The chances that you’ve never heard of Exuma before are relatively high. Exuma … where is that please? And what is that? And why should you care? I’ll tell you: Exuma should be on your bucket list immediately (!) If you are looking for incredible underwater worlds , the clearest turquoise sea and the most incredible dream beaches in the world. The Exuma Cays are a chain of islands in the Bahamas, still relatively unknown as a travel destination in Germany and they have so far been completely spared from cruise tourism in the Caribbean . And the most important thing: they are hard to beat in terms of beauty.
The main island is Great Exuma with the capital George Town, which has just about 1400 inhabitants. It is incredibly difficult to find good information about Exuma, which is why we ended up sitting completely unprepared on our plane to George Town. Ultimately, we asked the locals on site on Great Exuma what you can do here and what you should definitely see. The result is a lot of great tips, including a few real insider tips that are guaranteed not to be found in any travel guide.
So if you are planning a Bahamas vacation in the near future and also want to visit Exuma, then you should definitely read on now. I’ll show you 10 highlights and sights on Exuma that you shouldn’t miss. Here we go!
- My camera: Sony Alpha 6500 *
- Two lenses: an all-round lens from Sigma * (perfect for traveling and affordable, it is connected to the Sony 6 series together with an adapter * ) and a 30mm fixed focal length from Sigma *
- GoPro underwater camera * and a matching dome for half-half recordings *
- Waterproof sunscreen without microplastics with a mineral filter * (for the sake of the environment and the sea)
- DJI Spark drone *
- Nobite mosquito spray * (the best!)
Exuma: home of the swimming pigs
The reason why Exuma has come into the focus of most people in the first place couldn’t be cuter: The swimming pigs of the Bahamas . The bristle beasts have become the main attraction of the Bahamas in recent years. Fortunately, it really has to be said, the island on which the pigs live is so remote that the day cruise tourists who land in Nassau hardly have the opportunity to integrate a trip to the pigs into their limited stay . If that were different, the pigs would probably already be completely overrun by tourists and dead. There is no way around the Exumas to see the swimming pigs. You can find out everything about how to get here and the tours offered here .
Snorkeling in the Thunderball Grotto
The Thunderball Grotto is located near Staniel Cay and is so named because scenes from the famous James Bond film ‘Thunderball’ were first filmed here in 1965. In the grotto there is an insane underwater world with tons of colorful fish to discover. To get there, you either have to rent a boat or take a guided tour of the Exuma Cays . In general, an Exuma Ocean Safari as offered from Great Exuma is a very good opportunity to get to know the most beautiful part of Exuma: the sea. In such a tour, in most cases not only the swimming pigs and the Thunderbal Grotto, but also the next two highlights are integrated:
Swim with sharks at Compass Cay
Swim with sharks? Yes, you read that right! A group of Nurse Sharks lives on Compass Cay. Nurse sharks are completely harmless to humans (even if it is very difficult to believe). The sharks at Compass Cay are so used to the visitors that they voluntarily allow themselves to be petted and at high tide even swim on the jetty built into the water to dust off food. You can snorkel with the sharks and pet them without fear at Compass Cay. We would have loved to have packed one and taken one with us, they were so friendly 😉
Pet iguanas on Iguana Island
I don’t know whether the small iguana island in the Exumas is actually called Iguana Island. I suspect that it has no name at all, because not all of the approx. 360 cays of the Exumas have a name at all, as most of them are actually uninhabited. Not so Iguana Island – hundreds of iguanas live here! If you are afraid of lizards, this highlight on Exuma is sure to be pure horror. The iguanas come out of the bushes as soon as a boat approaches the beach. As soon as you have solid ground under your feet, you will immediately get on your skin. Those who have salad with them are well advised 😉
You can read more about visiting Iguana Island and our ocean safari through the Exuma Cays here .
Swim with sea turtles at Hoopers Bay
Attention, now comes a real insider tip that you will probably not find in any travel guide in the world: The best place on Exuma (and maybe even in the whole of the Bahamas) to meet sea turtles is Hoopers Bay. Hoopers Bay is located on the main island of the Exumas, Great Exuma. You will probably have your hotel on this island anyway, just like we did (we stayed at the Two Turtles Inn *), so a visit to Hoopers Bay is an absolute must!
With a length of approx. 60 km, Great Exuma is much larger than you initially think and so when we arrived we were actually quite overwhelmed at first what we should do here. Since we really wanted to see sea turtles or even swim with them, we asked the locals if there was a beach on Great Exuma where the Sea Turtles frolic more often than elsewhere. The answer: Hoopers Bay. And the kicker is: you can even feed them!
Get some frozen fish at the supermarket in George Town and you’ll have the time of your life! 🙂 (but watch out for your fingers, the turtles are sometimes a bit clumsy).
Stocking Island: starfish and stingrays
Just a few hundred meters from Great Exuma is Stocking Island, a small island at the height of George Town. You can reach Stocking Island by ferry, once an hour Elvis’ Water Taxi will bring you there and back for about $ 15 per person . The crossing takes less than 15 minutes (depending on how many friends of the driver want to be dropped off somewhere in between). On Stocking Island you will find wonderful beaches, absolute tranquility and with Chat ‘N’ Chill a beach bar like from a Caribbean picture book. The prices in Chat ‘N Chill are not cheap, as is typical of the Bahamas, but the cocktails were surprisingly really, really tasty! 9 $ for it …. free. YOLO 😉
The Chat ‘N Chill has a few special pets, by the way: Tame stingrays. There are always several rays romping about on the beach, they swim bravely to the shore and even let themselves be petted. The reason is, of course, the food again: The Chat ‘N Chill piles up the empty bowls of the conch (conches …?) In the water and so there is always a small snack to get for the rays. If you should find fishy scraps somewhere, you can carefully place them on the palm of your hand and feed the rays with them. You will also encounter the rays while swimming and snorkeling in the water – but here I would recommend keeping a respectful distance. They are still stingrays and even if they look peaceful, an accidental sting of their sting can kill a human.
There are also giant red starfish on Stocking Island, and there is even an entire starfish beach. We found one of the fine specimens washed up on the beach and quickly took a few snapshots before we brought it back into the deep water. Even when snorkeling you will see starfish lying in the seagrass on the bottom again and again. Do us a favor: Even if it is unclear how much it really damages the stars if they are touched or even taken out of the water – please don’t do it. Dive briefly down and touch the star is probably not a problem, but it is better not to take it out of the water. We did get the information from locals that the starfish can survive on land for up to 24 hours and that touching them is not a problem either, but I don’t know if that’s really true.
Tropic of Cancer Beach on Little Exuma
If you still have time and rent a car, a detour to Little Exuma is a must. Little Exuma is the little sister island of Great Exuma and is connected to it by a bridge. The Tropic of Cancer Beach is one of the most beautiful and at the same time lonely beaches in the world. The sand is so bright that your eyes will water and it is very likely that you are completely alone on the beach. The approach to the beach is quite bumpy and complicated as it is unfortunately not signposted.
If you feel like watching a video (unfortunately not mine) and can live with the fact that your eyes are about to get wet, shiny eyes – please be very:
Since we have seen it with our own eyes: nothing has been edited on this video. The water throughout the Exumas glows just as blue as in this video. To be honest, it looks even more intense in real life … believe me, the Bahamas, and Exuma in particular, is completely crazy.
Jolly Hall Beach
Jolly Hall Beach is admittedly nothing special. It’s basically just another brilliant white stand with turquoise blue water on Exuma’s main island, Great Exuma. Why I still count it among the best spots in Great Exuma is for the simple reason that it is George Town’s “house beach”. If you live in George Town, for example like we did at the Two Turtles Inn *, Jolly Hall Beach is the closest beach that you can reach without a rental car. Don’t worry, Jolly Hall Beach isn’t ugly, it’s just a perfectly normal, super beautiful white Caribbean beach without special features such as sea turtles, dolphins, tame rays or starfish (which doesn’t mean you won’t run into them there!).
National dish Conch: eat like a local
If there’s one thing in the Bahamas, and Exuma in particular, that you absolutely shouldn’t miss, it’s Conch (read: Konk ). The conch looks like a clam, but it is quite a large marine snail. The conch seems to be something like the national dish of the Bahamas, because it is available in all possible preparation forms and felt on every corner: conch salad, conch fritters, conch burger, conch with conch … We tried conch salad and conch burger and both was extremely tasty! By the way, you don’t have to go to a real restaurant for this, you won’t find that on Exuma anyway. Just order a dish with conch at any hut you come across on the way. Street food, like everywhere else in the world, is the better choice in the Bahamas anyway 🙂
Incidentally, the lobster at Santanna’s Bar & Grill on Little Exuma should also be divine . The Conch Burger and Pig Roast (… .no, not the pigs from Big Major Cay ) every Sunday in Chat ‘N’ Chill on Stocking Island are legendary!
Cocoplum Beach is located in the very north of Great Exuma and is particularly known for one thing: As the sea level falls at low tide, more and more sandbars become visible. Not only does it look beautiful, it is also great for finding sand dollars. Sand Dollars … what’s that again? Short answer: Sand dollars are a type of sea urchin. They are very flat and you can touch them safely. If you want to take a sand dollar home with you as a souvenir, look out for the bright, almost white, skeletal dollars. These are the dead sand dollars, they are often difficult to spot in the white sand. The dark, gray sand dollars are alive and should of course not be collected and taken away.
You see, there is an incredible amount to discover on the Exuma Cays. If you’ve thought that there’s not much more you can do in the Bahamas than lying around on the beach, then hopefully I’ve taught you better. One thing is clear: the real sights and highlights of Exuma are not on land, but in the water.
For me, the Exumas are not just a few individual islands or a chain of islands, but somehow Exuma is everything – the islands, the bright blue crystal-clear sea, the underwater world, the sandbanks, the animals, the people, the tranquility, the seclusion, the Satisfaction and the deep connection to their homeland that every single native lives and exudes. The Exuma Cays as part of the Bahamas are something very special and, for me personally, one of the most incredible places in the world.