Cruising The Berry Islands

It’s worth it to add a stop at the laid-back Berry Islands during any Bahamas cruising itinerary.
Sugar Beach
Sugar Beach, set against an aquamarine sea, is a go-to spot for shelling enthusiasts. Nearby caves make for adventurous hiking. [forcdan]/

Cruisers heading to the Bahamas often bypass the Berry Islands en route to the Abacos or Exumas. But this group of around 30 islands—anchored by Great Harbour Cay—provides a quiet stopover to clear customs, cast a line, and catch some sun on sugar-fine beaches.

Great Harbour Cay 

This is the largest of the Berry Islands. It was a popular vacation spot in the late 1960s for the Rat Pack, Cary Grant and other A-list celebrities. The island’s glam resort and golf course have since closed, allowing for a decidedly quieter vibe.

The cay’s well-protected namesake hurricane hole marina, a port of entry, is a convenient base for cruisers. It has 65 slips and can accommodate yachts up to 150 feet.

Nearly 5 miles of uninterrupted picturesque beaches stretch along the cay’s east coast. Toward the northern end, Sugar Beach often ranks as one the prettiest beaches in the Bahamas. Its caves entice visitors to explore when the tide is right, often eliciting comparisons to European beaches. Near the airport along Great Harbour Beach, The Beach Club is a popular midday stop for lunch and a drink. At the southern tip of the island, the wide, shallow Shark Creek Beach attracts shell collectors and nature lovers. In addition to its toothy namesake residents, the beach and its mangroves are home to myriad juvenile fish, eagle rays, baby sea turtles and spoonbills.

Chub Cay

The Berry Islands is known as “the fishbowl of the Bahamas,” and Chub Cay (at the far southern tip of the Berry Islands) in particular is considered the country’s billfish capital. Catch a charter out of Chub Cay Marina to try your luck in The Pocket. The well-developed marina, a port of entry, offers slips ranging from 40 to 160 feet and day passes that provide cruisers access to all its facilities. Stock up on provisions at the Marlin Market. Take a dip in the infinity pool or at the resort’s beach. The Clubhouse Restaurant & Bar is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner (reservations recommended for dinner). Its menu features a mix of Bahamian and continental fare, including grilled lobster tail, conch chowder and guava crème brûlée.

Other Cays 

From Great Harbour Cay, adventure-seekers can sail south to Hoffmann’s Cay to leap off the 20-foot cliff into the cay’s 600-foot-wide blue hole, the largest in the Berry Islands.

Continue south to Little Harbour Cay, which anchors the middle of the Berry Islands and is known for Flo’s Conch Bar. The pink restaurant, with the words “You Welcome” in large white letters on the roof, has welcomed such celebrities as Sylvester Stallone, Shakira and Brad Pitt since opening its doors in 1993. Call in your order three hours in advance to guarantee your share of the famous conch fritters and rum punch.