If you like to hike, the trails of Stocking Island are incredible. The island itself acts as a natural barrier to Georgetown harbour and is about 6 km (3 1/2 miles) long from tip to tip.
What makes this hike so incredible is the variety of the terrain, from long expanses of surf beach, to hidden coves to sand dunes to salt flats to shaded paths under a full canopy of dry tropical forest...it is a photographer's dream.
There is a navy beacon mid-island that operated as a marker for ships dating back to the days of the salt industry in the 1800s, although it looks more recently restored than the salt beacon on Little Exuma. It was also used by the airport as a guide before more advanced forms of flight tracking. There are several paths up to the summit, which offers incredible views in every direction. It is well worth the effort to get up there.
There is a great map available at the tourist office (or download here if you want to preplan a hike.) The trails are well marked and benches have been built at some of the most stunning outlooks.
There are bird watering stations along the trails. It is a bird watcher's paradise. There is an eagle's nest at the top of the beacon, which seems appropriate, lording it over the island.
There is always something to discover but other sites that are worthy of their own blog include the Stromatolites, Starfish Beach, geocache treasure hunting and the Blue Hole. There are also blowholes, shelling, sandbars, body surfing and even a tree swing. Too much to see on a single hike.
If you don't have your own boat (these can be rented - see the directory) then water taxis can be picked up at the dock in Georgetown 'on the hour' seven days a week. Return Taxi service is $12 per person.
You can arrange a start and end point at an appointed time. St Francis Resort and Chat and Chill both can radio the water taxis and also both have great food and cold drinks, so they are good end points for a long hike.
It is about an hour hike from St Francis to the beacon and an hour back, but shorter and longer hikes are available. From Chat and Chill, you need to wade through the narrows (which is waist high at low tide), then it is a quick 2 minute hike to the surf beach and great views. If you are getting dropped off somewhere else and working towards Chat and Chill it is worth checking the tide charts so it's not too deep to walk comfortably across the hundred foot gap at the narrows.
There are no poisonous snakes, but do watch out for the poison bush, which if touched leaves a rash like poison ivy. I have never had a bad experience but washing the oil off with soap and hot water seems to be the remedy coupled with an antihistamine. Here is what it looks like.)
As always, please take nothing but photographs and leave nothing but footprints so others can enjoy this incredible experience for generations to come. Please stick to the marked trails as there are several private homes on the island and you will be less likely to disturb nesting birds.
More photos and a trail map to download click here.