After our beautiful but eventful arrival in the Exumas at Allen Cay, we moved on the next day down the Exuma chain on the leeward (west) side of the cays. We had planned to stop at Shroud Cay to do some paddle-boarding with Claude and Marie on La Toison D’or, and row our dinghy through the mangrove streams on the interior of the cay. We had great wind for sailing, but it was fairly choppy and when we got to Shroud Cay we all decided that the anchorage looked too exposed and a little rough, so we tacked out again and headed for Waderick Wells instead. A couple of hours later, despite a swift-flowing current and strong winds, we managed to efficiently pick up our reserved mooring. If we missed we would likely have landed on the sand-bar!

The mooring field at Waderick Wells

The mooring field at Waderick Wells

The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park is a favourite among cruisers due to its pristine beauty, well-maintained moorings and breathtaking marine environment. Created in 1958 this 176 square mile park (about 14 islands/cays) was the first of its kind in the world. It is the first marine fishery reserve established in the Caribbean, a good thing as there is little regulation and a great deal of over-fishing elsewhere in the Bahamas. Under the transparent turquoise waters are beautiful natural gardens of coral teeming with fish and lobster.

Centrally located, Waderick Wells is the park headquarters, and contains a number of ecosystems – rocky bluffs, sand dunes, mangrove creeks and sand flats. The Park Visitor Center sits on a point overlooking the horseshoe-shaped anchorage, and is a pleasant place to sit on the deck and watch the tide transform the natural harbor.
Powerful Beach

Powerful Beach

Near our mooring, the skeleton of a 53′ Sperm Whale (that died after swallowing a plastic bag) keeps watch over Powerful Beach. On Saturday nights, cruisers gather round the small tiki hut on the beach for an informal happy hour. As we visited the park office to pay for our mooring, we spotted a large nurse shark near the dock, and a manta ray nearer our boat.

Boo Boo Hill

Boo Boo Hill

Marie, Steve and I struck out to hike on the island trails the next afternoon. We visited some blow-holes in the limestone rocks, but as it was low tide, the waves were not crashing in sufficiently for much of a spectacle. We hiked up to the highest point on the island, Boo Boo Hill, where visiting cruisers bring a piece of driftwood with the name of their boat on it as an appeasement to the gods. Unfortunately we did not come prepared but may add to the pile on our next visit.

Boo Boo Beach

Boo Boo Beach

We enjoyed the great view of the anchorage and neighbouring cays from the hilltop. From there we went to Boo Boo Beach and then back across the island on the Causeway Trail to the park office.

Steve and I dropped Marie at La Toison D’or and went on to snorkel over a coral garden near the mooring field. The diversity of coral, colourful reef fish and marine creatures is amazing. However the current was strong so we did not wander too far or for two long in case we could not make it back to the dinghy.

Nurse shark

Nurse shark

The stay at Waderick was even more enjoyable as Marie cooked dinner for us on La Toison D’or – stone crab fettuccine – yum!

View our photo journal for Waderick Wells.

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