Swain’s Cay Lodge

Mangrove Cay, The Bahamas

Inns, Lodges, Resorts

November 2023

Photos by Jimmy Jacobs.

The great bulk of the bonefish, permit and tarpon action in The Bahamas takes place in the Out Islands, far from the glitz of the resorts of Nassau’s Paradise Island and Freeport. Some potential visiting anglers may worry that traveling to these more remote destinations will prove challenging in getting there and what to expect. Will they find a host that is familiar with the needs of fly fishers? Also, will the accommodations be up to a standard to make the trip successful and enjoyable?

Swain’s Cay Lodge on Mangrove Cay (Cay is pronounced Key here) is a prime example of the best of Out Island facilities that answer both questions with a resounding “yes,”. Situated between North and South Andros Islands, the resort caters to the specific needs of fly casters, offers first-class accommodations and service, and a welcoming atmosphere. That latter item is not surprising, since it lies in what is often referred to as the Family Islands. The local residents know how to make a visitor welcome.

Swain’s Cay owner Cheryl Bastian fell victim to that welcoming appeal herself. Originally from Nassau, her mother was a waitress and father a taxi driver. For her own career she chose financial services, in which she spent 33 years. Then on a visit to family members on Mangrove Cay, Ms. Bastian fell in love with the island, where immediately upon arrival, she “unwound” from the stress of the business world. She also noticed a piece of land with waterfront access that was perfectly situated for a lodge.

That was in 2009 and quickly she purchased the property and began building Swain’s Cay from scratch. As with her earlier career, she was driven to succeed and finish the project. While visitors are encouraged to enjoy a leisurely pace, don’t expect to constantly butt heads with the concept of “island time.” At Swain’s Cay you will get on the water at the right time for fishing, and other activities are arranged to accommodate that schedule.

Of importance to fly casters is the lodge’s location between the North and Middle Bights. Those bodies of water offer protection from breezes, regardless of the direction from which they originate. It is a rare day when the wind makes fishing impossible. To provide for the most success, Swain’s Cay works with the best of local independent guides that know the tides, the waters and the fish well. The lodge provides a van to take you to meet your guide at the docks on either of the bights, and returns you to the resort after fishing.

Additionally, if you want a day of do-it-yourself angling, the low tide flats around the small isle in front of the lodge’s beach provides wading opportunities for bonefish cruising its white sand northern fringe.

On The Fly South Associate Editor Polly Dean on the flat just off Swain’s Cay beach.

As to the accommodations, you have several options. You can choose from ocean view rooms or suites, as well as beach front suites. All of these feature bathrooms, air conditioning, furnished patios and WiFi access. Another option is the duplex apartment. This three-bedroom facility has a lounge and sofa, dining are, kitchenette, air conditioning and a furnished terrace.

The duplex apartment.

Dining is available onsite in the Reefside Restaurant & Bar, featuring three home-cooked meals daily, as well as snacks. The meals are scrumptious, true Bahamian fare. Box lunches can be arranged for fishing or other excursions. The bar offers a wide variety of cold libations too.

The Reefside Restaurant & Bar right on the beach.

For a change of pace from fishing, or for non-angling family members, Swain’s provides kayaking, snorkeling and Scuba diving options. Additionally, you can grab a bicycle to explore the flat roads of Mangrove Cay. Or you can arrange an eco-tour of the surrounding bights. They also have recently added a lounge area, new hammocks and a beachfront fire pit.

Swain’s Cay Resort provides a shuttle van to and from Clarence A. Bain Airport in Moxey Town on Mangrove Cay. For more information on the lodge visit their website.