Sailing with Our Kids in the Bahamas

For future Bahamian sailing families:

We started sailing last fall with our four children ages 8 to 15, and within the Bahamas we’ve sailed from the Abacos all the way down to Raggeds Island and back!   What we’ve been able to experience has accumulated to quite a bit, so I’ve created a small collection of A to Z places, educational themed activities and events that our children LOVED while we were out here.   (In addition to typical experiences most kids would enjoy out here… (ie. snorkeling, diving, fishing, spearing, kayaking, swimming, paddling, hiking) Please know this isn’t a complete list of all possible experiences in the Bahamas, this is just our first season!

Allens Cay, Exumas
Iguanas:   There’s a wealth of info available on these nationally protected lizards, proceed with some caution as many are aggressive.

Adventurescience.org
Study of Microplastics: Water Sampling
Join in this collaborative conservation effort with other adventurers and scientists by collecting water samples or choose from other field studies you can help gather research for on your adventure!

Beuna Vista Cay, Raggeds
Local Culture
Visit with Edward and have him show you around his garden and small animal farm.  He has a great knolwedge of the local flora as well.

Big Majors, Exumas
Swimming Pigs
Many of you already know about the famous swimming pigs, a picture is worth a thousand words, so stop on by and enjoy the novelty of seeing a four legged mammal swim for food!

Cooking
Meal Assistance, Baking Desserts, Cook-Offs
Cooking in the galley has been one of the best experiences for the kids.  Meal assistance, baking goodies for other boats in the anchorage and having an end of season cook-off was an excellent way for them to show off  their skills.  The cook-off consisted of the kids picking their menu’s: main dish, sides, drink and dessert recipes.  Then shopping for ingredients at the local grocery (they had a stipend), prepping and cooking the meal.  Then they treated the parents to a  formal sit down dinner complete with service.  They were judged on presentation, main dish (healthiness), drink originality (non-alcoholic), dessert, and clean-up.  Winners all around were given rewards parents had agreed upon.

Christopher Columbus, Long Island, Exumas
Exploratory Routes of Discovering New World
Stop by the monument on the north side of Long Island and discuss the possible routes he took to discover the New World.

David Copperfield, Rudder Cut Cay, Exumas
Mermaid Piano
This is a popular snorkeling spot, but the back story is even more interesting.  Have the kids try some of their own magic or read about his history via Wikipedia.

Electronics
E-readers
This was something we invested in before we came, but on most days the kids were using them  as we ran out of the hard copy books we brought.  Enlist in Kindle Unlimited and get some good book lists downloaded BEFORE you come as internet isn’t always on the free side.

Fun Runs and Festivals,  Abacos, Exumas
Greater Abacos Family Fun Run, Color Run, First Friday in February Farmers Festival
There are lots of local races and festivals that may fall on a day you can participate or volunteer.  They are a great way to enjoy and support the local communities and experience some Bahamian culture.

Georgetown, Exumas
Georgetown Regatta, Cruisers Community, Hiking Trails
There are many kid themed activities during this weekend of cruising fun, plan ahead to attend, its usually in February.  There are some great hikes as well on Stocking Island and the cruising community is an easy way to meet other kidboats.

Green Castle, Darby Island, Exumas
Exploration and Discovery
This is on a private island with a no-trespassing sign.  However if you ask for permission from the caretaker to view the castle, they will generally agree to the visit.  The castle has a great history to it. The German owner, Sir Guy Baxter used it as a working plantation back in 1938 raising goats, and farming with cotton, palm oil and fruit.  The mystery begins as to why he left… rumor has it he was expelled from the island for providing provisions to German Uboats during WW2, it’s anyones guess as to where he is now!

Hopetown, Elbow Cay, Abacos
Lighthouse History
Share some of the lighthouse backstory and the loyalist ‘salvaging’ of wrecked ships then experience all 101 steps up to enjoy the view.  As an experiment, at night wake up the kids every couple hours and see if they can cut it being a lighthouse operator!

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Hog Cay, Raggeds
Hiking, Beach Pavilion
This was a great stop down south for the kids to stretch their legs and enjoy some hiking trails to the ocean side of the Cay and enjoy some overnight campouts under the pavilion and caves.

Inspiration
Book Lists and Moments of Stillness
Being inspired as parents isn’t always easy… find some good books for you AND for the kids to get inspiration!  Creating moments of stillness and reflection have been great breeding grounds for deep thought!

Johnson Cay, Ragggeds
Seahorses and Sliding Down Sand Dunes
This was an elusive fish for us to find, (you may find it some elsewhere though), the bay at Johnsons had several for us to enjoy.  The role of seahorse parenting is especially interesting to talk through with the kids. 

Kidboats
Sharing the Fun with Other Kids!
Hooking up with other kidboats has opened up new friendships for all on board, using the VHF for communication, finding blitz chess and scrabble lovers, and even sharing dinner meals just to name a few.

Lionfish
Invasive Species
Do some snorkeling and find the ever present lionfish, then discuss how this invasive species’ eating habits have effected and altered the ecosystems of the reef.

Lee Stocking Island, Exumas
NOAA Marine Research Center
Take an exploratory walk through a once working marine research facility and get a feel for what it was like to live as a marine biologist!

Manjack Cay, Abacos
Hiking and Serving
Visit with Bill and Leslie and offer to help with any needs they may have (trail or beach maintenance). While you’re there, kayak through the mangrove lined river– it’s a treasure trove of wildlife!

Mangroves, Abacos and Exumas
Ecosystem Extraordinaire
This is an amazing tree!  Learn about the many benefits the mangrove offers to the wildlife around it and the sacrificial yellow leaf!

Normans Cay, Exumas
Snorkel a Commando Airplane, History of the Drug Trade on Island, Pond and Hiking Exploration, Hammerhead Breeding Grounds
This was by far our favorite cay to visit. What made it even more interesting was reading about it after we visited.  Check out Turning the Tide by Richard Novak and his desire to run a hammerhead reasearch facility during the same time Carlos R   turned it into a drug dealing haven.  You can also hike to a trawler which was put on the hilltop as a warning for boaters to stay away!  (Its near Skipjack Point).  Diving the downed airplane made it all come to life and visiting the pond to see if we could see any hammerheads was amazing!

Oven Rock, Guana Cay, Exumas
Osprey Nest
Beach your dinghy onshore near Oven Rock and take a quick walk up topside to view an Osprey nest. 

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People of the Bahamas
Loyalists and their West African Workforce
Take the time to read about the history behind the people here in the Bahamas.  Wind from the Carolina’s is an excellent read which details some of this history.

Queen Elizabeth II
British Commonwealth and its Monarchy
Nearly every community has a road highlighting the Queen’s role as monarchial ruler over the Bahamas.  Checkout the political history and discover when the Bahamas became part of the British monarchy.

Raggeds
Star Constellation Project, Fishing Boat Visit
This was where we did our Star Constellation project, but you may find little light pollution all over the Exumas and Abacos.  The kids were to pick a constellation and create a report and then present it to their peers on what they learned.  (Credit to Rick on Makana for organizing this!)  We also were able to visit with a local fishing boat that discussed with the kids the nature of fishing in the Bahamas and some of the dangers of overfishing.

Staniel Cay, Exumas
Thurnderball Grotto and Cliff Jumping
The kids enjoyed visiting the underwater grotto AND jumping at the adjoining Cay.  We were anchored nearby in case they needed anything, but as long as you planned it with high tide, there were no issues.

Schools, Exumas and Abacos
Visit Bahamian Schools
The kids can visit a local school for a day and experience the local culture as well as plan it for an afternoon during PE to include some play!

Scavenger Hunt, Exumas or Abacos
Local Flora and Fauna Hunt
If you want to give the kids a more structured day at the beach, plan a scavenger hunt that includes local flora and fauna where the kids can identify and collect varying items of importance to the ecosystem.  ie.  Find a live conch, write group name on driftwood using what you can find on the beach, bring love vine, find some sea grass, collect 5 items of trash to dispose of… (Credit to Isabelle on Isla Bonita)

Treasure Cay, Abacos
Blue Hole
Rent bikes for the day and head north to find one of the best kept secrets of the area– the Treasure Cay Blue Hole!  The ride took approx. 1 hour each way (we rode it with a 9 yr. Old). 

Under the Bimini Basketweaving
Bahamian Basketweaving
Take some time and ask a local weaver if they will teach your kids how to weave baskets from the local palm trees which are abundant in the Exumas.  They will enjoy the opportunity to teach the kids, and your kids will get some great handicrafts they can show off!

Vert’s Miniship Building Shop, Green Turtle Cay, Abacos
Mini-ship Building
Stop in and visit Vert and learn how he builds miniature ships for buyers around the world!

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Waderick Wells, Exuma Land and Sea Park
No Fishing, No Touch Protected Park:  For Your Viewing Pleasure
This was a great place to see the majority of the underwater wildlife unaltered. 

Whelk, Exumas and Abacos
Trying New Seafood
This is a mollusk that you can eat as an appetizer or side dish.  You boil it for 10 min or so, then let cool and using a knife, you pull out the meat, trimming the dark skin off and eating the white flesh.

Xtreme Caving, Great Guana Cay, Exumas
Underwater Caving
You can dinghy up to the sandy beach near Oven Rock, then hike north along the rocky shore until you see a marked trail which leads you to the ocean side of the beach.  The trail will fork, take the right one to a fresh water cave where you can find cave shrimp and explore the caverns– don’t forget a dive light! 

Yo-Yos
Fishing from Your Boat
This was an enjoyable experience for all to line fish from the boat.  We caught cero, mutton snapper, jacks, and way too many barracuda.  Please do your due diligence and research which fish you can eat that don’t have ciguatera… and then see which fish we didn’t eat because of its possible contamination.

Zoology
Reef Fish and Wildlife Fieldguides
This was an integral part to our enjoyment of snorkeling.  Pickup DeLoach’s Reef Fish and Animal Identification Guidebooks (black covers) to help your kiddos classify what they are discovering!

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