Compass Cay…what a wonderful surprise you turned out to be!
We originally decided to visit Compass Cay because of its reputation for beautiful beaches and shark encounters, and we had planned to anchor out and dinghy in to see the island. (FYI: each time you land your dinghy there, the price is $10 per person) However, after a restless night spent in a beautiful anchorage just next to Compass Cay, with other five boats, we decided to check out a marina stay. We have absolutely nothing against charter boats, but 2 that were near us seemed destined to swing into us, run into us as they re-anchored, or were up all night with about 18 passengers singing loud see shanties! (yikes) So, we quickly decided to splurge and dock at Compass Cay Marina.
The marina is yet another reason to love Compass Cay. Even though it has fixed docks, we made it work for taking our dogs on and off with a ramp that we’d brought along for them. The docks look almost new and were in great shape. The marina is a favorite for large power yachts and everyone on staff was helpful. It was our first time here, but the folks we chatted with on other big yachts say they come here frequently. The marina is on the expensive side, but you get the idea that it’s being used to make improvements there and on the island itself, and not sent to some corporate headquarters far away.
There is no bar or restaurant just a little store where they sell soft drinks, hats, T-shirt’s etc. It seems you can get a hot dog or burger and fries if you talk to the right person at the right time. 🙂 Without a restaurant, it makes for a very quiet and laid back marina most of the time. While the island is very sparsely populated, less than 100, the exception is the frequent visits from excursion boats and dinghies to see and swim with the sharks. The nurse sharks there are the stars of the marina, but the friendly staff here is a close second. In the evening, it’s just the folks from the few docked boats and the staff left at the marina. Everyone gathers on the dock by the office to talk, tell fish stories, and have a drink and a laugh together (BYOB). Some nights residents, staff, or visitors will organize hermit crab races from hermit crabs you can find as you trek about the small island. Yet another reason to love Compass Cay!
If you plan to stay in a rental home here, there aren’t many (which is a BONUS as the beaches always seems to be empty), but the ones we saw looked to be new and in great condition. We also saw a few being built and they looked to be sound and well made too.
We came in at low tide and our 44 ft catamaran was by far the smallest boat in the marina. Able staff member Ozzie placed us on the far side of dock A. The water looked about 3 feet deep by dock ‘A’ and we almost aborted the docking, but Ozzie said ‘keep coming.’ He was right, the depth was never less than seven feet. We had to break out the ramp we brought along for the dogs and use it here because of the fixed dock & tides. They did every well with it, no fear on their part and we got to practice the WAIT command a lot! The harbor itself offers a lot of protection if you are looking to get out of some bad weather. Bone fish, nurse sharks, jacks, etc., are everywhere around the docks. At dusk the fish get really active and more fish come in from surrounding areas. It makes for quite a show if you just want to enjoy a drink and observe the fish ‘night life’ that’s all around.
So, to recap…
There are so many reasons to love Compass Cay, here are our top 3:
1. The friendly nurse sharks that tolerate scores of tourists touching them every day, in exchange for a bit of food. Yes, it was a thrill and a ‘bucket-list moment’ when we got to swim with them. Another perk of staying at the marina is having the sharks all to yourself when the excursion boats are not around.
2. The magnificent beach (which could be right out of a movie about PERFECT BEACHES!), and as we noticed each time we went there, it seems to be empty at all times.
3. The sandy walking paths and helpful (& beautiful!) hand-painted signs that encourage you to wander about the island. You could spend a day or two walking the paths and hilltops exploring the island.
If you have a chance to add Compass Cay to your Exuma, Bahamas itinerary, we highly recommend it and we’re sure you’ll find many reasons to love Compass Cay as well! Bon Voyage!