The Exumas are among the most beautiful and unique archipelagos in the Bahamas. It has countless incomparable natural wonders. We can expect thousands of kilometres long quiet beaches with white sand that we can explore on our boat or on foot. In the evenings, we can visit one of the local restaurants and satisfy our senses with delicious sea food and cocktails.
This article gives you an overview of the following topics:
- What to do in the Exumas: the most beautiful beaches
- Things to do in the Exumas: Unique sights in the archipelago
- Other sights to see in the Exumas
- Traditions and events in the Exumas
- Gastronomy of the Exumas
What to do in the Exumas: the most beautiful beaches
The real attraction of the Exumas lies in the marvellous beaches. Each island has its own amazing beach – or several beaches in some cases. Regardless of which one we choose, we will only have to enjoy the giant white blanket of sand and the endless sea, turquoise in colour.
Tropic of Cancer Beach
Tropic of Cancer Beach – officially called Pelican Beach – is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Exumas. It can be found on Little Exuma near Williams Town. We will see a small shack at the entrance, from where there is a short flight of stairs with the sign “Tropic of Cancer Beach”, leading to the beach. We can admire the unspoiled white sand and the dazzling blue sea here while enjoying the relaxing solitude. The marvellous beach also offers a great opportunity to go scuba-diving, which will be a wonderful experience on these parts.
Forbes Hill Beach
Forbes Hill Beach is located at the end of the bridge connecting Little Exuma to Great Exuma. The crescent-shaped shoreline is a breathtaking sight, and is among the most spectacular shore segments in the region. We can admire all the tones of blue here. One side is surrounded by limestone formations towering above the surface, with the gentle waves of the turquoise ocean lapping the beach. The other side offers a picturesque beach with a wonderful view in each direction. It is a quiet and gorgeous area where we can explore mysterious rock formations, relax on the soft sand or play around in the rolling waves of the ocean.
Coco Plum Beach
Coco Plum Beach is located in the northern part of Great Exuma. The beach is a true gem of the archipelago. We can go walking on the sandbar appearing during high tide or look for the treasures of the ocean. The beach is full of beautiful pastel-coloured conches, starfish and unique sand dollars. It is a favourable diving spot, and we can also try kiteboarding, which is becoming more and more popular these days.
Saddle Cay can be found in the northern corner of the Exumas. Its shape itself is very special: as opposed to the other islands with an elongated shape, this one looks more like a horseshoe. We can only approach it on a boat, so the “modern world” hardly finds a way in. There are marvellous beaches here where we can escape from the crowds and get rid of all our problems for a few hours. There are also great fishing and diving spots, and we can admire the herds of nurse sharks as well. One of the most beautiful sandbars on the entire archipelago can be found here; it is a small bank of sand that can only be seen during low tide. When the water returns, the sandbar disappears underneath.
Thunderball Grotto is a breathtaking underwater cave system near Staniel Cay. It is a must-see sight for anyone visiting the Exumas. Two James Bond movies have been shot here; that is where the name of the cave comes from. Thunderball Grotto has an exciting and exotic wildlife, making it a place of pilgrimage for divers and snorkellers. There are countless corals, snappers, angelfish, damselfish and different arthropods – all in an intense colours – on these parts. In the middle of the cave, the beams of sunshine filtered through the walls have a kaleidoscope-like effect – it is a fabulous sight.
Things to do in the Exumas: Unique sights in the archipelago
Besides the amazing beaches, there are dozens of other sights to see in the Exumas. We can explore unique sights and hiking spots while getting to know the locals in the area.
Big Major Cay/Pig Beach
Big Major Cay lies in the northern part of the archipelago, next to Staniel Cay. Visitors of the beach will be welcome by special hosts: the famous Bahamian swimming pigs. There are several theories about their origin; some say that sailors left them behind with the intention of roasting them later. Others claim that the pigs survived a shipwreck. In any case, they have occupied the beach and have become the favourite attraction of tourists. They are very friendly – sometimes even too friendly – and love eating; sometimes they even climb on the boats seeking food. On the land, they will surely come close if they see some food – we can wave our hands in denial to indicate that we don’t have anything to offer. These unique animals are very cute, and it’s really exciting to see them swimming in the ocean.
Allen’s Cay is located app. 10 kilometres from Great Exuma. The island’s charm lies in the iguanas living here. This is the most protected species of lizards, and thanks to the special protection programme they are treated with, there are about a thousand on the island. They are huge; the largest ones even weigh 10 kilograms. They have got used to tourists, so they often go to them for some food. They like fruits the best; we should pay attention to only feed them the food allowed. Iguanas are friendly, brave and they sometimes even climb on people if they feel like.
Shroud Cay is located in the northern part of the Exumas. There are giant mangrove forests on the island; their dark colour are in sharp contrast with the white sand and blue sea. There is a 15-metre-high hill on the beach towering above the sea; we will find Camp Driftwood on the top. The name of the place comes from a hermit called Ernest Scholes; he built the steps leading up to the hill, and he also established a nice picnic site there. There is a river crossing the island, the flows of which create a kind of natural jacuzzi; this is among the natural beauties that make this island so unique.
Exuma Land and Sea Park
Exuma Land and Sea Park is the first and largest marine park in the world. A significant part of the Exumas belong to this park. Its centre is on Waderick Wells Cay, where visitors can take part in diverse programmes such as eco-friendly walks. There is a horseshoe-shaped channel in the centre surrounded by fabulous beaches. There is also a sandbar nearby that is perfect for a nice picnic during low tide. We can rent a kayak, too, for exploring the entire territory of the park. Exuma Land and Sea Park is the most beautiful protected area in the Bahamas.
Other sights to see in the Exumas
George Town is the capital of the Exumas. It can be found on Great Exuma and has a population of around 2, 500 people. Interestingly, the Tropic of Cancer passes right through the town, but in fact, their popularity comes from the diverse history. In the 17th century, several aristocratic plantation owners used to live here. Elizabeth Harbour served as a base for the British navy, and rumor has it that certain pirate hordes used the town’s port as a hideout. George Town is also among the most favourable destinations among sailors. The annual regatta is one of the most popular events in the area. There is also a huge market here, as well as several beautiful beaches.
Musha Cay lies in the middle of the Exumas, app. 30 kilometres from Great Exuma. It is an island owned by illusionist David Copperfield, who had a luxury resort built here. We can rent a powerboat or a paddleboard, and we can enjoy the steam bath and the massage parlour. There is also a less-luxurious spot on the island: a saddle-shaped sandbar with a length of 3 kilometres – it is a wonderful sight when it appears during low tide. Spending the afternoon on the sandbar and admiring the diversity of the sea will be the experience of a lifetime.
Traditions and events in the Exumas
Bahamian Music and Heritage Festival
The annual Bahamian Music and Heritage Festival usually takes place in the middle of March. Visitors can choose from a wide variety of family-friendly activities such as concerts, literary performances, sugar cane peeling or conch cracking. There is a traditional part presenting the Bahamian history; they also sell authentic handicrafts. Just like in the case of any big-time events, cuisine is an important part of the festival, with the emphasis, of course, on the authentic Bahamian flavours.
National Family Island Regatta
National Family Island Regatta is the most important event for Bahamian shipbuilders and sailors. They have been organising the festival since 1954; it takes place during the last week of April. Sailors from the different parts of the Bahamian region compete for the title “Best of the Best”. It is a very exciting spectacle to watch so many sailors riding the oceans at the same time. Besides the contest, organisers offer several other kinds of activities including quizzes, sports events, parties and local gastronomic specialties.
Gastronomy of the Exumas
The cuisine of Exuma is very similar to that of the Bahamas; in fact, it is a variant of the latter. The most popular dishes are prepared with frutti di mare, and we can taste fresh local fruits as well as fruity refreshers as well. We will find a large variety of fish on the menus such as barracuda, perch, jack crevalle or snapper. They also serve shellfish and lobster. There is a very unique place on Great Exuma where we can try the most authentic dishes of the Exumas for a fair price: Fish Fry in George Town. It consists of several smaller restaurants serving the most delicious dishes of the island. They have an extensive menu, and locals love the place just as much as tourists. If we can, we should definitely pay a visit!
The life in the Exumas is all about the sea. For the first sight, this may seem a bit monotonous, but if you visit this tiny corner of the Bahamas, you will realise that they offer countless unique gems that you should definitely see! Read more if you plan sailing in the Exumas or yacht charter in Exumas.