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The Exumas Travel Guide

  • Photo: Alexander Chaikin / Shutterstock

Plan Your Exumas Vacation

The Exumas are known for their gorgeous 365 cays—most uninhabited, some owned by celebrities. Get the wind and sea salt in your hair as you cruise through the pristine 120-mile chain. The water here is some of the prettiest in the world, and comes in every shade of blue and green (you'll grow tired trying to name the exact color); beaches are dazzling white. Combine that with fresh seafood

and friendly locals, and you have yourself one of the best vacation destinations in the Bahamas.

Yes, the Exumas are Out Islands in the fullest sense of the word; there isn't a casino or cruise ship in sight. Those who love the remote beauty of the windswept cays keep coming back, people like Jimmy Buffett, who once docked his seaplane behind the historic Club Peace and Plenty and amused islanders by fishing from the cockpit. A vacation here revolves around uncrowded beaches, snorkeling, fishing, and enjoying a freshly caught dinner at an outdoor restaurant by the beach.

In 1783 Englishman Denys Rolle sent 150 slaves to Great Exuma to build a cotton plantation. His son Lord John Rolle later gave all of his 5,000 acres to his freed slaves, and they took the Rolle name. On Great Exuma and Little Exuma you'll still find wild cotton, testaments from plantations first established by Loyalists after the Revolutionary War. But today the Exumas are known as the Bahamas' onion capital, although many of the 7,000 residents earn a living by fishing and farming, and, more recently, tourism.

The Exumas attract outdoorsmen and adventurers, particularly fishermen after bonefish, the feisty breed that prefers the shallow sandy flats that surround these islands. And the healthiest coral reefs and fish populations in the country make for excellent diving and snorkeling. But for those simply seeking secluded beaches, starry skies, and a couple of new friends, the Exumas won't disappoint.

You can't go wrong with any of the beaches in the Exumas. They're some of the prettiest in the Bahamas—powdery bleach-white sand sharply contrasts the glittery emerald and sapphire waves. You can even stake your umbrella directly on the Tropic of Cancer. And the best part of all? You'll probably be the only one there.

The Exumas are made up of 365 cays, each and every one with pristine white beaches. Some cays are no bigger than a footprintless sandbar. But you won't stay on the sand long; Perrier-clear waters beckon, and each gentle wave brings new treasures—shells, bits of blue-and-green sea glass, and starfish. Beaches won't be hard to find on the tiny cays; on Great Exuma, look for "Beach Access" signs on the Queen's Highway.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Party like a local Hot spots include the Fish Fry on weekends for conch salad and fresh fish and Chat ’N' Chill on Stocking Island for Sunday pig roasts.
  2. Island-hop You'll want to spend a couple of days boating through the 365 cays (one for every day of the year, as the locals say), most uninhabited, some owned by celebrities. Get ready for iguanas, swimming pigs, and giant starfish.
  3. Enjoy empty beaches Beautiful stretches of bleach-white sand are yours to explore, and more often than not you'll be the only person on them, even at noon on a Saturday.
  4. Explore the Land and Sea Park Underwater attractions in the 176-square-mile Exuma Land and Sea Park, one of the best snorkel sights in the Bahamas, include queen conchs, starfish, and thriving coral reefs. Keep a lookout for the endangered hawksbill and threatened green and loggerhead turtles.

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