Last Updated on June 23, 2022
Before I visited the Bahamas, I knew very little about the setup of the islands, about distances, about the islands worth visiting. I quickly realized that island hopping isn’t easy in the Bahamas – unless you travel with your own boat – so I decided to spend a whole week on one island. But how to know what’s the best island for you? For me it was easy, because I wanted to be as close to Pig Beach as possible, and the closest island to Pig Beach is Staniel Cay. I’d never heard of Staniel Cay until I planned my trip to the Bahamas, so if you are also unfamiliar with this island, I put together a quick guide to Staniel Cay, including where to stay, where to eat, what to do and how to get around.
Staniel Cay Travel Guide
How to get to Staniel Cay
Flamingo Air offers two daily flights to Staniel Cay from Nassau – one in the early morning (8am, arriving in Staniel Cay at 8.30am) and one in the afternoon (4.30pm, arriving in Staniel Cay at 5pm).
There are also direct flights from Florida. Staniel Air offers flights from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport to Staniel Cay for US$289 one way. Makers Air offers round-trip tickets for around US$630 from Fort Lauderdale.
How to get around on Staniel Cay
Staniel Cay is a tiny island in the Exumas – and when I say tiny, I mean T I N Y. You can walk from the southernmost point of the island to the northernmost point in less than one hour, and east to west in about half an hour. The island is walkable – but only if you enjoy walking. Remember that it’s hot most of the time, so most visitors rent golf carts for their stay.
Embrace Resort is close to the airport (just a 5-min walk) and offers golf cart rentals by the day and by the week ($60 per day – discounts are offered if you rent a cart for several day, or if you’re staying at Embrace Resort).
What to do on Staniel Cay
Be a beach bum
There are several smaller beaches on Staniel Cay – my favorite was Pirate Beach in the north of the island. Visiting Staniel Cay is all about relaxing! You can visit a different beach every day.
Swim with the pigs
Most people end up on Staniel Cay because they want to swim with the pigs in Big Mayor Cay – and if you skip a trip to Pig Beach.. did you even go to the Bahamas?! This is a must-do excursion when you’re in the Exumas. The Pig Beach Tours also include so much more than just the piggies: You’ll get to swim with sharks, see some of the most picturesque sandbars in the Caribbean, snorkel at a sunken plane wreck, hang out with iguanas, and swim into a sea cave. I wrote about my Pig Beach Tour in detail here.
Get to know the island by golf cart
Even if you don’t rent a golf cart for the entire time of your stay, it’s worth renting one for just a day so that you can cruise around the entire island. It’s a great way to really get to know Staniel Cay and to discover some of the further away beaches.
Go stand-up paddle boarding
If you love stand-up paddle boarding, you can rent an SUP at L&C Island Rentals for $80 per day.
Watch the sunset from the town beach
The town beach (just south of the Yacht Club) is a great spot to watch the sunset from. If you’re staying on the opposite side of the island, it’s worth walking over there one afternoon to watch the sunset over the Caribbean Sea.
Rent a jet ski
For a fun day out on the water, rent a jet ski for the day! A great way to get to know the waters around Staniel Cay and to see the island from a different angle.
Rent a boat for the day
Isles General offers 17 feet 90 HP boats for rent – either for the day or for a full week.
- Half day: $190
- Full day: $250
- Week: $1,450
L&C Island Rentals also offers boat rentals.
- 70 Yamaha 4-stroke (up to 5 passengers): $300 per day, plus fuel, plus 10% VAT
- 115 Yamaha 4-stroke (up to 6 passengers): $375 per day, plus fuel, plus 10% VAT
- 150 Yamaha 4-stroke (up to 8 passengers): $475 per day, plus fuel, plus 10% VAT
- 150 Yamaha 4-stroke (up to 10 passengers): $525 per day, plus fuel, plus 10% VAT
- 200 Yamaha 4-stroke (up to 8 passengers): $525 per day, plus fuel, plus 10% VAT
- 250 Yamaha 4-stroke (up to 8 passengers): $675 per day, plus fuel, plus 10% VAT
If you’re into gambling, you’re in luck: there’s a small casino on Staniel Cay, named Island Luck (on the main road, right next to Lindsay’s Boutique. I did not go inside, so I can’t report back on what it is actually like, but from what I could see it is tiny.
Swim with turtles
If you want to venture a little further away or experience more marine life, you can also book a tour to swim with turtles in the Exumas and visit deserted beaches, secluded islands and snorkeling spots along the way.
Where to eat on Staniel Cay
There are only a couple of restaurants on the island, so booking a villa with a kitchen is not a bad idea (if you don’t mind cooking while on vacation).
If you want to eat out, these are your options:
Staniel Cay Yacht Club
The Staniel Cay Yacht Club is definitely the most popular restaurant on the island – mostly because it is the restaurant with the widest selection of dishes (mostly American food and seafood). The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For dinner, there’s a daily changing set menu, but you have to make a reservation in advance (you can also order a la carte.)
Expect to pay between $14 – $23 for lunch, and between $28 – $42 for a dinner entree. Breakfast dishes range from $14 to $20. VAT (7.5%) and 15% gratuity are added to your bill.
Flyin’ Pig Cafe
This cafe is inside the Embrace Resort right by the airport (great place to kill some time at if your flight is delayed!) and they serve coffee, pastries and quick bites such as paninis, wings, truffle fries, and more. Alcohol is served, too.
Big Dogs is more of a local hangout, you’ll see the locals enjoy a beer here. Feel free to stop by for a beer or for a traditional Bahamian meal if you feel adventurous. There’s no menu, and usually only one dish per day cooked.
Where to stay on Staniel Cay
There aren’t a lot of accommodation options on the island – there are only around half a dozen hotels on Staniel Cay. In addition to hotels, you’ll find a number of vacation rentals, bookable through websites like Expedia, Airbnb, and VRBO.
Tip: To avoid disappointment, I recommend booking a place to stay as soon as you book your flights to the Bahamas – especially if you’re visiting during a busy season, like Christmas or New Year’s. Since there aren’t a lot of options, vacation rentals and resorts do fill up.
Here are the hotels, resorts and vacation rentals on Staniel Cay:
Embrace Resort – A small, family-run resort with seven villas. They range in size and amenities (some villas have a kitchen and a hot tub, and there’s a honeymoon suite) – each villa has a unique design and decor. There’s a small swimming pool and a concierge service. You can read more about Embrace Resort here.Chamberlain’s Cottage Rentals – Six cottages and one 2-bedroom house available for rent. The cottages are all designed uniquely.
Staniel Rentals – They have a selection of luxury vacation rentals on Staniel Cay, ranging from cottages to larger villas with several bedrooms, sleeping 2 – 10 people. Some villas have a swimming pool.
Crow’s Nest Beach Cottage – villa with modern amenities sitting atop the highest point of the island, offering fabulous views over all of Staniel Cay.
Staniel Cay Villas – They have two villas on Staniel Cay, one sleeps up to 10 people, the other one up to 13 people. Both have a swimming pool; one villa has a dock and one has direct beach access.
Lazy Bay Villas – They have three villas to choose from, all with direct water access / docks. Each villa has a small plunge pool and sleeps up to 6 people.
Gibraltar – Oceanfront vacation home that sleeps up to 8 people; comes with outdoor BBQ grill, hammocks and kayaks
Palm Tops Resort – Luxury boutique hotel with 4 villas, ranging from 1-bedroom (sleeping 2 people) to 3-bedroom (sleeping 8 people).
Staniel Cay Yacht Club – The largest resort on Staniel Cay, with 16 waterside bungalows. This resort has a swimming pool, an onsite restaurant and a marina.
Isles Inn – There are two 1-bedroom apartments, a small and a large one. This family also runs the Isles General Store.
Where to shop on Staniel Cay
Don’t expect to do a lot of shopping on Staniel Cay – you really only have a few grocery stores (nothing like an American grocery store – more comparable to a small mom & pop store or a New York bodega).
I found the selection in all of the stores very limited, so if you’d like to enjoy certain comfort foods or snacks from back home (such as specific brands of granola bars, supplements, keto-friendly or paleo-friendly foods), bring them with you on your trip.
I should also note that non-dairy milk alternatives were hard to come by.
The three stores on the island are:
- Pink Pearl Groceries – apparently the cheapest among the island’s grocery stores. You’ll also find price tags on the groceries, whereas Burke’s does not add price tags.
- Burke’s Convenience Store – Be aware that there are no prices on the groceries, so you may be surprised by the hefty bill. Burke’s is the priciest of the grocery stores on the island. Groceries are never cheap in small, remote island locations, and the majority of products available in the stores are imported from the U.S.
- Isles General A-Z Store – This store is located close to the airport and has, in addition to groceries, marine supplies. You can also rent a boat at Isles General. If you’re staying in the southern part of the island, this store will be closest to you.
There’s one shop on Staniel Cay that sells beer and liquor – and it doubles as the island’s laundry service. You can find the laundry service on GoogleMaps as “Andrews Laundry’ – Staniel Cay Laundromat” and it’s a short walk from the other grocery stores. Expect to pay $4 for a bottle of local beer, and considerably more for liquor than you’re used to pay back home (if you can, stock up at Duty Free on your way to the Bahamas!) Note that Andrew’s closes early – around 4pm if I remember it right.
There’s a small souvenir shop on the island, right on the main road, right by the church. Lindsay’s Boutique and Gift Shop has souvenirs, clothes (shirts, hats, etc) and also sells beer.
Things To Know Before You Visit Staniel Cay
Money Matters / ATM
There’s no ATM on Staniel Cay, so make sure to have enough cash on you. US Dollars are accepted everywhere (the exchange rates is US$1 for 1 Bahamian Dollar), but you may get Bahamian Dollars for your change.
Some places accept cards (like the restaurant at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club), but you’ll need cash at some of the other places. You can use your credit card to pay for your hotel and tours but note that there’s usually a 5% credit card fee.
Safety on Staniel Cay
The island is very safe – I don’t think the policemen on Staniel Cay have a very demanding job! I didn’t feel unsafe once, neither when I was all by myself on a beach, nor when I was walking back to my hotel from dinner late at night. Because the island is so tiny, I think you’d be able to locate a missing or stolen item quickly.
As a solo female traveler who has been to a lot of countries where I was constantly harassed, I also want to note that the local men were all very polite when I was out walking by myself, but they kept a respectful distance.
Weather on Staniel Cay
As I already mentioned in my guide to Pig Beach, the weather can be unpredictable, even though the Bahamas are warm year-round (77 – 87 Fahrenheit on average). It can happen that you wake up to grey and cloudy skies or even rain, but then have the most beautiful afternoon with clear blue skies. I recommend to always make the most of it when the sun comes out, because you never know how long it lasts.
When it rains, it usually doesn’t rain for very long, but I’d recommend packing a long-sleeve shirt or thin jacket for the night, and something to protect you from the rain as well as the sun (a hat / umbrella). The wettest month is October.