Taylor-Embrace-Resort2

A woman looking at nurse sharks during a trip to Staniel Cay, Exuma, Bahamas

There is nothing like a relaxing Caribbean Island vacation and Staniel Cay in the Exuma Islands of the Bahamas makes for the perfect beach destination. It is a small island that is inhabited by less than 150 people and it boasts stunning white sand beaches with aqua blue waters, luxury yachts and a Yacht Club, a stunning resort, memorable adventures, great biodiversity and friendly locals.

Staniel Cay is located 75 miles south of Nassau, which is the capital of the Bahamas and 250 miles southeast of the state of Florida. You can also find a church, post office, library, retail shops and a marine supply store on Staniel Cay.

A woman at Iguana Beach in the Exuma Islands

During July 2021, I visited the Exumas in the Bahamas with Ashley of World to Wander.  We spent five days and four nights in the Bahamas. Our first and last night in the Bahamas were spent in George Town on Great Exuma Island and the two nights in between were spent on Staniel Cay. Both Ashley and I had an amazing time in the Bahamas and we had a lot of fun enjoying everything the Exuma Islands have to offer.

In this article, I am thrilled to show you all the best things to do on Staniel Cay that will make for the best vacation. I am also excited to share my experience staying at Embrace Resort on Staniel Cay and show you everything we did and saw on their epic boat tour around Exuma, Bahamas.

**Please note that this blog post uses affiliate links meaning that if you make a purchase via my affiliate link, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only promote and talk about products and services that I have used and like. During my time on Staniel Cay, Embrace Resort hosted me for two nights and provided me with a full day boat tour around the Exuma Islands.


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Best vacation on Staniel Cay, Exuma, Bahamas

Traveling to the Bahamas in 2021:

A sand bar in the Exumas

Before I show you how to have the best vacation on Staniel Cay in Exuma it is important for me to explain the restrictions traveling to the Bahamas right now. The travel requirements for the islands of the Bahamas in 2021 are that you will need to either be at least two weeks fully vaccinated or have received a negative PCR test result within five days prior to arrival.

You will need to fill out the Bahamas Travel Health Visa application and either upload your vaccination card or negative PCR test result. All travelers must purchase the recommended health insurance, which is included in the application fee. It will take up to 48 hours to process your application, but I got my approval right away.

A pig relaxing at Big Major Cay

In addition, with the USA CDC travel requirements for re-entry into the United States (as of January 26, 2021) everyone will need to submit either a negative rt-PCR test result within 72 hours prior to departure back to the U.S. or a rapid Antigen negative test result within 48 hours prior to arrival in the U.S. (You will still need to get tested to come back into the United States even if you have been fully vaccinated.)

Thankfully, Embrace Resort on Staniel Cay does testing onsite at an affordable cost.

Getting to Staniel Cay in the Exuma Cays:

Welcome to Staniel Cay

Getting to Staniel Cay from mainland USA can be a bit tricky. Originally, we thought that just booking flights to George Town on Great Exuma Island would be perfect, but it’s not that simple since there are no ferries that take people from island to island. (You can take a private charter plane or boat, but those options cost thousands of dollars. If you can afford it, go for it!)

The best way to get to Staniel Cay is by flying straight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida and then taking Maker’s Air straight to Staniel Cay. Both Ashley and I booked our flights before knowing this and we unfortunately couldn’t change anything due to our plane ticket status (no change fees for Basic Economy).

The nurse sharks on Staniel Cay and in the Exuma Islands, Bahamas

Instead, we had to figure out a way to get from George Town to Staniel Cay and what we did was hop on a boat tour that took us from Great Exuma Island to Staniel Cay Marina at the Yacht Club. (They also took us back from Staniel Cay to George Town.)

I flew from Newark Airport to George Town with a layover in Charlotte. You can find affordable flights through Skyscanner.

Once you arrive in George Town, the best way to get around the island is through taxi. (Please make sure you negotiate the price before you hop in a cab.) When you eventually are on Staniel Cay, the number one way people meander around the island is by golf cart. When you stay at Embrace Resort, they will provide you with your own golf cart, which is awesome!

Staying at Embrace Resort on Staniel Cay:

A woman enjoying a stay at Embrace Resort on Staniel Cay

Not only was my trip to Staniel Cay in Exuma, Bahamas incredible, Embrace Resort made my stay extra magical!

Embrace Resort is a lovely boutique resort that is made up of colorful houses (both large and small) for you to stay at with your friends, family, partner or even by yourself. It is the perfect spot on Staniel Cay and it is absolutely stunning, peaceful and conveniently located. Everyone is also super friendly at the resort!

On Embrace’s property, there is a pool with painted sharks at the bottom to resemble the nurse sharks in the Exumas. There is also a poolside cabana and lounge chairs and the resort will soon boast an upscale restaurant that anyone on the island can enjoy; a fitness center as well as a snack stand/market.

In addition, Embrace Resort also has its own Exuma Islands boat tour, which I talk about below, and they also plan dreamy tropical weddings and host groups at the hotel.

A woman standing in front of a colorful villa at Embrace Resort

There are seven colorful villas for you to choose from during a stay at Embrace Resort. Ashley and I stayed in the Cat Island house that featured one bedroom with a double bed and en-suite bathroom. I loved how cozy and clean our villa was and the furniture was colorful and antique, creating that welcoming island vibe.

The other villas for you to choose from at Embrace Resort on Staniel Cay is Exuma, which is a two-bedroom villa that is perfect for families; Mayaguana that is another one-bedroom villa; Bimini, which is another two bedroom villa that’s great for a family of four or two couples; Ragged Island is known as the romantic villa that is perfect for couples on a honeymoon, anniversary trip, etc. and there is also a Jacuzzi; Andros is a three bedroom villa that is awesome for families or friend groups to stay at and lastly, Eleuthera is another one bedroom villa that is situated for a couple or party of three since there is also a pull out couch.

A woman enjoying an evening at Embrace Resort on Staniel Cay

Each villa comes with a porch/balcony as well as air conditioning, daily maid service, an in room safe, microwave, free WIFI, an iron and ironing board, refrigerator, hair dryer, extra linens and towels and a coffee and tea maker.

When you book your stay at Embrace Resort, you will also get free airport transfers and your very own golf cart.

How to Have the Best Vacation on Staniel Cay, Exuma Bahamas:

A woman relaxing in Staniel Cay, Exuma, Bahamas

Enjoy a Boat Tour Around the Exuma Islands with Embrace Resort:

One of epic things about staying at Embrace Resort is that they offer a fun-filled boat tour around the Exuma Islands from Staniel Cay. Since the hotel is located right behind Staniel Cay’s airport, anyone staying in the Bahamas can fly into Staniel Cay Airport for the day and enjoy Embrace’s tour. (We had a group from Nassau join us.)

A woman holding a pig at Pig Beach during a boat tour

Our tour started at around 9am in the morning and we took off on Embrace Resort’s boat at a dock behind the airport. (The tour ended around 4pm.) It was a beautiful day to enjoy a boat tour around the Exumas and everyone was in such a great mood.

Explore Thunderball Grotto:
A woman swimming in Thunderball Grotto

One of the first stops we made on our tour was at the iconic location called Thunderball Grotto. This cool location is where two James Bond movies were filmed.

This fascinating underwater cave system is located a little west of Staniel Cay and it is perfect for water adventures. I was so happy that we had our guide with us because we had to swim through rocks and even underneath a few to get to this spot. Unless you have swam, snorkeled or have gone diving at Thunderball Grotto previously, it is a bit confusing to get to.

Thunderball Grotto from Staniel Cay, Exuma, Bahamas

I will admit that when we visited Thunderball Grotto during our tour, the current in the water was rough. As we swam through and underneath the rocks, I did get a bit anxious because I was afraid that I was going to get stuck under a rock. Thankfully, our guide had a rope that was able to take us through.

Once we were in the actual grotto, it was amazing and the current wasn’t bad at all! We had snorkel equipment, so we were able to see the beautiful coral reefs, yellow-tail sappers, angel fish, sergeant majors and so much more! There is also a hole in the grotto that provides a cool light that illuminates when you are under water.

I was so happy that our group tour with Embrace Resort had this amazing grotto to ourselves.

See the Pigs at Pig Beach on Big Major Cay:
Pig Beach in Exuma, Bahamas

A trip to Staniel Cay in Exuma, Bahamas would not be complete without visiting the famous Pig Beach on Big Major Cay. This is the second stop on an Embrace Resort’s Exuma Islands day tour.

A woman having fun with a pig at Pig Beach

This beautiful uninhabited island is home to adorable pigs that you will fall in love with the moment you see them. When our boat docked, a handful of the pigs got excited and even started swimming up to our boat before we even got out.

The swimming pigs at Big Major Cay

Our guide handed us white bread and we fed them to the pigs. Also, the locals did not inform us on the ethical standards regarding these adorable pigs, but they were handing us the little piglets to hold. It is unknown whether it is safe for the pigs to be held or not. As exciting as it is to see the pigs on Big Major Cay, it is best to remain mindful because it is their home and the island brings in a lot of tourists.

A woman having fun at Pig Beach

There are pigs all over this beach and they will sure put a smile on your face! Overall, it is unknown how the pigs got to this island. What we do know is that the pigs are not native to Big Major Cay. It is said that the pigs were left by a group of sailors who planned to cook them or that they swam over from a shipwreck nearby. There are over 20 pigs and piglets living on the iconic Pig Beach and it is best to wander about with caution because they can be a bit aggressive. It is a similar experience to Flamingo Beach in Aruba.

Swim with the Sharks at Compass Cay:
A woman swimming with the sharks on a boat tour from Staniel Cay in Exuma, Bahamas

Another fun spot that is a must-visit during a tour from Staniel Cay in Exuma, Bahamas is Compass Cay. This beautiful island is known for its friendly nurse sharks.  

Our third stop on our boat tour with Embrace Resort was to Compass Cay. Please note that even though it looks like no one is there based on photos you see, it’s crowded with visitors just like at Pig Beach. It is still an absolute blast and I actually found the sharks to be quite cute!

Some fun facts about these nurse sharks are that they can live up to 25 years old and grow up to 10 feet long. An adult nurse shark usually weighs anywhere from 200 to 330 pounds. Compass Cay has also been seen on Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and “Shark Week”.

A woman floating with the sharks at Compass Cay in the Exumas

Now, don’t get me wrong, even though nurse sharks are friendly, they can still bite. One of the best things to do while you’re at Compass Cay is to just float away with the sharks swimming underneath you, but you need to put your hands in a fist and your toes up. The reason why is because if your fingers and toes are wiggling around, the sharks can get them confused with shrimp and try to bite them.

Overall, both Ashley and I had a blast at Compass Cay and swimming with the sharks. You can also see nurse sharks swimming around the marina at Staniel Cay Yacht Club!

Enjoy the Sand Bar at Pipe Creek:
A woman relaxing at a sand bar in Exuma, Bahamas from Staniel Cay

Right after our thrilling experience with the sharks at Compass Cay, Embrace Resort took us over to Pipe Creek, which is a glistening network of shallow water. When the water is low tide, you can sit and relax at the sand bar or sand flats. It is so rejuvenating and one of the coolest experiences.

The water at Pipe Creek was some of the bluest I’ve seen during my travels. It is one of the best spots to go snorkeling and see beautiful sea turtles as well as exotic fish! A lot of people will park their boats and bring portable grills to the sandbar so that they can enjoy a lovely picnic in the sun.

A woman hanging out at Pipe Creek in the Exumas

It is important to note that anyone with a boat must check the sea depth charts before going to Pipe Creek because boats can easily get stuck in the sand. Embrace Resort parked their boat in a deeper section, so we swam to the sand bar, which was so nice! The water in the Bahamas is like being in a bathtub.

Say Hi to the Iguanas at Bitter Guana Cay:
A woman at Iguana Beach from Staniel Cay, Exuma, Bahamas

After enjoying some time at Pipe Creek, Embrace took us over to Staniel Cay Yacht Club for a nice lunch before we headed to Bitter Guana Cay to see the iguanas.

Located a small boat drive away from Staniel Cay is a beautiful island where iguanas reside. Overall, it is a MUST to also see the iguanas in Exuma, Bahamas during a trip to Staniel Cay.

Bitter Guana Cay in Exuma, Bahamas

The iguanas on Bitter Guana Cay are called Bahamian Rock Iguanas and they are considered endangered species. Overall, these iguanas are BIG! They are about two feet in length, but can easily grow up to four feet.

Just like the pigs, it is important to be mindful when you visit the iguanas at Bitter Guana Cay. They can also be aggressive. During our time on this island, our guide from Embrace gave us lettuce to feed these cool guys.

Check Out the Sunken Drug Plane:
The Sunken Drug Plane off of Staniel Cay in Exuma, Bahamas

Our last excursion on our boat tour with Embrace Resort was to snorkel and see the Sunken Drug Plane right off the coast of Staniel Cay in Exuma, Bahamas.

The Exuma Islands used to once be known as a place for piracy and drug smuggling. The plane located at the bottom of the ocean floor in the Staniel Cay area is one of the most accessible plane wrecks to visit because of how shallow the water is there.

Staniel Cay Airport is extremely small and the landing strip used to be dimly lit in the 1970s and prior to. One night, a man called on a radio line explaining that he couldn’t find the landing strip. Time passed and the man’s voice got more urgent because his plane was running low on fuel. Eventually, the radio went silent.

A woman snorkeling at a plane wreck in Staniel Cay, Exuma, Bahamas

That next morning, a search party found the sunken plane off of Norman’s Cay where a lot of smugglers and cartels like Pablo Escobar used to hangout. The passengers on the plane didn’t escape the plane due to the space being packed with drugs. They were part of the Medellin Cartel from Colombia.

Because Staniel Cay was mainly an unpatrolled area in the 70s and 80s, it allowed for a lot of illegal shipments. There are many other plane wrecks in the Bahamas as well.

Ashley and I snorkeled around the plane and saw a lot of cool sea life that have made the wreck their home.

Eat, Drink and Have Fun at Staniel Cay Yacht Club:

A woman at Staniel Cay Yacht Club in Exuma, Bahamas

The top place to eat, drink and have fun on Staniel Cay in Exuma, Bahamas is the Yacht Club. This awesome spot opened in 1956 and it features bungalows for people to stay at; an 18-slip marina where you can find luxurious yachts; an airstrip as well as a restaurant and bar.

During our time on Staniel Cay, Ashley and I enjoyed all of our meals at the Yacht Club and we even spent our two nights having fun at the bar there. When we first arrived, we grabbed lunch at the Yacht Club and enjoyed club sandwiches with fresh tropical drinks! (The signature Goombay Smash is amazing at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club. It is a popular rum drink in the Bahamas.)

A turkey club sandwich from Staniel Cay Yacht Club

On our first evening, Ashley and I enjoyed Staniel Cay Yacht Club’s traditional Bahamian style dinner in their beautiful dining room. It is highly recommended that you make a reservation ahead of time if you want to enjoy this dinner experience. There are also two time slots – one at 6:30pm and another at 8:30pm. For one price, you get a soup, salad, entrée and dessert.

For our nice dinner, I savored the best broccoli soup I’ve ever had, salad, vegetable stir fry with mango shrimp and apple pie for dessert. Everything was delicious!

Broccoli soup from Staniel Cay Yacht Club
Stir fry from Staniel Cay Yacht Club
Apple pie from Staniel Cay Yacht Club

The other meals I had at Staniel Cay Yacht Club were the catch of the day sandwich during our boat tour, which was a local Bahamian fish that was blackened and served on a brioche bun with fries. For dinner that same evening, I then savored the Asian fish tacos, which also included the catch of the day. (It was that good!)

A local Bahamian blackened fish sandwich from Staniel Cay Yacht Club
Asian fish tacos from Staniel Cay Yacht Club

We also shared conch bits, which are fried and served similar to fried calamari. (Conch is a staple to the Bahamas and it is delicious! Depending on where you go in the Bahamas, you can find conch bits, fritters, salad, boils, chowders and more.) The first time I had conch was in Anguilla!

Conch bits from Staniel Cay Yacht Club

Ashley and I also enjoyed breakfast at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club on our last morning. I had the French toast with hash browns and it did not disappoint.

French toast from Staniel Cay Yacht Club

Evenings at Staniel Cay Yacht Club were an absolute blast! It is the place where everyone on the island comes to for a good time! It is also a spot where people of all ages can have fun. Vacationers will be sitting at the bar, dancing, playing pool and socializing. We met a lot of great people at the Yacht Club and we even got to meet up with fellow travel and wine blogger Christina from CMenth Travel.

Luxury yachts at Staniel Cay Yacht Club

A visit to Staniel Cay Yacht Club is also not complete without walking around the marina and admiring the beautiful yachts!

Relax at Pirate Trap Beach:

A woman floating in the Exumas

Time spent on Staniel Cay in Exuma, Bahamas would not be complete without relaxing at Pirate Trap Beach.

Pirate Trap Beach on Staniel Cay, Exuma, Bahamas

This gorgeous white sand cove is the perfect spot to go if you want to feel like you’re on a private beach. Literally, we were the only two people there! To get to the cove, you will park your golf cart at the top of the bluff and then walk straight down to the beach.

A woman having fun at Pirate Trap Beach

The water at Pirate Trap Beach is beautiful! It is perfect for swimming and snorkeling and if you are willing to swim across, you can access another little island where you can enjoy a small hike. It is wonderful!

Pirate Trap Beach on Staniel Cay, Exuma, Bahamas

Pirate Trap Beach is also the location for many destination weddings in the Exumas.

Explore Staniel Cay with a Golf Cart:

A woman taking a golf car around Staniel Cay from Embrace Resort

When you stay on Staniel Cay, the top way to get around the island is by golf cart. Like I mention above, when you first check into Embrace Resort, they will provide you with your own golf cart that you can take anywhere around the island.

During our time on Staniel Cay, we took our golf carts to the beach, the Yacht Club, to various stores and more. We also got to see beautiful gems on the island like hidden coves, the church and stunning wildlife.

Check Out Other Beaches on Staniel Cay:

A sand dollar found on Staniel Cay, Exuma, Bahamas

In addition to Pirate Trap Beach, Staniel Cay in Exuma, Bahamas also boasts Ocean Beach and Ho Tai Cay Beach. Both beaches are also beautiful and worth checking out.

If you’re looking to see a beautiful sunrise on Staniel Cay, Ocean Beach is the perfect spot! Next, Ho Tai Cay is a great spot to go snorkeling and kayaking on the island. It is also a wonderful beach to spot sting rays in the Exumas.


A woman on a boat tour around Exuma Islands, Bahamas

I hope you all enjoyed discovering how to have the best vacation on Staniel Cay in Exuma, Bahamas and reading about my experience staying at Embrace Resort. If you have any questions, please email me at [email protected]

Basic Facts of the Bahamas:

Currency: Bahamian Dollar (The United States Dollar is accepted everywhere!), Capital: Nassau, Time Zone: Eastern Standard Time

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*Anything could happen during your travels. Always make sure you are insured in case there are unforeseen circumstances such as lost luggage/theft, natural disasters, personal liabilities and more. Click here to get insured for your next trip.

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6 Comments

  1. Trea on August 14, 2021 at 3:51 pm

    What a fantastic read. It’s incredible to know how much there is to do here. Thanks for the covid tips as well, especially the travel insurance! I usually just use my credit card travel insurance so this is good to know. What a beautiful place!

    • Taylor Deer on August 14, 2021 at 8:51 pm

      Thank you so much Trea! Staniel Cay was such a blast! Also yes, you have to get the insurance through the Bahamas site. It’s pretty affordable, which is good! 🙂

  2. Kim Deer on August 15, 2021 at 12:05 am

    Another great informative blog on the breathtaking Bahamas. You looked like you had a blast with all the adorable animals. The water looks gorgeous there! Love all your stunning photos ~ love you, mom xoxo 👩♥️

    • Taylor Deer on August 15, 2021 at 9:07 am

      Thank you mom! I definitely did have a memorable trip. All of the animals were adorable! 🙂 Love you too!

  3. Cosette on August 31, 2021 at 3:33 pm

    What a dreamy and beautiful island. So much fun things to do. Seeing the pigs and nurse sharks is incredible.

    • Taylor Deer on September 1, 2021 at 8:30 am

      It really was so nice there. I loved it! 🙂

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Taylor-Embrace-Resort2

A woman looking at nurse sharks during a trip to Staniel Cay, Exuma, Bahamas

There is nothing like a relaxing Caribbean Island vacation and Staniel Cay in the Exuma Islands of the Bahamas makes for the perfect beach destination. It is a small island that is inhabited by less than 150 people and it boasts stunning white sand beaches with aqua blue waters, luxury yachts and a Yacht Club, a stunning resort, memorable adventures, great biodiversity and friendly locals.

Staniel Cay is located 75 miles south of Nassau, which is the capital of the Bahamas and 250 miles southeast of the state of Florida. You can also find a church, post office, library, retail shops and a marine supply store on Staniel Cay.

A woman at Iguana Beach in the Exuma Islands

During July 2021, I visited the Exumas in the Bahamas with Ashley of World to Wander.  We spent five days and four nights in the Bahamas. Our first and last night in the Bahamas were spent in George Town on Great Exuma Island and the two nights in between were spent on Staniel Cay. Both Ashley and I had an amazing time in the Bahamas and we had a lot of fun enjoying everything the Exuma Islands have to offer.

In this article, I am thrilled to show you all the best things to do on Staniel Cay that will make for the best vacation. I am also excited to share my experience staying at Embrace Resort on Staniel Cay and show you everything we did and saw on their epic boat tour around Exuma, Bahamas.

**Please note that this blog post uses affiliate links meaning that if you make a purchase via my affiliate link, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only promote and talk about products and services that I have used and like. During my time on Staniel Cay, Embrace Resort hosted me for two nights and provided me with a full day boat tour around the Exuma Islands.


Pin the Below Image to Keep Handy

Best vacation on Staniel Cay, Exuma, Bahamas

Traveling to the Bahamas in 2021:

A sand bar in the Exumas

Before I show you how to have the best vacation on Staniel Cay in Exuma it is important for me to explain the restrictions traveling to the Bahamas right now. The travel requirements for the islands of the Bahamas in 2021 are that you will need to either be at least two weeks fully vaccinated or have received a negative PCR test result within five days prior to arrival.

You will need to fill out the Bahamas Travel Health Visa application and either upload your vaccination card or negative PCR test result. All travelers must purchase the recommended health insurance, which is included in the application fee. It will take up to 48 hours to process your application, but I got my approval right away.

A pig relaxing at Big Major Cay

In addition, with the USA CDC travel requirements for re-entry into the United States (as of January 26, 2021) everyone will need to submit either a negative rt-PCR test result within 72 hours prior to departure back to the U.S. or a rapid Antigen negative test result within 48 hours prior to arrival in the U.S. (You will still need to get tested to come back into the United States even if you have been fully vaccinated.)

Thankfully, Embrace Resort on Staniel Cay does testing onsite at an affordable cost.

Getting to Staniel Cay in the Exuma Cays:

Welcome to Staniel Cay

Getting to Staniel Cay from mainland USA can be a bit tricky. Originally, we thought that just booking flights to George Town on Great Exuma Island would be perfect, but it’s not that simple since there are no ferries that take people from island to island. (You can take a private charter plane or boat, but those options cost thousands of dollars. If you can afford it, go for it!)

The best way to get to Staniel Cay is by flying straight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida and then taking Maker’s Air straight to Staniel Cay. Both Ashley and I booked our flights before knowing this and we unfortunately couldn’t change anything due to our plane ticket status (no change fees for Basic Economy).

The nurse sharks on Staniel Cay and in the Exuma Islands, Bahamas

Instead, we had to figure out a way to get from George Town to Staniel Cay and what we did was hop on a boat tour that took us from Great Exuma Island to Staniel Cay Marina at the Yacht Club. (They also took us back from Staniel Cay to George Town.)

I flew from Newark Airport to George Town with a layover in Charlotte. You can find affordable flights through Skyscanner.

Once you arrive in George Town, the best way to get around the island is through taxi. (Please make sure you negotiate the price before you hop in a cab.) When you eventually are on Staniel Cay, the number one way people meander around the island is by golf cart. When you stay at Embrace Resort, they will provide you with your own golf cart, which is awesome!

Staying at Embrace Resort on Staniel Cay:

A woman enjoying a stay at Embrace Resort on Staniel Cay

Not only was my trip to Staniel Cay in Exuma, Bahamas incredible, Embrace Resort made my stay extra magical!

Embrace Resort is a lovely boutique resort that is made up of colorful houses (both large and small) for you to stay at with your friends, family, partner or even by yourself. It is the perfect spot on Staniel Cay and it is absolutely stunning, peaceful and conveniently located. Everyone is also super friendly at the resort!

On Embrace’s property, there is a pool with painted sharks at the bottom to resemble the nurse sharks in the Exumas. There is also a poolside cabana and lounge chairs and the resort will soon boast an upscale restaurant that anyone on the island can enjoy; a fitness center as well as a snack stand/market.

In addition, Embrace Resort also has its own Exuma Islands boat tour, which I talk about below, and they also plan dreamy tropical weddings and host groups at the hotel.

A woman standing in front of a colorful villa at Embrace Resort

There are seven colorful villas for you to choose from during a stay at Embrace Resort. Ashley and I stayed in the Cat Island house that featured one bedroom with a double bed and en-suite bathroom. I loved how cozy and clean our villa was and the furniture was colorful and antique, creating that welcoming island vibe.

The other villas for you to choose from at Embrace Resort on Staniel Cay is Exuma, which is a two-bedroom villa that is perfect for families; Mayaguana that is another one-bedroom villa; Bimini, which is another two bedroom villa that’s great for a family of four or two couples; Ragged Island is known as the romantic villa that is perfect for couples on a honeymoon, anniversary trip, etc. and there is also a Jacuzzi; Andros is a three bedroom villa that is awesome for families or friend groups to stay at and lastly, Eleuthera is another one bedroom villa that is situated for a couple or party of three since there is also a pull out couch.

A woman enjoying an evening at Embrace Resort on Staniel Cay

Each villa comes with a porch/balcony as well as air conditioning, daily maid service, an in room safe, microwave, free WIFI, an iron and ironing board, refrigerator, hair dryer, extra linens and towels and a coffee and tea maker.

When you book your stay at Embrace Resort, you will also get free airport transfers and your very own golf cart.

How to Have the Best Vacation on Staniel Cay, Exuma Bahamas:

A woman relaxing in Staniel Cay, Exuma, Bahamas

Enjoy a Boat Tour Around the Exuma Islands with Embrace Resort:

One of epic things about staying at Embrace Resort is that they offer a fun-filled boat tour around the Exuma Islands from Staniel Cay. Since the hotel is located right behind Staniel Cay’s airport, anyone staying in the Bahamas can fly into Staniel Cay Airport for the day and enjoy Embrace’s tour. (We had a group from Nassau join us.)

A woman holding a pig at Pig Beach during a boat tour

Our tour started at around 9am in the morning and we took off on Embrace Resort’s boat at a dock behind the airport. (The tour ended around 4pm.) It was a beautiful day to enjoy a boat tour around the Exumas and everyone was in such a great mood.

Explore Thunderball Grotto:
A woman swimming in Thunderball Grotto

One of the first stops we made on our tour was at the iconic location called Thunderball Grotto. This cool location is where two James Bond movies were filmed.

This fascinating underwater cave system is located a little west of Staniel Cay and it is perfect for water adventures. I was so happy that we had our guide with us because we had to swim through rocks and even underneath a few to get to this spot. Unless you have swam, snorkeled or have gone diving at Thunderball Grotto previously, it is a bit confusing to get to.

Thunderball Grotto from Staniel Cay, Exuma, Bahamas

I will admit that when we visited Thunderball Grotto during our tour, the current in the water was rough. As we swam through and underneath the rocks, I did get a bit anxious because I was afraid that I was going to get stuck under a rock. Thankfully, our guide had a rope that was able to take us through.

Once we were in the actual grotto, it was amazing and the current wasn’t bad at all! We had snorkel equipment, so we were able to see the beautiful coral reefs, yellow-tail sappers, angel fish, sergeant majors and so much more! There is also a hole in the grotto that provides a cool light that illuminates when you are under water.

I was so happy that our group tour with Embrace Resort had this amazing grotto to ourselves.

See the Pigs at Pig Beach on Big Major Cay:
Pig Beach in Exuma, Bahamas

A trip to Staniel Cay in Exuma, Bahamas would not be complete without visiting the famous Pig Beach on Big Major Cay. This is the second stop on an Embrace Resort’s Exuma Islands day tour.

A woman having fun with a pig at Pig Beach

This beautiful uninhabited island is home to adorable pigs that you will fall in love with the moment you see them. When our boat docked, a handful of the pigs got excited and even started swimming up to our boat before we even got out.

The swimming pigs at Big Major Cay

Our guide handed us white bread and we fed them to the pigs. Also, the locals did not inform us on the ethical standards regarding these adorable pigs, but they were handing us the little piglets to hold. It is unknown whether it is safe for the pigs to be held or not. As exciting as it is to see the pigs on Big Major Cay, it is best to remain mindful because it is their home and the island brings in a lot of tourists.

A woman having fun at Pig Beach

There are pigs all over this beach and they will sure put a smile on your face! Overall, it is unknown how the pigs got to this island. What we do know is that the pigs are not native to Big Major Cay. It is said that the pigs were left by a group of sailors who planned to cook them or that they swam over from a shipwreck nearby. There are over 20 pigs and piglets living on the iconic Pig Beach and it is best to wander about with caution because they can be a bit aggressive. It is a similar experience to Flamingo Beach in Aruba.

Swim with the Sharks at Compass Cay:
A woman swimming with the sharks on a boat tour from Staniel Cay in Exuma, Bahamas

Another fun spot that is a must-visit during a tour from Staniel Cay in Exuma, Bahamas is Compass Cay. This beautiful island is known for its friendly nurse sharks.  

Our third stop on our boat tour with Embrace Resort was to Compass Cay. Please note that even though it looks like no one is there based on photos you see, it’s crowded with visitors just like at Pig Beach. It is still an absolute blast and I actually found the sharks to be quite cute!

Some fun facts about these nurse sharks are that they can live up to 25 years old and grow up to 10 feet long. An adult nurse shark usually weighs anywhere from 200 to 330 pounds. Compass Cay has also been seen on Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and “Shark Week”.

A woman floating with the sharks at Compass Cay in the Exumas

Now, don’t get me wrong, even though nurse sharks are friendly, they can still bite. One of the best things to do while you’re at Compass Cay is to just float away with the sharks swimming underneath you, but you need to put your hands in a fist and your toes up. The reason why is because if your fingers and toes are wiggling around, the sharks can get them confused with shrimp and try to bite them.

Overall, both Ashley and I had a blast at Compass Cay and swimming with the sharks. You can also see nurse sharks swimming around the marina at Staniel Cay Yacht Club!

Enjoy the Sand Bar at Pipe Creek:
A woman relaxing at a sand bar in Exuma, Bahamas from Staniel Cay

Right after our thrilling experience with the sharks at Compass Cay, Embrace Resort took us over to Pipe Creek, which is a glistening network of shallow water. When the water is low tide, you can sit and relax at the sand bar or sand flats. It is so rejuvenating and one of the coolest experiences.

The water at Pipe Creek was some of the bluest I’ve seen during my travels. It is one of the best spots to go snorkeling and see beautiful sea turtles as well as exotic fish! A lot of people will park their boats and bring portable grills to the sandbar so that they can enjoy a lovely picnic in the sun.

A woman hanging out at Pipe Creek in the Exumas

It is important to note that anyone with a boat must check the sea depth charts before going to Pipe Creek because boats can easily get stuck in the sand. Embrace Resort parked their boat in a deeper section, so we swam to the sand bar, which was so nice! The water in the Bahamas is like being in a bathtub.

Say Hi to the Iguanas at Bitter Guana Cay:
A woman at Iguana Beach from Staniel Cay, Exuma, Bahamas

After enjoying some time at Pipe Creek, Embrace took us over to Staniel Cay Yacht Club for a nice lunch before we headed to Bitter Guana Cay to see the iguanas.

Located a small boat drive away from Staniel Cay is a beautiful island where iguanas reside. Overall, it is a MUST to also see the iguanas in Exuma, Bahamas during a trip to Staniel Cay.

Bitter Guana Cay in Exuma, Bahamas

The iguanas on Bitter Guana Cay are called Bahamian Rock Iguanas and they are considered endangered species. Overall, these iguanas are BIG! They are about two feet in length, but can easily grow up to four feet.

Just like the pigs, it is important to be mindful when you visit the iguanas at Bitter Guana Cay. They can also be aggressive. During our time on this island, our guide from Embrace gave us lettuce to feed these cool guys.

Check Out the Sunken Drug Plane:
The Sunken Drug Plane off of Staniel Cay in Exuma, Bahamas

Our last excursion on our boat tour with Embrace Resort was to snorkel and see the Sunken Drug Plane right off the coast of Staniel Cay in Exuma, Bahamas.

The Exuma Islands used to once be known as a place for piracy and drug smuggling. The plane located at the bottom of the ocean floor in the Staniel Cay area is one of the most accessible plane wrecks to visit because of how shallow the water is there.

Staniel Cay Airport is extremely small and the landing strip used to be dimly lit in the 1970s and prior to. One night, a man called on a radio line explaining that he couldn’t find the landing strip. Time passed and the man’s voice got more urgent because his plane was running low on fuel. Eventually, the radio went silent.

A woman snorkeling at a plane wreck in Staniel Cay, Exuma, Bahamas

That next morning, a search party found the sunken plane off of Norman’s Cay where a lot of smugglers and cartels like Pablo Escobar used to hangout. The passengers on the plane didn’t escape the plane due to the space being packed with drugs. They were part of the Medellin Cartel from Colombia.

Because Staniel Cay was mainly an unpatrolled area in the 70s and 80s, it allowed for a lot of illegal shipments. There are many other plane wrecks in the Bahamas as well.

Ashley and I snorkeled around the plane and saw a lot of cool sea life that have made the wreck their home.

Eat, Drink and Have Fun at Staniel Cay Yacht Club:

A woman at Staniel Cay Yacht Club in Exuma, Bahamas

The top place to eat, drink and have fun on Staniel Cay in Exuma, Bahamas is the Yacht Club. This awesome spot opened in 1956 and it features bungalows for people to stay at; an 18-slip marina where you can find luxurious yachts; an airstrip as well as a restaurant and bar.

During our time on Staniel Cay, Ashley and I enjoyed all of our meals at the Yacht Club and we even spent our two nights having fun at the bar there. When we first arrived, we grabbed lunch at the Yacht Club and enjoyed club sandwiches with fresh tropical drinks! (The signature Goombay Smash is amazing at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club. It is a popular rum drink in the Bahamas.)

A turkey club sandwich from Staniel Cay Yacht Club

On our first evening, Ashley and I enjoyed Staniel Cay Yacht Club’s traditional Bahamian style dinner in their beautiful dining room. It is highly recommended that you make a reservation ahead of time if you want to enjoy this dinner experience. There are also two time slots – one at 6:30pm and another at 8:30pm. For one price, you get a soup, salad, entrée and dessert.

For our nice dinner, I savored the best broccoli soup I’ve ever had, salad, vegetable stir fry with mango shrimp and apple pie for dessert. Everything was delicious!

Broccoli soup from Staniel Cay Yacht Club
Stir fry from Staniel Cay Yacht Club
Apple pie from Staniel Cay Yacht Club

The other meals I had at Staniel Cay Yacht Club were the catch of the day sandwich during our boat tour, which was a local Bahamian fish that was blackened and served on a brioche bun with fries. For dinner that same evening, I then savored the Asian fish tacos, which also included the catch of the day. (It was that good!)

A local Bahamian blackened fish sandwich from Staniel Cay Yacht Club
Asian fish tacos from Staniel Cay Yacht Club

We also shared conch bits, which are fried and served similar to fried calamari. (Conch is a staple to the Bahamas and it is delicious! Depending on where you go in the Bahamas, you can find conch bits, fritters, salad, boils, chowders and more.) The first time I had conch was in Anguilla!

Conch bits from Staniel Cay Yacht Club

Ashley and I also enjoyed breakfast at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club on our last morning. I had the French toast with hash browns and it did not disappoint.

French toast from Staniel Cay Yacht Club

Evenings at Staniel Cay Yacht Club were an absolute blast! It is the place where everyone on the island comes to for a good time! It is also a spot where people of all ages can have fun. Vacationers will be sitting at the bar, dancing, playing pool and socializing. We met a lot of great people at the Yacht Club and we even got to meet up with fellow travel and wine blogger Christina from CMenth Travel.

Luxury yachts at Staniel Cay Yacht Club

A visit to Staniel Cay Yacht Club is also not complete without walking around the marina and admiring the beautiful yachts!

Relax at Pirate Trap Beach:

A woman floating in the Exumas

Time spent on Staniel Cay in Exuma, Bahamas would not be complete without relaxing at Pirate Trap Beach.

Pirate Trap Beach on Staniel Cay, Exuma, Bahamas

This gorgeous white sand cove is the perfect spot to go if you want to feel like you’re on a private beach. Literally, we were the only two people there! To get to the cove, you will park your golf cart at the top of the bluff and then walk straight down to the beach.

A woman having fun at Pirate Trap Beach

The water at Pirate Trap Beach is beautiful! It is perfect for swimming and snorkeling and if you are willing to swim across, you can access another little island where you can enjoy a small hike. It is wonderful!

Pirate Trap Beach on Staniel Cay, Exuma, Bahamas

Pirate Trap Beach is also the location for many destination weddings in the Exumas.

Explore Staniel Cay with a Golf Cart:

A woman taking a golf car around Staniel Cay from Embrace Resort

When you stay on Staniel Cay, the top way to get around the island is by golf cart. Like I mention above, when you first check into Embrace Resort, they will provide you with your own golf cart that you can take anywhere around the island.

During our time on Staniel Cay, we took our golf carts to the beach, the Yacht Club, to various stores and more. We also got to see beautiful gems on the island like hidden coves, the church and stunning wildlife.

Check Out Other Beaches on Staniel Cay:

A sand dollar found on Staniel Cay, Exuma, Bahamas

In addition to Pirate Trap Beach, Staniel Cay in Exuma, Bahamas also boasts Ocean Beach and Ho Tai Cay Beach. Both beaches are also beautiful and worth checking out.

If you’re looking to see a beautiful sunrise on Staniel Cay, Ocean Beach is the perfect spot! Next, Ho Tai Cay is a great spot to go snorkeling and kayaking on the island. It is also a wonderful beach to spot sting rays in the Exumas.


A woman on a boat tour around Exuma Islands, Bahamas

I hope you all enjoyed discovering how to have the best vacation on Staniel Cay in Exuma, Bahamas and reading about my experience staying at Embrace Resort. If you have any questions, please email me at [email protected]

Basic Facts of the Bahamas:

Currency: Bahamian Dollar (The United States Dollar is accepted everywhere!), Capital: Nassau, Time Zone: Eastern Standard Time

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*Anything could happen during your travels. Always make sure you are insured in case there are unforeseen circumstances such as lost luggage/theft, natural disasters, personal liabilities and more. Click here to get insured for your next trip.

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6 Comments

  1. Trea on August 14, 2021 at 3:51 pm

    What a fantastic read. It’s incredible to know how much there is to do here. Thanks for the covid tips as well, especially the travel insurance! I usually just use my credit card travel insurance so this is good to know. What a beautiful place!

    • Taylor Deer on August 14, 2021 at 8:51 pm

      Thank you so much Trea! Staniel Cay was such a blast! Also yes, you have to get the insurance through the Bahamas site. It’s pretty affordable, which is good! 🙂

  2. Kim Deer on August 15, 2021 at 12:05 am

    Another great informative blog on the breathtaking Bahamas. You looked like you had a blast with all the adorable animals. The water looks gorgeous there! Love all your stunning photos ~ love you, mom xoxo 👩♥️

    • Taylor Deer on August 15, 2021 at 9:07 am

      Thank you mom! I definitely did have a memorable trip. All of the animals were adorable! 🙂 Love you too!

  3. Cosette on August 31, 2021 at 3:33 pm

    What a dreamy and beautiful island. So much fun things to do. Seeing the pigs and nurse sharks is incredible.

    • Taylor Deer on September 1, 2021 at 8:30 am

      It really was so nice there. I loved it! 🙂

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