Exuma, Bahamas—Pristine beaches, amazing anchorages and stunning waters.
POPULATION: 7,314 (2010) | AREA: 250 KM2 (100 SQ MI)
Whether you prefer deep-sea fishing for your dinner, sightseeing from a Flyboard, paddleboarding in remote coves or simply sunbathing on deck, there are few places better than Exuma in which to enjoy Sweet Escape’s many amenities and toys.
Escape to Exquisite Exuma, a land of breathtaking vistas & aquamarine seas.
BY AMANDA DIEDRICK
Of the 750 or so islands that make up the Bahamian archipelago, more than 365 of them fall within Exuma. Like hundreds of emeralds, this chain of lush cays, fringed with swaying palms and sugar-sand beaches, extends 130 miles through the sapphire seas of the central Bahamas.
Comprised of Great Exuma, Little Exuma and hundreds of surrounding islets and cays, Exuma boasts some of the planet’s most pristine beaches, amazing anchorages and stunning waters. Add in world-class amenities and all the solitude and laidback luxury you could ask for, and it’s easy to see why the region is a favourite getaway for celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Johnny Depp, David Copperfield and Eddie Murphy.
Whether you prefer deep-sea fishing for your dinner, sightseeing from a Flyboard jet pack, paddleboarding in remote coves or simply sunbathing on deck, there are few places better than Exuma in which to enjoy Sweet Escape’s many amenities and toys.
Most of the islands in Exuma are uninhabited—unless you count the wildlife. Tender in to Allan’s Cay and you’ll be welcomed by hundreds of northern Bahamian rock iguanas, found nowhere else on earth. Nearby, on Big Major Cay, the world-famous swimming pigs will greet you with equal enthusiasm.
The jewel in Exuma’s crown is the 176-square-mile Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, a protected no-take wildlife sanctuary that encompasses more than a dozen islands. The park’s many shallows, reefs and mangroves provide a safe habitat and breeding grounds for a myriad of marine life. Kayaking or snorkeling on the surface or SCUBA diving below, you’ll spot conch, lobsters, turtles, eels, rays and hundreds of species of fish. Whatever you do, don’t forget your waterproof camera.
Back ashore, the Land and Sea Park offer miles of hiking trails, edged with tropical plants and flowers and offering breathtaking vistas of the surrounding islands and aquamarine sea.
You’ll find a variety of fascinating natural formations in Exuma, such as Rachel’s Bubble Bath. Depending on the tide, this natural, ocean-fed pool can be a peaceful, picturesque lagoon or a bubbling saltwater Jacuzzi. Nearby, in the Rocky Dundas sea cave, naturally occurring minerals have painted the cave walls in vivid jewel tones.
Thunderball Grotto is an incredible underwater cave system illuminated by light that filters in through underwater tunnels. Teeming with brilliantly coloured corals and sea life, the grotto was named for the 1965 James Bond movie that was filmed there.
Though Exuma has been featured in several spy movies, the cays have seen their share of real-life intrigue as well. Since the late 1600s, the region’s remote coves and hidden caves have attracted pirates, including Captain Kidd—who, according to local lore, buried a vast treasure that has yet to be discovered.
More recently, during the late 1970s and early 80s, a different sort of pirate—a notorious Colombian drug lord—established his hedonistic headquarters on Exuma’s Norman’s Cay. For several years, this tiny island served as a trans-shipment point for one of the biggest smuggling operations in history.
These days, activity on Norman’s Cay is considerably more benign, consisting mostly of beachcombing, sunbathing, picknicking and exploring the remnants of the island’s infamous past. One of the most fascinating ruins is a drug plane that missed the runway. Nearly forty years later, it remains, virtually intact, in shallow waters near the cay, where it serves as a man-made habitat for the local sea life and a popular destination for snorkelers.
In Exuma, each day brings a different island and a new adventure. Which will be your favourite? Just get in touch with your preferred charter broker and we’d be happy to tailor your very own Exuma escape. We can’t guarantee you’ll make it to all 365 islands, but don’t worry. Once you experience the exquisiteness that is Exuma, you’ll be back.