Top 10 Things to Do in Exuma
Visiting the clear blue waters and white sand beaches of The Exumas has been on our bucket list for years. So when Air Canada Vacations and the Bahamas Tourism Board invited us to visit, we knew we were in for an exotic adventure of a lifetime! We were able to experience some of the best things to do in Exuma during our 3-night visit. Including where to eat, what to do and the best places to stay.
Click above to watch our experience video
This dream destination allowed us to pass the time with swimming pigs, hungry stingrays, wild iguanas, nurse sharks, and not crowds of people.
Exuma is a district of the Bahamas and consists of over 365 tiny islands and cays. That means you could visit a new place each day for a full year here! We were able to visit all three major areas of The Exumas: Great Exuma, Little Exuma, and The Exuma Cays. Each area has its own distinct vibe. We found Great Exuma to be easy-going, Little Exuma enchanting, and The Exumas Cays gave us a taste of celebrity luxury living.
Without further ado, here are our picks for the Top 10 Things to Do in Exuma.
1 >> Stay at a Luxury Resort
Food at Grand Isle Resort & Spa
Rather than an all-inclusive experience, we had the option of stocking up on groceries, hiring a private chef, or dining at The Palapas Grill. We chose to enjoy meals at The Palapas Grill and were not disappointed! Our breakfast favorites included french toast and yogurt & granola with fresh fruit.
For dinner, our favorite meal was the halibut and vegetables, a fresh salad, and a variety of ice cream.
This open-air space was the perfect place to have our group meals and enjoy each others company. The restaurant is tucked beside the pool with a view of the beach and nearby ocean.
The phenomenal views, white sand beach, all-hours infinity pool, and opulent upgrades made our stay at Grand Isle Resort a true luxury experience. If you really want to indulge you can purchase spa services or rent your own personal golf cart to get yourself around the resort comfortably.
Where to Stay in Exuma
You can visit The Exumas with Air Canada Vacations and stay at other beautiful hotels in the area including Hideaways at Palm Bay Beach Club, Augusta Bay, and Peace & Plenty. In addition, their second luxury option, Sandals Emerald Bay, shares the exact same white-sand beach as the Grand Isle Resort & Spa.
2 >> Go Swimming with Pigs
When we think of The Exumas the first thing that comes to our minds is swimming with the pigs. As the official home of the swimming pigs, visitors have a once in a lifetime experience to swim with and feed The Exumas favorite four-legged residents. Watching those cuties wade through the water and approach the boats in anticipation was everything we’d imagined and more.
We suggest visiting in the morning before the pigs’ bellies are full from all the goodies from visitors to the island. Pig Beach is the perfect spot to get that sought-after pig selfie or hang-out with a group of piglets. There are a few stories of how these pigs came to live here and we’re not certain of which one is true. One thing we do know, after visiting Pig Beach and swimming with the pigs first-hand, we’d highly recommend it!
3 >> Pet Nurse Sharks
If swimming with pigs wasn’t enough, you can also swim with sharks during your visit to the Exumas. Don’t miss your chance to swim with and even pet the nurse sharks that frequent Compass Cay and the surrounding marina.
You can watch them have a snack at the dock as they surround the stairs that enter the water. They eat small fish and other prey by sucking them into their mouths. Because of this, it’s recommended you keep your fingers out of the water so they don’t mistake them for food.
Known as the ‘couch potato of the sea’, visiting nurse shark at Compass Cay is the perfect beginner’s experience with sharks. They slowly glide through the water around you, weaving through dock posts. They frequently swam by on the surface of the water, allowing you to easily reach out and pet them. If you aren’t feeling so brave you can get a good look at everything from the dock and even relax on a pizza slice float to take it all in.
4 >> Chill with Wild Iguanas
Adding to your Exuma adventures, you catch more wildlife on Allen Cay, better known as ‘Iguana Beach’. As our boat pulled up the shore we could see iguanas scattered all over the beach. They started to take interest in us as they began to hear the boats approaching. It’s quite an experience to see iguanas slowly crawl out of the jungle, over rocks, and onto the beach to greet you.
During our time there, iguanas of all ages happily gobbled up our treats of vegetables, grapes, and bread. It’s rumored that the island used to be owned by Nicholas Cage until he realized it was overrun with Iguanas.
5 >> Snorkel in Thunderball Grotto
Thunderball Grotto is an incredible underwater cave system west of Staniel Cay. The James Bond movie Thunderball was filmed here as well as the movies ‘Never Say Never Again’, ‘Splash’, and ‘Into the Blue’.
The main grotto is filled with coral and bright tropical fish, with large holes in the rock above and below which lets through beautiful rays of sunlight. It reminded us of an underwater fishbowl!
Photo courtesy of Arienne at SeeYouSoon.ca
It’s clear why this gorgeous place is such a popular spot for Hollywood filming. Although it must have been difficult for crews to maneuver the tight area! Our guide explained that it was only safe to enter the grotto during certain times due to the tide. We’d love to return to go scuba diving in the grotto as we’ve never seen anything quite like it before.
6 >> Explore George Town
We visited Exumas largest city and capital of George Town and witnessed all of its Bahamian beauty and history. Exploring the area by foot we were able to visit the straw market, Peace & Plenty Hotel, and St. Andrew’s Church and learned the history of each. A walk around town is a must before exploring what’s nearby by ferry or car.
7 >> Feed The Stingrays at Chat N’ Chill
No visit to Exuma is complete without a ferry ride over to the famous Chat N. Chill in the cove of Stocking Island. You’ll feed sting-rays, watch fresh conch salad being made, and do exactly what this island name suggests. We met a local chef and shared travel stories, relaxed in hammocks and enjoyed the island breeze; the ultimate Chat and Chill!
On Sundays, there’s a Pig Roast and Beach Bash that locals rave about. Whether you make it on a Sunday or not, don’t leave without sampling a cold Kalik (local beer) and Conch Burger. Hanging out at Chat N’ Chill is the best way to meet locals and one of our favorite things to do in Exuma.
8 >> Grab Lunch at Santana’s
If you’re going to eat local it should be at Santana’s Restaurant with Chef Dee. Found on Littel Exuma, Santana’s is the place to stop for fresh seafood and local flavor. We tried both the lobster and shrimp dishes made with spices from her garden. It’s served on a bed of rice with native onion and includes corn and delicious homemade slaw.
Don’t forget to stop at “Mom’s Bakery” next door for some tasty local treats. The macaroons and cookies we had were fresh (still warm) and oh-so-tasty. Both places are right on the beach, so you can also enjoy the views of Exumas as you eat. We spotted lemon sharks and crabs wandering by during our time there.
9 >> Spend a Day at The Beach
Just a short drive from Santana’s you’ll find the most incredible island jewel, the Tropic of Cancer beach. Its actual name is Pelican Beach however it sits directly on the Tropic of Cancer latitude line, the dividing line between the subtropics and the tropics, and is better known this way.
The actual Tropic of Cancer latitude line runs through the wooden platform that leads you down the stairs to the beach. Grab an iconic shot with the beach in the background before ascending the stairs into bliss. Swimming around in the clear waters felt more like a swimming pool than the actual ocean!
There are usually very few people on this white-sand beach so enjoy your seclusion. It’s important to note that it’s a bit difficult to locate the path that leads here because of faded hand-made signs. So keep your eyes open because it’s more than worth the stop!
10 >> Witness a Sunrise and Sunset
The Exumas is generous with dawn and dusk and allows for priceless moments with the sun. We made sure to capture as many sunrises and sunsets as we could during our time there. The colors were vibrant and the moments of peace and gratitude they allowed us were priceless. Whether it was at Grand Isle Resort & Spa, in George Town, or from one of the 100’s of islands, the sun did not disappoint us.
And that’s a wrap for our Top 10 Best Things to Do in Exuma! Have you visited The Exumas or Nassau before? What was your experience there? Let us know in the comments below!
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