The Exuma Islands in The Bahamas has long been famous for its pristine turquoise seas and powder-white sands, attracting many famous people like Johnny Depp and David Copperfield into owning one of its 365 islands.
It also offers a nice break from the fast-paced city life filled with Bahamas activities. Here, they are pretty much on island time, where everything is laid back and peaceful. However, that doesn’t mean that there is not much to do here. Far from it, actually!
From eating Bahamian cuisine to snorkeling a sunken plane to swimming with pigs and more, we’ll be sharing the best bucket list worthy experiences you can find on your adventure in Exuma!
Exuma Bucket List: Best Things to Do on the Bahamas Island
About the Exuma Islands
The Exuma Islands are known for their translucent aquamarine waters. Bordering the endless shades of blue were the powder-white sand beachfronts of the crescent-shaped shallow islands. There are 365 of these cays along this section of the Bahamas, covering 130 brilliantly turquoise miles.
Some are privately owned by famous stars like John Depp who fell in love with this area of the Bahamas while filming Pirates of the Caribbean and illusionist David Copperfield who was so enamored he purchased Musha Cay, a 150-acre piece of paradise that has been transformed into a luxury resort costing just under $40,000 per night.
It was a laid back archipelago where the time seemed to move slower. Much different than our starting island of Nassau, where the cruise ships dock and Senor Frogs is packed to the rim with tipsy twenty-somethings toting around two-foot tall cocktails.
A quick half hour flight from the busy duty free shops, tour buses dropping off dozens of people in front of the Atlantis casino and blaring music from the second floor of the downtown bars, is a pint sized version of its capital counterpart.
And here are the best Things to Do on Bahama’s Exuma Islands that you just cannot miss out on.
Exuma Bucket List: Best Things to Do on the Bahamas Island from Georgetown & Beyond
1. Try Your Hand at Bonefishing
Try your hand at fly-fishing for the elusive bonefish in the place that is world-renowned for bonefishing. When found, the challenging fish can put up a fight which makes it on every anglers bucket list. You can experience it on a half-day tour with Island Routes or give Bonefish Stevie a call.
2. Charter a Yacht
You can start your Exuma adventure by chartering a yacht. Not only will it help you navigate the islands and must-see attractions, but you will also get to focus more on enjoying your journey since a captain will be manning the yacht.
You can check out some of the yacht charters below if you are interested in renting one:
3. Indulge at Chat n’ Chill’s Sunday Pig Roast
If you are missing the party atmosphere of Nassau, you could take a five-minute ferry ride from the big island to the nearby Stocking island for the Sunday afternoon pig roast at Chat ‘N’ Chill. Here boats line the waterfront, and there’s always a large group of people indulging in Goombay Smash cocktails, playing sand volleyball or sunbathing on the beach.
The Sunday Pig Roast at Chat n’ Chill is offered on every Sunday of the year. The seasoned and smoked pig, which is served Bahamian style, comes together with a couple of side dishes. To get here, you can take a 5-minute water taxi from the government dock in George Town. Mind you, I’d also advice for you to get there about as soon as the place opens up at noon, as this dish is served on a first come basis, and it usually doesn’t take them more than a few hours to sell out!
4. Hang Out at Coco Plum Beach
Coco Plum is a famous spot for long walks along the beach and shallow water. It is also a perfect setting for romantic picture shoots, with its white sands and beautiful palm trees.
Swimming its waters can be difficult as it is too shallow, especially during the low tide. However, the picturesque lagoons, the sand bars that appear in the low tide, and the many sand dollars more than makes up for it.
5. Go Conch Diving
Exuma is one of the places where you can experience a one-of-a-kind seafood gathering practice: diving for conches! And of course, once you’ve gathered enough conches, get your tummies ready for some Bahamian-style cuisine fresh from the sea. Most (if not all) of the top tour companies offer this unique experience in their tours, so be sure to check it out first before booking.
6. Swim in Dean’s Blue Hole
What is a Blue Hole? A “Blue Hole” is a sinkhole that is not only filled with water but has a submerged entrance found beneath the surface. While there many blue holes in the world, Dean’s Blue Hole stands out because it is the deepest known to man. At 663 feet (202 meters), Dean’s Blue Hole is just west of Clarence Town on Long Island and on good days, the water is so clear that you can see up to 115 feet! It is a wonderful site for divers willing to test their mettle.
You can book a tour to Dean’s Blue Hole through Robert’s Island Adventures.
7. Explore Emerald Bay
The all-inclusive Sandals Emerald Bay is one of the best places to stay in Exuma. There are plenty of things to do around and see in the resort, making for fun exploration opportunities.
You’ll find different lawn games like croquet and giant chess (to name a few) as you make your way around the resort. There’s also an 18-hole championship golf course that golf enthusiasts will love, the main pool with swim-up bars, and some world-class dining ranging from French, Italian, British, and more.
Aside from the different activities, don’t miss walking on the sugary white sands at the private beach or taking a dip in its turquoise waters. You can also pamper yourself with a visit to the resort’s Red Lane Spa.
8. Explore the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park
Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park is a stunning stretch of water is the world’s first land and sea park, as well as an ecological preserve and wildlife refuge known for its magnificent marine environment.
Keep your eyes peeled for some fascinating critters on land, like the rare Bahamian rock iguanas and the native rodent-like hutias. However, the most thrilling part is under the sea, where you get to see different marine life such as angelfish, reef sharks, Nassau groupers, and more.
The different cays that make up the national park offer various activities, with scuba diving and snorkeling being the most popular. Attractions you should not miss out on include the Submerged Plane and Sea Aquarium, and many more.
9. Explore the Exumas by Seaplane
For a real bucket list highlight, charter a seaplane to explore the Exuma Islands. Seabird Air or TIA can take you high above the crystal blue waters for the greatest aerial view, then land at your choice of the cays.
10. Feed the Swimming Pigs at Staniel Cay
Somewhere out there in the Outer Exuma Islands is Big Major Cay, a small island ruled by pigs—that’s right, actual pigs! It is in fact one of the biggest attractions on this island. The pigs will swim out to your boat as you approach the island and depending on how friendly they are on the day they will hang around, swim with you guys and have some of your lunch as well.
If you are pressed for time, there is a closer piggy island called White Bay. I booked the half-day tour there with Exuma Water Sports and it was GREAT! For the full day tour that includes a nurse shark swim check out this tour (FYI it starts from Nassau): From Nassau: Exuma Swimming Pigs, Sharks and More.
The swimming pigs tend to come out to play when the midday sun cools down a bit. There are myths and stories of how the swimming pigs of the Bahamas got there. Some people believe that they survived a shipwreck while others think that they were left there by pirates who intended them to be a future meal but never came back. Whatever the case, they are interesting swimming companions and one of the most unique ideas on this list.
11. Hang Out in George Town
George Town offers a nice change of pace from the busy lifestyle of major cities. And being on island time, it is easy to get yourself to sit back, relax, and enjoy around the town.
A popular attraction in George Town is the pink and white Government Building, inspired by Nassau’s Government House. You can also get yourself some souvenirs at the Straw Market, from trendy hand-made straw bags to cute wood carvings and more.
12. Go Kayaking
Renting a kayak is a fantastic way of exploring the many different islands and attractions in the Exumas. You might even discover remote islands where you can spend a day at the beach or even go on a hike!
You can find plenty of kayak rentals around Great Exuma, especially in George Town (like Out-Island Explorers).
13. Grab a Rum Cake at Mom’s Bakery
Who doesn’t love a good cake every now and then? At Mom’s Bakery the cake is not just good, it’s spectacular! And while they have a couple of options to choose from, why not go Caribbean style and get the to-die-for rum cake that crumbles to the touch and melts in your mouth? I can promise that you won’t be disappointed by its incredible flavors.
For added memories, if mama herself is there, get a selfie together (I did!). FYI: Mom’s Bakery is right next door to Santana’s.
14. Take in the View at Haulover Bay Bar and Grill
What drew me in with Haulover Bay Bar & Grill in particular was its proximity to the sea. It’s practically right on top of the turquoise waters! There are indoor seats as well, but the outdoor patio is where it’s at if you want to indulge in a Bahama Mama cocktail while taking in one of the best views in the world. The shallow waters mixed in with sand bars and blue upon blue upon blue. We sat here, alone for hours watching the kite surfers glide over the shallow waters. Come by while it’s light out to breathe in the best atmosphere.
15. Walk Amongst the Iguanas of Allen’s Cay
Did you know that these Northern Bahamian Rock Iguanas can only be found on Exuma? They may not be as fluffy and cute and friendly as our domesticated pet friends, but they’re still endearing to see out and about. Especially as they’re endangered, you may want to put some caution into what you’ll feed them.
PS: this tour from Nassau will take you there: Exuma Swimming Pigs, Sharks and More
The iguana island was a stop on my tour with Exuma Water Sports. Armed with a handful of purple grapes, I popped one to the ground and a group of these animals swarmed me. When my grapes were done, I sat on a rock and one little guy came towards me mistaking my painted toenails for a tiny round grape. He licked it a couple times until he realized it didn’t taste good.
16. See the Lighthouse at Little Pipe Cay
Little Pipe Cay is one of the rare gems of the Exumas in Central Bahamas. Though the island itself is privately owned, you can instead take a picture of one of its attractions: the old stone lighthouse.
The still-working lighthouse serves as a guide for vessels going through a narrow passage into Exuma Sound. The area around the lighthouse is also only accessible by boat.
17. Step Foot on Musha Cay
Musha Cay is actually a privately owned island at the chain of Exuma Islands, with the owner being none other than David Copperfield. The resort itself on the island is restricted in who can visit or stay overnight, but there are half-day trips arranged to the area. These trips are worth it; the sandbar is both gorgeous and a surreal experience. If you want to explore more, some private tours may also be arranged.
18. See Norman Cay’s Pristine Beaches
Norman’s Cay in the Bahamas once served as the headquarters of a drug-smuggling operation in the 1970s until authorities seized it in 1987. Today, it is famous for its pristine beaches (and one other attraction) like Pelican Beach (more famously known as the Tropic of Cancer Beach), Sandals Emerald Bay, and Three Sisters Beach.
19. Explore the Rocky Dundas Caves
The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park is home to several attractions, one of which is the ancient hidden cave, Rocky Dundas. It is located just outside of Fowl Cay, and you can access it by swimming underwater.
Inside, the rich, colorful algae surrounding its walls while the sunlight beams down from a hole in the ceiling is just picture perfect!
20. Shop Sandpiper Arts & Crafts
Sandpiper Arts & Crafts is a lovely little shop at George Town has a great selection of local products you would want to take home with you, from island clothing to coffee cups to collectible pottery and more.
Most of their products are handmade by the owners, the Minns family, and showcase their heritage and love for island life.
21. Eat at Santanna’s Bar and Grill
If it is seafood you are craving, look no further than Santanna’s Bar and Grill. Their deep-fried lobster is something you should not miss! Aside from their assortment of seafood dishes, they also have chicken and barbeque ribs, not to mention the great view by the beach and the occasional sharks in the water.
22. Snorkel the Land & Sea Park Aquarium
The Sea Aquarium is one of the main attractions of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, located on the northwest side of O’Brien Cay. Once you go into the water, you’ll see why it was aptly called an aquarium.
The coral gardens that fill the area provide a natural wall, with many different fish species making it their home. The area is also just around 20 feet deep, making it perfect for snorkeling!
There’s also a sunken sea plane marked by a yellow floatie around a hundred yards from the aquarium which is worth checking out as well.
23. See the Stars at Starfish Reserve
Reaching for the stars (literally!) is possible at the Starfish Reserve, just north of Great Exuma. Here you’ll find tons of different colorful starfish at the shallow beach, some of which are bigger than your hand!
Just remember, only leave footprints and memories!
24. Shirley’s Fish Fry Shack
While there are plenty of fine dining opportunities all over the Exuma Islands, if you want to have one of the most authentic fish fry experiences then you should really make a stop at Shirley’s Fish Fry Shack on Great Exuma.
Tucked away on the waters edge, here you will find some of the best traditional Bahamian fish fry. Don’t miss out on the coconut shrimp!
25. Snorkel Pablo Escobar’s Sunken Plane
Another attraction of the Norman Cays, the infamous Pablo Escobar plane wreck can be seen on the southern end of the island.
It is easy to dive and reach the plane wreck, with it just being around 10 feet below the water, depending on tide conditions. You can get here via chartered flight or yacht, so you need to check with your charter broker first.
26. See St. Christophers Anglican Church
Little Exuma is home to the smallest church in the Bahamas, St. Christophers Anglican Church. It is a private church erected by the Fitzgerald family in 1939 out of wood recovered from a nearby shipwreck, while the mortar was made using ground conch and lime in the Ferry area.
Though it is not open for public access, this quaint little church makes for some great photos on your journey around Exuma.
27. Swim with Nurse Sharks at Compass Cay
Much like the swimming pigs, this will be another unique and interesting wildlife activity to add to your list of life experiences. Nurse sharks aren’t quite as big, or dangerous, as their white shark cousins, and so you get to actually swim in the water with them with no cages or anything separating the two of you! It might sound scary but, I assure you, it’s more thrilling in a positive way than anything!
This is another activity that unless you book a private charter, most tours include many other stops too. Exuma Water Sports offers a full-day day tour that includes the sunken plane wreck, Thunderball grotto and the swimming pigs.
28. Snorkel Thunderball Grotto
Having received its name from a James Bond movie, and having been the filming location to a selection of Hollywood movies, Thunderball Grotto is a gorgeous spot in the waters of Exuma Islands. It may not be a looker from the outside, but you really shouldn’t judge the whole thing by its covers. Once you reach the inside area of the quirky island, you’ll see for yourself just how special it is. There are caves, holes, and underwater areas to swim through, and not only will there be spots where you’ll be greeted by beaming sun rays, you’ll also find yourself surrounded by hundreds of colorful fishes.
Unless you book a private charter, most tours to Thunderball Grotto include many other stops too (bonus!). Exuma Water Sports offers a full-day day tour that includes the sunken plane wreck, swimming pigs, a sand bar and nurse sharks.
29. Tropic of Cancer Beach
Are you looking to get introduced to the most gorgeous beach on the Exuma Islands? In my opinion, this is it! The lush and soft fine white powder sand of the beach feels like straight out of fantasies, and dipping into the bright blue waters is filled with amazingness as well. And though it is a popular beach, it’s also a secret kept well enough that it likely won’t get overly crowded while you’re there (no one was there buy me on my visit!).
30. Try a Goombay Smash with a Rum Floater
Almost every restaurant in Exuma will feature something called a Goombay Smash, it is a rum-rich cocktail of the Bahamas. Though you can get it other places around the world, why not get it from the source! One of my favorites was at Chat n’ Chill, so when you’re there for the Sunday Pig Roast make sure to order one—or two, or three.
31. Try local favorites, like Conch and Bahamian Rock Lobster
Pronounced “conk”, this savory sea snail might seem bizarre to many tourists but it’s actually a local delicacy in the the Bahamas (and you can easily get some at Big D’s Conch Spot on Great Exuma!). The traditional way to eat it is in a “conch salad” where it is served raw with onions, sweet peppers and citrus juices. If, however, you are not too sure about eating raw snail then you can try the “cracked” version that is fried and buttered or the curried version.
Santana’s is the second most popular eatery on the Exuma Islands, after Chat ‘N Chill. You will need to go to drive to the southernmost point of Great Exuma (to Little Exuma) to reach here, but the Bahamian rock lobster will be worth it. They have other items on the menu as well, but the cracker spiny lobster is their specialty. It’s served with an ample amount of sides, and you won’t be leaving the restaurant at the end of your meal hungry or unsatisfied. On the contrary!
32. Visit the Exumas’ Ghost Town: Lee Stocking Island
When visiting something as beautiful as Exuma, coming upon a ghost town might be something that won’t cross your mind.
Located at Lee Stocking Island (not to be confused with Stocking Island, which is also in Exuma), the ghost town was once the home of the Perry Institute for Marine Science. Around 2012, the institute moved to Florida, with the original site abandoned and slowly being taken over by nature.
Today, the vacant buildings provide an eerie yet exciting experience for the would-be traveler and something you should tick off your bucket list!
33. Witness a Sunrise and Sunset
There are some beautiful sunrise and sunsets on The Bahamas, and one of the best can be found at Catch a Fire Restaurant. Make sure to get there early for a prime seat on the patio.
And those are just the beginning to the amazing trip to the Exuma Islands that you’ll have! On one last note: the best time to visit Exuma Islands is from October to May, with the weather being especially ideal in March and April. So, tell me – what’s going into your luggage, and onto your bucket list, for this trip?
Essential Tips for Visiting the Exuma Islands
Getting There: The main airport is Exuma International (GGT) and many airlines will fly into it—you can easily check for the best fare deals at Skyscanner. You can also choose to travel by ferry with Bahamas Ferries from Nassau.
Where to Stay in Exuma: For a luxury experience, book a room at the AAA four-diamond Grand Isle Resort where you can walk the mile-long private white sand beach and dine at their romantic Palapa Grill overlooking the pool. Peace & Plenty is a charming hotel centrally located in the middle of the “big city” of Georgetown. Coral Gardens is a simple B&B near Hopper’s Bay with charming innkeepers. Regatta Point is an all suites hotel where sitting on your porch gives you exquisite views of Elizabeth Harbor, the marina or Crab Cay. If you’re looking for more of a home atmosphere (or are traveling with a group of people), head over to VRBO that has houses, apartments and even just a room for rent in every price range.
Getting Around: If you plan on exploring the Great Exuma Island it is smart to rent a car, because the cost of taxis will add up quickly and are not plentiful (though hotels can call you one if you need to go somewhere). You won’t find any of the popular American name brand car rental companies, we rented ours online with no issues through Exuma Car Rental for roughly $75 per day and picked it up right outside the airport. You can also try Don’s Rent A Car (242-345-0112) which is right next door, but it doesn’t have a website. Be warned that they drive on the other side of the road than the United States! If you don’t want to rent a car, some tour companies will do pickups/drop-offs from the larger resorts.
Top Tours Leaving from Nassau:
Top Tour Companies in Exuma:
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