By Dave & Deb Bouskill, on November 7, 2013

Best of the Exuma Cays

Do you know where the Exuma Cays are? You see, we are not Caribbean specialists. Sure, we’ve been to the islands a few times, but when it comes to knowing destinations in the Caribbean, we’re novices. There are just so many islands to discover that it could take a lifetime. It wasn’t until a recent Caribbean invitation that we found out that it’s in the Bahamas.

Our latest trip to the Bahamas took us to the island chain known as the Exumas. There are 700 islands in the Bahamas and 365 of them are in the Exumas. That’s one to discover for every day of the year. See why we don’t claim to be experts? That’s a lot of islands for just one Caribbean nation. Celebrities like Johnny Depp, Oprah Winfrey, Faith Hill, and Tim McGraw even own islands in the Exumas. Why? Because the Exuma Cays are one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Gin Blue Water

When traveling to the Exumas, it’s all about water. The waters of the Exuma Cays have been described as gin or sapphire blue. We’ve decided to call it “Bombay Sapphire Blue.” It’s the smooth, clear shade of blue that reminds us of our favorite gin. You’ll often see yachts pull up to quiet coves and spend their day either relaxing in luxury or diving and snorkeling the world-class waters.

Staniel Cay

Staniel Cay is a small island that attracts some of the biggest and best yachts around since it’s the only full-service marina in all of the cays. It’s a great place to make a base and plan your activities in the Exumas from there. From the yacht club, you can hire a boat to take you to Thunderball Grotto, which was made famous by the James Bond film “Thunderball.” If you like to dive or snorkel, this place is paradise. 

A short swim through the rock will take you to a beautiful cavern inside the center of the island. Fish play in the dazzling light as you feel like you are swimming in your own giant fish bowl. The colors of the coral are vibrant and bright and the water is crystal clear, allowing you to dive with confidence through the tunnels leading in and out of the cave.

Viewfinder Tip: Hire a guide to take you through the Grotto; it can be dangerous at high tide and for swimmers who are not strong.

There’s plenty of snorkeling in the Bahamas and one of the most exciting spots is Compass Cay, known for its friendly nurse sharks. They are fed by the docks every day and are so harmless that people come to snorkel with them regularly.

While we snorkeled in the Exuma Cays we also found the barracudas to be surprisingly friendly. We had two beauties follow us around during our swim. They seemed totally relaxed yet interested in our every move.

Sharks and fish aren’t the only things in the water in the Exumas. At Big Major’s Cay, you’ll find a few swimming pigs! We weren’t quite sure what to expect from these swimming pigs, but must admit that when we saw that the famous swimming pigs of the Exumas were actually regular old pink pigs, we were taken aback. 

These are actual land pigs that come into the water to cool off and grab some grub from the tourists. They’re certainly big and healthy from all that food. But I’ve got a warning for you: don’t get too close to the pigs, as they’ll bite anything that sticks out.

Finish your days enjoying some of the local cuisine and cocktails. Cracked conch is a specialty of the islands, and if you are boating by Black Point Cay, stop by Lorraine’s Café for conch with a side of peas and rice. Don’t forget to order a cold Kalik, the most famous beer of the Bahamas. 

A destination for all budgets

You can find everything you need in the Exumas from small family-run hotels to all-inclusive resorts. And don’t forget the yachts! What’s great about it though is that you have choices. The Exuma Cays aren’t as frequented as spots like Nassau or Grand Bahama, so you’ll find yourself completely secluded in paradise if you choose.

A trip to the Exumas is a trip you won’t forget. When you go, consider flying to the Exumas from Nassau or Florida, rather than taking a boat, so that you can see just how remarkable they are, as the turquoise waters weave through lush islands outlined with pristine white beaches. You’ll never want to get out of the water and by the time you leave the islands, you’ll already be planning your next vacation back.   

Do you have a favorite Island in the Caribbean?