Discover the Berry Islands. Miles of secluded swim-ashore beaches, invigorating dive sites, and championship sport fishing are just a few of the highlights that make The Berry Islands a desired destination. Composed of a cluster of 30 cays, a majority of these islands are uninhabited. It’s not uncommon to stumble across a footprint-free beach or private cove. You could spend an entire day without seeing a single soul. The Berry Islands are also home to a number of cavern, reef, wall and wreck dive sites, as well as a 600-foot-wide blue hole, wonderful bill fishing, and ancient churches.
The Berry Islands are made up of a land mass that totals just over twelve square miles. Many of the 30 cays that comprise the islands are great for snorkeling, hiking, diving and beach combing. Great Stirrup features a now-abandoned lighthouse built in 1863 during the reign of Prince William IV. Little Stirrup Cay is a private island that’s used by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines as a one-day stopover. Chub Cay is known as The Bill fish Capital of The Bahamas, as it borders the Tongue of The Ocean and attracts countless numbers of bait fish. And then there’s Great Harbour Cay. It boasts seven continuous miles of magnificent beaches and one of the best protected harbors in The Bahamas. It once was a major golf resort for the rich and famous. In fact, there are more millionaires per square inch on The Berry Islands than most places on earth. For more information on the best beaches in The Berry Islands, visit The Best Beaches in the Bahamas Guide.
The most refreshing time to explore is between September and May, when the temperature averages 70-75°F, with the more northerly islands around 5° cooler than the southern islands. The rest of the year is a bit warmer, with higher humidity in the summer months and temperatures between 27 and 80-85°F. Night-time temperatures are generally 5-7° cooler and sea surface temperatures vary between 74°F in February and 84°F in August.
September to May is the most popular time for visitors to Cat Island, when temperatures average from 70 to 75 degrees a day. Nighttime temperatures cool down by just 5 to 7 degrees. Seasons may vary widely in other vacation destinations, but that’s not the case in The Bahamas. Even the rainy season — May through November — rarely offers challenges for visitors. Even the occasional tropical rainstorm is usually short-lived. In fact, The Bahamas have about 340 sunny days a year, and, according to astronauts, the clearest waters in the Caribbean region.
Because of the tropical climate, you can fish, dive and snorkel year-round. You also can comfortably swim in the ocean, as water temperature in The Bahamas rarely dips below 72 degrees (22 degrees Celsius) near the shorelines.
Getting to The Berry Islands
To fly into the Bahamas, United States citizens are not required to present a valid passport. Instead, vacationers traveling by air must show proof of citizenship and identification. Typically, guests must present a birth certificate and a government-issued photo identification in order to enter the Bahamas, according to the United States Department of State (travel.state.gov). Although a United States passport is not required to enter the Bahamas, Americas will be required to present their valid passport upon returning to the United States. When flying to and from the Bahamas, many airlines require guests to show their U.S. passport.
Two airports serve The Berry Islands: Great Harbour Cay Airport (GHC) and Chub Cay Airport (CCZ). Daily scheduled air service is available from Nassau, Grand Bahama Island and Florida into Great Harbour Cay. Charter services can be arranged through any certified carrier. Sea service is provided by a weekly mail boat from Nassau. Receive Low Fare Alerts for Flights with Airfarewatchdog
Getting Around The Berry Islands
On Great Harbour Cay, you can choose to rent a bicycle, car, golf cart or scooter to get around. The outlying cays are easily reached by chartered ferry service upon request—$400 for half-day / $500 for full-day. Regular scheduled ferry service is provided from Great Harbour Cay to Little Stirrup Cay and Great Stirrup Cay. The round-trip fare is approximately $20. Pedestrians should remember to first look right and then left before crossing streets. Ggolf carts, walking, or hitching a ride (it’s safe!) are options on smaller islands. Rentals are done through local micro-enterprises and are often arranged by your hotel or lodge. To have a car or cart ready for your arrival, call in advance. In Bimini, Resorts World runs an hourly tram to Alice Town and offers free buses for getting around the resort.
No matter which island you are on, they are all small enough that you can walk or rely on hiring someone to take you from place to place. Still, having a vehicle on hand is helpful when you want to get up and go on your own time schedule. The recommended vehicle for rental is a Jeep or other sports utility vehicle with four wheel drive because the roads are known for being rugged. You’ll be able to find rental cars on Great Harbour Cay more so than anywhere else, where on the other islands it is more common to rent bicycles or scooters, and even golf carts to get around. Avis is the best rental car company on Great Harbour Cay.
You must be 21 years old and possess a valid driver’s license for all rentals. Visitors may use their home driver’s license for up to three months or can apply for an international driver’s license if staying with us longer. But remember, when you take to the road, please keep to the left.
Taxi service is readily available by phone or radio (VHF channel) and they are usually stationed at the airports or at the docks to meet incoming flights and boats. The basic price from the airport to marina is $10 for two passengers. Surcharges apply for more than two persons and extra luggage. Suggested tip is 15% of fare.
Restaurants – Top Picks
$-Inexpensive $$-Moderate $$$-Pricey $$$$-Ultra High End
$$$$ Carriearl (Great Harbour Cay)
The Restaurant serves Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner and is open to non guests. Serving a fine selection of International Cuisine and Chef Marty always has a culinary surprise up his sleeve. Their Restaurant offers the finest food with dishes from all over the World – the perfect venue for Weddings, Birthdays, or that special Celebration. For more information call 242 451 8785, or visit them on the web at Carriearl.
$$ – $$$ Beach Club (Great Harbour Cay)
Also known as Da Beach Club, they are located just above the tranquil beach shore, and across from the Great Harbour Cay Airport. They are the only restaurant directly on Great Harbour Cay Beach, and have become the main hangout spot in the area. They serve the best Bahamian and American dishes for breakfast and lunch, specializing in hamburgers, fish sandwiches, and our famous club sandwiches. Their Club received the Tourism Award for unselfish commitment and contribution to the growth of Tourism in The Berry Islands in July 2007. For more information call 242-367-8108, or visit them on the web at Beach Club.
$$ – $$$ Rocky Hill Pool Bar & Restaurant (Great Harbour Cay)
This quaint open air restaurant and bar offers Bahamian and International dishes for lunch and dinner, along with a pool. They cater to visiting yachtsmen, who enjoy sharing their escapades over a refreshing tropical drink. For more information call 242-367-8051, or visit them on the web at Rocky Hill Pool Bar & Restaurant.
Coolie May’s Sunset Restaurant (Great Harbour Cay)
In the native food category, expats, locals, and visitors rate Mae’s food as true-true excellent. Her bright sign makes the casual 60-seat restaurant, on Bullock’s Harbour’s central seafront, easy to find. A couple of outside tables give heightened views of a sleepy anchorage, the ocean, and gorgeous sunsets. Midday, try the conch salad, pan fried grouper, or a tasty burger. Broiled lobster, steaks, pork chops, and fried conch along with peas ‘n’ rice and macaroni and cheese are dinner specialties. The menu changes daily, but the world-famous guava duff is always available for dessert. Place your order in advance or call a day ahead for a reservation. For more information call 242-367-8730, or visit them on TripAdvisor at Coolie May’s Sunset Restaurant.
Things to Do
You’ll love the beautiful white shallow sand where you can stand up or swim with the Rays who will greet you with the familiarity of an old friend. Your encounter includes feeding, snorkeling and taking lots of pictures with your new Stingray friends. For more information call 242-424-3116, or visit them on the web at Stingray City.
The Berry Islands offer spectacular blue hole, cavern, reef, wall, and wreck diving with several “must-see” sites. You can dive 20 feet off a cliff into Hoffman Cay’s famous blue hole or walk into the blue hole near Bullock’s Harbour from the shore. View exotic sea creatures at Mama Rhoda Reef, the “eel garden,” among others throughout the chain. When diving the Chub Cay Wall, you can venture far into the deep with great visibility. At Great Stirrup Cay, the wreck of an unidentified ship lies just offshore and other named sites provide a glimpse into the islands’ history.
Hoffman’s Cay Blue Hole
This blue hole, located in the southern Berry Islands, is about 600 feet wide and has a cliff that hangs 20 feet above the water. Those who jump into it from the cliff speak of an adrenaline rush as they venture into its mysterious depths. Its only living inhabitants are said to be oysters. Hoffmann’s Cay is the most visited blue hole in these islands. It is accessed via a horseshoe-shaped beach, just behind a patch of Australian Pine trees at the shoreline. For more information call the Berry Islands Tourism Representative at 242-451-0404 or 242-225-8947.
Great Stirrup Cay Lighthouse
Built by the Imperial Lighthouse Service in 1863, the Great Stirrup Cay Lighthouse has since warned passing ships of the nearby rocks and shoreline. Some time after its building, during the second world war, the Lighthouse grounds became part of a US military base that included early detection technology. Today, there is not much left save for the lighthouse. Those wishing to visit Great Stirrup Cay Lighthouse may choose to book their trip on Great Stirrup Cay, as travelers to this area of the Bahamas will be pleased to have easy lighthouse access during their time there. With only a few accommodations around the area around this lighthouse, relatively little tourist traffic can be predicted.
Sugar Beach & Caves
Sugar Beach, considered on of the prettiest places in The Bahamas, consists of numerous sandy coves set among cliffs, which are said to resemble the great Mediterranean beaches. There are also caves, an abundance of thatch berry trees and ruins. The shelling is excellent and, for the more adventurous, the creeks are filled with many species of wild life. Not just a lovely beach – there are also caves, old ruins and many species of wildlife for you to discover.
Fishing conditions throughout the Berry Islands is ideal and in fact, Chub Cay is known as the Bill fish Capital of the Bahamas. Both flats and deep sea, big game fishing is a possibility, so depending on what your preferences are and where you’re staying, you could hire a charter to take you out and hunt blue marlin, or stick to bone fishing. If you are intrigued by the idea of reeling in a big catch during your vacation, there are two charter operators that can help make it happen.
- Kenny’s Aranah Fishing Charters Contact: 242-451-0200
- Percy’s Bonefish Contact: 242-464-4149 Web: Percy’s Bonefish
Chub Cay, the southernmost cay of The Berry Islands chain, is known as the “Bill fish Capital of The Bahamas.” It borders the Tongue of the Ocean and bait fish are drawn into the deep-sea gully with larger fish following. Record catches have been made of mackerel, blue and white Marlin and sailfish. Bone fish, craw fish and conch are also plentiful, and the area is perfect for wall diving. Miles of unspoiled, white sand beaches and a brilliant blue sea are just steps from your boat, room or villa. Chub Cay is connected by land to Frazier’s and Hog Cay, accessible at low tide.
Chub Cay offers a large variety of fishing but is best known for large Big Game in the pocket. The pocket is an area west south west, only minutes out of the Chub Cay Marina, where the tongue of the ocean that is very deep terminates into the shallow Bahama Bank. Sailfish, Blue and White Marlin congregate in this pocket, together with Wahoo and Kingfish. At the buoy south of Chub Cay, Yellow Fin Tuna and Mahi-Mahi hang out in deep water.
Only yards away west of the marina, Mama Rhoda rock offers excellent diving and spear fishing. North of Chub Cay, the flats team with Bone Fish and the occasional Permit. Fishing guides are available for charter or guests can walk the Bone Fish flats from shore. The area behind the Customs building at the airport is especially productive.
Top Berry Islands Hotels
Carriearl Boutique Hotel
‘CarriEarl’ is a small Boutique Hotel located on one of the most magnificent beaches in The Bahamas, and has the best Restaurant in The Berry Islands, offering delicious food with an International flavour, all served with a unique British flair. From the moment you walk through the front door you will want to take off your watch, kick off your shoes and jump into our beautiful freshwater pool, and then chill out with one of Dronzi’s famous Rum Punch’s. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Carriearl Boutique Hotel.
Chub Cay Club
A private island paradise in the southern tip of The Berry Islands, Bahamas with full resort amenities, a sport fisherman’s and diver’s dream location right next to the edge of “The Pocket” known as “The Bill fish Capital of the Bahamas” and miles of untouched, magnificent beaches. Chub Cay Clubhouse is a full service hotel with a restaurant, indoor and outdoor bars, and an infinity pool overlooking the amazing Sunset Beach. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Chub Cay Club.