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The Out Islands of the Bahamas are also known as the Family Islands; in part because they are grouped like a family around the island of Nassau, but also because these islands’ remote location makes their inhabitants more likely to view each other as family.
When it comes to sailing off the beaten track and discovering the ‘real Bahamas’ the Out Islands are what it’s really all about. They’ll take you far from the crowds, the resorts with every imaginable amenity and away from the high rise hotels. This is a different kind of island vibe, where you can create a unique Caribbean vacation and explore at your own pace.
This relaxed chain of islands is composed of over 700 islands and these are in turn grouped into their own particular chains or archipelago. Even their name implies a particular departure from the well-known islands of the Bahamas; which are in and of themselves practically synonymous with the Caribbean.
The Out Islands lay near the Florida coast, wrapping around the third largest reef system in the world as well as a deep abyss called Tongue of the Ocean. The range of exotic marine life here makes it an absolute must for divers and snorkelers; the abyss reaches 6,000 feet at its deepest point.
For non-sailors navigating the more remote parts of the Out Islands requires passage on a public ferry, fishing vessel or even a mail boat. But this is where your bareboat charter and sailing experience really come in handy! Captaining your own ship allows you to sail to many places that are impossible for the average traveler to see.
The Out Islands are in fact a premier boating destination, with thousands of square miles of gorgeous blue waters and plenty of smaller islands to discover. What’s more, full service marinas are widely available on many of the islands, where boaters can find fuel, dockage, professional help (if necessary) and good provisions. Locals are friendly and willing to point out each island’s must-see sights. Boating is a way of life here, with small vessels taking the place of a family car. Many island inhabitants use boats to get to work, or load the entire family in for weekend outings.
The Abacos and Bimini are popular with power boaters, while sailboats’ longer cruising distances often allows them to go much farther south. You can download thorough Bahamas Out Island marina information here.
With a charter from LateSail you can set off from Marsh Harbor on Great Abaco Island. Head off to Elbow Cay, Man ‘o’ War Cay, Green Turtle Cay and Great Guana Cay. Or, choose a southern route with longer passages, taking you to Harbour Island, Eleuthera and Cat Island. Beyond lay the islands of San Salvador and Long Island, with beautiful snorkeling and diving as well.
The people of the Out Islands make sailing in the Bahamas a joy; the families that inhabit the chains of low-lying cays are a blend of Loyalist planters, English puritans and African slaves. They speak a unique form of English that originated from a version of the language that has almost disappeared from the Western Hemisphere.
When exploring the Out Island Cuisine you’ll find classic dishes like barbecued chicken with rice and peas. Try asking where the local fish fry is and you’ll be directed to the local food stalls serving up the catch of the day along with conch salad and Bahamanian souse.
Winds in the region average around 5-20 knots throughout the year although you may experience stronger gusts from the Northwest in winter. For more information about getting to and chartering in the Out Islands of the Bahamas, contact your LateSail Advisor.