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Sweet Sweet Exuma

by Alicia Wallace

A trip to The Bahamas is incomplete without a hop to another island. Nassau and Paradise Island attract many visitors due to ease of access with an international airport, major resorts and hotels, and robust marketing. The Family Islands — other islands in our archipelago —offer a completely different experience. The pace is slower, communities are more close-knit, and the environments are more natural and relaxed. Abaco, Bimini, Cat Island, and Eleuthera are among popular Family Islands, each offering unique experiences. One of our favorites to visit to recommend is Exuma and its cays.

What are the Exumas?

The Exumas — a collection of 365 islands and cays including 37-mile Great Exuma (which we call Exuma) — are a 130-mile favorite for Bahamians and visitors alike, and for obvious reasons. Have you seen the beaches? The Bahamas is known for its incredible beaches, and every islands boasts numerous strips of perfection — pillows of white sand overlooking varying shades of sparkling blue ocean — and the competition is stiff. Exuma’s beaches are among the best, and some of them offer an extra special treat for animal lovers. More on that later.

Are The Exumas really that special?

This chain of islands within the Bahamian archipelago has become a hideaway. The rich and famous escape to this quiet, breathtaking part of the world for reprieve, meditation, and rejuvenation. Eddie Murphy, John Travolta, Tyler Perry, and Nicholas Cage are among celebrities who own islands or cays in the Exumas. Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed on Sandy Cay in the Exumas, and Johnny Depp was so mesmerized that he bought 45-acre Little Hall’s Pond Cay to the tune of $3.6 million.

Luckily, you don’t have to own to visit! With an island for every day of the year, there are lots of options for you.

How do you get there?

There are daily flights to Exuma with national carriers, and for those who love travel by sea, boat trips are possible too. Exuma is only 35 minutes southeast of Nassau by plane, and delightful boat rides will give you a few hours of enjoyment of open water, sunshine, and sea breeze. Sometimes the long way is the best way, right?

Is it just beaches?

One of the best things about Exuma is the food. There is no shortage of great restaurants serving up native dishes to remind you of the authenticity of the island. Every plate is full of flavor and an added element to convince you that the only person in the kitchen is a loving grandmother cooking just the way her mother taught her. Here, food is love and cooking is more than a skill. It is evidence of a long line of tradition.

We have to admit, the fresh seafood caught daily does more than a little to make the food in Exuma stand out. While in Exuma, check out the George Town Fish Fry which has several vendors in a casual atmosphere, and lots of locals to tell you what you must see and do before you leave.

How can you see more than Great Exuma?

These days, the Exumas are best known for their swimming pigs and, a little bit less so, the endangered iguanas. A visit with them can be facilitated by Comfort Venture Tours — a new company waiting to open this world to you with a variety of tours and options to suit your budget and time constraints.

Once you’ve booked your stay in Exuma, you have the opportunity to visit other cays and experience what they have to offer. With Comfort Venture Tours, you can completely tailor your trip. Do you want to join a group? Maybe you’d like to have tour just for your family or group of friends. They can do that too! You also have a choice between a half-day tour and a full day which includes lunch.

Did someone say Thunderball?

Where else can you go and swim with pigs on the same day you feed iguanas and lounge on a picturesque beach? Not only that, but you’ll have the opportunity to swim with nurse sharks in the most beautiful turquoise water in the world. To top it all off, we have the snorkel trip to top any other you’ve ever experienced. Two words: Thunderball Grotto.

The James Bond movie Thunderball was filmed here in the 1960s for good reason. Thunderball Grotto is an underwater cave systems near Staniel Cay and best accessed at low tide. It has holes that let light in and allow you to swim through to a cavern where the sun illuminates colorful fish and coral in our crystal clear water. Don’t you want to swim in your very own aquarium? Trust us. There’s nothing like it.

With packages starting at $150 for a four-hour experience on another island, Comfort Venture Tours has everyone covered. Get to know and feed other creatures that love the beach, explore marine life, and design an adventure you’ll never forget. You’re already in The Bahamas, so do it right! Get out of Nassau and into a more relaxed atmosphere with opportunities to live like you own a cay, if only for a few hours.

We all deserve a little bit of the high life.

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