Of the 700 or so islands and cays in the Bahamas, the Exumas make up around 365 – one for each day of the year. Clear blue skies, endless white sandy beaches and bright aquamarine seas give this exotic location the “wow” factor most vacationers dream of.
These beautiful islands have been frequently used as the setting for films, such as James Bond’s Thunderball and Pirates of the Caribbean.
EXUMA ISLANDS AND CAYS
The Exumas are a collection of 365 cays and islands in the Out Islands of the Bahamas. The chain Islands extends for 120 miles, scattered in a long line from the main island, Great Exuma, towards New Providence.
They are divided into three groups: Great Exuma, Little Exuma and the Exuma Cays. Many of the smallest Exuma cays are uninhabited, unless you count the sea turtles, crabs and sea birds that call these flat sandy cays their home.
In order to protect the Exuma cays, islands and their pristine marine life, the Bahamian government made one section a marine park over 50 years ago. Covering 176 square miles, the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park is a protected area for marine life. No fishing, shelling, conch fishing or lobster fishing is permitted within its limits.
Larger islands are being developed as luxury resorts and some have been sold off as lots for exclusive private villas. Some of the Exuma cays are owned by wealthy pop stars and celebrities such as Johnny Depp, David Copperfield and singer Tim McGraw, who all have their own private homes in the Bahamas as luxury retreats.
The warm subtropical climate, unpopulated beaches and relaxed atmosphere, coupled with plenty of luxurious accommodation, make the Exuma islands popular as a vacation, wedding or honeymoon destination all year round.
GREAT EXUMA ISLAND
Great Exuma is the largest island, measuring 37 miles in length. It is joined by a bridge to its sister island, Little Exuma.
Georgetown is the capital with a population of around 1,000. Loyalists escaping the American Revolutionary War founded it around 1783, and it was a popular hideout for pirates, including the infamous Captain Kidd.
A barrier cay shelters the beaches and coastline from the rolling Atlantic waves.
The island has retained its laid-back Bahamian atmosphere with a scattering of local fishing lodges along the shore. There are several high-end resorts to accommodate visitors, including Grand Isle Resort and Spa. There are a range of luxury villas within the resort, which are available for both purchase and rent.
GETTING TO THE EXUMA ISLANDS
The Exuma Islands are 35 miles from Nassau and less than 100 miles from the coast of Florida, yet they are a million miles away in terms of atmosphere, beauty and tranquility.
The easiest way to get to the Exuma Islands is by plane. Great Exuma Island has an international airport with regular, direct flights from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta and Toronto. Meanwhile, the world flies to Nassau, and you can easily jump on a plane from there and be in Exuma within 30 minutes.
From the airport at George Town you can pick up a rental car or use the local taxi or limousine services. Visitors may choose to charter a private plane from Fort Lauderdale or use a scheduled flight with American Airlines, Air Canada or one of the other smaller airlines.
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