Kayaking In The Bahamas

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The Exuma Cays… looks like a nice place for kayaking! Photo: Matt Kieffer

The Bahamas are a stunning collection of more than 700 islands, some of which are inhabited and accessible while others have barely been touched. Kayaking is one of the best ways to see the outer islands. You can explore coves, mangroves, caves, blowholes and sleep on isolated beaches to watch the sunset over the warm Caribbean waters.

In many places around the Bahamian coastline, the crystal clear waters are as shallow as 15 – 20ft, and below you witness large swaths of beautiful coral reef and exotic ocean life. Kayaking close to home is great, but sea kayaking in the Bahamas allows you to turn your hobby into the adventure of a lifetime.

Planning Your Trip

Where to start? You will most likely fly to Nassau whenever you vacation in the Bahamas. This is the capital city and can be a busy tourist trap in certain areas. It also gives you a perfect chance to enjoy civilization and luxury before hitting the waters for a bit of paddling. Nassau has become something of an alternative Las Vegas in paradise, with the Atlantis resort and Baha Mar providing hundreds of table games and slot machines.

You may also be able to fly directly to Georgetown on Great Exuma, which will get you much closer to the best kayaking spots. Flights run direct from Miami, Atlanta, and Toronto, or you can catch a domestic flight from Nassau. Either way, you will probably want to head to the Exuma Islands at some point.

There’s not much point lugging your own kayak and equipment over to the Bahamas. You can rent everything you need there to set off on your own trip or take a guided tour with a local outfitter. If you are interested in bringing your own kayak you might want to check out somewhere similar to https://www.perceptionkayaks.com/us/accessories for more information.

Solo or Guided?

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Experienced paddlers may prefer solo trips, but guided tours are safer and easier. Photo: Stone Harbour

Solo expeditions allow you to travel at your own pace and on your own itinerary. Paddling solo also entails more risk and requires much more planning on your part. You need to decide which islands to stop off at, how many miles to do in a day, where to sleep and restock and will need to make sure you pack everything you need for a long distance trip.

Be aware that although the climate in the Bahamas is quite predictable, the weather is usually hot and humid. Take at least one gallon of water per person, per day. Be aware that blasting winds and strong currents are a possibility, as well as large waves, all described in this account of a kayak trip in the Bahamas. In short, solo trips require much more experience.

Guided tours are much easier to execute. You turn up, speak to your guide and arrange a trip. Guides will help you to set up everything from the route to the accommodation, and take care of the cooking too.

Trips are available from beginner to advanced level, with beginner trips typically covering around 3 – 5 miles of rowing a day, and more advanced expeditions at around 5 – 10 miles. There are several companies available in the Bahamas. Check out Out Island Explorers, Spirit of West Adventures or Starfish Exuma Adventures.

A Little Recommendation

The Bahamas truly are open for exploration, but the best kayaking experiences are definitely in the Exuma Islands, a chain of 365 cays that offers stunning scenery, endless unspoiled coral reef and visible sea life such as coral fish and sharks. Kayaking gives you the opportunity to see so much more of this region!

Many of the kayak tour companies are based around Great Exuma, so head to Georgetown to rent your gear and start your trip. Highlights include; the 365-acre Land and Sea Park nature reserve; Norman’s Pond Cay, a saltwater mangrove marsh with sharks (don’t worry, sharks encounters are rarely dangerous); and the stunning island of Eleuthera with its inland lagoons and ponds giving shelter to abundant wildlife.

There are many options that you can consider in the Bahamas for sea kayaking. This is just a little recommendation, and a very good starting point if you want a guided tour. Ultimately you have to paddle your own kayak and take to the waters in your own way. Be sure to plan carefully, and the Bahamas will be a rewarding destination for the ultimate kayaking adventure.

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