With sapphire-blue water everywhere, The Exumas are an exotic collection of dream destinations. Footprint-free beaches and ultra exclusive resorts and islands fit for celebrities make this tropical paradise an absolute gem. Here, nature outnumbers man, coastlines remain flawless and private homes play host to some of the world’s most famous stars. The Exumas truly are the ultimate escape.
The Exumas are an archipelago of 365 cays and islands, beginning just 35 miles southeast of Nassau. Once called Yumey and Suma, the islands have gone through many changes over the years. Today, they’re divided into three major areas—Great Exuma, Little Exuma and The Exuma Cays. Each offers its own unique Bahamian experience. Great Exuma and Little Exuma are known for their laid-back surroundings, while The Exuma Cays act as a playground for the rich and famous, boasting numerous private homes, luxury resorts and beach side condos. The Exumas are also rich in history, as they were settled by British Loyalists with their slaves following the American Revolution. The Exumas Travel Guide will provide you with everything you need to plan your next dream beach vacation. For more information on the best beaches in the Exumas, visit The Best Beaches in the Bahamas Guide.
The hottest month in the Exumas is August when the average maximum temperature is 91°, average temperature is 86° and average minimum temperature is 81°. The coolest month in Cat Island is January when the average maximum temperature is 79°, average temperature is 72° and average minimum temperature is 66°. September to May is the most popular time for visitors to the Exumas, when temperatures average from 70 to 75 degrees a day. Nighttime temperatures cool down by just 5 to 7 degrees. Seasons may vary widely in other vacation destinations, but that’s not the case in The Bahamas. Even the rainy season — May through November — rarely offers challenges for visitors. Even the occasional tropical rainstorm is usually short-lived. In fact, The Bahamas have about 340 sunny days a year, and, according to astronauts, the clearest waters in the Caribbean region.
Because of the tropical climate, you can fish, dive and snorkel year-round. You also can comfortably swim in the ocean, as water temperature in The Bahamas rarely dips below 72 degrees near the shorelines.
Getting to The Exumas
The main airport in The Exumas is located on Great Exuma: Exuma International Airport (GGT). Several major national and international airlines offer daily, bi-weekly and weekly flights. Regular chartered flights service Staniel Cay Airport (MYES), Black Point Airport (MYEB) and Farmer’s Cay Airport, or charters can be arranged through any certified carrier. By sea, you can travel from Nassau with Bahamas Ferry Services on a fully air-conditioned vessel, or a mailboat that provides service to several towns on a weekly (or more frequent) basis. To fly into the Bahamas, United States citizens are not required to present a valid passport. Instead, vacationers traveling by air must show proof of citizenship and identification. Typically, guests must present a birth certificate and a government-issued photo identification in order to enter the Bahamas, according to the United States Department of State (travel.state.gov). Although a United States passport is not required to enter the Bahamas, Americas will be required to present their valid passport upon returning to the United States. When flying to and from the Bahamas, many airlines require guests to show their U.S. passport.
Visiting boaters must clear Customs and Immigration at the nearest designated Official Ports of Entry—Black Point, George Town, and Staniel Cay. As you enter port, fly the yellow quarantine flag and notify Customs of your arrival. No one other than the captain is permitted to leave the boat until your vessel has been cleared. There are several full-service marinas, with a few accommodating just over 50 boats, and some offering short- or long-term dockage.
Transportation Between the Islands
Bahamas Ferries are fast air-conditioned catamarans which mostly operate from Nassau to several other islands and return. This is one of the most popular yet reasonably priced option to travel between islands. They connect Nassau with Abaco (South Abaco Terminal), Andros (Fresh Creek), Eluthera (several docks), Exuma (George Town), Grand Bahama (Freeport) and Long Island (Simms dock). There are also direct ferry connections between Abaco and Grand Bahama (Freeport).
The ferry service is quite regular and time of travel depends on the distance. The ferry schedule is published in the official website bahamasferries.com separately for each season (i.e. summer schedule, spring schedule, winter schedule etc). Your ferry trip can last from couple of hours to even overnight travel depending on destination. For example average time taken from Nassau to Harbor Island in Eleuthera is about 2 hours 40 minutes with an adult one-way fare in the Main Cabin of $81 including taxes, in Voyager Class $93. Note that the round trip fares are cheaper compared to two one-way fares. For more information on Bahama ferries call them at 242-323-2166, or visit them on the web at Bahama Ferries.
This is the national airline of Bahamas and mostly availed by frequent travelers and tourists who like to save on time in lieu of extra cost. Bahamas Air connects Nassau’s Lynden Pindling Airport to various airports in the out islands. Bahamas Air also flies to a few international airports including Fort Lauderdale, Miami, West Pam Beach in Florida (USA), Orlando (USA) as well as Cuba, Haiti etc.
However, note that frequent congestion at Nassau airport, long delays and sub-par services are quite common. There have been several passenger complaints on these. If you are hopping through islands via Nassau (for example between Freeport in Grand Bahama to Deadman’s Cay of Long Island enroute Nassau), there is a possibility that either you miss the connecting flight from Nassau or the connecting flight too would be delayed in order to accommodate passengers in the joining flight.
This slow traditional ferry service has been in operation since the old days when faster methods were not available. They are known as mail boats because they were once used to carry mails and cargo. Today they are essentially cargo freighters carrying mainly container items between various islands in the Bahamas. However carrying passengers is now a mainstream business of mail boats.
It’s the cheapest form of transport between islands in Bahamas, but it’s also the slowest. So if you have all the time in the world and don’t care for great comfort, then mail boats can be a great economical option to transfer between islands, and also a great way to travel and chat with the locals. All these mail boats are privately operated but under the direction of the Bahamian Chief of Transportation. There are around 20 such mail boats, all of which operate from the Potters Cay of Nassau which is located below the eastern bridge that connects Nassau with Paradise Island.
Getting Around The Exumas
On Great Exuma and Little Exuma, you may choose to rent a car or scooter to get around, but taxis are readily available by phone and usually stationed at the airport to meet incoming flights and at the docks for the ferry and mail boats. The 365 islands and cays of The Exumas are easily reached from the mainland by chartered and scheduled plane service, as well as chartered day trips by boats. While on the cays, you’ll find that walking is the preferred mode of transport, but bicycles are sometimes available at hotels and resorts. Golf carts are also available for rent on Staniel Cay and in Black Point. Pedestrians should remember to first look right and then left before crossing streets.
You must be 21 years old and possess a valid driver’s license for all rentals. Visitors may use their home driver’s license for up to three months or can apply for an international driver’s license if staying with us longer. But remember, when you take to the road, please keep to the left. Avis is the best rental car company on for getting around on Great Exuma and Little Exuma. If you plan to rent a car, while there are several local rental companies, I would recommend that you rent one from an international brand, Avis. You can expect cars in better condition, better professional service and proper documentation. This rental car company has outlets at the airport or just go to their website and follow the booking procedure.
Although metered rates vary by island, they are reasonable and are fixed by law. The taxis in Bahamas operate in shared basis which means that there can be other passengers also traveling with you, and some of them may be picked up along the way. If you want a reserved taxi, sort this out with the driver before you jump in so that he does not pick up other passengers. Surcharges often apply for more than two persons and extra luggage. Suggested tip is 15% of fare. Taxi fare for two passengers from the airport to Sandals Emerald Bay is $20; to George Town and its environs, it is $30
Area Attractions in the Exumas
The 176-square-mile Exuma Cays Land and Sea National Park, created in 1958, was the first land and sea park in the world and is one of the most successful marine parks. It is the first “no-take reserve” (all fishing is prohibited) in the wider Caribbean. This stretch of pristine water, land and beaches is an ecological preserve and wildlife refuge famous for its breath-taking marine environment. Scuba diving and snorkeling are popular here, and you can encounter nature first-hand by feeding the endangered Bahamian iguanas or catching a glimpse of the elusive hutia, with the assistance of one of the professional guides.
Located on the northern end of Great Exuma, this white-sand beach is dotted with beautiful palms. It is ideal for picnicking and most likely you will have the beach all to yourself. It is also well known for great shelling and sand dollars during low tide.
Easily reachable by boat from Elizabeth Harbor, Stocking Island has some of the finest white sand beaches in The Bahamas. Snorkelers and divers love to explore the island’s blue holes, coral gardens and undersea caves. The Island is also home to Stromatolites, said to be the oldest known macro-fossils on the planet, found on the Atlantic-side beaches.
Meet the adorable and famous Swimming Pigs. This is one thing you can’t miss while you’re here. Visit Pig Beach and get a selfie with the swimming pigs—they’re even cuter in person! Big Major Cay is uninhabited and the pigs are not native to the island. Some say they were left by a group of sailors, who planned to come back and cook them. Or that the pigs swam over from a shipwreck nearby. Wherever they came from, there are now about 20 pigs and piglets on Pig Beach. With daily visits from Bahamians and tourists, the pigs are living the easy life on Big Major Cay.
Protected from ocean waves by Stocking Island, the water is as calm and clear as they come. The experience is tranquil and the views spectacular. It is adjacent to Coconut Cove Beach, but the beach at Jolly Hall is a little wider, and possibly fewer people. Located in George Town, Jolly Hall Beach is on the West edge of Great Exuma. You might think about stopping by whether or not you’re staying nearby. Jolly Hall Beach is one of those beaches that is never really too crowded, even though it’s central to many of the area’s urban amenities.
Things to Do in the Exumas
Exuma Water Sports
No. 1 swimming pigs tour in the Bahamas! They proudly try to give you the best boat tours in Exuma. Fun, professional, amazing, and in a premium setting with all the frills. For more information call 242-357-0770, or visit them on the web at Exuma Water Sports.
Sugar Adventure Company Day Boat Tours
Escape for a day on the water with Sugar Adventures. You will travel aboard 32ft Contender in most pristine shallow waters of the Exumas Cays. They offer snorkeling, sightseeing, private beach lunches, spear and deep sea fishing. Your captain Horace “Sugar” Smith, has intricate knowledge of the waters around Exuma. Tours launch from Barretarre. (20 Minutes drive from Grand Isle resort and Sandals resort). Snorkeling gear and refreshments are provided. Swim along with swimming pigs, nurse sharks and feed the iguanas. Half day trips from 8:00am-1:00pm & Full day trips from 8:00am- 5:00pm. For more information call 242-524-2607, or visit them on the web at Sugar Adventure Company Day Boat Tours.
Let them make your trip to the Exumas an unforgettable one! They only offer private tours so that you along with your family and friends can cruise the Exuma blues in comfort and style! Check out their website and feel free to like and follow them on Facebook and Instagram! If you’re interested in learning more about our services call +1 242-357-0459, or visit them on the web at Island Boy Adventures.
It is their pleasure to take you on your unforgettable full day or half day tour. Snorkel the world renown 007 Thunder Ball Grotto, Sample our mouth watering freshly made conch salad, caught while on tour, play with sharks, swim with the pigs, feed the iguanas. A full fun day awaits you. Nothing but fun times with Coastline Adventures. For more information call 1 242-524-8687, or visit them on the web at Coastline Adventures Exuma.
Robert’s Island Adventures promises something for everyone and an unforgettable tour experience. Several different tours are available. Exuma Cays Tour; this full-day tour begins in Barreterre and travels through the cays with exhilarating stops at all the attractions. Reef Fishing, Sightseeing and Snorkeling – half and full-day trips offered. For more information call 1 242-357-0224, or visit them on the web at Robert’s Island Adventures.
Top Restaurants in the Exumas
$-Inexpensive $$-Moderate $$$-Pricey $$$$-Ultra High End
$$ – $$$ Big D’s Conch Spot
For the freshest—and according to locals, best—conch salad and the coldest beer, look for the splatter-painted seaside shack a stone’s throw from Grand Isle Resort. You can’t get a better water view, and the beach is great; bring a swimsuit. For more information call 242-358–0059, or visit them on Facebook at Big D’s Conch Spot.
$$ – $$$ Chat ‘N” Chill
Yacht folks, locals, and visitors alike rub shoulders at Kenneth Bowe’s funky open-air beach bar on the point at Stocking Island. All of the food is grilled over an open fire; awesome conch burgers with secret spices and grilled fish with onions and potatoes attract diners from all over Great Exuma. Dances and bonfires on the beach during the winter season are famous island-wide. Sunday pig roasts, which start around noon, are legendary, but call first to make sure it’s scheduled. Most guests arrive by sailboat but you can get here by water taxi (242/464–1558; or call Capt. Elvis Ferguson on VHF radio channel 16) from the Government Dock, which leaves on the hour during the day. For more information call, or visit them on the web at Chat ‘N’ Chill.
$$ – $$$ Exuma Yacht Club
Located in the hustle and bustle of central George Town, the Exuma Yacht Club has a magnificent view of the harbor. Enjoy the ocean breeze from the bar on the balcony, or dine in the chic indoor seating area. The menu includes burgers, salads, and a fresh catch of the day. For more information call, or visit them on the web at Exuma Yacht Club. For more information call 242-336–2579, or visit them on the web at Exuma Yacht Club.
$$ – $$$ Palapa Pool Bar & Grill at Grand Isle Resort
This poolside restaurant serves three meals a day and offers a stunning view of the ocean. The extensive menu equally features American classics and Bahamian specialties. Dinner highlights include ahi tuna steak, shrimp pasta, prime rib eye, and baby back ribs. A fun drink list including many frozen concoctions complements the food. This is one of the most romantic restaurants in the Bahamas. For more information call 242-358–5000, or visit them on the web at Palapa Pool Bar & Grill at Grand Isle Resort.
$$ – $$$ Santana’s Grill Pit
This seaside open-air restaurant—you can’t miss the orange-and-yellow building—is the hot spot in Little Exuma, and the closest restaurant to the Tropic of Cancer Beach. Dinner highlights include cracked lobster, cracked conch, shrimp, and grilled grouper, all served with peas ‘n’ rice or baked macaroni and cheese. Ask to see the photo book of celebrities who have eaten here; it was popular with the Pirates of the Caribbean cast and crew. For more information call 242-345–4102, or visit them on TripAdvisor at Santana’s Grill Pit.
Best Bars in the Exumas
The Peace and Plenty
The Peace and Plenty in Downtown George Town is a local hot spot for poolside parties and live bands keeping both visitors and locals on the dance floor. Kick off your shoes and sip on a perfectly mixed cocktail as you overlook the vibrant blue waters of Elizabeth Harbour. Arrive at the dock by boat and stay as long as you like. For more information call 1-242-336-2551, or visit them on the web at The Peace and Plenty.
Santana’s Grill & Bar
Santana’s Grill Pit is a seaside open-air restaurant and the hot spot on Little Exuma. Grab a cocktail and some of the best conch fritters around. A favorite of the cast of Pirates of the Caribbean, Santana’s won’t run out of rum matey! While you’re there, venture down to Mom’s bakery for her famous coconut bread. For more information call 1-242-345-4102, or visit them on the web at Santana’s Grill & Bar.
The Fish Fry
The Fish Fry, a cluster of shacks 2 miles north of George Town, always has something going on. On Monday nights there’s a rake ‘n’ scrape band and a DJ is usually there on Friday and Saturday. Kick back with an authentic Bahamian meal and ice-cold beer. For more information call 1 242-336-3737, or visit them on TripAdvisor at The Fish Fry.
Exuma Beach Resort
Exuma Beach Resort is also just north of George Town, and popular with locals for its festive waterside tiki bar. Plan on being here just before dinner, as the restaurant is one of the best on the island. Curry shrimp, local lobster and delicious conch chowder await! For more information call 1 242-336-3100, or visit them on the web at Exuma Beach Resort.
Top Hotels in the Exumas
Showcasing a private beach area and water sports facilities, Sandals Emerald Bay Golf, Tennis and Spa All Inclusive Resort – Couples Only is located in Georgetown in the region of Exuma Islands. The resort has an outdoor pool and spa center, and guests can enjoy a meal at the restaurant or a drink at the bar. Free WiFi is provided throughout the property and free private parking is available on site. All rooms have a flat-screen TV with cable channels and DVD player. Certain units include a sitting area to relax in after a busy day. Each room is equipped with a private bathroom fitted with a shower. Extras include free toiletries and a hairdryer. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Sandals Emerald Bay Golf, Tennis & Spa.
With a spa and health club and a restaurant, Grand Isle Resort & Spa is in Farmer’s Hill, right on the beach. It’s close to many golf courses and features free WiFi and on-site parking. Each room or suite here is air-conditioned and includes a spacious sitting area and a private bathroom with free toiletries. Some include views of the sea or gardens. At Grand Isle Resort & Spa, there is a fitness center, and other facilities at the property include luggage storage. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Grand Isle Resort & Spa.
This property is a 4-minute walk from the beach. Set on Palm Bay Beach, Hideaways Exuma offers charming accommodation overlooking the Atlantic Ocean or the surrounding hills. It features an outdoor swimming pool and a restaurant. Each air-conditioned apartment is decorated in attractive pastel colors. All accommodations have a terrace with seating area, and a kitchenette with a microwave, fridge and coffee maker. Guests can enjoy a range of Caribbean cuisine in the restaurant of Hideaways Exuma. There is also a bar and the continental breakfast is included. Hideaways offers guests free use of its kayaks and paddle boats. There is also a free shuttle service to the center of Georgetown, 5 minutes’ drive away. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Hideaways Exuma.
In front of Jolly Hall Beach and a 7-minute boat ride from Stocking Island, Augusta Bay Bahamas Exuma hotel features a free breakfast, a swimming pool and free Wi-Fi. The rooms all feature a contemporary décor, stunning sea views and a coffee maker. Each includes a cable TV and a private bathroom with a bathtub or shower and a hairdryer. The on-site restaurant serves local dishes and international food. There is bar service at the on-site Bar Frankie Bananas. Other options are 2 miles away. Activities such as fishing, kayaking and snorkeling can be arranged. Beach picnics and party boat rides are available as well. Massage treatments can be requested. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Augusta Bay Bahamas.
Situated right on a white sand beach, Exuma Beach Resort offers an outdoor pool, tropical gardens and stylish air-conditioned accommodation with sea or garden views. George Town is just 0.6 miles away. Each bright room and suite at the Exuma Beach Resort has a private terrace, free Wi-Fi, a mini-fridge and a flat-screen TV with cable channels. Suites also have a separate seating area. The on-site bar-restaurant serves local and international cuisine. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Exuma Beach Resort.