We all woke up the second day to Royal Caribbean’s small private island – Coco Cay. After breakfast we loaded up on one of the island’s ‘Cococutters’, a tender that transported passengers between the Monarch and the island. When we reached the docks and made it onto the island, I ran around snapping photos of everything I could find…regardless of how they looked. I mean, I figured this could be my only time getting to see this place, so why not to capture as much as I could?
Formerly called ‘Little Stirrup Cay’, Royal Caribbean changed the name upon its acquisition of the island from another cruise line, I believe. Coco Cay is only one of the hundreds of cays and thirty eight islands that comprise the Barry Islands chain, a district of the Bahamas and located about 55 miles north of Nassau. It’s right next door to Great Stirrup Cay; a slightly bigger piece of rock that Norwegian Cruise Line owns. The Jewel, the boat pictured in the previous post, was there and could be seen from the beaches of Coco Cay.
Welcome sign at the docks
Coco Cay’s gift shops and straw markets
Tender heading back to pick up more passengers
The flag of the Bahamas was adopted on July 10, 1973; the nation’s independence day. The black triangle represents the unity and determination of the Bahamian people and points toward three stripes symbolizing the sea (aquamarine) and land (gold).
Flag of the Bahamas flying along the coast of Coco Cay
A tender returning to the Monarch to bring over more passengers
Beach at Coco Cay
We signed up for a ‘nature tour’ taking us around the cay. It wasn’t much and I was pretty disappointed, mainly because my parents had spent money on something when the tickets we received weren’t even checked. One could literally walk up and just join in if they’d wanted to. It mostly consisted of us walking along some small trails through the trees and our guide talking about the various medical uses of different plants.
Wendell, our tour guide, giving us the rundown before our excursion
Docks at Coco Cay
One of the more interesting points of the tour came in the form of two trees – the Poisonwood and the Gumbo-limbo. As you can probably guess, the Poisonwood is a toxic tree; in the same family as Poison Ivy/Oak/Sumac and delivering the same results if one was to come in contact with the sap. Interestingly enough, the other tree, Wendell said, always grows alongside the first and the bark can actually be used as an antidote to counteract the effects of the Poisonwood.
Metopium toxiferum and Bursera simaruba…you can probably guess which name belongs to which tree…but I’m not sure which is which in the picture…oops…
Bahamian Anthill…these guys must’ve went to the Harvard School for Ants or something…
After our relatively short trek, we came out of the woods and stood on one of the prettiest little beaches I have ever seen…
The water was beautiful
Our small tour group had this all to ourselves
Low tide at Coco Cay
After walking around the beach for a bit, mom and dad went back to the boat to grab some food and snorkels, while Eric and I stayed and made our way into the water. We walked out probably close to 200 yards from shore and not once did we even have to get our knees wet. We found a lot of native conchs and sea snails, a couple sea stars and some fish. There were quite a few large patches of sea grass that made walking without any shoes a bit difficult in fear of stepping on something. Well, as luck should have it, as I was making my way out to take a picture of a seagull sitting on a lonely wooden post, I stepped down and felt something graze the bottom of my right foot; it felt like I had scraped it on a rock. After about 30 seconds and realizing the pain was still there, I made my way over to a sandbar and discovered that the rock I had stepped on was actually a sea urchin. I had probably close to ten barbs stuck in my foot and, upon attempting to pluck them out, most of them just broke off at the slightest pinch. Needless to say, I didn’t get the shot I wanted of that seagull.
The ‘rock’ I stepped on
Not sure what this was, but we saw about 10 of them
Sea Star #1
Eric holding sea star #2
Eric holding sea snail
After our tiny excursion, Eric and I headed back to the main part of the island for food and to find mom and dad. On our way back, we quickly became distracted by all the iguanas that had come out to play. And by ‘play’ I mean ‘take advantage of all the tourists who would throw them scraps from their lunches’.
These guys really liked to pose
Biggest iguana we saw that day – probably close to 3.5 to 4 ft.
After the iguana photoshoot and a much needed lunch break, dad, Eric and myself headed back to the other side of the island from where we’d just been; this time with snorkels. Mom stayed back to hang out in the shade of some palms and read a book. The water was only a couple feet deep, but seeing the conchs and sea stars, hermit crabs and gigantic sand dollars all underwater and in their own element was still a lot of fun. We continued snorkeling for the better part of the afternoon before heading back around 4:00pm before the ship lifted anchor and set sail for Nassau!
The Monarch as seen from the tender