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Trip Report Exuma - Trip Report Nov28-Dec 05 2010 - Long

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Just got back last weekend from our first trip to Exuma.

Us - 3 middle-aged adults, 2 very active, 1 less so
Interests: beaches, snorkeling, outdoors

Overall experience: We loved Exuma but would probably only go back at a different time of year.

Where we stayed: Hoopers Bay Villas

Hoopers Bay Villas:

4 cottages just off the main road - about 4-6 Kilometres outside of Georgetown
They are not directly on the beach at Hoopers Bay but the walk to the beach is quite short (2 possible paths - one takes less than 5 minutes, the other about 5-10 minutes).

We were the only people staying there during our week. The location is not bad - about 1 k from the nearest convenience store (which is actually a well-stocked grocery store) and about a 5 minute walk from the nearest restaurant (which unfortunately seemed to be closed most of the time we were there). Therefore I HIGHLY recommend renting a car if you stay at Hoopers bay. The nearest car rental is 2 kilometres down the main road - Thompson's (they were easy to deal with and helpful).

Our Villa (Cottage):
The price was a real bargain - so any little problems in no way impacted on our enjoyment of the vacation. The Cottage (Yellow Elder) was quite roomy for 3 people and would be fine for two couples or a couple and children (two bedrooms and two baths and a large living, dining, kitchen area and front and back porch). Everything worked.
The kitchen was well-supplied with kitchen stuff (only 2 things were missing that we could have used - a can opener and a bottle opener).

Problems:
One side of the couch had a broken frame and one of the beach chairs was broken.
I have sent the owner an email about this and a couple of minor maintenance things. She has indicated that they will be fixed.

Note: Hoopers Bay villas is NOT a resort but a small cottage development. There is no pool, no restaurant etc.

Also two very friendly, well-behaved dogs hang around there and will very cheerfully accompany you to the beach and on walks. They love treats and pets and are not a problem. The neighbours are pleasant, friendly helpful people.

Hoopers Bay Villas is suitable for people who would like a housekeeping cottage with more than 1 bedroom and can look after themselves. It you want a full-service resort it is NOT the place for you. It met our needs extremely well.

Exuma:

Beaches:
What can I say - the beaches are amazing and virtually empty and there are so many of them! Another reason to rent a car is to beach-hop.

Hoopers Bay - a lovely, very quiet beach with calm water. Beach access is clearly marked but the end of the access path is a steep descent - so wear proper footwear. it's only about a 2 minute walk from the road.

Jolly Hall Beach
another lovely, nearly deserted beach, not quite as calm as Hoopers Bay but with some great views at one end towards the Georgetown harbour

Tropic of Cancer beach
Not easy to find (it's on Little Exuma and someone has removed the Beach Access sign).
You can stop in Georgetown and ask for directions at the Tourist Office.

Emerald Bay
The Sandals Resort is located here - it was the only beach we encountered with more than 10 people but even it was definitely not busy.

Stocking Island - many beaches
We took the ferry from the Government docks and spent a day at the Chat nChill beach.
Definitely worth it. Calmest water, some snorkeling and resident ray who will eat out of your hand

Many other beaches - some calm, some with big rollers - just pull over whever you see Beach Access sign or a glimpse of ocean - it will be worth it.

Where we ate:

Santana's on Little Exuma - delicious grouper! Just a casual beachfront spot with a very friendly lady who can really cook.

Hausman's near Mt Thompson - lovely beachfront setting with decent burgers and chicken.

Chat n Chill on Stocking Island - the location can't be beat. The conch salad was quite good and VERY fresh (we saw our conch arrive). The rice and peas were good too. However the burger was not as good as Hausman's

Wink 2 Coffee Shop and Internet cafe in Georgetown - friendly little place to use the internet and grab a simple breakfast or snack. We caught up on our email and had a coffee and homemade pumpkin spice bread. We did not try it but we thought that the Daily Special - Grits and tuna looked good and filling. The little guy eating breakfast with his Dad cleaned his plate!

Other things to do:

When the supply boat comes in to Georgetown - really good fresh fruit is sometimes available downtown near the market. We got some delicious papaya and tiny bananas.

We drove the entire length of the paved road from Little Exuma in the south-east to Barraterre in the northwest - absolutely worth it.

Little Exuma:
Salt Tower near Williams Town - views in all directions
Tropic of Cancer beach
Gorgeous wild beach (whose name escapes me) near Forbes Hill
Ruins of a Loyalist Plantation near Williams Town

Great Exuma:
Georgetown - funky, fun and pleasant to walk around
Rolletown - interesting old tombs and if you continue down the road that the tombs are off of, you get to the bone-fishing flats - lovely views and crystal clear calm water that you can wade in.
Northwest of Georgetown - beach after lovely beach. Go all the way to Rolleville
Rolleville - We drove out to the point and saw the biggest deserted sandbars and sand flats I have ever seen - just gorgeous and NO-ONE but us was there. You could walk for miles or just sit there and watch the shore birds and the sand and water or wade out for a swim - this was probably the highlight of our trip - words can't do it justice.

Barraterre
tiny settlements - really away from it all.
If you are a fisherman, we heard that the fishing is superb

The weather:
Well this is why we would come back but at a different time of year. The weather was sunny for the most part but the nights were QUITE cool. We did not need the air conditioner at night at all. Unfortunately this meant that the water was a bit chilly. We are Canadians and will swim in anything (so we did) but anyone who needs warm water to enjoy swimming would be disappointed. Also the water at most beaches (except for Stocking Island and Hoopers Bay and the enormous sandbars at Rolleville ) tended to be a bit rough with stiff winds blowing.

Overall:
Would we return - in an instant but at a warmer time of year.

Who would enjoy Exuma:
Someone who loves beaches and walking and watersports and friendly people.
BTW - the people of Exuma are some of the most polite and friendly people, we have encountered in our travels. Everyone says "Good Day" and means it.

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