The most accessible underwater Bahamas plane wreck is the Drug Smugglers Exuma plane wreck at Staniel Cay in the Exumas. Just a short boat ride from Staniel Cay, this Bahamas plane crash provides a perfect snorkeling spot.
The Exuma plane wreck is one of the most fascinating attractions in all of the Bahamas and, because of its relative recency, the story can be tracked all the way to its origin. Today, the Bahamas underwater plane sits in the shallow pristine waters of the Exuma Cays not too far from Staniel Cay and is a top visited attraction of Bahamas day trippers. The Bahamas plane wreck belongs to the Colombian cartel and the drug smuggling empire of the late Seventies and Eighties.
Because of its accessibility, it has become a must-see attraction in the Bahamas and most people are truly engaged in the story behind the Bahamas plane crash – making it a busy place in the Bahamas today.
Staniel Cay sits just over 80 miles south of Nassau where most visitors go. There are plenty of companies who offer day trips from Nassau to see this famous plane along with many Exuma attractions.
The actual wreckage sits in the shallow turquoise waters about a half-mile off the Staniel Cay coast. Luckily, Staniel Cay is one of the most visited places in the Exumas as it acts as a sort of central hub to the Exuma Cays.
From Staniel Cay, it is easy to hire a boat or catch a ride via water taxi for a few bucks to get you out to the crash.
The Bahamas plane wreck is a small two-seater private aircraft that sits only ten feet-or-so under the crystal clear waters of the Exuma Cays. It is one of the most accessible underwater plane wrecks in the entire world which is why thousands of people visit the scene year-after-year.
The story goes that it was a routine night at the Staniel Cay Airport. Being that it is such a minor landing strip and the fact that it wasn’t as heavily used as it is today, airport officials would regularly show up at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club for a drink while still on duty – radios in hand in case of the rare emergency.
One night, an unusual call came in on the line – a man franticly searching for the small, poorly lit landing strip. He was speaking a mixed tongue between English and Spanish which also not common through the radio. In broken English, the officials realized he was dipping low in fuel and needed to find a safe spot to land.
The airport employees rushed to the landing strip to shine car vehicle lights on the strip for the desperate pilot but as they did, the other end of the radio went silent and the plane never came into the landing strip.
The search party didn’t begin until the sun came up the next morning and when it did, they quickly discovered a plane about ten miles from Norman’s Cay. The two passengers of the plane didn’t make it out.
It was discovered that the plane was packed too tightly with marijuana for them to escape the plane even if they didn’t die upon impact. Investigators believe they died by drowning and were thought to be a part of the Colombian cartel who frequently used the Bahamas as a halfway point between the Americas on their drug smuggling missions.
Beyond seeing the plane either from the air or below your boat and marveling at the rare sight, many exotic species of marine life have seeked refuge and built homes around the Exuma plane wreck. Now, colorful corals and fish can be found all around the Bahamas underwater plane.
Though it is often referred to as the “Exuma plane wreck”, it is not to be confused with another of Pablo Escobar’s drug running planes which crashed on drug smuggling missions of the Seventies and Eighties. One crashed off the coast of Norman’s Cay, as well, but is not as accessible. The one which sits a half-mile off the coast of Staniel Cay belonged to Carlos Ledher who ran that portion of the cartel and used Norman’s Cay as an important hub in Escobar’s drug kingpin while delivering to Miami.
Discover many more great attractions and places to visit around Exuma, including: