Exuma Cheat Sheet

Why You Should Visit the Exumas

  • Nicest beaches in the world, with the bluest and clearest water you will see in your life!
  • Warm water and weather
  • Flight is not very far from Canada (3.5 hours from Toronto)
  • Direct flights from several cities (including Toronto)
  • English-speaking
  • Fewer tourists than in Nassau and other popular vacation islands (you can experience the real “island vibe” and non-commercialized feel, many beaches you can visit you will be the only one there!)
  • Many wild (but very friendly) animals you can visit, play with, touch, feed, take photos with
  • Home of the famous SWIMMING PIGS!! (The only place in the world you can swim with pigs!)
  • Great food options (conch salad anyone?)
  • Grocery store has fresh food weekly at normal prices in case you plan to rent a villa and cook for yourself
  • Great snorkeling
  • You can spearfish lobster between August 1st to March 31st (using only Hawaiian sling while freediving)
  • Bays calm enough to paddleboard
  • US dollar is used in the Bahamas, and US dollar to Bahamian dollar is 1:1 so it is easy to keep track

Where are the Exumas

  • The Exumas are located in Bahamas, south of Nassau (New Providence Island)
  • Exumas are a chain of islands (cays), but the biggest island is called “Great Exuma” and it is the island that is the furthest Southeast in the chain
  • Great Exuma has an international airport, a few hotels, beach villas to rent, etc.
  • The biggest city in the Exumas is on Great Exuma and it is called George Town (GGT)
  • The flight to GGT from Nassau is about 40 minutes (heading south)
Between the two red lines are a chain of the Exuma Cays and Islands
Between the two red lines are a chain of the Exuma Cays and Islands

How to Get to the Exumas

  • Direct international flights to George Town (GGT) from: Toronto (YYZ), Atlanta (ATL), Miami (MIA)
    • The Toronto to George Town (YYZ-GGT) flight runs all year round every Sunday back and forth, and between December to April on Thursdays back and forth as well
    • With the Toronto to GGT direct flight, you can get flights for very cheap if you go during non-peak times and you watch the prices, I’ve seen $200 round trip per person all taxes in several times! (Crazy, right?)
  • You can also get a flight to Nassau (NAS) which has daily direct flights from almost every major city, then connect to George Town (GGT) via local airlines such as BahamasAir, Sky Bahamas, or Pineapple Air, which each fly to GGT three times daily and cost less than $100 one way. The planes are moderate sized (like turboprop Porter planes, for those of you from Toronto Canada) (*TIP: If you plan on getting to GGT this way by connecting via Nassau, you have to look up/book the local airline separately to your Nassau flight – most websites like Expedia, Hipmunk, etc., do not recognize BahamasAir, SkyBahamas, etc on their systems when you try to search whichever your starting city to GGT!)
  • Some people think there is an option to fly to Nassau, then go by boat/ferry to George Town. The technical answer to that question is yes you can, but should you do it? – NO! The ferry is mainly used just for shipping/cars, and it leaves the islands at odd hours/days, like 7:30am on Wednesdays, and it takes like 8 HOURS! (As it stops at different places on the way) You do NOT want to go this way!!

Where to Stay in the Exumas

  • Great Exumas has different hotels you can stay at:
    • Lumina Point Resort: My fav hotel in Exumas, located on Stocking Island!  Click here for my recent blog post on it.
    • Grand Isle Resort: was originally built to be a Four Seasons Residence and is a 5 star accommodation. Click here for my review on it.
    • Sandals: is next to Grand Isle.  It is an all-inclusive hotel part of the famous chain.
    • There used to be a boutique hotel called Turquoise Cay but it has closed since June 2015, but hoping it reopens one day!
    • Other hotels include Peace and Plenty, Augusta Bay, Hideaways, Exuma Palms Hotel, etc., which are a bit older hotels but might fit what you are looking for!
    • *TIP: Make sure you find out all the taxes you will be faced with when staying at a hotel, some hotels have 4 taxes combined totaling 24%!
  • Renting a house/beach villa:
    • To avoid the crazy hotel tax rates and find something more personalized or private, renting a house may be the better option
    • Websites to check for rental villas include:
    • Most house rentals have the option to hire daily/mid-week maid service, chef services, etc.
    • *TIP: To find a great house, the most important criteria should be location. Depending on what you are looking to do, however closer to George Town is always a good marker. Also, on a nice beach such as Hoopers Bay (where wild turtles are), Jolly Hall, Tar Bay, etc. are great spots. There is a development called February Point near George Town, which has many nice houses to rent (you can find them on the above websites). If you find a property in Little Exuma or near there, take note that it is pretty far south and you will be quite far (~1 hour drive) from most restaurants, main grocery stores, marinas, etc.

What to do in the Exumas

  • Some things you can think about doing are:
    • Excursions/tours:
      • Half day tours from Great Exuma you can see the swimming pigsiguanasstarfish, celebrity owned islands, blowhole cay, snorkelling, etc.. There are several companies that do the tours including Four C’s, Coastline Adventures, or Exuma Water Sports. Generally around ~$150usd per person.
      • You can take a full day tour up to Staniel Cay/Compass Cay to swim with friendly nurse sharks, swim with pigs at the original pig island, thunderball grotto, etc., companies that do this tour are Four C’sCoastline Adventures, or a private charter boat up to 8 people by Exuma Water Sports
    • Play with/feed wild (but friendly) stingrays! Take a boat or water taxi ($10 from George Town) to nearby Stocking Island where you will find an awesome beach bar/restaurant called Chat’n’Chill. Have a Goombay Smash drink, and some fresh conch salad (from the conch salad bar on the beach, made fresh to order) while you play with the stingrays that come right up to you!
    • Play with the wild sea turtles located on Hoopers Bay!
    • The Swimming Pigs! Best way is to visit them by private boat if you have access, or to go on one of the tours listed above. You can also go to Exuma Point restaurant in northwest Great Exuma and ask them to go to the pigs and they will take you for a small fee (note that their boat is very small)
    • Visit Sandbars. Sandbars are areas where the tide goes low enough where the sand comes above the water and you are surrounded by water otherwise. Best way is to rent a boat from Minn’s watersports in George Town and take it around to find them! (You can hire someone to drive the boat for you) You will probably find some big starfish when you do this also
    • Go island hopping by chartering a boat/catamaran, or chartering a small airplane (Watermakers air)
    • Find tons of real Sand dollars at CocoPlum Beach! This beach also becomes a sandbar if you go during low tide. There are tons of sand dollars to find here!
    • Go exploring to the best beaches of Great Exuma – Tropic of Cancer beach is one of the largest and best beaches (located in Little Exuma), CocoPlum Beach, Three Sisters Beach, Hoopers Bay, Jolly Hall, etc!
    • Go Golfing. There is a top rated Greg Norman designed golf course with ocean views, attached to the Grand Isle/Sandals hotel properties!
    • Snorkelling: If you don’t bring your own snorkel gear you can rent from Dive Exuma a set for $70usd/week
    • Scuba Diving – best is with Dive Exuma
    • Fishing – best recommendation is with Cpt Doug Rowe at Fish Rowe Charters
    • Kitesurfing, spearfishing, kayaking
    • Check out the restaurants:
      • Rusty Anchor, the restaurant at February Point Beach Club, my favourite restaurant on the island! Recommended to make a reservation in advance.
      • Catch a Fire
      • EYC (Exuma Yacht Club)
      • Grand Isle Resort restaurant (Palapa Grill)
      • Lumina Point Resort restaurant
      • Fish Fry (Shirley’s is the best one there!)
      • Most night of the weeks have a dedicated place where everyone on the island goes to – for example, everyone on Friday goes to the fish fry, for food, drinks, partying, etc., if you are interested in joining, ask a local when you arrive what is popular on the nights you are there!

How to get around in the Exumas

  • You can take taxis around the island. Ask your hotel concierge, house manager, or restaurant manager for a taxi number in the area you are in. They will usually wait to drive you back (round trip) also!
  • You can rent a car, even right from the airport as soon as you step out  (or if you are located elsewhere they can bring the car right to you), from the companies I’ve used, I’ve had a good experience with Thompson’s Car Rental – their office is right across from the airport and they will have your car ready right there
  • If you stay in a place close to George Town you can walk to many places (grocery store, bank, liquor store, restaurants, marinas, souvenir shops, clothing shops, telecom, etc), but a rental car is recommended
  • Best way to travel between the bigger islands/cays is to charter an airplane or reserve a seat on a plane – best bet is with Watermakers Air
  • To go near Great Exuma through the cays you can rent a boat from Minn’s watersports
  • Charter a boat to go through the Exuma Cays from the various charter companies, if you want a catamaran charter my recommendation is with Bahamas Cat Charters, they have three size catamarans with great hosts!

Last but not least.. everyone that comes once to the island, always comes back! That alone says how great it is – come experience it for yourself! 🙂

xo

Alina

PS. Some more Exuma photos to give you an idea what you can experience!

 

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