One of the unexpected joys in our cruising journey has been the ability to share our unusual lifestyle with others. Some visits were planned months in advance, some were a complete surprise, and some were the perfect blend of unexpected and minimal planning. Whatever the case, sharing the cruising lifestyle is a huge blessing to us. There are a few things that are crucial to boat visitor success:
- Length of time. For us, 3 days max is all you are gonna get. We love you, but the space is super tight and quarters are extra close and for everyone’s sanity we would love to have you on board for 2-3 lovely nights. After that, you are on your own 🙂 Trust me, a few nights of sleeping on the couch in our “living room” under the leaky hatch and you will happily jump off at your first chance. Did I mention we only have 1 semi-working toilet? Yeah…3 days max.
- Ease of Transition. Believe it or not, the greatest visitor challenge for us has been the pick-up/drop off scenario. We are most likely floating out and about at anchor somewhere and running in/out of ports to retrieve passengers can be a challenge for various reasons. Usually weather is the culprit, but we will plan visits in the future based on where we can easily retrieve our visitors.
- Activities. More often than not boat life can be very boring…which is not why you have come to see us. We want to take you to cool spots, show off amazing snorkeling, and generally regale you with the high points of #boatlife. Let’s pick places where entertainment is as easy as jumping off the boat.
We have discussed the challenges of having boat visitors from the logistical standpoint as it can definitely be a challenge, but we do think there are a few spots that lend themselves well to having visitors aboard. So many times we would look at each other and exclaim “I wish we had known this!!”, so if you are planning to cruise the Bahamas or Caribbean anytime soon, here are a few hints:
Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
I talked previously about this being the perfect vacation spot and I think it makes the PERFECT place to host boat visitors. You can have guests fly into either St. Thomas or Road Town and then easily ferry up to Virgin Gorda. Flights are probably cheaper into St. Thomas, but the ferry ride will be a bit longer/pricier. Saba Rock or the Bitter End Yacht Club offer fantastic resort-type rooms and plenty of activities. There is fantastic day sailing to the Baths, snorkeling a great reef just off Saba Rock and plenty of hammocks for laying. Let’s not forget the incredible happy hour sunsets and daily turtle sightings either! It honestly does not get any better than this!
Staniel Cay Yacht Club, Exuma Bahamas
Staniel Cay has all the ingredients for a fabulous visitor destination: water activities, happening bar scene, swimming pigs(!!!) and amazing snorkeling. We have talked ad nasseum about Staniel Cay around here, so you can peruse all the amazingness that Staniel has to offer here, here and here. There are tiny commuter flights directly into Staniel Cay and cute little bungalows right on the island, or you can find a VRBO around the corner in Black Point.
We fell into this visitor spot on accident as we planned a trip for my uncle and a buddy of Bo’s. It was the classic case of us trying to plan a visit before we had arrived to town and originally we planned to spend a lot of time in St. Thomas. Upon arriving in the islands it was quickly determined that St. Thomas was NOT a place we wanted to spend any time and we quickly changed the plan. St. Thomas is great for flights, but that is about it. If we had to do it over again – we would have guests fly into Road Town on a one-way ticket and then enjoy the downwind sail back towards St. Thomas where they could fly back out from the airport there. This ensures no upwind bashing (which is terrible at best for the seasoned sailors and downright miserable for those without sea legs) and a pretty much guaranteed great time as you hit the island circuit.
If you must do the pick-up/drop off in St. Thomas there are two options: 1. Drop anchor in crazy rolly Red Hook and have them cab over from the airport ($15 each). There is good provisioning and laundry in Red Hook, so you can get prepared for guests there.We personally didn’t like the looks of anchoring in Red Hook and tried to avoid it. Many friends did it with no problems, just wasn’t our cup of tea. 2. Drop anchor in Charlotte Amalie and meet them in the harbor there. Also decent provisions, but a pretty busy harbor with cruise ships etc…Neither is ideal, but both are doable. St. Thomas itself is just not a place we want to spend any more time than necessary.
From St. Thomas you can get downwind to St. John and it will not disappoint. It is the national park, so moorings will be $26/night and there is no anchoring – but your options for bays to moor are plentiful. Our favorite was to leave the boat in Cinnamon Bay and take a cab into Cruz Bay for dinner ($7/per person, per way). You can grab a mooring at Caneel Bay and dinghy over to Cruz Bay, but Caneel is VERY uncomfortable at night and after trying twice we decided never again. Waterlemon and Maho are hands down two of the most beautiful places we have stayed. Hiking, snorkeling, paddle boarding, etc…Don’t forget to pick up extra snorkel masks if your guests aren’t bringing their own. Easy snorkel rentals at most places on St. John. DEFINITELY do happy hour at Joe’s Rum Hut and dinner at The Longboard.
Marsh Harbor, Abaco, Bahamas
If we were going to do guests again in the Abacos, Bahamas we would have them fly into/out of Marsh Harbor airport and take the ferry to where ever we were located. There are marina and anchoring options in Marsh Harbor, but depending on the weather/wind direction you can get pinned in there and it is not a place for vacationing. Marsh Harbor is perfect for gathering supplies, but that is about it.
Visitors to boatlife are fun and bring a nice reminder of home and all the people there cheering for this crazy lifestyle. These are just a few places that we would absolutely recommend a rendevous. Enjoy!