Kayaking options: The Bahamas

Finally, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel of my dream to pursue a kayaking vacation in the Bahamas - but I need feedback on the possibilities . . .

The following is an excerpt of an inquiry I sent to Kayak Nature Tours in the Bahamas, but there are probably folks here who could offer some good advice:

My wife and I are exploring the possibilities for a kayaking-centered vacation in the Bahamas, with a particular interest in outer islands like the Exumas. Perhaps, you could suggest possibilities.

We are not interested in participating in novice group kayak tours, with two person boats involving people who have never been in a kayak, nor are we interested in the luxury-focused vacations. Our limited budget and nature interests steer us away from that.

Rather, we are interested in exploring the natural wonders of the Bahamas via kayak – probably to include camping along the way. Ideally, though I don’t know if it’s possible, we would love to bring our own sea kayaks to use on our trip – but cost may be prohibitive. I have wondered if it might be possible for us to car-top our kayaks to someplace in Florida, like we would in any situation, but be able to load ourselves with our boats on some type of charter vessel to the islands.

Thanks for any advice you can offer.

Kayaking the Bahamas
Sounds like a great trip and people have done it. The winters can be real windy for long periods of time. Early spring into early summer are less likely to be windy and alot of the cruising boats will be gone. If you would like more info feel free to contact me. PS, The northern Bahamas can get cold in the winter. Vaughn Fulton

Thanks Vaughn,
I sent you an email.

I never hear much about kayaking
…in the Bahamas. Maybe if you can get some good local advice. Drawbacks would be Bahamian law (you’re not in Kansas anymore), private islands, drug smugglers, human smugglers, corrupt police (including their version of the Coast Guard) and opportunistic locals. You can’t legally possess firearms but you will be the only ones without them.

Beautiful water though.

should probably be avoided as much as possible. I grew up there from age 4 through 15 and returned only once. I have not been back for 42 years. I understand it has changed dramatically for the worst. The out islands such as Exuma and Andros are still beautiful but Nassau is filled with poverty, crime and drugs.

Wow, the last two posts make it look
kind of scary in the Bahamas. But in my online search, so far, I’m not getting that at all.

For a perfectly enchanting account of an 8 day expedition kayaking the Exuma Islands in the Bahamas, go to http://www.seakayak.ws/kayak/kayak.nsf/a631f4790e66c273852569f9006ec1b2/322d3c8b871c0b5b852574180071fa4c!OpenDocument . The photography is breath-taking!

Just think, finding a way to charter a group’s boats to the islands, then spending a week, paddling in paradise!

A little different…
Going out of an outfitter that can point you in the right direction than shipping your boats and going it alone. I think you will find it prohibitive if not impossible to get your own boats there.

Good luck

Taking your own Kayak
I agree. I lived in the Bahamas and would be careful about trying to ship my own boat. Some of the small inter island carriers are not set up to do that kind of stuff. Vaughn Fulton

Maybe a folder or inflatable might be OK
I think lots of folks take their own boats all over the world. you just have to have a boat set up for air travel.

I am thinking . . .
a smaller sea kayak, like our Arctic Tern 14s, could be car-topped to the Florida port, where they could (be wrapped, maybe put into a length if 24" PVC pipe and) be “mother-shipped” with us by a big group charter boat to the islands. I think these boats would be great for negotiating a week-long excursion through the Exumas.

Last night, I saw where one outfitter rents their boats for $100/day. Even small cottages run around $200 to over $400 per day. Camping on the cays while paddling the Exumas seems like the best option.

BTW, if there is anybody following this with similar dreams, email me . . . maybe we can organize a pod and split expenses.


– Last Updated: Mar-16-10 8:07 PM EST –

Are the Bahamas a prerequisite? Because if not, then I think Belize might be something that would work. I'm plotting a trip with these folks for next spring: http://www.islandexpeditions.ca/ . They seem to have quite a variety of trips available with the apparent target market being intermediate kayakers who have an interest in ecology and the environment but not necessarily "roughing it". Some of their trips are a nice blend of inland and offshore if that's your thing.

We've just returned from a 2-week trip to Curacao (visiting relatives) and it was my first time in the Caribbean...most definitely whetted my appetite for more snorkelling and underwater photography! We're also "newly retired" but still healthy and physically active... just not into "forced marches, lean-too, backpacking any longer.

Bit far to ship our Pygmy Cohos though :o)

Consider the Virgin Islands
I’ve been to both the Bahamas and the Virgin Islands (US and British) and I would opt for the VI’s, hands down, for kayak touring and camping. The Virgins are more pristine, in my opinion, and the waters and coastlines are safer (as in low crime). If you want a first hand tale (and photos) of a brief recent paddling adventure there, read Brian Schulz’s tongue-in-cheek trip report on his blog http://capefalconkayak.com/stjohn.html

There are outfitters in the VI from whom you can rent equipment. You might also want to consider buying a pair of seaworthy folding kayaks. There are several used ones for sale on various sites at the moment including a guy on foldingkayaks.org who is GIVING AWAY a Feathercraft double that needs a few repairs. I like being able to bring my own Feathercraft folders on the plane as regular checked luggage.