Recently, my husband and I had the chance to visit the Bahamas for the first time. We were excited to stay at Sandals Emerald Bay because we are a fan of Sandals Resorts. Prior to visiting, we had done a lot of research, and knew that exploring the Exuma Cays with Robert’s Island Adventures was the best way to see the beauty of the island.
I am a member of several Facebook groups for Sandals Emerald Bay. Each of them had suggestions for exploring the Exuma Cays by a boat tour. And Robert’s Island Adventures was at the top of the list.
Early in the year before our trip, I contacted Robert’s website inquiring about the trip. His office manager was extremely efficient about getting back to me and getting our trip booked. No deposit was required, and she explained that we would be paying once the tour was over.
If you stay at Sandals Emerald Bay, outside vendors can only pick you up at the end of the driveway. We had 2 other couples in the transport with us, and it was a 30 minute ride to the marina. I enjoyed it very much, as you could see the beauty of the island while you were preparing for exploring the Exuma Cays.
Make sure you have slip on sandals to wear for this trip, as you will need to slip them off before getting in the boat. After that, sit back and enjoy your trip. On the boat, you are provided with rum punch, water, beer, and other cold beverages. One of the nicest thing that I have seen is that Robert’s Island Adventures tours uses reusable cups and straws(they are meticulously cleaned) for their rum punch. They are doing their part in reducing ocean pollution by getting rid of plastic cups and straws.
Captain Robert works very closely with the tide schedules, and our tour was planned around them. His motto was “what we don’t see on the way out, we will see on the way back in.” He really made it a point to make sure we would see everything he promised. So after a quick call about the tides, we headed out. First stop, Leaf Cays iguanas.
When we reached the Leaf Cays Iguanas, it was so much fun to see these adorable “dinosaurs”. Many of them were very gracious and allowed us humans to take a picture with them. In fact, there was one big one that seemed to enjoy it very much.
We spent some time watching them and taking some pictures. The tour guides fed them some fun snacks and shared a few tidbits about them. Did you know that they can only be found in Exuma? And that they are bold & sassy? One kept following me around, and one of the crew members explained that he was following me because the nail polish on my toes reminded him of food. Needless to say, my toes remained buried in the sand after that.
Here are some pictures of these amazing creatures.
Another fun iguana fact: they are out from sunrise to sunset, so there is no bad time to go visit them.
Once we were loaded back on the boat, we were off to see the pigs. It was an interesting encounter, and it was everything that I had hoped it would be. Captain Robert and his crew clearly instructed us on how to interact with the pigs, and we got off the boat without any problems. The pigs were clearly used to being fed near the boat, so once you reached land they weren’t after you for food.
There is nothing cuter than a sleeping pile of pigs. There are a bunch of different groups there at any given time, so make sure you are listening for Captain Robert to tell you that it is time to move on.
Educational tidbit: Big Major Cay is uninhabited and the pigs are not native to the island. Some say they were left by a group of sailors, who planned to come back and cook them. Or that the pigs swam over from a shipwreck nearby. No one really knows how the pigs got there in the first place, but they are the most visited attraction in the Exuma Cays.
After leaving the swimming pigs, we headed to swim with the sharks at Compass Cay. I have to say that it was one of my favorite activities. It tends to be very crowded, but it is very worth the $10 fee(make sure you have cash because charge is not accepted). You can pet the sharks as well, but remember it is on the back or belly only.
It was so cute to see how much fun the little kids were having. Some people used snorkels and masks to get under the water, but I just used my Apeman to video the sharks without going under. If you choose not to swim with the sharks, be aware that you cannot get off the boat.
More information about the Compass Cay sharks: The sharks on the Compass Cay swim with sharks tour are called Nurse Sharks. They behave a whole lot like catfish. Known as ‘bottom feeders’ they stick to the ocean floor and sucking small creatures and sediment from the sand. However, you will only see all of this once you’ve climbed into the water beside them. Before this, you may have your eye on their powerful tails, wide-set heads or their dorsal fins slicing through the water’s surface.
I must preface to you that you shouldn’t do this part of the tour if you unsure in any way about your swimming skills or snorkeling abilities. Because of that, my husband chose to stay on the boat. I decided that I was just going to do it. Captain Robert’s crew once again were amazing. They made sure everyone got into the grotto, and checked to make sure everyone was comfortable and always asking if you needed help.
It was easier getting in the grotto because you didn’t have to dive down. Going out, you do need to dive down to get under a rock cropping. Again, the crew helped you every step of the way. His youngest crew member was the best, helping everyone get over their nervousness. I am so glad that I did it, as it was beautiful!
Thunderball Grotto fun facts: Located in Staniel Cay, the grotto got its name from the 1965 James Bond spy film “Thunderball,” which was shot there. It was also the site of another James Bond film, “Never Say Never Again” in 1983, also based on the Thunderball novel.
Oh, I have to point out to make sure that you tune into the crew when they talk about the different houses you see on your tour. One of them had a two-story underground bunker that was fitted with everything you can possibly imagine. From celebrities like Tim McGraw and David Copperfield, to business owners, the houses were definitely beautiful to see. Exploring the Exuma Cays has never been more fun or educational!
After that, we took a boat ride to a little place that had lunch. Lunch is extra and is cash only. The food was good, but there wasn’t a whole lot for the size of our group, and it was pricey( $52 for 2 meals and 2 drinks for the two of us).
We had a short walk from the boat dock to the eatery, and not once did we ever feel unsafe. The walk allowed us to view the island from the resident’s eyes, and you learn to appreciate the beauty of the area.
Musha Cay sandbar is one of those places that you don’t fully “get” until you are standing there and experiencing its beauty. Captain Robert timed our stop there perfectly, and we got to see it in all its glory.
Did you know that the Musha Cay sandbar is owned by David Copperfield? You can stay there if you like, it will only cost you around 57K per night. You can contact them for additional pricing and options.
On the way back, we made a final stop at a cave where there were some sea turtles hanging out. Definitely a bonus to see these animals in the wild. And it was awesome to take a brief respite from the heat in a nice, cool cave.
*You spend a lot of time on the ocean in a boat. The sun is bright and glaring at times. Sunglasses are a great idea to have.
*If you tend to get motion sickness(I didn’t), have some Dramamine with you. A bottle of gingerale to sip on may work as well. I will add that the boat ride was surprisingly smooth, similar to riding in a car.
*Bring snacks or a sandwich from your resort if you don’t want to spend the money for lunch. Captain Robert had a light snack of tuna and crackers to hold you over until the lunch destination.
*Tie your hair back. The only time you can really wear a hat is when you reach your destination.
*Have a video cam as well as your cell phone for pictures.
*Have a bag you can carry a towel with you. You will need it for drying off and sitting on the cushions as they get hot in the sun.
*Lotion, lotion, lotion any part that will remotely be exposed to sun. I forgot one spot on my inner thighs and it got burned. My fault for paying attention to the scenery instead of my lotioning. Also remember to lotion your part or any part of your head that may not have as much hair as it used to.
~The tour is $200 per person, payable in cash or charge at the end of your tour.
~Compass Cay sharks are $10 per person in cash. If you aren’t swimming with the sharks and want to observe from the dock, you will still have to pay the $10.
~Lunch was $21 per person, plus drinks. Again, in cash.
~At the boat dock there are a few vendors selling goods. Have some cash for purchases.
So I hope you found this post interesting and informative. Robert’s Island Adventures is truly the best way for exploring the Exuma Cays while visiting the Bahamas. Knowledgeable staff, beautiful scenery, and once-in-a-lifetime adventures will make this a trip you will never forget!