Seeing will be believing when you arrive in Exuma for an island getaway like no other. Exuma, a district of The Bahamas consisting of 365 islands (not all of them inhabited), truly is paradise in true form from the accounts of the thousands of travellers who go there every year. One of the largest islands of Exuma is Great Exuma which is joined to another island known as Little Exuma by a bridge.
Travellers to The Bahamas will find that there is much more to Exuma than the admittedly adorable swimming pigs (more on that later). In these islands, there’s beaches and sandbanks waiting to be explored, caves to venture into for the brave, and of course, lots of island hopping. There are also some incredible dive sites including Thunderball Grotto, and natural bubble baths like the one in Compass Cay we’ll touch on in this post that is a major tourist attraction as well.
All in all, Exuma attracts visitors from all over the world and for good reason — it is a breathtaking place to be. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful and exotic island experience, or one that’s dripping with luxury, you’re bound to find just what you need in Exuma.
The Exuma Islands are an island chain located in the center of the Bahamas, southeast of Nassau. Great Exuma, the largest of the islands, is where you will find most hotels, resorts, and vacation rentals as well as the capital city of Georgetown. However, some of the smaller cays have great excursions that you can easily access throughout your trip.
The Exuma Cays land is a laid-back, beautiful place for your Bahamas vacation. It is easily accessible from other parts of the island and offers beachfront views of the Bahamas’ famous clear blue waters.
The Exuma Land and Sea Park is a stretch of protected area you can visit to get up close to wildlife, experience the biodiversity of the Exumas, and overall, just enjoy nature at its best. The beaches in the park are incredible, and the boat rides one can arrange to the park are described by most who go as “simply exhilarating”, “not to be missed”, and “unlike any boat tour ever experienced”. Whether you want to hike, snorkel, or just lounge on the beach, the Exuma Land and Sea Park is worth a visit.
Sea Aquarium is right next to O’Briens Cay in the Exuma Land and Sea Park and is an excellent place for snorkeling. This is one of the areas you’re likely to see the widest variety of fishes and the highest number as well, all in one place. There’s a dazzling spectrum of coral and a sunken plane in this area which will be interesting to see. For all these reasons, diving at the Sea Aquarium is a must while in Exuma.
Rocky Dundas is located in the Exuma Land and Sea Park. It is an ancient hidden cave that can only be accessed by swimming under a ledge that’s partially submerged. Once inside, there’s a large open cavern with prominent stalagmites and stalactites. It’s best to try to explore the cave at low tide. Near Rocky Dundas you’ll find Chicken Cay which you might as well visit while in the area.
At the Exuma Land and Sea Park, Warderick Wells is the center of activity. Here you’ll find rocky bluffs, sand dunes, mangrove creeks, sand flats, and more. You’ll be able to tie up your dinghy at the Visitor Center’s dock before you head out exploring other areas. While in the Land and Sea Park don’t miss out on visiting cays like Shroud in the north which has lots of creeks and mangroves, an abundance of turtles, juvenile sharks, and rays. There are stunning rock formations in the southern end of the Land and Sea Park, a cave system, and lots more to explore.
Halls Pond Cay is about 60 miles off of Nassau. This is a private island, and just off the coast you can have some great dive adventures in the crystal clear waters. The coral reef to the east of Halls Pond is the perfect place to dive if you’re hoping to see Spotted Eagle Rays and other incredible underwater sightings.
Staniel Cay has a population of about 100 people who are native to The Bahamas, and around 70 vacation homeowners. This cay showcases the real meaning of simple living and you can easily take a boat charter or a tour to explore this part of the Exumas. Visitors who go to Staniel Cay mostly go there to snorkel, go kayaking or paddle boarding, swim with nurse sharks, try the swimming with the pigs experience, or just experience life on a remote island. If you want, you can even rent out a golf cart which can make it easier to get to some parts of the island.
One of the biggest attractions in the Exumas is the swimming pigs and no list of things to do there would be complete without it. The pigs have made a home on Big Major Island and you can visit them as part of a tour in this area. On the island, there’s quite a number of pigs, including Rosie and her adorable piglets. The pigs often swim out to greet incoming boats, but more than likely to see what food you have to offer. You’ll have a greater chance of seeing them swim out if you do this tour in the morning.
Want to have some time with the famous swimming pigs before the excursions arrive? Stay at Fowl Cay Resort, which is located on the island directly next to Pig Beach.
Expert tip: There’s more than one beach on Big Major Cay and these beaches are good for more than just seeing swimming pigs. Two of the beaches at the northernmost points of Big Major Cay are cool to hang out on and explore, especially if you have your own boat or charter and are doing a wider exploration of the Exumas. Little Major is a private island known for great diving, and in particular, the rocks along the northwest of this cay.
You may hear a lot about this area even before getting to The Bahamas. The popularity of this grotto and extraordinary snorkeling spot has a lot to do with the fact that a scene from the James Bond movie ‘Thunderball” and part of the movie “Splash” were both filmed here. Sometimes the currents can be strong around the island, so this spot is best for more experienced divers, especially if you plan on diving further from your boat. It is not advisable to snorkel here when the wind is strong from the south or southwest.
The Compass Cay Marina is an interesting stop because here you can visit a soon-to-be-friend from The Exumas who just so happens to have a family of pet nurse sharks. There’s a landing fee per person for the Compass Cay Marina, but you probably won’t have to worry about this if you visit as part of a tour. If you get there with something to feed the sharks, they might just allow you to pet them!
Expert tip: Visit Rachel’s Bubble Bath while at Compass Cay. It is more or less a swimming hole with a jacuzzi feel. Rachel’s Bubble Bath is on the beach at the northwest end of Compass Cay.
It’s not every day you’ll be able to visit an island with hundreds of iguanas strolling around, so while in Exuma, it’s a good idea to make some time to see this for yourself. It will definitely be an experience unlike any other to see the large iguanas that live on Bitter Guana Cay. If you’re quiet and stay still for a bit, you’ll start to see them popping out of the bushes. Lumber Cay Cut, a 30-acre private island, is near Bitter Guana Cay.
If you’re into boating, you’re likely to have a good time at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club which has existed since the 60s. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this spot is great for socializing and also having a good meal. The bar at the yacht club is among the most chill you’ll find in The Bahamas.
Little Pipe Cay is one of the lesser-known cays of the Exumas. It is a private island and one of the things people love going to see while in the vicinity of this island is the old, still working stone lighthouse that you’ll be able to take a picture of from your boat. Little Pipe Cay spans 38 acres and it is accessible by seaplane or boat.
If you’re interested in a diving opportunity that involves seeing a sunken plane firsthand then you can try diving off Staniel Cay. There’s more than one downed plane in this area and you can go with a skilled guide or as part of a tour to see these up close. One of these sunken planes can be seen at the southern end of Staniel Cay.
The small town at Black Point Settlement on Great Guana Cay is known for its super friendly residents, a charming island atmosphere, and lots of room to stroll around. It’ll seem like time has slowed down as you can enjoy your day at a leisurely pace, even spending some time with the local ladies as they sit under trees and weave baskets, hats, and other items from palm leaves. There’s plenty of options for lunch here, including pizza, local meals, and pub lunches. There’s a natural blowhole on this island as well that’s worth seeing while you’re there. End your day with some beach time, and hopefully an amazing sunset.
Little Farmer’s Cay is a lesser-known island in The Bahamas with a population of only 50 to 70 people. When you get to this island, you’ll be greeted by the “Dockmaster” who’ll be able to point you in the right direction in terms of what you’d like to see or do. The wildlife population here far eclipses that of people, and you can experience this for yourself while in The Bahamas. In this area, some of the things you can expect to see are tropical birds, sea turtles, dolphins and sharks. Lunch is available here from the Ocean Cabin with lots of local options.
If you’re into collecting sand dollars, North Gaulin Cay might be worth exploring while in Exuma. Like many of the islands and cays in this area North Gaulin is great for snorkeling, so while you’re diving the sandbar west of this cay you can look for sand dollars at low tide that you might even be able to take home as a souvenir.
If ever there were a photo description of the word paradise, it would probably look a lot like Coco Plum Beach in The Bahamas. This is arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in this part of the world, and you’ll be mesmerized from the minute you get there with just how blue the ocean looks, how beautiful the palm trees are, and overall, how relaxed you feel while there. This beach is on the north-eastern side of Great Exuma and it is great for picnicking, shelling, and searching for sand dollars. If you plan on visiting Coco Plum Beach while in The Bahamas, definitely take advantage of the water swing set that’s a notorious feature of this strand.
The Greg Norman Championship Golf Course in Great Exuma has won many awards over the years. Not only that, but it is considered one of the most scenic golf courses in the Caribbean. While in Exuma, you’ll be able to tee off in style at this amazing 18-hole, par 72 championship course with facilities including a full-service golf shop, club storage facilities. a practice range with chipping and putting greens, and more. There’s also a practice bunker and an oceanfront jogging trail along the back nine.
Expert tip: Guests of all-inclusive resort Sandals Emerald Bay get complimentary green fees to this stunning golf course.
Clear and calm seas with strikingly white sand are the hallmarks of Tropic of Cancer beach in The Bahamas. Many describe this as one of the best beaches stops in The Bahamas and this has quite a lot to do with how beautiful the beach is. Tropic of Cancer Beach is a great option if you’re looking for a more secluded beach experience where you’ll be able to make the most of the sun, sea and sand. There’s a cocktail bar and food stand on the beach as well in case you want to grab something while there.
Stocking Island in The Bahamas is a nature lover’s best friend. On this island there’s much to explore including Jacques Cousteau’s Mystery Cave and the Moriah Harbor Cay National Park. First thing’s first: the cave. It was named after an explorer known as Jacques Cousteau. Great snorkeling can be found at the mouth of this cave which is accessible with a short boat ride. There’s beautiful scenery and history inside the Moriah Harbor Cay National Park and you’ll also be able to view some of the world’s oldest fossils – stromatolites – which are found only on this island, and in Australia.
If you’re looking for a souvenir stop with authentic gifts, then stop by Sandpiper Boutique while in Exuma. This is a great option for anyone looking for authentic Bahamian items including Bahama Hand Prints, Androsia, Abaco Neem & more. The selections here are a reflection of the heritage of The Bahamas mixed in with lots of passion and love. You can find art and collectable pottery here (Jessica Minns), as well as a range of other items including books, custom painted sand dollars, homemade jewellry, t-shirts, cover ups, island decor, and more.
Sandy Cay is on the southern end of the Exumas, and it is a cool island to spend the day particularly if you’re looking for somewhere to picnic. If you can get a tour that includes a stop here it’ll be worth being able to lounge on this small, not-so-developed island which has a beach that can be the backdrop of some amazing vacation photos.
Georgetown is the capital city of the Exumas. There is plenty to do and see in this large city including shopping, trying authentic Bahamian cuisine, and seeing the sights. One of our absolute favorite activities in Georgetown is the Canal Boat Cruise. See all of the historic sights in Georgetown with an hour long tour through the canal. Additionally, we love the paddleboarding and kayaking opportunities, as well as the must-see historic sights like the Old Stone House.
Exuma, Bahamas is fairly accessible for most travelers. The Exuma International Airport services flights from across the globe. Additionally, you can fly into the larger Nassau airport as well and take a quick ferry or flight to Exuma. From major US cities, you can fly to Exuma fairly efficiently.
• Flight from New York City, New York: 5h 5m
• Flight from Miami, Florida: 1h 30m
• Flight from Los Angeles, California: 7h 54m
Additionally, most other islands in the Bahamas will offer easy access to Exuma due to it’s popularity. Whether you are traveling by boat, passenger plane, or ferry, you’ll be able to stop by the Exumas for a quick day trip or a full vacation.
Exuma is simple island living. You’ll best spend most of your days on the turquoise waters and soft white sand beaches.
Simple island living also means that the food is simple, and the options are limited. However, there are two places in Exuma that bring exquisite dining to the Out Islands of The Bahamas and these resorts are therefore your best option to spend the night:
Located on its own island next to Pig Beach.
This small and charming paradise is not your regular all-inclusive. Fowl Cay Resort offers island living, without the logistics that come with building and maintaining your own property on foreign soil.
Surrounded by the most beautiful waters and beaches in the world, Fowl Cay offers a home away from home unlike any other. You won’t find accommodation closer to the world-famous pigs than Fowl Cay Resort.
Every single villa in Fowl Cay includes a golf cart and a powerboat with unlimited fuel, to enable you to go on that adventure together.
Located on one of Exuma’s largest and most stunning beaches.
Looking for a luxurious romantic getaway? Sandals Emerald Bay is the only adults-only all-inclusive resort in Exuma designed for couples. The resort features 11 restaurants including French and Italian options, 6 bars including a swim-up bar, day and night entertainment, unlimited land and water sports, championship golf, free scuba diving trips, and even butler service in select room categories!
There’s no two ways about it, Exuma is one of the places you simply must experience while in The Bahamas. There’s enough to do and explore in the Exumas to fill an entire week and it’ll be the best week of your life. Words cannot describe the unmatched natural beauty of the Exumas. You can try to capture it with a camera, but there’s no way you’ll be able to explain how mesmerizing the views are, until you’re in the middle of it all.