A crescent of shimmering aquamarine circles the harbor, surrounded by creamy light turquoise water over sandy bottom. This is the headquarters for Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park, a pristine section of the island chain that covers twenty-six miles. Sitting at the ranger station, little Bananaquits will eat sugar right out of your hand, their tiny bird-feet tickling as they cling to your fingers.
On land, a network of trails cuts through dense bonsai-like vegetation and across jagged coral, leading past natural wells, mangrove marl, and rolling terrain to unspoiled beaches, a blow hole, and especially to the highest point on the island. It’s named Boo Boo Hill because of local legend that the island is haunted by shipwrecked souls. On the crest of the hill, cruisers leave their signature: plaques with the name of their vessel and the date. Most are made of driftwood (often simple, but some very elaborate)…others are written on old conch shells (no doubt gathered outside the park!)…and one with the name Pelican is written on a piece of a Home Depot yardstick (not impressive, but it works).
Out on the water, we explored a few snorkeling spots. It was my first time snorkeling since we arrived in The Bahamas, and after a little practice I thoroughly enjoyed the undersea world. The best locations we found were right in the harbor. The burned-out wreck of a sailboat rests directly beneath our boat. And a beautiful little reef in a cove is haven for dozens of brilliant fish and several super-sized lobsters.
Last night we enjoyed an extravagant appetizer with Claus and Rachael: beluga caviar that Keith had purchased in Moscow last October. It tasted like paradise, with flavors both delicate and decadent. Grocery stores may be few and far between in this area, but we’re managing quite well.
The sight of all the tasty treats in the no-take waters of Exuma Cays Park is enough to make our mouths water, though. We’re craving fresh seafood, and today we’ll move to Staniel Cay.