May 3, 17
As a collection of remote islands, only a few thousand residents can call Exuma Cays their home. What the ‘Out Islands’ lack in crowds, they make up in hosting of numerous friendly sea creatures, ready to meet travelers passing through. For that reason, we were in high spirits to check out the Bahamas and its ocean animals.
HOW TO GET THERE AND GET AROUND:
There are no direct flights to any of the islands in the Bahamas from Los Angeles (LAX), so be ready for at least one layover on the East Coast. New York is the best departure airport for most Caribbean islands and it offers direct flights to the outer islands of the Bahamas as well. Exuma International Airport is very small and services mainly small aircrafts or regional planes from the United States. It would be advisable to set up a pick up car through your hotel prior to arrival, as taxis are slightly difficult to spot (they are usually big, white vans and some have no taxi sign or mark on them – except inside the car). Although driving is on the left side of the road, car rental is highly recommended, as road conditions are very manageable. Besides, taxis are expensive and a roundtrip can cost more than renting out a car for a day.
WHERE WE STAYED AND WHERE TO EAT:
We stayed at Exuma Beach Resort, which is conveniently located close to the capital of Exuma, called Georgetown (a 10 min walk away). The resort has a small pier and an amazing view from the beach and there are little fish swimming everywhere around the area. Another favorable factor of staying at the hotel is their restaurant “Latitudes”, which serves great food. If you decide to walk into town, you’ll find a local spot with delicious food called ‘Shirley’s at the Fish Fry‘ (highly recommended).
THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN EXUMA:
1. TROPIC OF CANCER BEACH
Tropic of Cancer Beach, also known as Pelican Beach, is a stunning and secluded beach located in Little Exuma (connected to Great Exuma by a short ride on a bridge). Make sure to bring food and drinks, since there are no stores nearby. It is by far one of the most picturesque sights we have experienced and a fascinating place with clear turquoise water and white soft sand. Plan to stay the whole day and relax with a book and snacks, as it is one of the best and most beautiful beaches of the Bahamas.
Fun fact for nerds:
The Tropic of Cancer is the circle marking the latitude 23.5 degrees north, where the sun is directly overhead at noon on June 21, the beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere. Starting at the prime meridian and heading eastward, the Tropic of Cancer passes through 16 countries in total.
Queen’s Highway | William’s Town, Little Exuma | The Exumas
2. CHAT 'N' CHILL ON STOCKING ISLAND
Once you arrive in Georgetown, catch a ride (only 5-7 minutes) in a water taxi over to 1 Stocking Island. There you’ll find one of the best beach restaurants in the Caribbean – Chat’N’Chill is not only a bar/ restaurant with delicious food, but also a perfect hangout for sailors and snorkelers. The beach is rich with colorful shells and the greenish-blue water is home to a family of stingrays that come by and want to be fed. The employees working there are prepared to give you some vegetables for the stingrays (usually for free so don’t pay a fee), however if you don’t want to rely on them make sure to bring fresh lettuce in a box and you will hit it off with the ocean kittens right away.
Don’t forget snorkeling gear and cash for the taxi boat!
3. BOAT TOUR (SNORKEL THUNDERBALL GROTTO; MEET THE SWIMMING PIGS, NURSE SHARKS AND ROCK IGUANAS)
Although we went with a great and well-organized tour (4 C’s Adventures) and saw a variety of fascinating places and celebrity islands, I would recommend renting out a small boat with a skipper for the whole day and check out James’ Bond’s Thunderball Grotto, Pig Island, Compass Key and Allen’s Cay on your own time. It is definitely worth paying a little bit more and make your own itinerary, which you can alter dependent on weather conditions and your own preferences of where to stay longer.
Also, do not book your trip before coming to the Bahamas – we met a few people who were scammed online (they wanted to book their tours in advance and found the website of the company they booked from taken down upon arrival).
The tiny islands of Exuma are a special and exotic getaway outside of crowded plazas and busy streets, guaranteeing a laid-back atmosphere in a tropical paradise.