Captain Herb Magney, of luxury yacht AT LAST (145ft Heesen charter yacht) kindly shared his inside knowledge of remote Plana Cay, near Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas. Here are his insightful comments:
Plana Cay and the region can best be described as the Micronesia of the Atlantic. It’s almost 400 miles south of Fort Lauderdale, and there’s a huge stretch of water before you reach the Turks and Caicos, which is still off the beaten path. This destination is remote and magnificent, a region that must be experienced to be believed.
Georgetown, on Great Exuma Island, is the nearest large airport and point of entry for foreigners. On At Last we normally depart from there in the evening and cruise the 140 miles to the Plana Cays overnight. It's a 14-hour cruise at 10 knots, so we can anchor in time for breakfast. Private small aircraft can fly from Georgetown into Mayaguana, Crooked or Acklins Islands. To save time, our charter clients that own small aircraft clear in at Georgetown and then continue to one of these smaller airstrips where we can pick them up.
Plana Cays offers our clients absolute seclusion. No paparazzi, no overheads, nobody will bother you. If you see another boat it will be away in the distance and you are out of the range of most helicopters.
West Plana Cay, East Plana Cay and Samana Cay, like Hogsty Reef and Mira Por Vos Cays are spectacular dive and snorkel destinations due to the amazing reef structure. You can anchor in 40 feet of water and have a wall that drops off to 1,000 feet at the back of the boat. Drift diving the wall is the best ride in town; you can pretend to fly just like Superman. It’s as good as it gets in the Caribbean, Bermuda, Cozumel, Belize, Cayman Islands; it is that caliber of diving.
There is a long shelf between Plana and Samana Cays of immense pillars, an extraordinary high relief coral structure with huge fissures, it feels like you’re in a forest. Cruising through these canyons is a totally different diving experience. There’s a spot off East Plana Cay, about 125 feet deep, where from one amazing set of arches you swim another 30-40 feet to reach another spectacular arch and grotto. I told Dave, if I ever go missing you’d find me just lying at the bottom of this grotto on this perfect white sand watching all these huge fish and rays going by my little cave. It’s like being in an aquarium with big ocean fish swimming among an amazing variety of small ones.
This is also a great area for fishing enthusiasts. On At Last we have a 35’ Intrepid with complete fishing gear; trolling reels, spinning reels, live bait tanks, so we are very well equipped. In fact, the Owner has hooked into a couple of Marlin right off of Georgetown. The boat carries the fishing license for our charter guests. For shallow water fishermen there’s plentiful bonefish and others coming through the cuts.
The region has unusual opportunities for hiking and history buffs as well. There are ruins of plantations and settlements, beachcombing for Portuguese glass floats, spelunkers can explore Sampson Cave and birdwatchers will be ecstatic about the variety of bird life, including pink flamingos. December through February viewing the whales headed north is another added attraction. They come through the Mayaguana and Caicos Passages as well as several other deep-water passages.
On At Last we deliver guests a yacht charter vacation that’s completely off the books, an extraordinary adventure to a destination so uncommon most people have never heard of it. The crew is uniquely experienced in a region that, by virtue of its challenging reefs, bays and passages, requires intimate knowledge and expert navigation and seamanship skills. We can certify you to dive right on the charter, and of course take you on a fishing adventure if that's what you would like. We highly recommend this remote, pristine and magical region for the experience of a lifetime.
Thanks Captain Magney!