Paddle the secret wild side of the Bahamas, known as the “out islands” where sapphire waters, sky-blue horizons, and sugary white sand beaches merge seamlessly. These are the real Bahamas, where pristine landscapes remain intact and a rich Bahamian culture thrives largely unchanged by mass tourism. The remote Exuma Cays and Brigantine Islands spill across the pristine Caribbean waters for 120 miles. With 365 palm-fringed islands to choose from, the paddling possibilities are endless. Coral reefs abound in these pristine, warm waters, supporting a busy undersea community of exotic creatures. Camp on white sand beaches and explore the reefs and shoals of this colorful fascinating destination. This is the Bahamas most people never see. Sea kayaking provides a unique, intimate experience unlike any other.
DAY 1: Meet your trip leader in George Town, the gateway city to the Exuma and Brigantine Islands, at the Peace and Plenty Hotel. Enjoy getting to know your group and guides at a local restaurant. After dinner you can take a stroll through town and watch the sunset over beautiful Elizabeth Harbor.
DAY 2: Wake up early and enjoy coffee and a hearty breakfast at Peace and Plenty. Depart for the small village of Barre Terre, the departure point for the wild islands to the north. After a sea kayaking instruction session, depart Barre Terre for your first night's beach camp.
DAY 3: Enjoy a sunrise dip in the ocean, good coffee, and breakfast on the beach. Take to the sea with your kayaks and paddle northward along Lee Stocking Island past Tug and Barge Rock, and cross over to Norman's Caye. Look for dolphins and conch. Camp on a beautiful long white beach–the Caribbean at it's best–where you'll see conchs swimming.
DAYS 4 - 5: Explore the reefs, shoals and mangroves of the Brigantine Islands. You'll hop from island to island, camping on isolated, pristine white sand beaches. Explore mangrove channels, working your way through the salt water-tolerant trees to discover the rich varieties of life that exist here. Visit a myriad of shallow patch reefs and don snorkeling gear to explore these fascinating underwater realms.
DAY 6: After breakfast on the beach and a short paddle along the coast, return to the quiet sea village of Barre Terre. Shuttle back to Georgetown and stay at Peace and Plenty for a final evening of exploration, shopping, and dinner with your group. Enjoy dinner at the local hotspot.
DAY 7: Enjoy one last breakfast in the cool Bahamian morning. Pack your bags and join your group in a shuttle to the airport. Share a few more stories and laughs before saying goodbye and returning to your respective homes.
Travel, Terrain, Etc...
TERRAIN/ROUTE CHOICES: The Exuma Cays lie to the north of Great Exuma Island in the central Bahamas. Offering a wide range of route options from very easy to very difficult, the "out islands" afford the perfect setting for novice and expert kayakers alike. This region is especially welcoming to those who are interested in learning the skills involved in ocean craft travel. Your trail leaders will determine the route you will take, based on weather conditions and your group's interests.
TYPE OF TRAVEL/DISTANCE: You will travel in tandem Necky & Wilderness Systems expedition kayaks, which hold two paddlers and all necessary gear. While no previous experience is needed to complete this trip, this is a challenging destination due to the often-windy conditions. An average day's travel consists of 3-6 hours of paddling. Travel distances vary from 6-12 miles per day with the exception of scheduled layover days. To protect the environment, we use Leave No Trace camping techniques.
WEATHER: Temperatures in the spring range from 60 F to 85 F. Rainfall can vary, but typical February days are clear and breezy.
YOUR GROUP: The group size for this trip is limited to 12 people, plus 1-2 Wilderness Inquiry staff. Most groups consist of people of various ages, backgrounds and abilities, including people with disabilities. Our trips are cooperative in nature. WI staff will assist you in whatever areas you need, however most people pitch in where they can. Part of the adventure involves learning about daily camp activities.
ACCOMMODATIONS: On the first and last nights you will stay at the Peace and Plenty resort. In between, you will camp on beautiful white sand beaches and sleep in comfortable, spacious tents. Typically, there are 3 people per 4-person tent (although other arrangements can be made). Bathroom facilities are rustic. We make every effort to ensure privacy and cleanliness.
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING: If you are new to outdoor activities, you need not spend a lot of money on gear. Wilderness Inquiry will provide all necessary kayaking and camping equipment. All you need to provide is your personal gear. You can get a lightweight sleeping bag and sleeping pad there, or bring your own. A detailed equipment list will be sent to you upon confirmation of your participation. If you need to borrow personal gear that can usually be arranged.
PASSPORT/VISA: U.S. citizens need a passport to enter the Bahamas. Two blank passport pages are typically required for entry stamp. No tourist visa is required for U.S. citizens. We encourage you to check the State Department website for the most up-to-date entry requirements: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/the-bahamas.html
A note about the itinerary: Our trips are real adventures in the outdoors. While we'll make every effort to follow the itinerary listed here, elements may change due to weather or reasons beyond our control.
[ Dates & Fees ]
Imagine yourself sea kayaking, snorkeling, and exploring an archipelago of tropical islands and exquisite marine beauty. The Commonwealth of the Bahamas offers these experiences and a whole lot more.
The Bahamas, derived from the Spanish, Baja Mar (“low sea”), is a nation consisting of 29 islands, 661 cays (smaller islands), and 2,387 islets. Located north of Cuba and southeast of Florida, the Bahamian islands lie in the Atlantic Ocean as part of the same island chain that includes Cuba and Hispaniola.
The Bahamas appropriately received their name for the shallow seas that surround them. Cradled atop two elevated bank systems, water depths rarely reach more than 33 feet. In contrast, where the two banks drop off, depths can near two and a half miles. These rich and diverse marine habitats afford tourists some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world and have helped shape The Bahamas into an important destination within the tourism industry.
A mere 50 miles from the Florida coast, the Bahamian islands support surprisingly Caribbean, rather than North American, ecology. During the last of four major glacial advances, sea levels momentarily dropped, exposing the shallow Bahama platform. The banks rose towards the Greater Antilles, lessening the distance between Cuba and the islands, and allowing a diverse population of flora and fauna to cross from southern regions.
Much later, in the 7th century, a people known as the Lucayans sailed from these same nearby lands and moved as far east as San Salvador Island. Here, in 1492 the Lucayans welcomed Christopher Columbus as he first set foot in the New World.
Throughout history, The Bahamas have hosted a wide variety of inhabitants, from indigenous peoples to Loyalists and their slaves leaving the U.S. after 1783. A British Crown Colony until 1964, The Bahamas continue to mirror British politics and the Queen of England serves as a ceremonial head of state.
Kayaking in The Bahamas provides particularly unique experiences due to the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, the first-ever protected no-take zone and protected area in the wider Caribbean. Here no one can take fish, lobsters, shells, or conches, and all habitats for seabirds and plants remain protected. This pristine marine environment showcases some of The Bahamas’ most overwhelming displays of colorful coral and anemone gardens. Visitors can also find stromatolites, a blue-green algae and the oldest living evidence of life on earth, within the park.
Exuma Park is one of 25 National Parks and Protected Areas managed by the non-profit Bahamas National Trust. Unique in the world, the Trust is believed to be the only non-profit, non-governmental agency mandated with management of a nationwide system of parks and protected areas. In 1986, The Bahamas National Trust established Exuma Park as a complete NO TAKE ZONE and marine protected area.
The climate of The Bahamas ranges from subtropical to tropical, and the warm waters of the Gulf Stream moderate the climate. There has never been a freeze reported in The Bahamas, even when nearby Florida has dealt with freezes that have affected its citrus crops.
About 350,000 Bahamians live in the Commonwealth. In the less developed outer islands, handicrafts include basketry made from palm fronds. This material, commonly called “straw,” is plaited into hats and bags that are popular tourist items. Another use is for so-called “Voodoo dolls,” even though such dolls are the result of the American imagination and not based on historic fact. Regattas are important social events in many family island settlements. They usually feature one or more days of sailing by old-fashioned work boats, as well as an onshore festival.
Some settlements have festivals associated with the traditional crop or food of that area, such as the “Pineapple Fest” in Gregory Town, Eleuthera or the “Crab Fest” on Andros. Other significant traditions include story telling.
For more information, visit these links:
The Bahamas National Trust
Geographia.com Exuma information
Official Tourism Website of the Bahamas
[ Dates & Fees ]
WI leads trips to this destination but currently has no dates scheduled. If you have a group of people interested, we can set up a customized adventure just for you! Please contact us if you have at least 8 people who want to plan a trip together.