It was an excellent place to get away, inspiring fun and relaxation with few mass market draw backs and lots of small town charm.

Overall Impression We loved Exuma. The islands and their people reminded us of the way The Bahamas and the Bahamians were when we first visited the island nation 20 years ago. Exuma or Great Exuma, as the locals call it, is the central island in a chain of 100 cays. It is connected by a bridge to Little Exuma, the eastern most island in the Exumas.

The largest island in the chain, it has a population of just under 3,600 souls. Lately Exuma has been booming. The opening of a Four Seasons hotel with a golf course, spa and most recently a casino created a buzz. Two private luxury communities with homes in the millions of dollars are under development. They offer getaway options to wealthy owners and renters who want to get away in style.

Challenges from the limited infrastructure included malfunctioning phone lines resulting in no ATM transactions for a while and requiring cash purchases at the grocery store. Limited connectivity, limited air conditioning, few dining and entertainment options, few shopping options, variable quality products at high prices, and mosquitoes in copious quantities might keep creature comfort oriented folks at home.

For us a few inconveniences were tolerable and part of the Exuma appeal. What we liked best was the quiet sunny ambiance of the islands; the friendly and laid back attitude of the locals; and the many water oriented activities such as boating, sailing, fishing, snorkeling, diving, kayaking, sun bathing and passing the time on its magnificent powdery beaches set on idyllic turquoise waters. It was an excellent place to get away, inspiring fun and relaxation with few mass market draw backs and lots of small town charm.

Cost Of Visiting Since nearly everything on the islands had to be imported, costs were high and options few. Gasoline was nearly $5 a gallon and most foods, car rentals, meals, etc. were relatively expensive.

Currency The Bahamian dollar which was pegged to the U.S. dollar when we were there

Electrical Current 110 v

Health And Vaccinations There was a small malaria outbreak (14 cases) just before we arrived. Other than that we didn’t discover any major health issues affecting visitors.

How To Get There From South Florida (Miami and Ft. Lauderdale airports) several major carriers and some smaller ones had direct flights. There were also connections via Nassau, the Bahamian capital, to Exuma.

Location An hour’s flight from Fort Lauderdale International Airport

Measures Road signs were in miles but our rental car measured speed in kilometers

Money Issues The U.S. dollar was widely accepted. Bank ATMs distributed Bahamian currency. Local businesses accepted U.S. and Bahamian dollars. We attempted to withdraw funds from two ATMs in George Town, the largest village on Exuma. Because the phone lines were down during our visit, we were only successful in retrieving funds once out of three attempts.

Time Eastern Standard Time

Transportation Car rentals seemed the most efficient means of transportation. Our rental car company left the car in a parking lot near the tiny Exuma airport. It was up to us to find their office in George Town and pay for the rental. When we departed the island we just left the car in the same parking lot.

Technology Our luxury rental house had most of the comforts of home including electricity, running water and flushing toilets. Individual air conditioning units chilled our bedroom. The living room and kitchen were cooled by the ocean breezes. There was a phone (and fax machine) in the house but the connection was poor. Our U.S. cell phones never found a signal on the island. We saw Internet cafes advertising Internet access and heard there was cable television although neither was available in our rental home.

The rental car company where we hired our car said a cell phone was included with our rental. When we arrived they said it was a mistake and refused to give us the cell phone.

Facilities There were banks, a pharmacy, a grocery store, a bakery, a liquor store, at least two Internet cafes.

Shopping And Souvenirs There were straw hats, T-shirts and souvenirs in the George Town street market. There were also luxury items such as facial creams, incense, resort wear and flip flops at the Four Seasons boutique.

Tourism Highlights Exuma’s greatest treasure was its sparkling azure waters and white sandy beaches. There was also George Town, the main village; Williams Town, the village in Little Exuma, home of Mom’s Bakery, the only bakery on Exuma we were told; and the shark shacks for waterside fried fish and friendly Bahamian chatter. In addition to the options offered by the hotels, sunbathing, snorkeling, fishing, diving, golf, and boating were the more likely attractions.

Other Exuma is also called the Exumas, and is the largest of a string of 365 cays stretched over 100 miles. It is one of the Family Islands of The Bahamas.

Date Of Latest Visit June 2006

Reviewers© 2006 Simon and Baker, Inc.

Article by Elena del Valle

Photographs by Gary Cox

Would You Visit This Attraction Again? Yes