Staniel Cay–The Conclusion

by Megan on September 25, 2014

For our final full day on the island we decided to link up with Cliff again and spend the afternoon on the water.  This wound up working out because the weather was perfect and I wanted another shot at snorkeling the Land and Sea Park since that stop got rained out earlier in the week.

Since we were heading home the following morning, we grabbed all of our leftover bread and stopped by to pay a visit to my nemesis – Mrs. Spotted Pig.

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Once again she came charging out to the boat being all pushy and demanding.  This time we were a little more prepared and made sure to throw food to the piglets.  She tried scaring them away again, but, homegirl wasn’t able to move fast enough (for obvious reasons) if we threw the scraps over her head.

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This is not the face of a happy pig.

The evening before (at the bar after a  few hundred margaritas) I was telling Danny that it would really suck to have a pig bite me in the butt. He agreed that it would be painful and embarrassing…but, it would make for a really good vacation story, so if I wanted to try getting out of the boat I had his full support.  I never did get on the beach with the piglets.

After the pigs, we made another trip to Compass Cay.  I had not stopped talking about swimming with the sharks all week, so, I was pretty psyched for the return trip.

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I spent some time snorkeling around and trying to convince Danny that he should totally get in.  There were some people hanging around the marina that we had met a few nights earlier at the yacht club that got in on the peer pressure, and he finally did take the plunge.

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He swam around for probably 5 minutes but was not nearly as enamored by the whole experience as me.  I am not sure that he agreed with my “coolest thing ever” assessment, but, at least he tried it!

From the Compass Cay we zoomed up to the Land and Sea Park. On the way up Cliff took us by Johnny Depp’s private island which was very impressive.  I took a picture of the beachfront from the boat but feel kind of weird posting it online.

Cliff had really talked up the underwater scene at the park earlier in the week and said that it was the best snorkeling in the area. As soon as I jumped in the water the fish just swarmed around me.

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No fishing is allowed inside the park so there is just tons of sea life.  A lot of visitors bring food for the fish, so they are totally used to people and not shy at all.

The thing about snorkeling is that I really enjoy doing it as long as I can see the bottom of the ocean floor.  The water in the Exumas was so amazing that I could be in water as deep as 25 feet and still clearly see the bottom.  (Note: This is not just a random number that made up, I was so fascinated by the visibility/depth that I asked Cliff about it constantly before I jumped in the water). 

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I have no idea why I wasn’t wearing my fins in this picture.

We made one last stop on the way out of the Land and Sea Park in an area that was called Rocky Dundas.  This was the area that we were in earlier in the week during the monsoon. 

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Oh, you know, just your average day visiting swimming pigs, hanging out with sharks and SNORKELING INSIDE A CAVE.

On the way back to Staniel Cay we stopped at Thunderball Grotto.  All week I really talked up this spot to Danny and he had decided that this was the one that he wanted to try. As I mentioned in a previous post, Thunderball is only safe to do at certain parts of the day.  I figured since it was basically the same time as we had been there two days earlier, it would be fine.

Not so much.  Danny will have to wait until our next visit to Staniel Cay to see Thunderball Grotto.  I do give him points for giving in a go, but, the current got us almost as soon as we jumped out of the boat.  I made Danny hang on to the side of the rocky entrance while I swam to grab a rope that Cliff threw to us from the boat to tow us back in.

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(I really do not want to scare anyone reading this into not snorkeling Thunderball because it is incredible and was very easy when I did it a few days prior.  But, seriously, make sure you catch the tide just right – the guidebooks/internet/etc. aren’t lying about how bad the current can get in this spot.)

After a fun day out on the water we spent one last evening at the yacht club drinking, eating and generally being merry.  Now that we are home my liver is thanking me for letting it dry out  – but, man, I miss my evening margaritas!

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Around 9:30 the next morning we piled our luggage into our golf cart and drove the 100 feet to the “airport” where we boarded our plane back to Ft. Lauderdale and reality.

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We have had the opportunity to travel to some really spectacular locations over the past few years.  For that, I am incredibly thankful.  Staniel Cay is a place that I had wanted to visit for years and it feels strange to (finally) have it crossed off my bucket list.  I am very much looking forward to returning again.  Hopefully sooner rather than later!

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Staniel Cay–Days 3 and 4

by Megan on September 18, 2014

The great thing about taking a vacation to the tropics is that there isn’t a great deal of pressure to do a ton of sightseeing or be on the go the entire trip. It took me awhile to realize that my favorite trips are the ones with tons of downtime and zero obligation.  These days I have become a pro at the art of doing nothing.

Days 3 of our trip was all about relaxing.  We spent a leisurely morning reading in our house before heading out  in search of Ho Tai Cay.  After making several laps around the island we passed Cliff, our boat driver from the day before.  We asked him for directions and he paused for a second, thought and then said, “Follow me.  I will show you.”

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We never would have found this place on our own.  It was a convoluted path down a dirt road that eventually crossed over the end of the runway and down another dirt path.  Once we finally made our way to the beach it was worth the trouble that it took to get there. 

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Ho Tai was a really strange little area.  The water was calm and beautiful and there was a totally random assortment of stuff strewn around the beach.  It wasn’t trashy at all – just very eclectic.  Danny found a shady spot to read while I spent some time lounging in the water. 

After lunch we decided to hit up Pirate Trap Beach.  This was much easier to find than Ho Tai and was the perfect spot to waste away the rest of the day.

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Late in the afternoon the power went off for awhile at our house.  Such is life on a small island.  We took it as a sign that it was time to head to the bar for some drinks before dinner.  I love vacation (and I also love margaritas)!

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Sometime around midnight it started violently storming.  I am used to rain in the tropics, but, usually storms pass by pretty quickly.  This one lingered for a long time and, as such, we woke up to a dreary morning on Saturday.  My big plan for the morning had been to ride around the island and take pictures, so, I was happy when around 10AM things passed and the sun started to peek out.

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After I sufficiently satisfied my inner photo nerd, we headed back to Pirate Trap Beach for more quality relaxation.  This time I brought along my float that I dragged all the way down to the Bahamas. 

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When I loaded my float into the golf cart Danny gave me a, “Are you serious with that thing” kind of look.  Damn straight.  One of my most favorite things is floating in crystal clear water in a tropical paradise. (Note to any future inhabitants of Embrace Resort, I left my float with them – you can thank me later.)

Another evening was spent at the bar of the yacht club and just like that we only had one day left of vacation. Good thing that we had another killer day on the water planned to end things with a bang!

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Staniel Cay–Part 2

by Megan on September 17, 2014

In order to really get out and explore all that the area around Staniel Cay has to offer, it is imperative that you have access to a boat.  Going into the vacation I understood this. I also knew that it was going to prove a little tricky due to the minor detail that neither myself nor Danny have ever actually driven a boat in our lives.

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No worries.  We were introduced to this great guy named Cliff who was happy to ferry us around for a couple of days.  On Thursday at 9:30 on the dot Cliff retrieved us  from the public dock which was practically right across the street from where we were staying.

Our first stop of the day was at Bitter Guana Cay.  This spot is home to an endangered species of rock iguanas. These guys were HUGE and not even a little bit shy.

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We didn’t stick around long because the next stop on our tour was Big Major Cay, home of the infamous swimming pigs!  As soon as our boat got within range the pigs came running out from wherever they hang out on the island and started swimming to the boat. It was hilarious.

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Once they made it to the boat we started throwing out scraps of food that the yacht club gives out to people who are going to the pig island.

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These pigs, they are not shy at all.  They kind of reminded me of my dogs when puppy cones are involved.  They grunted and squealed and put their little hooves on the side of the boat for leverage. 

The big spotted one in the above picture (that I appear to be having a stare down with) was a huge asshole.  She demanded food and when we tried throwing it to the other pigs (and piglets) she would get huffy, make this awful shrill noise and charge the others so she could have the food all to herself.  Basically, she was a lot like Gracie.

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I had planned on hopping off the boat to pet the piglets and take more pictures.  In a final act of defiance the spotted pig looked right into my eyes and… pooped in the water right in front of our boat.  I assume that this was her way of getting back at me for admonishing her for not sharing (and throwing food to the other pigs).

From Big Major we headed over to the Compass Cay Marina.  This place is home of the friendly sharks.  In the weeks leading up to our trip, I became really pumped about swimming with the sharks and was trying to get Danny onboard with how awesome it would be.

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I threw on my snorkel mask and hopped right in.  Danny was much less enthused.  I kept proclaiming “this is the coolest thing EVER” (because it was) but I could not convince him to hop in the water with me.  It was only after a significant amount of coaxing that I managed to get him to get close enough to snap a picture.

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The sharks were like dogs (except much more gentle than my two mutts).  They laid on the dock waiting to be rubbed and there were so many of them.  Once they got word that I was passing out head scratches more would find their way onto the dock.  Hanging out with these guys was the coolest thing I have ever done.

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Compass Cay also has a really great little beach area.  It had a couple of places for shade and, like everywhere else that we visited, it was totally deserted.  Not a bad place to spend a couple of hours.

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From Compass Cay we zoomed up to the Land and Sea Park, which I was excited to snorkel.  Unfortunately, a nasty storm blew through the area just as we were arriving and I was a little nervous about hopping in the water.  (Spoiler Alert: We made it back later in the week)

Since the Land and Sea Park was a bust, Cliff took us a few other places so that I could snorkel.  He also parked the boat at an amazing sandbar that seemed to pop up out of nowhere and go on forever.

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Our last stop of the day was Thunderball Grotto.  When I started researching Staniel Cay as a potential destination, the grotto kept popping up as a “must do.”  Everything that I read said that it was incredible but to make sure that you timed your trip so that you could go at low tide.  I was excited about the chance to see it but also really nervous. 

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Luckily, this trip was timed perfectly and there were several other people already there snorkeling.  That made it much less scary for me (especially because Danny had already made it clear that he was not interested in going in).

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Snorkeling in the cave was straight up insane.  The fish were going crazy because a few people had brought in food for them.  Everywhere I turned blew my mind.

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After swimming in and out of the cave a few times trying to convince Danny (to no avail) to put his gear on, I returned to the boat and we headed back to the dock to pick up our golf cart.  The details after this are a little fuzzy, so, I assume that we headed to the bar for margaritas.

Swimming pigs, friendly sharks, deserted beaches and snorkeling in a cave – from start to finish, this day was one of the best ever.

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Staniel Cay–Part One

September 16, 2014

Years ago, I ran across an article somewhere about pigs that live on an island in the Bahamas and swim.  Ever since, I have had “see the swimming pigs” on my bucket list. If I am being honest, at first, I was not 100% forthcoming with Danny regarding the details of this trip.  Staniel Cay [...]

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My Date with Justin Timberlake

July 23, 2014

A few weeks ago (July 12th to be exact), I finally got the chance to cash in the Justin Timberlake concert tickets that Danny gifted me for Christmas.  It was pretty much the most face melting thing that I have ever witnessed.  I am actually just now getting around to writing about the show because [...]

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Savannah in 2.25 Days

May 1, 2014

Danny and I have been talking about making a trip to Savannah for over 2 years.  It kept getting put off because of things like working on a Master’s Degree, ruptured canine ACL’s and (of course) that pesky little thing known as work.  Sometime in February I noticed that my birthday fell on a Thursday.  [...]

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Groundhog Day

April 6, 2014

After Gracie was diagnosed with the ACL tear on her right leg we were told that about 50% of dogs who tear one ligament will have the other go within a year.  Obviously, we were hoping to beat the odds.  About a month ago at her wellness check-up, our vet told us that he felt [...]

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Iced In

January 31, 2014

Earlier this month I was lamenting to Danny about how the first quarter of the year always kind of sucks.  After the holidays going back to work is such a drag and there really isn’t anything to look forward to January-March in terms of holidays or time off from work.  Last weekend I started seeing [...]

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It’s Been Awhile

January 10, 2014

It has been awhile since my last post.  The main reason for that being that I broke my right hand the day before Thanksgiving which has made doing anything at all a huge production. How did I break my hand, you ask?  It was an unfortunate encounter with a treadmill at my gym.  Whomever had [...]

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Back to Paradise–Anguilla 2013

November 24, 2013

This time last week we were hanging out in Anguilla, probably a little tipsy on margaritas.  Today in North Carolina it turned frigid which has made looking at the photos from last week a little painful. Nevertheless, a quick recap of our trip to Anguilla (in bullet form): The above photo was taken on our [...]

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