I recently returned from my first trip to Exuma in the Bahamas and I must say, I was completely overwhelmed by the striking natural beauty of this area! It was a perfect setting to celebrate a very special milestone event (shhh … top-secret birthday stuff) with some of my dearest, lifelong (not old) friends! The Exumas is an archipelago, or island cluster, consisting of over 365 islands, also called cays. And every one of those islands is surrounded by some of the clearest, most pristine water on which you will ever lay eyes. I have never seen so many shades of blue, ranging from an almost translucent turquoise to a brilliant sapphire and every shade of blue in between. The islands are lightly inhabited, and most of the population lives on Great Exuma or Little Exuma, both of which are in the southern part of the island chain, connected by a simple one-lane bridge.
Our group flew into Exuma International Airport, located in George Town, the largest town on Great Exuma and home to the only gas station on the island. We stayed in a fabulous 5-bedroom, 6-bath house on Little Exuma near Forbes Hill, featuring a full kitchen (along with 2 smaller kitchens), a private pool, a large covered deck overlooking a nearly private beach and lagoon filled with those stunning shades of blue water, which we affectionately referred to as our backyard!
Traveling by boat while in Exuma is highly recommended if you want to truly immerse yourself in those crystal clear waters, do a little island-hopping, and experience some of the remarkable attractions the islands have to offer, like visiting the world-famous swimming pigs at Big Major Cay, snorkeling the underwater cave near Staniel Cay (better known as Thunderball Grotto, where the James Bond movie of the same name was filmed), swimming with sharks at Compass Cay, enjoying an elegant lunch at Cape Santa Maria’s Beach House Restaurant on Long Island, checking out the legendary Chat ‘n’ Chill beach bar on the sandy shores of Stocking Island, perhaps indulging in a freshly prepared conch ceviche salad (and I do mean fresh!) on the beach nearby, or taking an afternoon stroll at what is often called the Mile-Long Sandbar (just use your imagination … hint: it’s about the closest thing you will find on earth to walking on water, and it’s also near where several scenes from the movie Pirates of the Caribbean were filmed). Tooling around by boat also allows you to get unique views of homes, guest houses and indeed entire private islands owned by famous celebrities such as David Copperfield, and Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. There are also some pretty neat places to visit by car, one such fun lunch spot not to miss would be Santanna’s Bar and Grill, which is down south on Little Exuma. It’s a friendly, casual place with cold beverages and really good grouper fingers.
Getting to Exuma and back to the U.S. with COVID travel restrictions still in place was manageable. Before leaving for our trip, we had to obtain a negative COVID-19 test within 5 days of arrival to Exuma, and with the new CDC guidelines still in force regulating re-entry to the States for international travelers, we had to obtain another negative test within three days prior to departure. We also had to complete a very brief daily health survey for the Bahamas while we were there, but it was really no problem and just became a morning ritual for each of us which only took a couple minutes to complete. Masks were required in public areas and upon entering and leaving restaurants, but it was pretty relaxed and felt very safe.
Our trip to Exuma with some of my dearest friends was an adventure that I will never forget, as we shared experiences and formed treasured memories that will last a lifetime! I highly recommend this beautiful destination!
Co-Owner, Travel Advisor