This article originally appeared in Delta Air Lines’ 2012 Caribbean, Mexico and Latin America Travel Guide. It has been extracted from its original format. To read the full travel guide, visit the digital edition.
The Exuma Islands of The Bahamas epitomize the “deserted island” ideal. A string of cays and islands—365 in total, one for every day of the year—they’re known for their beautiful beaches and the breezy attitude of their locals. The largest and most developed of the Exumas, Great Exuma, gives travelers a wide range of resort options, from small fishing lodges to condo-hotel properties to big-name resorts like Sandals Emerald Bay. No matter where you’re staying in the Exumas, though, the star of the islands is the water surrounding it—clear, calm and so shallow in some areas that deserted sandbars appear and disappear with the tides. Naturally, the region’s most popular activities take place at sea. Anglers often find the catch of their lives on deep-sea fishing excursions, reeling in trophy fish like marlin and sailfish, as well as mahi mahi, wahoo and tuna. The Exuma flats, on the other hand, are known for bonefishing, a truly Bahamian sport targeting the hard-fighting bonefish who live in extremely shallow waters. But even if you’re not interested in hooking a fish, boating and sailing around the Exumas is both the most convenient and the most picturesque way to explore its nooks and crannies. Thunderball Grotto—a rocky enclosure where scenes from the James Bond film “Thunderball” were filmed—is today a popular stopping point for boat-bound explorers, and the snorkeling around its outer wall is excellent. Not far from there, the beaches of Staniel Cay are home to a peculiar breed of wild hog—who have the ability to swim out to greet boaters offering scraps of food as a reward. But for that authentic “deserted island” feeling, just drop anchor at the first deserted beach you find—they’re everywhere in the Exumas.
- Best time to visit:
November to May
- Fun fact:
Kalik, the local beer of The Bahamas, takes its name from the sound of the cowbell, a common instrument in the traditional music of the islands
- Getting there:
Delta flies from Atlanta to Exuma
- Entry documents:
Bahamian dollar; U.S. currency is widely accepted
- Must-try local food:
Bahamian Rock lobster
- Best buys:
Duty-free designer clothing and accessories, local handicrafts
- Information please:
The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism—bahamas.com