Over the past few days, there have been so many misconceptions and shoddy reporting from some of the world’s most reputable news companies racing to beat the other shitty news companies that the truth has somewhere been lost in translation about The Bahamas specifically The Exumas.
If you haven’t been living under a rock, you would have seen the #1 trending topic in the world was probably the #FyreFestival, a “luxurious” music festival held in the idyllic Exumas that was a total disaster. As I thoroughly covered it here, and you’re probably sick of it like me, I’m not going to elaborate into the disaster anymore or give those unprofessional twats any more blog time.
However, what I’m going to do is spit some major facts on my country that the media is inconveniently leaving out of their unbalanced articles and show you the real Exuma with a quick guide.
If you’re ready to plan your next island getaway in the most beautiful place from space, let’s go.
The Exumas, a chain of islands within The Bahamas are some of the most beautiful islands in the world and I’m not saying it because I’m biased, (I mean, I may be) but it is the truth. Exuma is a spell-binding slice of heaven on earth and even carries the nickname “quarter mile from heaven” because it’s unlike any other place in the world. Celebrities, business tycoons and off-the-beaten-path adventurers for years have known and flocked to this part of the world to escape from the insanity that is the real world. You can do it all or you can just do nothing. You can soak up the sun, sip in the shade and swim with the pigs in The Exumas.
GETTING TO THE EXUMAS
Contrary to popular and recent lies, it is pretty easy flying into The Exumas. As I previously stated, Exuma is a chain of islands, therefore you have many options. The main airport Georgetown International Airport (GGT) is located on mainland Great Exuma and has daily, bi-weekly and weekly flights from the U.S. and Canada on popular carriers such as Air Canada, Delta, American Airlines, Bahamasair, Silver Airways and Sky Bahamas. You can also fly into Staniel Cay airport (MYES), via chartered air. If you’re adventurous you may want to take a ferry or a mailboat from the capital. Like I said, the options are limitless.
WHERE TO STAY
Rest assured you will not be camping; you will not have water or sewerage problems as we have an amazing selection of luxury and affordable accommodations on the mainland and scattered around the chain. Here are a few places that I recommend you rest your head:
- Sandals Emerald Bay – It’s Sandal’s need I say more? So luxe, you can even book a butler if you wish!
- Augusta Bay – It’s not luxury but a comfortable and affordable dig located 20 minutes away from town. The views are stunning and the service is great!
- Hideaways At Palm Bay – While the service and resort is great, my favourite place was the bar. There is a swing at the bar people.
- Exuma Palms – This is what I call Bates Motel, but I fell in love with it. To be fair they were under construction when I stayed, so I can’t tell you what it looks like now. I will say this, I would stay there again because it is situated one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen in my life, and I’ve seen a lot of beaches. Every single morning I watched the sunrise from here and melted.
- Staniel Cay Yacht Club – Located on Staniel Cay, this was definitely a favourite. The staff were super accommodating and anyone who has ever been to Staniel Cay can vouch for this! You can explore the by island bicycle which was featured in the James Bond flick, ‘Thunderball” or hop on a quick ten-minute boat ride to the world famous Swimming Pigs.
WHAT TO DO
Like I said, you can do it all, or you can do nothing, it just depends on your flavour. There are so many activities to suit just about any traveller, but I would be remiss if I didn’t point to the most obvious. If you’re in Exuma, you’re going to want to be on the water, beaching or boating. How could you not?!
Here are some of my top ‘what to do’ picks:
- Swimming Pigs: Pigs don’t fly, but they sure do swim here. Swimming with the local celebrities located on Big Major’s Cay is a popular must-do. Their popularity has grown in the last few years as they have found themselves featured on ABC’s The Bachelor, on late night talk shows and across many travel and entertainment publications. Like I said, they’re stars. They live on a remote island only accessible by boat so make sure to book a reputable tour company. Before you go, read this.
- Thunderball Grotto: The most beautiful underwater spot I’ve had the pleasure of snorkeling. Named after 007’s ‘Thunderball’ film, the grotto is a preferred snorkelling and diving haven crowded with hundreds of exotic coral, fish and sea life. If you’re brave enough to swim inside, do me a favour and look up and admire the amazing 20 ft. ceiling, just jaw-dropping. I recommend swimming there in low tide and while the current isn’t too strong.
- Tropic of Cancer Beach: Officially named Pelican Beach, this is is quite possibly the most awe-inspiring beach in all of The Exumas. Located a short ways outside of Willams Town in Little Exumas at 23 26N 75 35W, this crescent hideaway with its soft sand and azure waters has received much notoriety not only because of its beauty but because of one geological fact: the Tropic of Cancer latitude line runs along this beach.
- Three Sister’s Rock Beach: This is the beach located near my favourite hotel, (Bates Motel). So why is it called Three Sister’s Rock? Legend has it that three sisters fell in love with the same Englishman, but didn’t know it. They found out on the day he was set to leave and decided to swim out to his ship to confront him. The weather was not good and all three of the sisters drowned, the three rocks are said to have grown in the spots where the sisters drowned. What a story right? You can view these rocks from the beach which is incredibly beautiful and most times deserted.
- Iguanas: If petting baby dragons excite you, this may be something you’re interested in. Rock Iguanas are endemic to The Bahamas and there is an island in Exuma that is home to these oversized lizards. I mean, the island is crawling with them, it’s actually pretty amazing. You can feed them or pet them but don’t try to leave the country with them. Yes, that’s happened before.
- Compass Cay: You can’t leave Compass Cay out; it’s a vacation sin if you do. This tiny and infamous island is the home of the friendly nurse sharks and gives me island vibes for every time. If you book a tour, a stop here is usually included. There is food, beaches and overall great times on Compass Cay.
WHAT TO EAT
Everything! As a travel blogger, I’ve been around the world and the truth is, I have yet to find food anywhere as good as in The Bahamas. With that said, here’s what you should eat while in The Exumas.
- Fry Fish: The key to Bahamian cooking is the seasoning. A good piece of fry dry fry fish will change your life.
- Everything conch. Crack conch, conch salad, conch fritter, stew conch, conch, conch, conch! It’s inarguably the dish of The Bahamas.
- Peas n’ Rice: Not to be mistaken for rice n’ peas. No one, anywhere in the world can throw down a pot of peas n’ rice like we can.
- Lobster: Our lobster is slightly different than what you may be used to eating. Spiny lobster is found in The Bahamas and in The Caribbean and has a more ocean/saltier taste than what you’re accustomed to. You may hear the locals refer to it as ‘crawfish’, not to be confused with what is found in Louisiana.
- Macaroni: Bahamians have a different method of preparing this addictive comfort food so order with an open mind and belly.
WHERE TO EAT
Now that I’ve opened your stomach, I’m sure you’re asking, “where can I get it!” Here are my favourite spots to indulge in some down-home Bahamian cooking:
- Santana’s Bar & Grill: Many stumble upon this famous spot as they get lost trying to find the Tropic of Cancer beach, but make sure Santana’s is a priority on your foodie list. The open-air florescent coloured restaurant overlooking the sea specialises in lunch and dinner; menu options range from lobster to conch, fish with classic Bahamian sides – peas n’ rice and baked macaroni and coleslaw. Wash it down with a cold beer, preferably the local favourite Kalik. My personal favourite is the lobster with sauteed onions and corn and rice. Life changer!
- Fish Fry: Head to the fish fry for a true Bahamian experience. Located in Georgetown, you can find the spot where the locals eat. You can find authentic Bahamian food at any of the ten plus colourful shacks by the sea. Indulge in fresh food from the sea while shooting the breeze with the Exumians.
- Chat ‘N’ Chill: A short ferry ride from Georgetown to Stocking Island is where you can find one of the most famous beach bars in all of The Exuma Cays. This full-service open-air bar and restaurant serve up of grilled items like burgers and ribs and you shouldn’t pass up a bowl of the local delicacy, conch salad at the tropical stall. If you’re in town on a Sunday, the popular pig roast is not to be missed. Besides the tempting beach, other on island activities include volleyball, bridge, and dominoes.
And there you have it! A full guide to exploring and experiencing one of the not so best-kept secrets of The Bahamas!
Have you ever been to The Exumas? Did you love it? If you did, help me get the word about by sharing!
LET’S KEEP IN TOUCH!