Strong winds and choppy seas did not dampen the spirit of adventure for National Geographic Sea Lion guests as they ventured off to explore Compass Cay. The morning activities included hikes, interpretive walks, a Zodiac cruise, and a short kayak paddle in Bonefish Creek, a tidal creek that runs between the outer ridges of Compass Cay. The trail along the windward rocky shoreline ends at Rachel’s Bubble Bath, an inviting tidal pool that fills when waves crash onshore and spill over the rocks into the pool. A refreshing reward for our hikers on the long hike.

On our hikes, we observed charismatic and photogenic northern curly-tailed lizards as well as Cerion snails attached to dry palm fronds and tree trunks. Silver thatch palms dominate the higher elevations, while the intertidal zone located at the interior of the island is home to red and black mangroves. We also observed many birds, including palm warblers, Bahama mockingbirds, bananaquits, green herons, ruddy turnstones, and ospreys.

After another wonderful lunch, guests returned to Compass Cay by Zodiac across the many hues of blue Bahamian water, the clearest waters in the world. Snorkeling explorations led us along the limestone wall. Scattered rocks of various sizes, once part of the rock wall, have transformed over the years into beautiful miniature coral reefs. These reefs are home to a variety of juvenile fish, the tiny jewels of the reefs. Juvenile yellowtail damselfish, queen angelfish, and rock beauties were just a few of those spotted. We also observed green turtles resting on the seafloor. The stars of the day and the main attraction were the nurse sharks. Many years ago, Compass Cay was more of a rest stop and a place for fishing guides to clean their catch and buy refreshments. Nurse sharks in the area quickly learned they could find a sure meal. Since then, the owner made Compass Cay Marina a no fishing zone. As a result, numerous species of fish are seen. We enjoyed observing bonefish, bar jacks, blue runners, and nurse sharks, among others, as we snorkeled.

Back on the ship, our tired and happy voyagers enjoyed cocktails and delicacies from the galley while learning a more about today’s activities. As the sun sets once again over the beautiful Bahamian waters, we eagerly await the start of a new day of adventure tomorrow.