Berry Islands – the perfect amount of seclusion and privacy
Posted by• February 29, 2012
This cluster of 30 cays, southeast of Bimini, is home to Chub Cay, Billfish capital of The Bahamas. Besides sportfishing, the surrounding waters of The Berry Islands offer dozens of uninhabited cays, miles of secluded beaches, and invigorating dive sites.
City/Settlement: Bullock’s Harbour, Great Harbour Cay; Chub Cay
Location: 150 miles east of Miami and 50 miles northeast of Nassau
Want to live like a millionaire? Here, you can at least vacation like one. A popular stopover for yachtsmen en route between Florida and Nassau, it is claimed that The Berry Islands boast more millionaires per square mile than most places on earth. A chain of about 30 islands and 100 hundred small cays, The Berry Islands – given their name because of the abundance of thatch berry trees – lure vacationers seeking privacy and exclusivity.
“The Berrys,” as locals call them, were believed to have been first settled in 1836 when Governor Colebrooke established a settlement of liberated Africans at Great Harbour Cay. Over a century later, Great Harbour Cay underwent a period of intense and successful development in the late 1960’s when Cary Grant, Brigitte Bardot and other celebrities holidayed there. Today, Great Harbour Cay is a quiet, simple paradise with seven miles of beautiful beaches and one of the best protected harbors in The Bahamas.
The surrounding waters offer dozens of uninhabited cays, miles of secluded beaches, and invigorating dive and snorkel sites. Home to Chub Cay, Billfish capital of The Bahamas, The Berrys are known for championship sport fishing, second only to Bimini. Many desolate cays are the nesting grounds of wildlife such as terns, pelicans and noddies. The groves of coconut, pine and thatchberry trees offer a variety of indigenous flora and fauna. Local cuisine and entertainment offer cultural samples to guests while history can be uncovered with stops at two lighthouses, ancient churches and abandoned cays.
Although The Berry Islands are not known for shopping, small general stores are located in Bullock’s Harbour, at marinas and in some of the cays. They offer provisions for boaters, plus a limited collection of resort wear, including sunglasses, shoes and bags. Handmade authentically-Bahamian shell jewelery, straw creations and other gift items are also available from local craft persons.
There are two airports serving The Berry Islands – Great Harbour Cay Airport (MYGB) and Chub Cay Airport (UBL), which is private but an official port of entry. Daily scheduled air service is available from Nassau, Grand Bahama Island and Florida into Great Harbour Cay. Charter services can be arranged through any of the certified local and international carriers.
Hoffman Cay’s Blue Hole: Hoffman Cay is famous for 600-ft. wide and 20-ft. deep blue hole, whose only living inhabitants are said to be oysters.
Little Stirrup Cay Ruins: Little Stirrup Cay, privately owned and called “Coco Cay”, is a 140-acre island located between Freeport and Nassau that has been transformed by Royal Caribbean Cruise Line into a tropical oasis for its guests. Used as a one day stopover for cruisers, the white sandy beaches and lush greenery, offer a relaxing getaway.
R.N. Gomez All Age School: The first and currently the only school within The Berry Islands. Located in Bullock’s Harbour, it serves as a lending library, and books are available to borrow between the hours of 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Sugar Beach & Caves: considered to be one of the prettiest places in The Bahamas. Located on Great Harbour Cay, it consists of numerous sandy coves set among cliffs, which are said to resemble the great Mediterranean beaches. There are also caves, an abundance of thatchberry trees and ruins. The shelling is excellent and, for the more adventurous, the creeks are filled with many species of wild life
The Ship Yard Beach: was the first settlement in Great Harbour Cay. It is surrounded by sea-grape trees and is the best beach for suntanning with limited shading.
Little Whale Cay Bird Sanctuary: Home to a wide variety of birds, many of which can be traced back to Englishman Wallace Groves’ bird collection. He developed the cay in the 1930s as a private residence and established a bird sanctuary there. It has become a lush paradise for flamingos, the endangered West Indian whistling duck, Bahama woodstar, hummingbirds and domestic peacocks.
Great Harbour Cay Golf Course: A beautiful nine-hole golf course that’s free to all guests of the Marina. Golfing equipment is not available.
Great Stirrup Cay Lighthouse: located north of Great Harbour Cay, Great Stirrup cay is home to a lighthouse that dates back to 1863 and shelters the wreck of an unidentified ship lying just offshore. It is owned by the Norwegian Cruise Line – the first island to be owned exclusively by a cruise line – and is used as a stopover for passengers.
U.S. currency is accepted and is interchangeable with the Bahamian dollar. In September through May, the temperature on the Island averages 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit; the rest of the year is warmer, with temperatures between 80 and 85 degrees. Nighttime temperatures are generally cooler by 5-7 degrees. All U.S. citizens and foreign nationals traveling to/from the United States to/from The Bahamas are required to present a valid passport, passport card or WHTI-compliant document to re-enter the United States. All Canadian citizens traveling to/from Canada to/from The Bahamas are required to present either a valid passport, an official birth certificate or an original naturalization/citizenship certificate.
Great Harbour Cay