You might be reconsidering the Caribbean and Bahamas luxury yacht charter after Category 5 Hurricane Dorian swept through the region in August, however, the majority of the damage has been localised to the Abacos Islands and the rest of the Bahamas is welcoming visitors to their shores.
The clean-up effort is expected to cost billions of US dollars and although donations and support from across the world are helping to speed up this process, it is ultimately the long-term sustainability of tourism in the area that will ensure the continuation of communities and their shared culture.
Grand Bahama and the Abacos Islands
The settlements and infrastructure in this region have been devastated and evacuations of Grand Bahama and Great Abaco are ongoing, with the UN World Food Programme reporting that some 6,000-7,000 people still remain.
As aid is being delivered by military vessels and a volunteer fleet of superyachts, the area should be considered off-limits to tourists at the moment, however some areas may re-open before the end of the winter yacht charter season.
Comprised of 365 cays and islands, the Exumas experienced heavy winds and rainfall yet the damage was minimal and work is being done to get the northern region, where the damage is concentrated, back to 100%.
Reasons to visit The Exumas:
The Exumas are one of the most popular luxury yacht charter destinations in the Bahamas, where visitors can swim with pigs, observe nesting seabirds among the lagoons and mangroves of the Moria Harbour Cay National Park, or snorkel among the stromatolites, the oldest known macro-fossils on Earth.
Nassau & Paradise Island
While the infrastructure remains in place, visitors should note that Nassau is a hub for relief efforts and the airport and marina is busier than usual as food, water and medical and sanitation supplies are delivered and sent out.
Reasons to visit Nassau & Paradise Island:
Visitors come to Nassau and Paradise Island for tales of adventure and piracy, and notable names like Blackbeard (Edward Teach) called Nassau home. Historic Heritage Sites settled by liberated slaves tell a compelling tale of life in the 1800s, which created a cultural heritage still alive in the islands today.
After a day of culture play with the water toys, rest on one of the marvellous sandy beaches or indulge in one of the serene spas if you don’t have your own masseuse among the crew.
Eleuthera & Harbour Island
Eleuthera took some damage in the north as Hurricane Dorian passed through yet most services are up and running and expected to be back to normal in time for the height of the luxury yacht charter season.
Reasons to visit Eleuthera & Harbour Island:
Pink Sands Beach and Glass Window Beach are two popular attractions in the north that have remained untouched, however there is plenty of choice for a quiet beach down the coast where guests can windsurf, kayak or snorkel. Sites such as The Devil’s Backbone and Current Cut will keep Scuba divers entranced for hours before returning to sunbathe on the sundeck or savour a cocktail at sundown.
The Berry islands experienced heavy wind and rain as Hurricane Dorian passed through but little damage was done overall. Chub Marina is currently being used as a drop-off point for supplies heading to affected towns and villages on Abacos and Grand Bahama, however for most it is business as usual.
Reasons to visit The Berry Islands:
The Berry Islands are a paradise for Scuba divers, and fishing enthusiasts, who refer to the island chain as ‘The Billfish Capital of The Bahamas’: Mahi-mahi, wahoo, blue and white marlin and mackerel are plentiful and championship competitions take place throughout the year for those wanting to test their skills and luck against others.
Directly south of Grand Bahama and the largest of all of the Bahamas Islands, Andros is receiving evacuees and the main marina in Andros Town is being used to send and receive supplies.
Reasons to visit Andros Island:
Hurricane Dorian had little effect on Andros, and luxury yacht charter to the region can expect to find the same incredible wildlife flitting through the clear blue water. The world’s third-largest fringing barrier reef is just offshore and whether your luxury yacht charter group consists of birdwatchers, hikers, kayakers, Scuba divers, thrill-seekers or sun worshippers, the natural environment on Andros Island provides.
All infrastructure on the island has remained intact and visitors can expect the same uninterrupted service as experienced in previous years.
Reasons to visit Cat Island:
Purportedly named after the pirate Arthur Catt, this island boasts a rich cultural history and can proudly claim to be the birthplace of The Bahamas’ ethnicrake and scrape music. A network of nature trails through the green rolling hills and down to the soft coastal shores will satisfy hikers for hours, while romantics and photographers will want to spend time on the eight-mile Pink Sand Beach.
Long Island escaped the worst of the wind and rain and is being used to shelter displaced cats and dogs from the more damaged nearby islands.
Reasons to visit Long Island:
For luxury yacht charter groups there is no difference in service and whether this is your first winter in the Bahamas or an annual ritual, the dramatic cliffs and caves along the east of Long Island are a sight to behold that are in direct contrast to the gently sloping family-friendly beaches to the west. Dean’s Blue Hole is said to be the deepest Blue Hole in the world, and Hamilton’s Cave is actually the largest cave system in the Bahamas and in some places has cave drawings believed to be by Lucayan Indians from 500 A.D.
Hurricane Dorian missed the Bimini Islands as it headed north and made landfall on the east coast of the United States, leaving the two large islands and the numerous cays undamaged.
Reasons to visit the Bimini Islands:
The Bimini Islands have a storied history, being used as a speakeasy and storage during the Prohibition era and the runner S.S. SAPONA now lies on the seabed to entice Scuba divers into the water, along with ‘The Bimini Road’, a straight set of rocks believed to be a road system of the Lost Continent of Atlantis. The cays were also the summer home’ of Ernest Hemingway there is excellent fishing on offer that can be prepared for lunch by your expert on board chef.
How can I help?
YachtAid Global, Hope 4 Hope Town and the Bahamas Red Cross are accepting donations via their respective websites with aid going towards food, water, medicine, sanitation products and providing shelter.