Exploring Shroud Cay, Exumas
From Rock Sound, Eleuthera, we took off towards the Exumas. This long, narrow chain of islands is known for pristine waters for snorkeling – one of my favorite things! So, although we were sad to leave the lovely people of Eleuthera, we got underway.
The trip across took about 8 hours, and we had to make it through a narrow cut to get to our anchorage once we made the Exumas. This meant we would need to time our arrival to coincide with the rising tide, so that we wouldn’t be fighting the rush of what can seem like a whole ocean flowing through a narrow creek. This time, the elements were cooperative, and though the trip was a bit more lumpy than either of us prefer, we were able to maintain speed and time it just right. Neither of us had much experience with piloting the boat in strong currents so close to reefs and rocks, so it was nerve-wracking, but ultimately just fine. We anchored on the West side of Highborne Cay, dove the anchor, swam around a bit, and had dinner and a good sleep.
In the morning, we went into the Highborne Cay Marina for fuel, and then were on our way south to Shroud Cay, which is the northernmost part of the Exumas Land and Sea Park. The Bahamas have set aside several pristine areas, preventing fishing, shelling, conching, and further development. The result is that these areas are completely unspoiled.
After we arrived and settled in at Shroud Cay, we took the dinghy around to scout it out and plan for the next day’s adventure, but we ended up snorkeling a bit – because I just couldn’t wait to get in that water! We anchored the dinghy and hit a few rock-based patch reefs within easy swimming distance. There were hundreds of starfish, and other fish as well. It was a great end to the day.
One of the things I had heard about Shroud Cay was that we could explore the inland mangrove creeks by dinghy and get all the way over to the Atlantic side of the Cay, so we had to do that! We gathered up our sunscreen, bug spray, and snorkel gear and took off. We definitely were having to feel our way along, as what you see on a map and from a little boat can seem quite different, but eventually we found our way and the sight of the Atlantic as we came around the final bend pretty much took our breath away.
We got out and snorkeled a bit, both in the surf and in the mangroves. We swam across the inlet to the ocean twice and were both surprised how very strong the current was. This is way more fun than a gym, but just as good a workout. The surf was – ah – robust, and the mangroves were creepy underwater – like horror movie creepy! Still, glad we did that! We walked along this perfect beach and found a trail (Is this a trail? I think it’s a trail. Maybe. Let’s see…), so we tried it. It took us up to a point where we could look back and see the creeks we had just come through. It was quite a sight!
After we climbed back down, Alan looked at me and asked “do you hear drums?” Eeeeeeek! Headhunters! ….. Not really. It was a group of twenty-somethings on a speed boat. They had just arrived, and turned their music on full blast around the corner. No idea where they came from, but that was our cue to go!
We headed back, and of course wondered if we could go a different route than how we came in, so we tried and it worked. The scenery on the way back was even more lovely than on the way there. We saw sea turtles, rays, ribbon fish, and tropicbirds. I wish I could have gotten a picture of a tropicbird, They are white with long, graceful tails. Beautiful.
The next day we snorkeled more around the area and saw a HUUUUUGE lobster. He would have been
dinner for sure if we hadn’t been in the Land and Sea Park. Sigh… But the prolific wildlife is worth preserving, so no lobster for us! (Ok, and the lobster season also had not opened yet. Double sigh.)
Don’t get the idea that we are roughing it out here, though. We eat very well. I think we had the “turf” half of “surf and turf” that night with a lovely Bordeaux, and we did not starve. Not even a little.
After such an enchanting start in the Exumas, we were ready for more, so we got ready and headed out for Warderick Wells, also part of the park. Next time, I’ll tell you all about that!