If the weather is settled, or from prevailing easterlies, the lee shores of Great Guana Cay provide many isolated and spectacular anchorages. You can easily find a spot to call all your own with deserted beaches, warm shallow waters to swim and paddle board in, excellent holding in soft white sand and many trails to explore that lead to secluded beaches, caves, and viewpoints. A perfect place to be away from it all, but still be connected with excellent cellular connection via the towers at Little Farmers Cay and Staniel Cay.
Becaus Great Guana Cay is so long, the beaches and shallow waters near its center on the western side are more isolated from the colder waters of the sound. The result is a little saltier water, but also warmer waters. Below are some pictures from the beaches and hikes we enjoyed on this rather unique Exuma Cay.
There are two good hiking trails on Great Guana Cay; at Hetty’s Land and at Oven Rock. The trail at Hetty’s land is well marked and leads to the Atlantic side across a salt marsh and up an old sand dune where you can get vistas of the deep blue waters of the sound and foaming white water as the Atlantic swell relentlessly crashes against the Exumas. The resulting coast is a complex topography of steep cliffs, blow holes, isolated tiny inlets, sharp karsted limestone, grasses and stunted trees. The rugged terrain is starkly beautiful and a fierce reminder of the perils of the windward sides of Atlantic and Caribbean islands. It is hard to imagine anyone being able to survive shipwrecked on these shores during a gale. For more on Hetty’s Land check out the blog post on the “Natural Beauty of Great Guana Cay”.
At Oven Rock, a trail at the north end of the beach leads to the Atlantic side where two natural wonders await. The first is a large cave with stalagmites, stalactites and a pool in its interior. There are also bats in the cave clinging to the ceiling. It is easily accessible and reasonably safe for most people who are comfortable exploring it.
Beyond the cave lies a small “C” shaped cove with a fringing beach that opens to the sound. It is a gorgeous setting that is also a stark reminder of the impact we are having on our world. As on almost every Caribbean Island I have set foot on, the story is similar;
The windward sides are a collection of moulded plastic washed ashore by winds and currents. The only litter that seems to survive the test of time and the elements is plastics.
Plastic is found as litter of all sizes and forms from floating polypropylene line to car parts, shoes, buckets, baskets, bottles, toy dolls, sandals, caps, and finally broken down chips of plastic becoming colour grains and granules in the beach sands. What has amazed me is the almost complete lack of other forms of man made litter. Rarely do I find metals, glass, wood, cardboard, paper or any organics. Clearly the accidental, or even worse just thoughtless disposal of plastics, is leaving its mark on even remote and isolated parts of our world. I do not have an answer to address this or magical solution. Plastics are a huge benefit to mankind in so many ways and play a vital and necessary role in our modern societies – yet ironically, they may also be one of the biggest curses mankind has “littered” the planet with as well. Awareness of the growing issues is the first step. Developing ways to minimize the growing quantities of plastic waste is the next goal, hopefully to be followed with solutions and an effort to clean up after ourselves. On Oh! I have one hard and fast, uncompromising rule: no plastics of any type, description, or even bio-degradable plastics leave the boat unless taken to a proper commercial garbage bin. Hopefully, at least the contents of the bin are disposed of in a way that does not contribute to the ever growing mass already “out there”. Better yet, where we can, all any plastics that can be are recycled.
If you wish to learn more about what is happening to our oceans from plastic waste watch:
“A Plastic Ocean” on NETFLIX.
It is a very sobering look at a very challenging problem, yet one for which we can all be part of the solution.
On the leeward side of the Exuma Islands (which is the side most visited by cruisers) the beaches are mostly protected from the drifting plastics in the oceans. The result is that the beaches are very clean and stunningly beautiful. They are not plastic litter free, but almost.
Cheers, from Oh!