Looking for the top things to do in Exuma, Bahamas? Have you ever traveled to a place so magical, where the waters are aquamarine and sapphire blue, and so clear that you will think you are in a swimming pool? Not to mention the unspoiled, powder-white sandy beaches. Well, this place does exist, it is called the Exumas.
The Exumas are a 120-mile-long island chain-within-the-chain of the Bahamas’ Out Islands. Great Exuma island anchors this archipelago and it’s where you’ll find the laid-back capital George Town. The beaches are jaw-dropping and will definitely have you booking many Exuma vacations. You will definitely think you are in paradise.
Take a look at our Exuma travel guide, along with stellar picks for the top things to do in Exuma.
Things to Know Before Your Exuma Trip
Before you pack your bags for a memorable Exuma getaway, be sure to check out our tips for how to get there, where to stay and what to pack. Happy travels!
Where is Exuma, Bahamas
The Exumas are a 120-mile-long linked island which forms part of the Bahamas’ Out Islands. Great Exuma Island anchors this stunning collection of islands and is where you’ll find George Town. This happy-go-lucky capital offers a great selection of casual Bahamian restaurants and a good mix of five-star resorts and locally-owned fishing lodges.
A short boat ride from Great Exuma is Stocking Island, which features spectacular views from atop its high bluff and a series of unspoiled beaches. Then, there are the idyllic Exuma Cays – a collection of tiny jewels set in the aquamarine and sapphire of the most beautiful water you’ve ever imagined.
How to Get to Exuma, Bahamas
The best way to get to Exuma is through Air Canada Vacations, the only Canadian tour operator to offer weekly, year-round service from Toronto to Great Exuma. The flights to Exuma are only 3-hours and 20-minutes long on a direct flight from Toronto.
Packing Tips for Exuma
- Pack a swimsuit – lots of swimsuits
- Sunblock – trust me, you don’t want to burn while on vacation
- Insect repellent – mosquitos love me and this is a must-have travel item for me
- After-bite cream (just in case you do get a mosquito bite, it will help with the itch)
- Keep your wardrobe simple. Shorts, t-shirts and loose dresses are perfect.
- Flip-flops are a must
Where to Stay in Exuma, Bahamas
Being the stunning island paradise that it is, Exuma has some incredible accommodation to match. Before you decide on what fantastic Exuma activities to enjoy, take a look at our choice for one of the top resorts in Exuma along with some amazing hotel choices
Grand Isle Resort & Spa | Exuma, Bahamas
We stayed at the beautiful Grand Isle Resort & Spa during our time in Exuma. It is one of many wonderful Exuma resorts. Just a short 15-minute drive from Great Exuma Airport, the Grand Isle is perfectly central and an amazing place to stay.
Grand Isle Resort & Spa sits on a mile-long stretch of ivory beach and sparkling clear waters in Emerald Bay on the island of Great Exuma. As a recipient of the coveted AAA Four Diamond Award, this is a family-friendly resort with a laid-back feel and all the amenities of home.
The villas are beautifully furnished and so spacious that you will feel right at home. We stayed in a 3-bedroom, 3-bath luxury Lucayan villa that averages 2,730 square feet. Two bedrooms with en-suite and private marble bathrooms are located on the first floor. The master bedroom offers a private terrace overlooking the garden, ocean or beachfront.
The second floor features the third bedroom with en-suite bath, living room, dining room, and fully-appointed gourmet kitchen with granite countertops. The beautifully furnished living room and dining room also lead out to private balconies with spectacular garden and/or ocean views. These villas are perfect for families or groups traveling together.
I love the pool that overlooks Emerald Bay Beach – it has the best of both worlds. Spend your day lounging by the pool or walk the beautiful and untouched shore, their very own mile-long beach that is beyond stunning and wonderful for snorkeling as well. I would highly recommend getting up early to catch the beautiful sunrise.
Exuma, Bahamas Hotels from Air Canada Vacations:
- Grand Isle Resort & Spa (our host hotel in Great Exuma)
- Sandals Emerald Bay Golf, Tennis and Spa Resort (all-inclusive)
- Hideaways at Palm Bay Beach Club
- Augusta Bay
- Peace & Plenty
Top Exuma, Bahamas Activities
If you get tired of lounging by the pool or beach (hey, it could happen), there are some great sights to explore on the island. In Exuma, things to do are in no short supply. So you’ll have no trouble finding beaches to recline on, gorgeous natural wonders and delicious island cuisine to enjoy. With paradise on your doorstep, there are endless opportunities when you’re wondering what to do in Exuma, Bahamas.
If you love to golf then you are in for a treat at the Emerald Reef Golf Club that is adjacent to Grand Isle Resort & Spa and features an 18-hole championship golf course designed by legendary PGA pro Greg Norman. This is the longest course in the Caribbean, that is a challenging par 72 course. It features dramatic fairways with stunning ocean views and a rocky peninsula overlooking the jewel-toned waters.
1. Shop at The Straw Market in Exuma, Bahamas
If you’re looking for things to do in Georgetown, Bahamas, the Straw Market is a one-stop shop where you’ll find a treasure trove of items. You can purchase anything from locally handcrafted handbags, baskets, coconut and sand jewelry to woven straw hats, T-shirts and many other locally-made souvenirs.
2. Exploring Rolle Town Tombs
The quaint village of Rolle Town forms a part of the five Lord John Rolle Commonage Estates on Exuma. The Commonage Estates are lands that have been passed down to the slaves and are not allowed to be sold. Visit the three Rolle Town Tombs there in the middle of a secluded clearing, which dates back to Loyalist times. This is absolutely one of the top things to do in Exuma for history buffs.
3. Visit Tropic of Cancer Beach
Looking for an amazing Exuma beach? Let me warn you, you will not want to leave this one. This has to be one of the best beaches I have ever seen.
The water is so clear that you will think you are in a swimming pool. The Tropic of Cancer Beach is also known as Pelican Beach and is a must-do on your trip to Exuma. It is a crescent of white-powder sand bordering the translucent blue-green water along the coast of Little Exuma.
This is the longest beach on the island as well as the prettiest in the Exuma chain, plus, you will probably have it all to yourself. Located at 23 26N 75 35W, the beach is named after the meridian line that defines the northern extent of the tropics and crosses right through it.
4. Take a Ferry to Stocking Island
Stocking Island is a small, long, narrow island off the port of Georgetown on Great Exuma Island, Bahamas. It is only a short ferry ride from the port of Georgetown and definitely worth the trip. Exploring Stocking Island is one of the best things to do in Great Exuma for the day.
Conch Salad demonstration and sampling and Sting Ray feedings
We experienced a Bahamian tradition where a conch is taken straight from the sea, cracked, and broken out of its natural shell habitat. The conch man then skins the conch, washes it, scores it, chops it up and prepares it.
He usually uses locally grown onions, tomatoes, sweet (green) peppers, goat peppers and Bahamian sea salt for the conch salad. It was topped off with a squeeze of fresh lime and orange to tantalize the taste buds…YUM. It was so fresh and delicious – definitely a memorable meal for us.
5. Visit Pig Beach in Exuma, Bahamas
Swim with the Exuma pigs – this is what you were waiting for. Everyone wants to know if they should book an excursion to swim with the pigs on a trip to Exuma. Yes, you should absolutely book this excursion, you will kick yourself if you don’t. This is one of the best things to do in Exuma.
The one question I have been asked is can pigs swim? They absolutely can! Visit the island in the Bahamas where feral pigs play in the sand, lay in the sun (that’s the life), and swim out to boats where they’re fed by tourists. About 20 pigs and piglets live on the uninhabited island of Big Major Cay in Exuma (AKA Pig Island) on what is called “Pig Beach.”
These cute little (and not so little) pigs have become quite the celebrities. The pigs will be very excited to see you but only because of your food. Don’t leave your bag lying around or you might find a snout pickpocketing your snacks. We completely loved this stop as part of the amazing Exuma water tours, which is one of the most popular Exuma excursions.
The only way to reach Pig Beach is by boat. I would highly recommend booking a guided full-day tour that includes visiting the pigs, swimming with nurse sharks, meeting iguanas, a sandbar picnic. You’ll also have the chance to go snorkeling in the famous Thunderball Grotto (a scenic spot that has been in two James Bond films).
6. Snorkel at Thunderball Grotto, Exuma, Bahamas
Thunderball Grotto in the Bahamas was one of the most exciting snorkeling trips I ever took. Okay, it was the only snorkeling trip I’ve ever taken (yes, it was my first time snorkeling). So I have to admit that I was a little scared. Knowing that a number of films were made here made it even more exciting.
The grotto was used in the James Bond movie, Thunderball, as well as Never Say Never Again, Splash starring Tom Hanks and Into the Blue with Jessica Alba and Paul Walker.
Our tour guide put me at ease as he helped us all get geared up and ready to explore the waters. Besides, after I saw the young kids in the water, I knew I had to do it too. Thunderball Grotto doesn’t look like much from the outside so I didn’t know what to expect. We swam our way through an opening and entered a cave.
As we swam further into the cave we were greeted by a burst of light that was shining in from an opening above. The water was so clear that I could see the colorful fish swimming around me. We were told that we only had approximately 15 minutes to explore the area as it is dangerous to snorkel the grotto at high tide. Thunderball Grotto is also another great stop on the Exuma water tours.
I would highly recommend this snorkeling excursion – it is spectacular and the fish are so beautiful.
7. Visit the Compass Cay Sharks
Here is your chance to swim with the Compass Cay sharks. As you pull up to Compass Cay, you will be mesmerized by the crystal clear waters and the boats that are probably bigger than my house.
I never thought in a million years that I would jump in the water with sharks. The funny thing is that I didn’t even hesitate – I jumped right in. I find sharks terrifying and fascinating at the same time. These, along with the pigs, are probably the most photographed creatures in Exuma.
The sharks of Compass Cay seemed unfazed as they swam around us. They were only interested in the local that was feeding them by throwing fish bait into the water to attract them. I couldn’t resist, although initially terrified, I had to touch them. Be prepared – they feel like rubbery, wet sandpaper.
Swimming with nurse sharks in Exuma is definitely one of my most memorable experiences. I think I have a new love for sharks (at least the nurse sharks). Nurse sharks are slow-moving bottom-dwellers and are, for the most part, harmless to humans. However, they can get huge – up to 14 feet.
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8. Feed the Iguanas
Our excursion ended with feeding the iguanas at White Leaf Cay. Just like the pigs, they are waiting for humans to come and feed them. They will also go through your bag so don’t leave anything lying around. I would recommend packing some grapes for this trip. Simply find a stick and put the grape on the end of the stick to feed them. You can also feed them from the palm of your hand, but I think I trust the stick method more.
Ladies, if you have newly polished toes in red or pink you might want to bury them in the sand. We couldn’t figure out why the iguanas were so in love with or feet until one of the tour guides mentioned that they are likely mistaking our pink and red nails for berries.
9. Golf at Pelican Bay
If you love to golf then you are in for a treat at the Emerald Reef Golf Club. This stunning spot is adjacent to Grand Isle Resort & Spa and features an 18-hole championship golf course designed by legendary PGA pro, Greg Norman. This is the longest course in the Caribbean and is a challenging par 72 course. It features dramatic fairways with stunning ocean views and a rocky peninsula overlooking the jewel-toned waters.
On the search for some of the best restaurants in Exuma? There are some truly spectacular options, so get your tastebuds ready and take your pick from a few of our favorites.
1. Palapa Grill Grand Isle Resort
Palapa Grill is located in Grand Isle Resort and Spa and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It has a gorgeous pool and incredible ocean views. They offer so many delicious menu items that I wanted to try them all. Since the Bahamas is known for their seafood, I usually ordered their seafood specials and could not resist the french toast for breakfast. It was delicious and you will not go hungry with all the tasty dishes on offer.
2. Splash Restaurant at Hideaway Bay
We visited Splash Restaurant at Hideaway Bay one day for breakfast. This is such a fun restaurant that is located on the beach and offers pool and waterfront dining. There are also bar swings located at the bar and some humorous signs throughout the restaurant. It was a relaxing and feel-good way to start our next day in Exuma.
3. La Fourchette – Paradise Bay
La Fourchette restaurant is a small French restaurant located in Paradise Bay. Not only was the food delicious but we saw one of the most amazing sunsets. You can’t go wrong with something good to eat and a memorable toast to the day.
4. Rusty Anchor Restaurant
We had one of the best Conch Chowders (there’s a theme emerging) delicious coconut crusted Grouper at the Rusty Anchor Restaurant. The restaurant has incredible views of the pool and ocean, making it even more unforgettable. Everything was delicious and the atmosphere was fantastic.
5. Santanna’s Bar and Grill
Santanna’s Bar and Grill is a bit of a drive from George Town but so worth the trip if you’re wondering what to do in Great Exuma for a tasty meal.
This charming roadside gem is a must visit. The staff were extremely warm and friendly, while the beach views are absolutely amazing. If you are lucky you might see a shark or two swim by. We spotted four lemon shark swimming past as we feasted on lunch.
The seafood was absolutely delicious. I had the cracked lobster – basically the best lobster I have ever had! Cracked lobster is lightly battered and fried, which comes with sides of local rice, beans, and delicious grilled onions.
Next door is Mom’s Bakery which is adorable and mouth-wateringly good. You must stop in and try the delicious rum cake (mom is very generous with the rum), the bread is so good that we devoured the entire loaf, and the coconut macarons couldn’t be any fresher as mom was grating the fresh coconut herself.
6. Chat n’ Chill Conch Bar
Take a trip over to this incredible spot where the food is fresh and the views are amazing. You will taste the best conch salad made for you right before your eyes. There are also friendly stingrays that swim up close to shore that are easy to hand-feed.
A Conclusion to the Ultimate Things to do in Exuma
The Exumas, Bahamas was a memorable getaway that I will always treasure and recommend highly to friends and family. The sun, surf and incredible marine life make it a truly spectacular destination. We hope you get to enjoy some of the top things to do in Exuma yourself and let us know what some of your favorites are.
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