The Bahamas provide a perfect setting for your next dream vacation. Just steps outside your door is the gin-clear, sapphire-blue Caribbean, fringed by stunning, footprint-free, white-sand beaches where natural settings rule the day.
Ready to escape the workaday world and find a place to truly relax? You want warm water, lots of sunshine and soft, smooth, powdery sand caressing your bare feet.
This trip, you’re not looking for shopping, you’re looking for a beach, and a perfect one at that. You want to spice up your trip with funky yet tasty restaurants serving local fare. You want plenty of friendly people and unforgettable aquatic adventures.
Your destination is the Exumas with their 365 cays and islands dotting the brilliant blue water where private homes and ultra-exclusive resorts hug the pristine coastline.
There are two distinct seasons. Think of winter as having Lake Tahoe’s summer climate. Island summers are hot but there’s always ice-cold beer and Little Exuma’s crystalline waters which average 80 degrees year-round – warm enough to be inviting, cool enough to be refreshing.
Getting there is a matter of flying into Exuma International Airport in George Town (IATA: GGT, ICAO: MYEF). Book your flight on American departing Miami, Delta leaving from Atlanta, or Silver Airways from Fort Lauderdale. Bahamas Air and Western Air fly four times a day from Nassau to Great Exuma.
To get from the airport on Great Exuma to Little Exuma, you can rent a car and drive it over the bridge to the island.
You can even rent your own boat or hire a captain to explore protected Elizabeth Harbor and its variety of islands and cays. It’s the perfect way to experience the magnificent water and secluded, private beaches.
Want an island all to yourself? Here’s how to do it. Beach your boat on a sand bar or a deserted island. Be there first and the other boats will leave you be. They’ll need to find their own place and you’ll have the island to yourself for the rest of the day.
The Exuma island chain stretches some 130 miles across the middle section of the Bahamas. George Town on Elizabeth Harbour is the capital of this sliver of islands. The deep-water harbor hosts to two major yachting events, the George Town Sailing Regatta and the Family Island Regatta.
This busy harbor is the center of yachting activity and comes alive at night. Boats out in the water switch on their mast lights when the conch horns blow to signal sunset.
The multi-hued blue waters transform the harbor into a light show. Elizabeth Harbour is busy year-round and especially so around Thanksgiving when as many as 400 boats come in from all directions. There are many coves to explore. Don’t miss Red Bays, Turtle Cove and Hurricane Hole along the way.
Divers love Stocking Island. The island’s blue holes and undersea caves thrill divers and snorkelers alike. The Atlantic side beaches are home to the planet’s oldest macro-fossils, the stromatolite. The island is known for the finest white sand beaches in the Bahamas. Stocking Island is within easy reach by boat from Elizabeth Harbour.
This beach is also known as Pelican Beach. It is the chain’s longest beach and considered the prettiest in the area. Visitors enjoy the remarkable contrast of powder-white sand and emerald-sapphire waters.
The Exuma Cays, along with Great Exuma and Little Exuma, make up the three distinct areas of the islands.
Exploring the park by boat opens up more than 13,000 acres of beaches, mangroves, seagrass beds and dunes. The park serves as a nursery for marine life and nesting birds.
Getting around the island isn’t difficult. Rental cars are readily available, but don’t forget you’re driving on the left side of the road here! You will also find a good number of taxis, but be sure to negotiate your rate before you get in.
You can get from one island to the other and not break the bank. What could be cooler than arriving at a beach bar by boat? A water taxi from George Town is the ideal start to a day of relaxation on Stocking Island. Be sure to drop in at the Chat ‘N’ Chill, the best beach bar hands down! Bottoms up!
This is your tiny island paradise. It’s old, rustic, vibrant, and beautiful. Its rich history goes back several hundred years. You’ll find remnants of a fortress known as The Fort. It was once used by the British in the late 1800s.
American loyalists settled the area around 1783. These were men who maintained loyalty to Britain’s George III and escaped to the islands to avoid the Revolutionary War. John Rolle is a key figure in the island’s heritage. Rolletown on Great Exuma took its name from him. George Town was named after George III.
The many cays and complex shorelines around Little Exuma attracted pirates. Buccaneers liked the protected cays and used them as hideouts and stashed their booty there. Legend has it that Captain Kidd favored Elizabeth Harbor. It was his home base and his favorite hideaway.
There’s a lot of history in the islands and a lot to explore. With a little research, you can identify your favorite topics and include them on your places-to-see list. History buffs should see the National Art Gallery and the Pirates of Nassau Museum. There is an adventure waiting for you wherever you go!
Annually around New Year, you can catch the festival in Nassau called Junkanoo. It’s a colorful, boisterous, high-energy party and parade. As many as a thousand dance troupes take to the streets. Their well-rehearsed routines dazzle. Everyone joins the party and encourages the musicians and their hypnotic rhythms. Junkanoo is unique to the island.
The largest festival is in Nassau, and smaller events take place in individual towns. The New Year’s event usually does a lap around the island with troupes dropping off and joining at various locations. Junkanoo celebrations can last 3-4 days.
Staniel Cay Yacht Club has friends around the world. Not a few hundred yards off Staniel Cay is Thunderball Grotto, featured twice in the James Bond film Thunderball. The Pirates of the Caribbean beach scenes were filmed on Sandy Cay. Both locations are a short boat ride from Staniel Cay.
Beachcombers love the blue waters of the Exumas. Walk the sandy beaches and relax as the surf pushes up the beach in front of you. Surfers and shell-gatherers delight here.
Treat yourself to a stroll on Milelong Sandbar on Sandy Cay. It’s a stretch of pure white sand. It emerges from the emerald waters at low tide and is an experience you won’t soon forget.
The area has some of the best underwater caves and blue holes in the world. Be sure to bring your underwater camera. You never know who you may want to take a picture with!
Exuma is the perfect habitat for bonefish, one of the most sought-after sport fish. When the tide is right, the shallows are full of food. These silvery sea creatures are fast, reaching up to 25 mph while darting away from predators.
While not particularly delicious, bonefish are elusive and present a challenge to fishermen. Fishermen see hundreds of bonefish every day but as few as two or three get hooked and reeled in.
April welcomes the National Family Island Regatta. The event welcomes sailors from around the world to compete for the title of “Best in the Bahamas.” The competition is staged in Elizabeth Harbour just off George Town. As you would expect, the event ends with a Junkanoo parade in Regatta Park.
Harness the power of the wind! There is some great kitesurfing in the Exumas. Head west to the shallow waters of Moriah Harbour and enjoy an action-packed day of flatwater riding.
If you think the islands are beautiful from the beach, you won’t believe your eyes when you see them from above. The view from 400 feet up is the most spectacular way to experience the stunning majesty and clarity of the brilliant waters and pure white sand. You won’t forget this experience.
Come hungry and delight to a nice bowl of souse. It is a local specialty. It is a soup flavored with lime juice, celery, onions, and meat.
For your main dish, try Conch. It is most often served fresh and seasoned with lime and spices. Wash down this delicacy with a bottle of Kalik. It’s the local beer.
Give Sky Juice a try while you are at it. It is a favorite local drink made from coconut milk, rum, and coconut rum.
The Chat ‘N’ Chill on Stocking Island is considered one of the best beach bars in the world. It started in 1998 and catered to those who lived on their boats in Elizabeth Harbour.
The original day camp setting offered a laid-back vibe and plenty of volleyball and even Sunday church! Visitors from all over the world now come for the conch salad and beer.
The word on the beach is out. Don’t leave Exumas without a trip to Shoreline Restaurant and Bar. Owners Violet and Kevin serve up tasty local cuisine. Take your pick from a menu complete with everything from crack conch and grouper bites to local lobster and fish tacos.
Enjoy the beach lifestyle. This is the perfect place for a leisurely afternoon with great ocean views, terrific seafood, and an unforgettable vibe. Shoreline Restaurant & Bar is in Rolleville just 30 minutes’ drive west of George Town.
Dine-in casual elegance. The Rusty Anchor serves up some of the best specialty cuisines in the islands. Enjoy curried lobster, rack of lamb, and tuna steak while overlooking Elizabeth Harbour. All dishes are made to order. Indulge!
Fresh Bahamian cuisine since 2000! The New York Times recognized Denise Rolle’s signature dish for the best lobster. Try the grilled Bahamian lobster for yourself. It’s served with fried onions and rice and beans. Fresh fish comes in daily. If you love seafood, you owe it to yourself to experience Santanna’s.
From exploring 200-year-old plantation ruins to dancing in the streets, Little Exuma delivers. These six miles of lush tropical beauty get you out of the hustle-bustle and off the beaten path. The water is crystal clear and is perfect for your ocean adventures. Bonefishing, kayaking, sailing, and beachcombing are waiting for you.
Little Exuma is the perfect place for family and friends to make special memories and soak up the Caribbean vibe.
This spectacular home is located on Little Exuma in Forbes Hill, named after the family who first settled the area. Enjoy your private beach oasis situated on a sandy pocket cove with only four other homes. You’ll love the stunning tropical scenery and a laid-back atmosphere.