I recently visited this remote island chain in the Bahamas and decided to write this guide because I received many inquiries. The Exumas consist of 365 of the over 600 islands that make up the Bahamas.
Georgetown is the capital of the largest island, Great Exuma, and the airport there is only a one hour flight from Miami. Hit the easy button. Other options include flying to the larger cities of Nassau or Freeport, then taking a connection. This may be less expensive but takes longer. This could make sense if you are combining the Exumas as part of a larger Bahamas vacation.
These islands are remote and less touristy then the better-known regions of the Bahamas. Once there you must arrange a boat to explore the small cays that are host to all kinds of amazing, fun and beautiful things! If you aren’t balling it up with your own boat (or better yet…friends with boats), don’t worry. There are plenty of companies that offer day trips, boat charters and other arrangements. I will include links at the end.
Great Exuma has a couple hotels. I stayed at the Grand Isle Villas. I absolutely loved it and wrote a review of it.
Read More: Review of Grand Isle Resort
There is also a Sandals Resort which is all-inclusive and there are packages one can purchase including flights and excursions.
Airbnb and VRBO have plenty of options on Great Exuma and some of the cays such as beautiful Staniel Cay.
The remoteness has its perks. There is not a ton of development (yet) therefore everywhere you turn is simply natural gorgeousness.
I’m sure many people have seen the famous “Bachelor” episode where a group of
desperate eager women descended upon these poor unsuspecting pigs with champagne and whatever gluten-free organic fancy snack is hot at the moment. You all must know by now that I am a bit of an animal activist and don’t condone that ridiculousness but when handled responsibly, this is a fun and unique activity for us animal lovers.
Update as of August 2017: There have been recent controversial accounts of how tourism is bad for these pigs. My understanding is that similar islands now are placing pigs there due to the popularity of this island, which did occur naturally (somewhat). I would not recommend visiting these other islands. Furthermore, many pigs recently dies because tourists were feeding them food covered in sand. The sand in their stomachs caused the deaths. I have mixed feelings about this activity. I think when it was less popular, it was ok. Please be responsible if you go and point out to guides those you see doing harm to these animals.
These pigs are a domestic breed that somehow have lived on this island for many years and have since gone feral. There are many stories about how they ended up here, but no definitive source. Some are massive in size and all are extremely food motivated so be careful. One actually bit me. I’m fine, don’t worry. It was an accident in which the pig thought my hand was a piece of bread. Considering I’m pasty white, I can hardly blame the pig! I’m not sure if these pigs have a natural food source so locals and tourists feeding them is actually a good thing. They really seemed to like drinking water from our bottles. I couldn’t get over the fact that they are remarkably good swimmers!!
I am terrified of sharks yet somehow these gentle nurse sharks didn’t scare me too much and unlimited Bahama Mama cocktails on the boat definitely helped me jump on in.
You can watch swimming with sharks AND pigs here!
I enjoyed fresh grouper and lobster, both as a tail and in burger form. Sorry no picture because I ate things literally as they were place in front of me. Oops. I’d be a terrible food blogger! Take my word, the dishes were gorgeous.
Conch, better known as the creature that lives in the beautiful shell that is held up to the ear to hear the ocean, is plentiful in the Caribbean and is used to make some Bahemian specialties such as conch chowder, conch fritters and conch salad, which our boat crew made for us on this beautiful sandbar after a few members of the boat dove and caught some (I opted to drink and watch).
I don’t know why stingrays come here so often. Maybe it’s the conch shack by the ocean, maybe it’s because they are conditioned from tourists willing to feed them. Either way, it’s a very relaxed and non-touristy environment. The Chill N Chat is a little shack with a bar and restaurant surrounded by a beautiful beach where stingrays hang out. This all on Stockton Island which is just a ten minute ferry ride from Georgetown.
Once again I had a pleasant shark encounter. I may be on the verge of liking them! I saw a black tip reef shark and I actually wasn’t scared. Well, maybe a tad, but it was beautiful and kept its distance, which made me happy. This was taken with underwater GoPro it is pretty darn exciting. You can laugh at my reaction when the shark turns towards me! FYI we dove from the Sandals resort and it was a great experience!
The water is usually more clear than this but it was still amazing.
Ok, I’m exaggerating but this island full of huge iguanas was very random yet another fun animal experience for moi. We fed the little guys lettuce. Some of them were quasi-friendly and allowed me the privilege of petting them. Some, not so much. I think it’s safe to say that all the animals in the Bahamas are well fed! This was also part of the same boat tour with Coastline Adventures.
Maybe it’s because I live in Miami, but I’m always shocked by how nice people can be. The Bahemians are charming, fun, and laid back. We fell in love with everyone from the hotel staff, the boat crew to the cab drivers. Upon arrival at the airport we were fortunate enough to jump into a cab operated by Reverend Adams who soon became our personal cab driver. He was always was doing “fantastically well” and is a beloved local that everybody knows. If you are visiting the Exumas and would like his number, please contact me.
It really is “Better in the Bahamas” and I plan to make it “redder” in the Bahamas again soon!
Places to eat:
Santanas near Tropic of Cancer beach on Little Exuma
Big Ds in Georgetown