to the Big Major Cay and swim with the adorable swimming pigs at Pig Beach.
How to Get to Staniel Cay?
From Florida, the easiest way to get to Staniel Cay is to take Makers Air or Staniel Air flight from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport. The cost of a round-trip ticket is around $650. Another option is to fly to Nassau and then from Nassau to Staniel Cay via Flamingo Air or Titan Air. The round-trip tickets are approximately $250.
Things to Do in Staniel Cay
If you are looking for something different from touristy, bustling settings like Nassau, the Exuma Cays is the right place to head for. A short flight from Nassau to Staniel Cay will treat you with the most beautiful view of the islands you could possibly imagine. And that’s only where your Exuma Cays adventure begins.
Exuma Cays Attractions
The Exuma Cays is considered as one of the most idyllic destinations in the world. The region is rich in history and well-known for its breathtaking beaches, sapphire waters and amazing attractions.
The Exuma Cays will provide a glimpse into celebrity luxury living, as many celebrities have luxury villas, own islands and spend vacations here.
Assuming that you don’t have the luxury to take a year off and explore each of 365 Exuma Cay islands day by day, here are the best Exuma Cays attractions to pack in your Caribbean retreat:
THESE ARE THE TOP 3 ATTRACTIONS IN THE EXUMA CAYS
1. Swimming with the Pigs
For many tourists, swimming with the pigs in Exuma is a highlight of their trip to the Bahamas. And they are probably right. A vacation in the Exuma Cays is not complete without visiting the Pig Beach on the Big Major Cay island and swimming with the real pigs! Though there are some other pigs in other islands in the Bahamas, these are the originals. There are many myths as to how did these cute creatures got there. The Big Major Cay is uninhabited except for the pigs. However, these animals are not native to the island. They were left on the beach by members of the Staniel Cay community.
You can book a day trip from Nassau to Staniel Cay to see the swimming pigs and spend a day swimming, snorkeling, and taking photos with these adorable animals.
2. Swimming with Nurse Sharks
Nevertheless, if you’re looking for a more thrilling experience, you can also swim with sharks during your stay in the Bahamas. One of the best places in the Exumas to swim with the nurse sharks is Compass Cay.
Although our natural fear of sharks is not without reason, swimming with sharks is not always dangerous. Nurse sharks that live in warm and shallow waters of the Exuma Cays are friendly animals and for the most part, harmless to swimmers and divers. These sharks are fed by local fisherman, so they are accustomed to the presence of humans and will welcome a pat on the back.
3. Snorkeling Trip to Thunderball Grotto
Thunderball Grotto is known as home to famous movie scenes of 007 Thunderball and a couple of other Hollywood movies such as Splash. At low tide, you can enter the cave through several entrances and tunnels. After you swim through the dark tunnels into the cave, you will be taken aback with a burst of light under the water. Once inside the amazingly beautiful cavern, you’ll find yourself surrounded by colorful fish sparkling in the beams of sunlight shining through.
Several excursions from Nassau and Georgetown Exuma make a stop here during their day trip as well as local tour companies in Staniel Cay.
The Best of the Best Staniel Cay Beaches
The Exumas are known for pristine, white-sand, and mostly isolated beaches. With the crystal turquoise waters, you’ll feel more like you’re swimming in a pool than in the ocean. So, if you like spending your days on splendid deserted beaches, you’ll love Staniel Cay.
Located on the east side of Staniel Cay, this beach is a great choice if you want to enjoy the sunrise in the Bahamas. Just make sure to get there before the dawn! It’s also a great spot if you want to watch high waves crash against the rocks.
Pirate Trap Beach
This beautiful sandy cove is accessible only by foot, so you’ll have to park your golf cart or bike at the top of the bluff. The clear and calm waters are ideal for swimming and snorkeling. This beach is the location for many weddings in the Exumas.
Ho Tai Cay Beach
Ho Tai Cay known by locals as “Petrak Beach” is a gorgeous sandy beach with crystal waters located on an inlet on the southeast of Staniel Cay. It is a great place for sunbathing and snorkeling all day long, but watch your step! Sometimes sting rays come into this cove to sleep. They are generally harmless once you don’t step on their back.
Restaurants & Dining in Staniel Cay
Staniel Cay is a small island with about one hundred full-time residents, which means that there aren’t many options when it comes to dining. However, rest assured that you’ll be able to meet all your basic needs and eat some pretty excellent food here.
Staniel Cay Yacht Club
You’ll soon learn that the Staniel Cay Yacht Club (SCYC) is the most popular restaurant on the island. The restaurant offers standard meals 7 days a week in one of its beautiful sections. Have lunch at the Sea Level dining room and enjoy a splendid view of Exuma. Or dine in the authentic atmosphere of the Captain’s Lounge where guests have been served since 1956. The restaurant’s deck is a great place to enjoy al fresco dining and sunset cocktails while admiring the view. Make sure to make a reservation on time if you plan on enjoying the four-course dinner menu. Dinner ranges from $23-42, while beverages start at $3.
Big Dog’s Bar & Grill
Stop by for a beer and traditional Bahamian “Chicken Souse” (soup made with chicken, potatoes, allspice, pepper, onion, and lots of appetizing spices) or whatever is the chef’s choice for lunch that day. If you want to live and dine among the locals, this is definitely the spot.
Taste and Sea Café
Enjoy delicious Bahamian dishes such as grilled chicken, crack conch (filet-fried conch), lobster, etc. while watching beautiful turquoise waters. Taste & Sea is open for dinner 4 nights a week and is definitely budget friendly as well as authentically local.
The Capital Restaurant
Also, EMBRACE Resort is opening a Bahamian Upscale Restaurant in 2020. The restaurant will be conveniently located near the airport, so you can get a bite when flying in or out. The resort is all about the Bahamian culture so the cuisine at the restaurant will range from local favorites to 5* decadence.
Shopping on Staniel Cay
There are three grocery stores in Staniel Cay as well as marine supply store, a clinic, post office, church, library, and a selection of vacation accommodation. Three retail stores on the island where you can buy fresh groceries are: The Blue Store, Pink Pearls, and Isles General. However, the stores are closed in the evenings and on Sundays, so keep that in mind when planning your shopping on Staniel Cay.
Where to Stay on Staniel Cay?
HOTELS & RESORTS
Though there are no international chains available on the island (the closest being Sandal’s Fowl Cay Resort), Staniel Cay does have some properties that are resort style, offering amenities such as daily cleaning, concierge services and even all-inclusive options.
At EMBRACE Resort villas you’ll experience authentic Bahamian culture and lifestyle. The resort is proud to be the only eco-friendly property in the area, featuring 7 Bahamian-inspired villas that offer unique style and personalized customer service. For instance, if you are looking for a couple’s retreat, Ragged Island honeymoon villa with a private jacuzzi is a great choice. Villas range from one to three bedrooms and provide views of the pool. All villas have free toiletries, a hairdryer, patios with BBQ facilities, complimentary WiFi, and a flat screen TV with cable channels. There is also a babysitting service on the property.
EMBRACE Resort offers affordable luxury with all pool-view villas ranging from $219 per night for a one-bedroom villa to $589 for a three-bedroom villa with two baths and a complete kitchen.
Staniel Cay Yacht Club
SCYC offers accommodation at beautiful waterfront bungalows, suites, and villas. Book one of SCYC’s vacation properties and enjoy an amazing view of aquamarine waters from your bed. You’ll find your accommodation beautifully decorated with tile floors, air conditioning, and a coffee maker. Prices start at $205 per night in the off season.
For a party of two looking for something very economical but comfortable, White Lily is the perfect home away from home. It is in the heart of a local neighborhood and is complete with a full kitchen. It’s just steps away from the airport and also within walking distance of the local bars.
Chamberlain Cottages offer several cottages and a two-bedroom house for rent located in the heart of Staniel Cay. Each cottage features WiFi, satellite TV, a DVD player, air conditioning, a private bathroom, refrigerator, and private porch. Rates start from $175 per night.
BEACHFRONT VACATION HOMES
There are several vacation home rentals available as well as beach front properties such as Beach Cottage and Shell House. These homes range from 1-3 bedrooms and all come with a beautiful beach and breathtaking ocean views. There are also vacation homes available which are not on the water, but just steps away from the beach such as the two-bedroom Ruby on the Rocks.
HIGH-END LUXURY VILLAS
If you are looking for high-end luxury on Staniel Cay, there are several luxury villas available, with the exquisite options such as the 9,000 square foot Dolce Vita villa or Lazy Bay villas. Villas are available with breathtaking views, private pools and the option for a private chef to come in and cook meals for you. Staniel Cay definitely has accommodations available for 5* luxury. Ask us how to book them.
Transportation and Getting Around
Staniel Cay is a tiny island, less than two square miles, which means that you can easily get around on foot. While this is a great way to take in all the beauty this island has to offer, both locals and tourists mostly use golf carts to get around.
You can rent affordable and reliable 2 and 4-seat golf carts from starting at $60 a day or $360 per week. Golf carts are a fun and convenient way to get around during your stay and visit the beaches easily.
Staniel Cay has perfect weather with an average high of 77-86 degrees Fahrenheit (25-30 Celsius). The coolest month is February, while the hottest months are July and August. October is the wettest month with an average of 12 days with rainfall.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT STANIEL CAY?
If you want to visit this divine island in the off season, choose dates between September 10th and November 5th. High season periods are during winter holidays (Mid-December to mid-January) and from March through August.
HOW MUCH MONEY SHOULD YOU BRING?
There are no banks or ATMs on Staniel Cay, so make sure to bring your credit cards and cash with you. Payment by Visa, Mastercard and, at some locations, AMEX is accepted on the island, but there is 5% surcharge island-wide. Plan to spend around $50-100 per person a day, as meals for two range from $30-120.
WIFI ON STANIEL CAY
While on the island, you can enjoy WiFi at Staniel Cay Yacht Club, Chamberlain Cottages, and EMBRACE Resort. 3N’s has a WiFi service that works within a certain range on the island, and you can contact us for details.