The Eco-Adventurer’s Guide to Stocking Island
Updated: Jun 13, 2022
Look at a map and you’ll see Stocking Island tracing a thin line off the eastern coast of Great Exuma. Despite being located just a short water taxi ride from George Town, the largest town on Great Exuma, Stocking Island is a wild, eco-adventurer’s playground. Powder white sand beaches, towering seaside cliffs, coral gardens, blue holes, and lush hiking trails await those in search of an eco-adventure. The island even boasts its own national park, Moriah Harbour Cay National Park, established in 2002 and covering 22,833 acres of terrestrial and ocean ecosystems.
In addition to offering much natural beauty, the island creates multiple harbors, providing valuable protection for seasonal cruisers in The Bahamas. You’ll find a thriving cruiser community, with informal weekly events like beach church, water aerobics, and games and gatherings for the kids. If you’re curious about cruising life, introduce yourself to one of the many friendly cruisers hanging out at Chat ‘n Chill or lined up at the dinghy dock in George Town.
Plan for a week on Stocking Island to ensure you have time for both exploration and relaxation. Read on for everything you need to plan the best eco-adventure on Stocking Island.
When To Visit:
Hurricanes visit the Bahamas each year, so plan to travel outside hurricane season. Winter and spring, from December through May, are great times to visit the islands. Just be aware that things can be busy in December around the holidays. There is often a lull in January before things pick back up again in February.
Responsible Travel Tip: Traveling outside of peak season can help to reduce stress on local facilities and the natural environment and provide income for local businesses during the travel lull. If your schedule allows, consider traveling during the shoulder season in early December or mid-May.
How To Get There:
A number of U.S. cities offer direct flights to George Town International Airport, including Miami, Charlotte, Atlanta, and Fort Lauderdale. This is the easiest and most direct way to reach Stocking Island. From the George Town airport, a taxi can take you to downtown George Town where you can catch a water taxi to Stocking Island. If you’re staying at a resort on Stocking Island, they will most likely arrange water taxi transport for you.
Alternatively, visitors can arrive via private vessel. If you’re traveling via boat, you’ll find multiple protected anchorages available.
Responsible Travel Tip: Once you’ve made it to Stocking Island, you can access most activities on foot, or via paddleboard or kayak. By opting for human-powered transport, you’ll reduce your carbon emissions and the overall environmental impact of your trip.
Where To Stay:
Lodging options on Stocking Island are a bit limited, so be sure to plan well in advance to ensure you find accommodations for your travel dates. Nestled in a small protected bay, Kevalli House provides waterfront, off-the-grid cottages. Built in the 1960s, the property uses solar and rainwater catchment systems.
Peace & Plenty Resort’s Beach Cottages are built for low-impact with solar energy and water supplied via rainwater catchment and desalinization. The cottages are perched above a picturesque sand beach.
Kahari Exuma, formerly Lumina Point, is an upscale eco-resort located on the island. Their beachside cottages run on solar power and offer easy access to the island’s many activities.
Other lodging options to consider include St. Francis Resort & Marina and privately-owned vacation rentals.
What To Do:
Explore Moriah Harbour National Park
This charming national park encompasses the southern tip of Stocking Island. Established in 2002 and covering 22,833 acres of terrestrial and ocean ecosystems, this park offers miles of well-maintained hiking trails, beach-side tiki huts, and picturesque sandbar, and the colorful, vibrant ‘Channel Marker’ reef.
Spend a day hiking and lounging in the shade under one of the palm-thatched tiki huts. At low tide, head out to the sandbar that appears off the southern tip of the island. On a sunny day, the shallow water glitters over the white sand against a backdrop of dozens of blues.
On a calm day, explore the ‘Channel Marker’ reef. If you’re feeling energetic, try kayaking or paddleboarding to the reef; you can tie your vessel off at one of the two provided dinghy moorings. Snorkel the length of the reef and you’ll find yourself immersed in gardens of towering soft coral. Healthy hard corals dot the sandy bottom, too, and jewel-colored fish dart amongst the reef patches. Keep your eyes peeled for schools of parrotfish feeding on algae and curious, lone barracuda cruising the depths.
Snorkel Angelfish Blue Hole & the “Mystery Cave”
Located just inside Stocking Island’s protected bay known as ‘hurricane hole’ you’ll find the fascinating Angelfish Blue Hole and the “Mystery Cave.” Angelfish Blue Hole forms a deep blue hole on the bottom of the bay. Divers can explore nearly 100 feet into the blue hole, while snorkelers can dive down to the mouth. Brilliant blue parrotfish and other creatures often congregate around the mouth of the hole making it a fun snorkeling spot.
Nearby you’ll find the entrance to the “Mystery Cave.” It is said that Jacques Cousteau, the famed ocean explorer, explored the cave and discovered that it runs underneath Stocking Island and out to sea on the other side. Diving the cave is extremely technical but snorkelers can easily access the mouth of the cave. Keep your eyes peeled for angelfish and Atlantic spadefish schooling around the entrance.
Visit the Picturesque Beaches
Picture-perfect white sand beaches run along the eastern and western sides of the island, meaning you can find a comfortable, secluded spot no matter which way the wind is blowing. Some of the beaches have names while others do not. At Starfish Beach you’ll find a fun beach swing and some shade beneath palm-thatched huts. At Sand Dollar Beach, you can stake out a spot beneath one of the tiki huts and wait for the sandbar to appear. If you’re up for exploring, you’ll have no trouble finding your own private beach to enjoy for the day.
The island is crisscrossed with trails leading to beautiful vistas and quirky sites. Ask around for tips on how to find the Art Trail, the butt tree, the baths, and the petrified roots. Make sure you climb the hill to the Stocking Island Monument - the 360-degree views are well worth it. From the top, look down on the rocky landscape beneath you and you’ll also see hundreds of boat names spelled out in stones. As you hike, keep an eye out for the helpful rock cairns placed and maintained by cruisers and other visitors.
Get a Taste of Cruiser Culture
Head over to Chat ‘n' Chill Beach Bar & Grill for a taste of Bahamian food and cruiser culture. This bustling hangout was started in 1998 to cater to the folks living on their boats in Elizabeth Harbour. Today, the property has become a destination for visitors from around the world looking for a laid-back afternoon. You’ll find strong drinks, volleyball, rope swings, slacklines, and plenty of friendly cruisers looking to make friends. If you’re in the mood to taste some Bahamian cooking, don’t miss their Sunday pig roast. It starts around noon and lasts until the food runs out. Make sure to try the peas and rice and mac and cheese!
Responsible Travel on Stocking Island, The Bahamas
Where To Stay:
Stocking Island relies on solar energy and rainwater catchment to support visitors and their accommodations. Kevalli House, Peace & Plenty Resort’s Beach Cottages, and Kahari Exuma all offer full or partial off-the-grid living in order to reduce the environmental impact of your stay.
Local History & Culture:
Take some time to learn a bit about Stocking Island before your visit. You can read about the history of Moriah Harbor Cay National Park and Great Exuma island. During your stay, make sure to visit local businesses and ask about the history of the places you discover.
The Bahamas is home to many delicate and endangered ecosystems, including coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangroves, sand dunes, coastal forests, sand bars, and more. As a visitor, it is important to do your part not to harm these natural treasures.
While visiting Stocking Island, take extra care to reduce your environmental impact. The island relies heavily on solar energy and rainwater catchment, so limiting your use of resources will ensure the facilities are not overwhelmed. Do your part by taking short showers, turning off lights when leaving the room, disposing of your litter properly, and avoiding single-use plastics.
While exploring the island, practice Leave No Trace to ensure your presence does not harm the environment. If you plan to fish, be sure you obtain the appropriate licenses and read up on size, species, and seasonal limits. If you’re boating, use provided mooring balls whenever possible or anchor on sand to avoid damaging fragile seagrass or coral. When shopping for souvenirs, look for locally-made treasures and avoid buying any animals products, including shells.
By taking steps to travel responsibly, we can all do our part to ensure that The Bahamas flourish for many decades to come.