What should I bring?
You'll spend your days in bathing suits and casual wear, shorts or jeans, t-shirts and windbreaker. Bring a pair of deck shoes, sandals, suntan lotion (non-oil), and sunglasses. In winter a sweatshirt or sweater is advisable. We provide three towels. If you would like more towels or would like a beach towel, you should bring them with you.
What travel documents are needed?
All travelers to the Bahamas need a current passport. Be sure to book your air tickets with your name as it appears exactly on your passport. Check with the Bahamas Embassy for visa requirements if citizenship is not US by clicking on this link. Bahamas Entry Requirements.
What is the minimum age for passengers on board?
The Cat Ppalu is a full boat charter vessel so we donít have a minimum age. However, keep in mind that children on board should be water savvy so they can enjoy the trip too! Our crew is most gracious and good with all ages. They will not provide supervision or childcare/babysitting services at any time. All children under the age of 15 must be supervised by a parent or guardian at ALL times.
How do I get to the docks?
Taxis are readily available from the airport, or with prior arrangements our office can handle the transfers for you. The cost for one way in a taxi is approximately $35.00. Private transfer service can be arranged through our US reservations office 2 weeks prior to departure. The transfer rate is 15.00 each way per person. Cat Ppalu is docked at the Nassau Harbour Club on East Bay St across from the shopping center. If you experience delays on your day of arrival, please contact Island Escape Tours directly at (242) 557-8730 to adjust your schedule.
What time can we board?
On our 7-day trips you may board after 12:00 PM on Saturday. We like to shove off by 3 pm at the latest to make the trip from Nassau to the Exumas during daylight hours. We can, of course, stay longer to accommodate later arrivals as this is a charter only vessel. Keep in mind that if it gets too late, then the captain may decide to leave early Sunday morning instead of Saturday afternoon for safety reasons. We recommend flights that land no later than 1 pm to make the 3 pm departure.
What time do we get off the boat?
The Cat Ppalu returns to Nassau Thursday early evening. We still serve dinner and provide lodging at the dock. This is your night in port so that you can experience some of the local culture. All passengers must disembark Friday by 9:00 AM.
What is our itinerary?
Your group will have a great time exploring the 365 mostly uninhabited islands of the Exumas with their many beautiful beaches. In addition to scuba diving, you can spend time beachcombing, hiking, kayaking or photographing the many natural sights. The underwater window in cabin 6 always gives you a spectacular view of what's below. In Nassau you can enjoy the shopping, casinos and night life of Nassau and Paradise Island.
What do I need to participate in the eco-adventures of the Exumas?
The Exuma Cays offers many opportunities to go ashore and explore and enjoy the uninhabited beaches. For these occasions, we highly recommend proper footwear for these eco adventures. Flip flops are not suitable. We suggest water shoes or TEVA type sandals. Sneakers are fine but they might get wet!.
Do we actually sail?
Yes, as often as the wind blows. The best time for sailing is from October to April. During the period from May to September there is normally very little wind. Passenger participation is welcomed by the crew or you may just lay back and relax in the sun.
What are the meals like?
We serve three meals a day, as well as snacks and fresh fruits. Fresh fish or lobster is also served, in season, when caught. Most meals served will be a combination of Bahamian and American cuisine. A selection of beverages is always on hand, from soft drinks and lemonade to beer, wine and rum drinks. Here is a sample menu!
Can I fish?
Yes, as long a you aren't in the Exumas Land & Sea Park. We furnish all of the fishing gear.
How much spending money do I need?
Spending money for an evening ashore (drinks, souvenirs) and crew gratuity (15% is customary in the liveaboard industry). The currency in the Bahamas is the Bahamian dollar, which is par with the US dollar. They are used inter-changeably. If you have US dollars, there is no need to change currency.
What is the recommended gratuity?
The live-aboard business is a service industry, and although the general public is seldom aware of it, gratuities are a major part of a crewmember s salary. Few other recreational activities rely so heavily upon the professionals in charge for your enjoyment and safety. Besides being at the mercy of Mother Nature, the quality of your experience is
based on the people who provide it. The crewmembers are generally multi-talented and do several jobs on board. They oversee the diving, cook meals, wash dishes, clean heads and cabins, perform engineering duties, and navigate the seas. We strongly believe that gratuities should be voluntary and based upon the quality of the service the crew
provides. A gratuity of 15% is customary, but many leave more when they feel the service was outstanding. If you are disappointed with the service, you should inform the Captain of your feelings and leave no more gratuity than you feel is right. The gratuity can be given to the Captain at the end of the week.
Can I snorkel?
Yes, anytime the boat is anchored. You need to bring mask, fins, snorkel and snorkel vest (not required but highly recommended). Snorkeling is not supervised.
Can I scuba dive?
Yes, if you are a certified diver. If not, you may take a resort course for a $125.00 fee. While the Northern Exumas are only 30 miles from Nassau there are no dive operations there, so you can experience truly virgin diving. The Exumas have walls starting at 40', as well as drift, reef, and shark dives. The Nassau area has a variety of wrecks. For over
30 years much of the northern Exumas has been a National Underwater Park with no fishing, spearfishing or collecting allowed. Because of these laws there are miles of undersea gardens in which coral, sponges and fish abound.
What is a resort course?
For a fee of $125.00 our dive instructor will spend some time at the beach giving you instruction. This will allow you to make two dives under their supervision. Additional dives are available for 20.00 each. This resort course does not certify you. It only qualifies you to dive with an instructor while on the Cat Ppalu. The BC and regulator are included in the cost. Please download this medical form to participate in our resort course program. If you answer YES to any questions, then a doctor must sign off to allow you to dive.
Can you do open water checkouts?
Yes, our dive instructor can with prior arrangements. The cost is $15 per dive plus the cost of the certification envelope if not provided.
What dive gear do I need to bring?
Certified scuba divers need snorkel, fins, mask, regulator, buoyancy compensator, u/w watch, depth gauge and for night dives a dive light and cyalume stick are required. We provide tanks, weights and weight belts. There is storage on deck for all gear and we have a hose to rinse cameras and regulators. Between fall and spring, a wetsuit is recommended. Check out our equipment checklist!
Can I rent dive gear?
If you don't have your own equipment we have "top of the line" ADV/BCs, wetsuits, dive lights and regulators with octopus and gauges available for rent. All must be rented by prior arrangement. We also have cyalumes available for sale ($2 each).
|Wet Suit-Farmer John
Rental rates on shorter or longer trips will be prorated appropriately. Please inquire for more details.
Do I need a wetsuit?
Between fall and spring, a wetsuit is recommended. The chart below will give you a general idea of the water temperatures and what weight wetsuit you will need. When deciding what to bring, consider that you will be diving a lot each day and it takes your body a while to warm up after a dive. Air temperature, the wind and whether it is sunny all affect how fast your body warms back up after a dive. What each person needs is an individual choice. Some wear a full suit in the summer and some dive with a shorty in the winter.
||Full Wetsuit-6mm or thicker
|| Full Wetsuit-6mm or thicker
||Shorty or Full Wetsuit
||Skin or Shorty
||83-87f / 28-30c
||Skin or Shorty
||Shorty or Full Wetsuit
||Full Wetsuit-6mm or thicker
How many dives per day?
Depending on arrival time, you will normally dive twice on Saturday and 4 dives per day Sunday through Thursday, including night dives, as long as weather is not a factor.
Will I see sharks?
We do see sharks on many of our dive sites and snorkel sights. Typically, we see Caribbean Reef Sharks and Nurse Sharks. Some sites are frequented by greater numbers of sharks while others are less populated by sharks.
Do you do wreck dives?
We have only one wreck dive in the Exumas. Here's a map of our dive sites with descriptions!
Do you have a DVD player?
Yes, we have a DVD player. We have some movies, but feel free to bring yours. We also have a stereo system and CD player.
Do you have any local hotel packages?
Yes we do. Go to our hotel page for information.
Is electricity available?
We have regular 110 volt household current.
What if I need to be contacted in an emergency?
If someone needs to get in contact with you due to a true emergency, they should contact our US reservations office and we will relay the message. This should only be done if it is a real emergency. The boat is then contacted via cell phone if they are in range of the cell tower or they are radioed via a Bahamian dock and then they must return to cell range to make a phone call. The calling areas of the remote out islands of the Bahamas are extremely limited.
Do we spend a night in port?
We do return to Nassau Thursday afternoon so that our guests may enjoy an evening ashore. Nassau has much to offer, with dining, entertainment, casinos and shopping all within a short distance. There aren t any ports in the Northern Exumas, just quiet uninhabited beaches and gorgeous sunsets.