Visit The Exuma Islands
This is a 130-mile long chain of 365 virgin islands and cays and located about 30 miles south east of New Providence island. The two largest islands are Great Exuma and below that Little Exuma and they are joined by a short road bridge. The rest of Exuma (i.e. upper part of the Exumas with long string of cays) is known as Exuma Cay.
The Exuma is a district of Bahamas. George Town is the main city located at Great Exuma and the administrative center. The Exuma International Airport is located at Great Exuma near George Town. You get a range of luxury resorts, budget hotels and even family owned lodges at Great Exuma.
There are many casual friendly restaurants & bars here preparing great Bahamian food including seafood (try out the grouper fry or the lobster... and you won't forget that ever).
Exuma boasts of its powdery white sandy beaches and claims that it has more number of beaches than any other island in Caribbean, and most can be enjoyed in exclusivity. The Tropic of Cancer Beach located near William's Town in Little Exuma is the longest, one of the prettiest and secluded. It is named after the meridian line passing right over the beach defining the northern boundary of the tropics.
Two successful James Bond movies ('Never Say Never Again' and 'Thunderball') have been shot at the Exumas. It has stunning green-blue luminescent waters and amazing beaches that you can hardly find anywhere else in the world.
About 176 sq. mile area of Exuma's vast expanse of beaches and waters are protected under Exuma National Land and Sea Park. You can snorkel or dive here to experience jaw dropping reefs, underwater caves & limestone formations, huge drop offs, stunning blue holes and vast marine life. This is also the home to rare Bahamian iguana, a huge lizard like creature which can grow to 2-feet.
Most of Exuma's population (around 4,000) live on Great and Little Exuma which offer all modern amenities to tourists although the life style here is laid back and easy going. Most islets and cays of Exuma Cays are the destinations of rich & famous. Several of these cays have ultra-luxurious resorts and lavish beach-side villas. Many cays here are privately owned by celebrities.
Map of The Exumas
Exuma has a history of its own. In late 1700s and after the American Revolutionary War, many returning British Loyalists were allowed to settle in the Exuma with their slaves. They initially thrived on cotton cultivation in the island. One of the well know loyalists was Lord John Rolle.
Those days the slaves had to take up the surname of the master. Lord John Rolle finally handed over his land to the slaves. Today almost half the population of Exuma (most of who are descendents of the slaves) continue to bear the same surname ... Rolle. Even today you can see wild cottons growing as a sign of the past... visit Williams Town in Little Exuma to take a look at the plantation ruins.
Due to the large Elizabeth harbor at George Town, it once became a den of pirates. However the harbor is now the venue of the famous Family Boat Regatta (handmade boats with wooden hulls and tall wooden masts with sails) held annually in every April.
The Pig Beach in Exuma Cays (formally known as Major Cay) is another wonder.... this is where you can see pigs swimming on the waters and you can swim with them. These pigs were once left by the sailors as stand-by food for future, but the pigs survived. They are fed by locals from the neighboring islands like Staniel Cay. You can easily visit the Pig Beach from Staniel Cay. Once you reach Staniel Cay, you can see at a distance the Thunderball Cave named after the James Bond movie.
So why should you visit Exuma?
It's a paradise for those who love to dive, snorkel, lounge and swim off beautiful beaches, do kayaking through the mangroves, love fishing (deep sea, bonefishing in shallows.... everything is here). And if you want a special ultra-luxurious or intimate romantic stay by the beach side, then go to one of the cays in Exuma Cays. And on top of all these, you get to enjoy the laid back Bahamian life, meet outgoing & friendly islanders and have wonderful local food.
The Exuma International Airport has regular air connections from the US east coast (Florida) and Canada (Toronto). You can also reach the northern tip of Exuma from Nassau in 1 hour by a speed boat. Staniel Cay (the hub of Exuma Cays) takes about 2 hours from Nassau (there is a daily flight here as well from Nassau). So getting to Exuma is quite easy.
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