Exuma, Bahamas: A Paradise of 365 Islands and Tranquil Beauty

ByAndrea Thompson

March 5, 2024
When most people think of the Bahamas, Nassau comes to mind.  Having been to Nassau, which is beautiful but very Americanised, I wanted to do the whole Robinson Crusoe trip and decided to visit The Exumas.When most people think of the Bahamas, Nassau comes to mind.  Having been to Nassau, which is beautiful but very Americanised, I wanted to do the whole Robinson Crusoe trip and decided to visit The Exumas.

When most people think of the Bahamas, Nassau comes to mind.  Having been to Nassau, which is beautiful but very Americanised, I wanted to do the whole Robinson Crusoe trip and decided to visit The Exumas.

The Exumas, are a chain of 365 islands and cays, stretch like a string of pearls across the Caribbean Sea. Among these gems, Great Exuma stands out as the largest island, spanning 37 miles and boasting a delightful blend of colonial architecture, colourful houses, and an irresistibly laid-back atmosphere. But Exuma is a place where the warmth of the people outshines even the turquoise waters.

We flew from Miami into George Town, the capital of Great Exuma before being collected by Elvis the local water taxi who gave us his touch on Bahamian hospitality on our way to Stocking Island.

Stocking Island is a natural wonder and offers complete seclusion with only a few locals residing there.  With powdery sand beaches and crystal-clear waters it only takes a few hours to walk around.  With limited wi-fi, and no tv.  We even had to order our food for the next day the evening before so Elvis could bring it across as well as the chef from George Town.

After walking around the island and excitedly finding footprints, we look for our fellow travellers.  Unfortunately, they turned out to be my footprints from the day before.  Our next highlight was and still is “a quintessential laid back, bare feet beach bar for real beach bums”, known as the Chat ‘n’ Chill Beach Bar & Grill.  The only day they are open is a Sunday and you have to book if you want food.  They have music, island drinks and a real Bahamian whole pig roast from noon until 7pm or whenever its runs out.  The locals and yachts moor up knee deep in the warm clear waters drinking beer and chatting.  With species of fish and rays swimming around you and being hand fed it is a totally amazing experience.  We went across the small channel from our apartment by kayak which was not a good idea after sampling the Island cocktails and trying to navigate our way back.

The underwater wonders from the blue holes or sinkholes surrounding the island which are actually a unique geological feature, teeming with marine life but the most amazing sight is when the sun dips below the horizon and to witness the sky ablaze with hues from orange, pink, red to purple is purely breathtaking.

Don’t miss the chance to go swimming with the nurse sharks at Compass Cay or dive into the underwater cave made famous by James Bond in “Thunderball” but one of the most famous things to do is swim with the Pigs at Big Major Cay.  These friendly porcine residents have made Exuma their home, and interacting with them is a surreal experience.  Don’t think of these pigs as cuddly creatures, they are massive, chase you if you have food in your hand and have been know to bite but don’t let this detract away from swimming and enjoy the once in a lifetime experience.

The Pigs at Big Major Cay

There are two stories as to how the pigs got here, one being sailors or pirates brought the pigs ashore as livestock after a storm and had to leave in a hurry and the other being the locals could not stand the smell of the pigs and decided to put them on an island and come everyday to feed them.  The pigs being very clever soon realised the pattern of feeding and began to swim out to the boats for the food.  The local realised this was a unique attraction drawing visitors, so now they are the island’s permanent residence and get visited by thousands of visitors each year making it one of the most sought-after destinations globally.  So, there you have it the tale of how the swimming pigs found their way to Pig Island.

As you sail through the turquoise waters, bask on its powdery beaches, and share laughter with locals, who are the epitome of kindness with warm smiles and genuine hospitality you’ll understand why they call it “Paradise in Paradise.” So, pack your swimsuit, leave your worries behind, and remember in Exuma time slows and every sunset is a masterpiece!