19 Best Sights in The Exumas, Bahamas

Chat 'N' Chill

Fodor's choice

The restaurant and 9-acre playground—an amazing white-sand beach—is the Exumas' party central, particularly for the famous all-day Sunday pig roasts. Play volleyball in the powdery sand, order what's cooking on the outdoor grill—fresh fish, ribs—or chat and chill. There are dances on the beach from January to the end of April when 200-plus sailboats populate the harbor. The new Conch Bar on the beach serves conch fritters, conch salad, and lobster fritters. The beach is quieter on weekdays, and usually not crowded in summer and fall. Amenities: food and drink; toilets. Best for: partiers.

Coco Plum Beach

Fodor's choice

This stunning white-sand beach in Great Exuma is known for its great shelling and sand dollars during low tide. The beach is dotted with palm trees that provide shaded areas perfect for picnics and relaxing on the sand. During low tide, the sandbars formed allow for a peaceful beach stroll. Watching the kitesurfers who sometimes frequent the beach is another way to pass the time. Amenities: parking (free). Best for: swimming; solitude.

Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park

Fodor's choice

Created by The Bahamas in 1958 and now overseen by the Bahamas National Trust, the 176-square-mile Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park was the first of its kind in the world—an enormous open aquarium with pristine reefs, an abundance of marine life, and sandy cays.

The park appeals to divers, who appreciate the vast underworld of limestone, reefs, drop-offs, blue holes, caves, and a multitude of exotic marine life, including one of The Bahamas' most impressive stands of rare pillar coral. Since the park is protected and its waters have essentially never been fished, you can see what the ocean looked like before humanity. For landlubbers there are hiking trails and birding sites; stop in the main office for maps. More than 200 bird species have been spotted here. At Shroud Cay, jump into the strong current that creates a natural whirlpool whipping you around a rocky outcropping to a powdery beach. On top of the hill overlooking the beach is Camp Driftwood, made famous by a hermit who dug steps to the top, leaving behind pieces of driftwood.

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Staniel Cay

Fodor's choice

This is the hub of activity in the cays, and a favorite destination of yachters. That's thanks to the Staniel Cay Yacht Club—one of the best full-service marinas in the cays. Shack up in one of the cotton candy–color cottages, some perched on stilts right in the water. The club's restaurant is the place to be for lunch, dinner, and nightlife. The island has an airstrip, two hotels and a range of airbnbs, and paved roads, and virtually everything is within walking distance. Oddly enough, as you stroll past brightly painted houses and sandy shores, you are as likely to see a satellite dish as a woman pulling a bucket of water from a roadside well. At one of three grocery stores, boat owners can replenish their supplies. The friendly village also has a small red-roof church, a post office, and a Bahamian bread vendor. Staniel Cay is a great home base for visiting the Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park.

Stocking Island

Fodor's choice

Slightly more than a mile off George Town's shore lies Stocking Island. The four-mile-long island has very few inhabitants, the upscale Kahari Resort, Saint Francis Resort, lots of walking trails, two gorgeous white beaches rich in seashells and popular with surfers, and plenty of good snorkeling sites. Jacques Cousteau's team is said to have traveled some 1,700 feet into Mystery Cave, a blue-hole grotto 70 feet beneath the island. Stocking Island is the headquarters for the wildly popular George Town Cruising Regatta.

Thunderball Grotto

Fodor's choice

Just across the water from the Staniel Cay Yacht Club is one of The Bahamas' most unforgettable attractions: Thunderball Grotto, a lovely marine cave that snorkelers (at low tide) and experienced scuba divers can explore. In the central cavern, shimmering shafts of sunlight pour through holes in the soaring ceiling and illuminate the glass-clear water. You'll see right away why this cave was chosen as an exotic setting for such movies as 007's Thunderball and Never Say Never Again, and the mermaid tale Splash.

Tropic of Cancer Beach

Fodor's choice
Tropic of Cancer Beach
Alexander Chaikin / Shutterstock

This is the beach most visitors come to The Exumas for, although don't be surprised if you're the only one here at noon on a Saturday. It's right on the Tropic of Cancer; a helpful line marking the spot on the steps leading down to the sand makes a great photo op. The beach is a white-sand crescent in a protected cove, where the water is usually as calm as a pond. A shady wooden cabana makes a comfortable place to admire the beach and water. Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3 were filmed on nearby Sandy Cay. Amenities: none. Best for: solitude; snorkeling; swimming; walking.

Allen's Cay

Allen's Cay is at The Exumas' northernmost tip and home to the rare northern Bahamian rock iguana. Bring along some grapes and a stick to put them on, and these little guys will quickly become your new best friends.

Allan's Cay, Exuma, Bahamas

Big Major Cay

Just north of Staniel Cay, Big Major Cay is home to the famous swimming pigs (it's also called Pig Beach). These guys aren't shy; as you pull up to the island, they'll dive in and swim out to greet you. Don't forget to bring some scraps; Staniel Cay restaurant gives guests bags before they depart.

Compass Cay

Explore the many paths on the island, which is 1½ miles long and one mile wide, or sit on the dock and watch the sharks swim below—don't worry, they're harmless nurse sharks. Several houses and Airbnbs are on the island for rent. There are also two small convenience stores stocked with snacks and beverages.

Exuma Point Beach

Starfish, baby reef sharks, and stingrays are among the species at Exuma Point Beach. Located at the edge of the peninsula in Rolleville, this beach is uncrowded and serene, perfect for those who crave a relaxing beach day. It also has extremely low tide, with sandbars stretching for miles out into the ocean. The abundance of marine life also makes it a great place for bonefishing. Amenities: none. Best for: solitude; walking.  

Rolleville, Exuma, Bahamas

Forbes Hill Beach

This is one of The Exumas' most stunning beaches, favored among those looking for somewhere quiet to relax and soak up the sun, or a secluded beach to snorkel. The small beach is a cove with plenty of marine life a variety of fish and conch are among what you'll find near the reef, making it a great place to fish as well. There's a small pavilion where you can eat and a tire swing. Amenities: none. Best for: solitude; snorkeling; swimming; walking.

Forbes Hill, Little Exuma, Exuma, Bahamas

Hermitage Tombs

The Hermitage estate ruins are testaments to the cotton-plantation days. The small settlement was built by the Ferguson family from the Carolinas, who settled here after the American Revolutionary War. Visitors can see the foundations of the main house and tombs that date back to the 1700s. The tombs hold George Butler (1759–1822), Henderson Ferguson (1772–1825), and Constance McDonald (1755–59). An unnamed grave is believed to be that of an enslaved person.

Jolly Hall Beach

A curve of sparkling white sand shaded by casuarina trees, this long beach is located just north of Hideaways at Palm Bay. It's quiet, and the shallow azure water makes it a great spot for families or romantics. When it's time for lunch, walk over to Hideways or Augusta Bay, two nearby boutique hotels. Watch your bags when high tide comes in; much of the beach is swallowed by the sea. That's the signal for a cold Kalik and a grouper sandwich. Amenities: none. Best for: solitude; sunrise; swimming; snorkeling.

Queen's Hwy., George Town, Exuma, Bahamas

Little Farmer's Cay

If you're looking for a little civilization, stop off at Little Farmer's Cay, the first inhabited cay in the chain, about 40 minutes (18 miles) from Great Exuma. The island has two restaurants and a small grocery store where locals gather to play dominoes. But don't expect too big of a party; just around 70 people live on the island. A walk up the hill will reward you with fantastic island views.

Norman's Cay

North of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park is Norman's Cay, an island with 10 miles of rarely trod white beaches that attracts the occasional yachter. It was once the private domain of Colombian drug smuggler Carlos Lehder. It's now owned by a group of American investors. Stop by Norman's Cay Beach Club at MacDuff's for lunch or an early dinner and its "always five-o'clock-somewhere" beach cocktail.

Norman’s Cay, Exuma, Bahamas

Rolle Town Tombs

Seek out the three Rolle Town Tombs, which date back to the time of the Loyalists. The largest tomb bears this poignant inscription: "Within this tomb interred the body of Ann McKay, the wife of Alexander McKay who departed this life the 8th November 1792. Aged twenty-six years and their infant child." The tombs are off the main road; look for a sign. The settlement has brightly painted buildings, several more than a century old.

The Fish Fry

The Fish Fry is the name given to a jumble of beachside restaurants about two miles north of George Town. They're favored by locals for made-to-order fish and barbecue. Some shacks are open on weekends only, but most are open nightly until at least 11 pm. Music blares on a nightly basis, but on Sunday night, locals crowd the shacks for karaoke. Eat at picnic tables by the water and watch the fishing boats come into the harbor. This is a popular after-work meeting place on Friday night, and a sports bar attracts locals and expats for American basketball and football games.

Queen's Hwy., George Town, Exuma, Bahamas

Three Sisters Rocks

From the top of Mt. Thompson, rising from Three Sisters Beach, there is a pleasing view of the Three Sisters Rocks jutting above the water just offshore. Legend has it that the rocks were formed when three sisters, all unwittingly in love with the same English sailor, waded out into deep water upon his departure, drowned, and turned into stone. If you look carefully next to each "sister," you'll see smaller boulders. These represent the "children" who the fickle sailor left with the three sisters. This site is also a great snorkeling and diving spot.

Queen's Hwy., Mount Thompson, Exuma, Bahamas