Exuma – The Jewel of The Bahamas


Fyre Festival – Exuma Done Wrong.


A shit storm of epic proportions went down in Exuma, The Bahamas last weekend….

Two amateur punks, (a rapper, and a marketer) attempted a music festival for entitled Millennials craving an “elitist” experience.  The concept: epic music festival on a remote Bahamian Island…..gourmet cuisine, top shelf liquor, yachts, posh tents, epic live music (questionable)….and the dream list goes on.

Douche factor aside. This type of festival is logistically impossible to pull off in a Bahamian Out Island. This is blatantly obvious. Great Exuma Cay is remote and lacks the infrastructure to sustain mass crowds.

However, the asshat organizers FAILED to do their homework and marketed the shit out of the Event.

Thousands of dumb ass millennials drank the marketing Kool-Aid and descended upon the beautiful Exumas. Only to find their “posh ticket” bought them a colossal shit show with pup tents, insufficient water, inadequate sanitation, and fake cheese sandwiches served up in styrofoam containers. *Very classy, and environmentally toxic too.

But enough about Fyre Festival, the idiot Fyre Starters (they actually called themselves that) and the saps that bought the hype.

Let’s talk about The Exumas – a stunning Bahamian jewel.  That is so worth the visit….when done properly.


Exuma Done Right.


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My then 5 year old, snorkeling the ‘Aquarium’ on a safety line.

A Little Geography:

The Bahamas is an archipelago of 700-plus Islands and Cays in the Atlantic Ocean. It lies just off the southeast Florida coast and extends south to the Turks and Caicos. Exuma, often referred to as The Exumas, is a chain of Islands (350-plus) within The Bahamas. 

About The Exumas:

The Exuma Island chain is an exotic natural paradise. It boasts countless remote foot-print free beaches with soft powdery white sand and the most alluring aquamarine water imaginable. Picture a mélange of blue on blue. On a clear day, it’s tough to define the crystalline sea water from the azure sky.


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Exuma is a water lover’s paradise. A mecca for boating, fishing, diving and snorkeling. It’s also home to the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. A 176-square-mile massive aquatic reserve. Inside the Sea Park is a spectacular dive/snorkel site called: The Aquarium. 


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Getting There:

Exuma is remote and thus a bit hard to get to. You can fly from Miami, Fort Lauderdale or Nassau and arrive to either Staniel Cay (middle point), or Great Exuma Cay in the southern end.

Accommodations/Getting Around:

The best way to see Exuma is by boat. Ideally, you would be lucky enough to stay on a boat and Island hop. There are several charter companies that operate within the Island chain and around The Bahamas.

Great Exuma – a few nice options. One of them being a Sandals Resort: Emerald Bay Golf, Tennis and Spa Resort. As well, there are several fishing lodges to choose from. You are able to rent a car and move around the Island.

Note: Bahamians drive on the left side and there are virtually no street signs.

Staniel Cay – Staniel is an authentically raw spot & my prefered local. It has a small landing strip, and some basic accommodations as well as a few luxury villas for rent. The Staniel Cay Yacht Club is the hub of the Cay and is popular with boaters. It’s small enough to walk around or you can bomb around in a golf cart like the locals.

From Staniel Cay,  you can see Thunderball Cave. The grotto was featured in the Bond flick: Never Say Never Again, and more recently in the movie: Into the Blue.  You have to hit on low tide to be able to snorkel. Inside the grotto is an amazing array of tropical fish (Angel Fish, Sergeant Majors, Parrot Fish)…that are used to people swimming in their turf.

You can also snorkel a plane wreck, about 1/2 mile offshore from The Staniel Cay Yacht Club. The wreck is in 6 feet of clear tepid water and is super accessible. You might even find a nurse shark sleeping under one of the wings.


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Entrance to Thunderball Grotto

A short hop from Staniel Cay are the infamous Swimming Pigs at Big Major Cay.


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Not far from Big Major Cay is Allan’s Cay, home to the Rock Iguanas.


South of Staniel Cay is Compass Cay. Compass is home to the “tame” Nurse Sharks.


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Photo Credit: @adriannajoskowiak
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Compass Cay Marina. Photo Credit: @adriannajoskowiak

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Local Food:

Exuma is not a fine dining destination. However, it has amazing local options. Conch is a Bahamian staple. It comes cracked, grilled, in fritter form, or as a ceviche style salad. A local fish fry will serve up snapper (whole) and rock lobster (no edible claws). As well as fried chicken, peas’ n’ rice or Bahamian style Mac’ n’ cheese. Wash it all down with an ice-cold beer (Kalik, Sands). or a Gully Wash, an Island favorite. You probably don’t want to know what’s in it and they likely won’t tell. For the more adventurous, find yourself a local spot and try the souse.


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My then 8 year old, catching conch,

Other Tips:

Weather

It’s a factor. Even outside of hurricane season (June to November), the weather can be windy and sometimes rainy. Meaning if you are planning on getting out on the water and it’s blowing 25 knots, you best make other plans. Which will likely mean a chilled day of reading and rum cocktails because the WiFi will be down too.

The average annual temp. is 80 F, and the water temps. range from mid 70’s to low 80’s.

Price

Things are expensive. Prepare yourself for the sticker shock. Remember, you are in a remote local, almost everything has to be shipped in. The Bahamian currency is on par with the USD. No need to exchange funds and don’t expect to find many, or any ATMs.

Time

Give yourself enough. Island Time is real and nothing moves quickly in The Bahamas. Once you accept Island Time and the pace of the locals – you know you have truly arrived.


Out Island, Exuma


Final Word:

Don’t get “fyred”. Do the legwork, and properly plan your trip to The Exumas. Trust me…..it’s heaven on earth and so worth it.

Have a question? Want more details? Drop me a line, I’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.

x.

9 Comments

  1. travelsidenotes

    I am so glad when the clientele described adequately above stays away from these places. I have been to Nassau once and always regretted not having made the trip to Exuma and I hope they can preserve this spot and not “market it to death” like you put it. Great post!

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