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Warderick Wells Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park

Dan wanted to work on the engine today so the kids and I headed up to the office to see if there was anything she needed us to volunteer to do.  Judy didn’t have anything specific in mind, just asked to pick up any trash we saw, so we decided to go for a hike to the Causeway and Butterfly Beach.  The trail winds itself through the trees, over rocks, and eventually over a bridge.  As we crossed the bridge we saw what we thought were 4 Atlantic Stingrays.  These are much smaller than the Southern Stingrays, and tend to stay in shallower areas of sand.  They were less than a foot across, more of a brown color,   with very long skinny tails.  One was right near the shore and would follow Tessa as she walked back and forth near the water’s edge.  We took turns lightly touching its back and then putting our fingers in the water in front of it and letting it flutter up to us.  Rays are so and I am so glad we have been able to really experience them.  It was hot so we didn’t linger too long.  An interesting thing about the island is that the trees are not very tall.  It was rare on the trails to find shade, so we trodded along under the midday sun in 90 degree heat.  Several small butterflies lead us through the Butterfly trail.  The trial continued on to the top of the hill then wrapped its way down coming close to big underground caves we worried about falling into.  It was a long trail and just when we were at our most miserable from the heat, the trail opened to white sand in a crescent shape bay; Butterfly Beach.  We took off our shoes and dug our toes into some of the softest sand you will ever feel.  Tessa who always has a swimsuit under her clothes dove right it.  I waded in to cool off my feet, and encouraged Tristan to go skinny dipping.  He did, but just for a short time.  I guess he was afraid of someone seeing him, although we had the beach and pretty much the anchorage to ourselves.  The water at 86 degrees and super salty is not a hugely refreshing, but it helped.  We decided to take a shortcut back to the boat by wading through the water and connecting to the trail off Bow Wow Beach.  Two hours later we were back at the boat and heard the happy sounds of the port engine running.  Dan had fixed the problem of air in the fuel line. Way to go Dan! 

After lunch we wanted to do some more exploring so we all got into kayaks.  We brought our own, and they have some at the office you can use at no charge.  The current was running strong so we had a race up current to a beach at the entrance to the park.  After a brief tour, we floated the dinghies down current, staying closer to the shore observing the wildlife.  Dan took off to explore a wreck and Tristan, Tessa and I headed up a creek to see what we could find.  After a short time we were chased back by bugs and it didn’t get any better when we got back to our boat.  Of our entire trip, this place is definitely the most buggy.  It is not just the mosquitoes, but the flies and the worse no seeums we have ever come across.  There will be no sleeping tonight.  It is times like this I really miss air conditioning.

Warderick Wells, Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, Bahamas








We really love it here. It’s so beautiful and the water 17 feet below our keel is so clear. They have really done a great job with the park. The park is the first land and sea park in the world and it covers 176 square miles. On Warderick Wells, there are 4 miles of marked trails. The trials are really nice, very well marked and easy to follow. You can tell they have put a lot of work and pride into the clearing, marking and maintaining of them. At the front of the park is a skeleton of a 52 foot sperm whale that was killed by eating plastic. We know there is a big debate going on right now in the States about plastic drinking bottles. You would not believe all the plastic bottles we see washed up on the beaches. When you see a magnificent creature like this, lost to a water-bottle, it really drives the point home that we need to make a change.

The park headquarters are staffed by Judy and Tom. They sell ice, books, have a book exchange and rent DVD’s. Judy and Tom are volunteer staffers. They stay here, for several weeks or longer, and oversee the park. It sounds like a great opportunity. They live in a separate building on the park grounds. It’s very remote, but if you are looking to get away from it all, it sounds like the ideal spot. Your surroundings couldn’t be much more remote.

The office has some great books on reef creatures. reef fish and reef coral that we buy to update our library. These are a must as you see so much wildlife here it’s a shame not to know what they are. Judy helped us find a picture of a snake like creature I took a picture of back in the Abacos. Turns out it is a Gold Spotted Eel and is a member of the Moray family of eels. It says it is unusual to spot in the Bahamas so we count ourselves lucky that we not only saw it but that I have a picture.
Because the current here is so strong, and to protect the bottom, all boats have to be on a mooring ball. That’s fine with us. It makes life a little easier. We have some great fish under our boat, some very large Horse Eyed Jacks and one crazy Sharksucker. Sharksuckers have this unique flat suction cup on top of their heads that allows them to attach themselves to bigger fish. He enjoyed the shade under our boat and the occasional Cheerio. The rays were easy to see in the clear water.

We took an afternoon stroll up Boo Boo Hill. This is basically a memory rock where people paint their boat names and dates on driftwood and shells and leave them there. The date for most of the memorabilia was 2006 and a majority from 2007, so I am sure Mother Nature reclaims this hilltop quite often. We followed on to the unique Blow hole. This was a blast. The waves came in far below us and sent a rush of air up through two holes on top of the hill. The air is extremely strong and emits a huge roar and rush of wind hard enough to blow your hat off . We laughed so hard as the air blew up the kids shirts turning them in to “musclemen” as they called themselves. I put a small piece of brush over the top of one of the holes and we had fun trying to catch it as the wind blew it high in the sky.

After we left the blowhole, we followed the trail down to the beach. The waves were stronger here, but the beach was surprisingly clean. There weren’t the usual shoe pile and plastic bottles to sort through. They do a really good job of keeping it clean. This is definitely where the volunteers come in handy.

Later that evening, Dan and I took books and the kids took their DVD player and we sat up on the deck of the Park Headquarters. There were some comfortable chairs with a great view. It was very relaxing until it started to get dark and the bugs started to bite. That was our cue to leave. As we started packing everything up, the Royal Bahamas Defense patrol boat tied up to the dock. They are stationed here and live in the back of the park headquarters building while park rangers live in their own building further in the park. They said hello as they walked by even though it was so dark we could barely see one another. As we headed down to the dinghy dock, one of them was still on the back of the boat throwing out some scraps to the fish. The white tipped reef shark was easy to see as he swam quickly in and out of the light coming from under the boat. We wisely waited until the shark had swam away before we started our dark dinghy ride back to our boat.











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