**Since this post, i’ve created an updated Exuma Cheat Sheet if you plan to visit the Exumas!**
If you’ve seen any photos from Exumas, Bahamas, you may have thought all the views look unbelievable. When you go for your first time, you will realize that you are looking at the bluest and clearest water you have ever seen. Even just driving by along the coast and looking out towards the shore, the water looks almost strangely like Windex! In photos, you would’ve thought it was just a filter or some kind of Photoshop trick to make the water look like that, but in reality it’s just like that, and when you take a photo and look at it later, it’s actually still hard to believe.
My first trip
My first time coming to the Exumas was a group trip in November 2013. I went with a group of about 10 friends and we were all staying at Grand Isle resort. The trip was organized by a friend who spends a few months every winter in the Exuma and owns a few boats there too. He has fallen in love with the Exumas from a few years back and he tries to share it with as many of his friends as possible (which I’m finding I want to do now as well!). During that first trip we were able to see several sandbars, stingrays, starfish, iguanas, and even dolphins! The dolphins are attracted to the loud music from the boat, so we were able to jump into the water to swim with them! They were so quick swimming around us and seeing them free and not in captivity was one of the best Exuma moments I’ve had to date.
How I ended up falling in love with the Exumas
I came to Exuma for my second time in February 2014. This trip we were able to do a two day trip to Staniel Cay by boat from Great Exuma (the main island). In Staniel Cay, we were able to check out the famous Staniel Cay Yacht Club, thunderball grotto (where they filmed James Bond Thunderball movie), the original Pig Island (Big Major’s Spot), play with friendly sharks (Compass Cay), and more. I learned on this trip that there is just so much to see and do in Exuma that you can come many times and never get bored!
How to get to there
If you are planning a trip to Exumas, you need to look for flights to George Town, Great Exuma, Bahamas (airport code GGT). There are direct flights to GGT from Toronto Pearson airport every Sunday by Air Canada all year round, and then they also add a Thursday direct flight from Toronto (in addition to the Sunday one) starting November and ending in April. George Town also has direct flights from some US cities including Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. You can also connect through Nassau (which has tons of daily direct flights), by BahamasAir or SkyBahamas for $100 per person for a 40 minute flight. The planes they use are a bit old but they are larger and fit around 100 people.
Where to Stay
For accommodation, I like the idea of staying in a rented house/beach villa in Exuma now since I’m comfortable with the entire island. There are some really nice villas you can rent for reasonable prices that are better located than the main hotels (you can check on Flipkey, etc). If it’s your first time you probably want to stay in a hotel, and the top ones would Grand Isle, Sandals, and Turquoise Cay (**Update Jan 2016: Turquoise Cay is now closed, as of June 2015! Pretty sad about that, hopefully someone else buys it and reopens another hotel there!). Look at the photos and reviews on Tripadvisor to see which one suits you better since they are all quite different. Also know there is a 26% tax on hotels!
When to visit
Best time to come to Exuma is anywhere between November and April. May/June is rainy season and July-Sept is hurricane/storm season. However, hurricanes are quite rare and going during the summer months will likely still have great weather. The restaurants/events will just be a lot quieter compared to the winter months.
What to do there
While in Exuma, some things you shoulder consider doing are:
- Go to visit the Swimming Pigs! (check out my blog post dedicated to the Swimming Pigs here)
- Chat’n’Chill beach bar located on Stocking Island. This is where the wild stingrays are and you can feed them. Also the best Goombay Smash drinks, conch salad, and ribs at this beach bar! Best day to go is on Sundays.
- Staniel Cay day trip (or go for a few nights) – I don’t have an excursion company to recommend for this as I’ve only gone by private boat but there are a few companies that do this day trip if you look around online
- If you want to rent your own small boat (and be the captain, or hire someone to take you around), check out Minn’s Water Sports which is located right in the centre of George Town
- Sandbars (you need boat access to reach them) which are just areas where the sand becomes exposed once the tide gets low, there is a good one near Moriah Harbour (which is another great place to go) or Sandy Cay (Sandy Point) near southern most tip of Little Exuma
- Visit the wild sea turtles. The place I like to do that the most is on Hoopers Bay which is one of my favourite beaches and where my parents have rented beach villas twice already (and I stayed with them on there). Buy some frozen squid from the seafood section of the main grocery store in George Town and feed the squid to the turtle by holding it on your hand, they will come right up to you and they love it! There is another area with turtles near Crab Cay, but the water is deeper there and more green, and I find the turtles there more aggressive (more likely to bite you thinking you are squid too, lol).
- Visit David Copperfield’s Musha Cay sunken mermaid and piano. He sunk some concrete statues so his guests can snorkel and dive them. They are in secret locations so you will have ask me nicely to get some directions 🙂
- Take a boat or drive to Coco Plum Beach on the northern side of the island (about 5-10 minute drive north of Sandals/Grand Isle) during low tide (you can find on the internet low and high tide times), you can find natural sand dollars all over this beach!
- You can find iguanas on an island near Pig Island around Great Exuma on the northern side (the Exuma Water Sports Swimming Pigs tour will take you there also), or smaller ones at Sandy Cay on the southern most tip
- You can also visit the Tropic of Cancer beach (you can drive to it as well), located on Little Exuma. A bit hard to find. The best directions I can give is to drive south past Turquoise Cay hotel and the “ferry” bridge to Little Exuma, and on the left hand side you will see a dirt road with some garbage bins and a little sign that says “Winky’s beach villas” and just follow that road. Hopefully you have a durable car too! Once you arrive there is a little wooden hut that has some lines painted on it that mark the meridian line of the “Tropic of Cancer”. The beach itself is very nice and one of the longest on the entire island! Another great post I found helpful when I was search for this beach was this post! Enjoy!
- Visit Turquoise Cay hotel for a drink/lunch/dinner. You can also use their awesome infinity pool and paddleboards while you are there – just be respectful and give them some business if you do that 🙂
- There is a popular restaurant/bar to go to every evening while in the Exumas, usually all the seasonal visitors who stay for a few months in Exuma or that are regulars go to the same spot to hang out. Wednesdays: Catch a Fire; Thursdays: Peace and Plenty; Friday: Exuma Beach Resort and the Fish Fry; Saturday: Catch a Fire; Sunday: Chat’n’Chill beach bar.
- And much more.. you will see for yourself!
Enjoy the Exumas – “It’s Better in the Bahamas!”
12 thoughts on “The Magical Exumas, Bahamas”
Hey! I read your blog a few weeks ago and loved it and have been meaning to ask you about the secret locations of the David Copperfield’s sunken mermaid and piano! My family and I have been going to Exuma for many years and are always looking for new for things to do. We are actually in Great Exuma right now and I would really appreciate directions to there 🙂
Hi Sarah! I’ve send you a direct email back to you! -Alina
Hey I live on stocking island next to the monument when are you coming back
Tell me more about that sandbar south of Williams town I’m trying to get out to it. I have driven down as far as Santana’s but I have been searching for the best sandbar. I stay at grand isle. I’m not sure if capt ray goes that far south.
Sandy Car sandbar which is south of little exuma can only be reached by boat, you can’t drive to it. Capt Ray should know about it, I think most locals would know of it. If you bring up a map of Great Exuma Island, you will see Hog Cay at the very south tip. Just south of Hog Cay you will find Leaf Cay (more recently renamed to Kathleen Cay by island owner Eddie Irvine). Then, the very next cay is White Cay which is technically Sandy Cay. White/Sandy Cay is the last cay before open water heading to Long Island. Hope this helps! Enjoy!
Hey, I love your blog! I am going to Exuma (staying in Hoopers Bay) and I was curious of the location of the David Copperfield statues as well as the best place to find the starfish!
Hi! Thank you! Staying on Hoopers Bay is actually my favourite spot to rent a house! It’s the best location on the island. It’s one of the best beaches, it’s private, and the turtles are right there 🙂 The David Copperfield mermaid piano is just north of where the great exuma pig and iguana islands are. You would have to charter a boat to get there, you can contact Exuma Water Sports about booking a private charter, or find other access to a boat that is based from the northern part of the island. The starfish are all around, especially in elizabeth harbour. There is a place called Starfish beach which is somewhere on stocking island where I’ve heard there’s tons of them! You can rent a boat for that from Minn’s watersports to get around the harbour and to that beach! Hope that helps! Have fun!
Thanks you for your blog which is very helpful to organize our trip in Exuma !
I would like to know if you would share with me the informations about the “David Copperfield’s Musha Cay sunken mermaid and piano” 🙂
Thanks you !!!
This blog was so helpful! Do you have any updated recommendations for places to stay? I don’t think that Turquoise Cay is still open. thank you!
Hi! Check out my other Exuma blog post “Exuma Cheat Sheet” and I list all of my recommended places to stay! The best are Lumina Point Resort, Grand Isle Resort, or to rent your own house on the island! Thanks! PS – and Yes unfortunately Turquoise Cay closed a few years back.. I hope one day it reopens!