Dive Into the Exumas
This lovely stretch of islands boasts 365 islands and cays, all virtually untouched by man. Here you can find a real escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life – sail out and explore the numerous secluded islands on your own or explore the 176-square-mile nature preserve known as the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. You'll find hidden coves, quaint bays and several harbors for yachting and fishing. You can also find a handful of luxurious secluded resorts and hotels, so when you’re done being an adventurer, you can relax in comfort. The Exumas are the perfect combination of adventure and secluded relaxation.
Mapping Out the Bahamas
With over 700 islands and 2,000 cays sprinkled across the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, the Bahamas can be kind of confusing without a guide. Lucky for you, we've got you covered. The most popular islands you've probably heard of are New Providence, home to Nassau and Paradise Island, and Grand Bahama Island. However, there are numerous other small islands that make up the Bahamas, and they're typically known as the Out Islands. These beautiful, more pristine islands are true gems in the Caribbean. The most popular tourist region in the Out Islands is the Abacos, but whether you stay on the mainlands or adventure to the Out Islands, you'll love every minute in the Bahamas.
Sneak Away to Stocking Island
This 4-mile-long island is a castaway's dream, with shallow reefs for snorkeling, lush trails for hiking and plenty of powdery white-sand beaches for strolling and sea-shell hunting. Even if you aren’t a castaway, this small eco-friendly island has breathtaking sights that just about anyone can enjoy. Explore the island's glowing blue holes, snorkel past the coral gardens and venture into its undersea caves. You can also see giant sand dunes that have hardened into limestone rock. The highest dune is called the Beacon, and serves as a navigation point to attract yachters, hikers and you!
Want to feel like James Bond for a day? Or maybe you’d prefer to play "Pirates of the Caribbean" instead. Whatever your choice, you’ve got to head to Thunderball Grotto, where scenes from both of those movies were filmed. Just head straight across the water from the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, and you'll find this Hollywood hotspot. It's a striking marine cave that you can explore during low tide if you're a snorkeler or an experienced scuba diver. If you don't want to sail out on the water to reach this grotto, you can see it in the James Bond films "Thunderball" and "Never Say Never Again" as well as in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies. But we promise it's much better in person!
See the Swimming Pigs at Major's Cay
Maybe you won’t ever see pigs fly in your lifetime, but here in the Exumas, you can see pigs swim! Yes, that’s right – chubby, four-legged pink creatures swimming happily in crystal blue waters. Actually, you can even jump right in and swim with them too. These little groups of pigs hang out at Big Major Cay at the southernmost beach, appropriately named Pig Beach. They’ve attracted quite some attention from online videos featuring their aquatic skills, and now you can frolic right along with them.
Explore Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park
Calling all eco and water-sport lovers! The beaches and land here are so pristine that this 176-square-mile park was turned into the very first land-and-sea preserve in the world. Once you arrive, the first thing you'll notice is its strikingly clear water and pristine beauty. With more than 20 miles of cay to explore this nature preserve, you definitely won't get bored. You'll love seeing tiny islands made out of limestone, rows of bright coral, and all shapes and sizes of colorful fish.
Make Your Way Through Miles of Mystery Cave
Indulge the adventurous explorer inside you and set out for Mystery Cave! You'll find this diver’s paradise just beneath Stocking Island. It's a 400 ft. deep blue hole that branches out into a stunning network of glowing blue caverns that extend for miles beneath the island and surrounding ocean. Strap on your diving gear and go - the diving depth starts out at a measly 15 feet but quickly drops off into a heart-thumping 100 feet! So, make sure to dive with an experienced guide. You'll still earn bragging rights for having explored this natural wonder yourself.
Exumas Quick Facts
Currency: US dollar
Electricity: 120 volts AC; American appliances are fully compatible.
Passport/Immigration: All U.S. citizens must have a valid passport when traveling to and from the Bahamas.
Drinking Water: Water is safe for drinking
Time Zone: Eastern Standard Time (UTC/GMT -4 hours)
Peak Season: November to May
Tips & Transportation
Play Pirate at Pigeon Cay
Explore like Robinson Crusoe for a day on this pristine, uninhabited island! If you've ever thought it might be kind of cool to be alone on an island like Tom Hanks in "Castaway" but don't necessarily want to be gone for 4 years, then check out Pigeon Cay. What you'll have to do is arrange to be dropped off and get picked up by boat. There are several tour operators and charter boats you can get to take you. After that, you can explore the island by yourself in peace. Most visitors come here to snorkel and see if they can spot the remains of a 200-year old shipwreck right off the shore. Bring your gear along if you'd like to try that. You'll feel just like a real explorer!
Craving Conch Salad Cabana? Try Big D's Conch Spot No. 1
With the sun on your back and warm wind in your hair, you'll be craving something cool and refreshing for lunch. Why not try a local favorite like conch salad? The best place to get it is at Big D's Conch Spot No. 1. Just cruise down Queen’s Highway from George Town for about 25 minutes, and keep your eye out for this tiny, beach-front cabana in the hamlet of Steventon. Once you get there, you'll realize that the salad was well worth the drive!
Buy Big Darby
See the remains of a mysterious stone castle on Big Darby island. There are many tales and legends about the Englishman who lived here and why he built the castle. Explore it yourself and see if you can figure it out! Once you arrive at Big Darby island, you'll see that it's relatively small, only about 550 acres, but the main house on the island is an 8000 square ft. castle! An interesting note is that the island of Big Darby in the Caribbean is actually for sale right now, so if you have a spare $40 million lying around doing nothing, by all means, buy an island! If not, just visiting it will be great too.
Hike Through Hawksbill Cay or Warderick Wells
Pull on your hiking boots and lace them up! Both of these sites - Hawksbill Cay and Warderick Wells - not only have amazing hiking trails, but also amazing historical sites! As you trek through the lush hiking trails, you'll get to see the ruins of many Loyalist settlements that date all the way back to the 18th century. It's like a workout and history lesson in one. Bring your camera along because this is a piece of authentic, untouched history that you won’t want to forget!
Nurse a Nurse Shark
Are you a fan of friendly, underwater beasts? If so, then you've got to try feeding a nurse shark at least once in your life. What better place than the Exumas to try it? Just head about 4 miles beyond Staniel Cay. There you can find Major Spot, a tiny uninhabited island that's northwest of Staniel Cay. Once you arrive there, you can find shallow waters that are so shallow that you can actually see, as well as feed, tame nurse sharks.
Flights land in Exuma International Airport (GGT), a public airport serving the island of Great Exuma in the Bahamas.
Immigration & Customs
All immigration forms are usually supplied by the airlines. When entering The Bahamas, visitors must complete and sign an immigration form. A portion of this card (returned to you by the immigration official clearing you for entrance) is required to exit The Bahamas. Don't lose this tiny, "check stub size," immigration document! Customs clearance is located inside the airport. An oral baggage declaration may be necessary, but sometimes paperwork will suffice.
Getting to Your Hotel
CheapCaribbean.com has partnered with Majestic Tours as our premier transportation company in the Exumas. They’ll provide you with safe, comfortable and professional transportation, from the airport to your hotel and back. They’ll also provide transportation to any excursions booked through our site that you’d like to take while you’re in your destination.
It’s easy to find your Majestic Tours team when you arrive at the airport. They’ll be standing in the ground transportation waiting area, holding a CheapCaribbean welcome sign. All drivers are fluent in English, friendly and knowledgeable about the culture, history and things to do while you’re there. By the end of your ride, you’ll have made a new friend. Vehicles are all clean, modern and reliable.
Majestic Tours is the official transportation rep for CheapCaribbean.com excursions when you book vacations to the Exumas on our site. The majority of our partner hotels have a Majestic Tours desk in or near the lobby, so they’re easy to find, should you need them. For this reason, we suggest that our guests do not rent cars while in the Caribbean or Mexico as traffic laws and road quality and street signs are not the same as they are in the US.
Getting Around the Exumas
Making transport arrangements with our tour operator is the safest bet. If you need to grab a taxi, ask your hotel to request one for you. Ferries are also available among the islands.