Visiting the Exuma Islands, Bahamas
If Nassau is the free-wheeling, party-loving island in the Bahamas, then Exuma is its understated, relaxed, insta-influencer sister.If you are looking for a relaxing island vacation with some of the bluest, clearest, water on Earth, then you’ll love Exuma Islands. An easy hour flight from Miami and a ten minute drive will have you on the beach eating conch fritters and drinking rum punch before lunch.
The two best resorts are Sandals Emerald Bay and Grand Isle Resort. Sandals is all-inclusive and great for couples. Grand Isle is great for families and groups. I stayed in the 3 bedroom villa at Grand Isle which was beautiful and even had its own golf cart. (Warning: Bahamians drive on the left side of the road.)
Exuma has something for everyone, no matter what you like to do:
If you have spent any time on Instagram, chances are that you’ve seen the swimming pigs. Its the only place in the world where pigs swim in the ocean and greet you at the boat. They, of course expect a snack for their trouble. Thousands of people travel here every year just to swim with them- you can even buy a book telling their story called Pigs of Paradise. Every couple of weeks a veterinarian comes out to render care and check on them. Go out with one of the many companies that will bring snacks for them and rum punch for you. We went with Triple A Adventures and had a great time.
This is a privately owned island that has also become insta-famous for its friendly nurse sharks that enjoy free meals from tourists. Walk off your boat, on to the dock and descend into crystal clear water surrounded by a dozen or so nurse sharks who love to be scratched. Your guide will toss them some fresh conch while you enjoy the show. It’s perfectly safe and absolutely amazing. Beware- the owner of the island doesn’t allow large professional cameras. It costs $10 US a person for the experience and its phone cameras or go pros only. It’s not a problem, I got great photos with my Go Pro Hero
Thunderball Grotto is a gorgeous underwater cave that has been featured in two James Bond movies. It’s located by Staniel Cay (close to the pigs) and you need to pay careful attention to the tides when you go. At low tide you can swim right in with a snorkel. At high tide its better to scuba in.
Chat N Chill
The name says it all. It a beach bum bar where you can get a frozen concoction that helps you hang on. Pull the boat up on the beach and walk past a sign post announcing distances to world cities and into a ramshackle bar. There are picnic tables outside, fresh conch, and resident stingrays (aka sea puppies) that are super friendly and love to be hand-fed. Come for a drink, stay all day. Just bring sunscreen.
This tropical island is home to an endangered species of Bahamas Rock Iguana. They are brown and pink and about 2-4 feet in length. They are a protected species so please be respectful of them. However, people visit every day and they are used to seeing us and are pretty friendly. This increases if you bring a few grapes as a bribe.
Many A-list celebs have fabulous private islands here, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, Nicholas Cage, and David Copperfield. Just off David Copperfield’s island is a secret underwater statue that is a must see of a mermaid playing a grand piano.
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