Great Exuma: Paradise Found

Jocelyn Murray May 2, 2017 No Comments


The Exumas are one of the Bahamas best kept secrets

This is one of many remote beaches in the Exumas

I had few expectations before visiting the Exumas in the Bahamas. I was more concerned about safe flights and staying healthy. Even the prospect of rain did not trouble me. I actually love the rain, especially on a tropical island. Anything from a gentle shower, heady with the fragrance of rich vegetation and the salty sea, to a drenching downpour, beating the landscape into utter submission. There is a kind of wild romance about a drenching downpour. Not the sweet, tender variety either, but a hedonistic, all-encompassing passion that is totally exhilarating.

The water is as clear as an aquamarine


What I discovered after arriving on Great Exuma – the largest cay of the islands comprising the Exumas – was something altogether enchanting. Gazing out of the plane’s window, I was greeted with a bird’s-eye view of the 37-mile-length island. From this perspective, it looked rather primitive:  lush, green, largely undeveloped and uninhabited. It looked like a place which Civilization had not yet beaten into submission. Taking in the view, I could feel the first stirrings of excitement begin to course through my veins.


The Exuma cays are fun to explore, and easily accessible by boat

This is not a place for those who seek loud nightlife. Nor is it a place for shoppers who delight in browsing the glamorous wares deemed fashionable by a so-called cultured society. Neither is it a stylish venue to people-watch, and see or be seen.

Everywhere you look, the views are stunning


But if you like peace, quiet, tranquility, and the splendor of nature in all its unspoiled glory, the Exumas are a kind of paradise. No crowds, no skyscrapers, no noise. Just miles of deserted beaches, breathtaking water, numerous cays waiting to be explored, and friendly welcoming locals who make you feel right at home on the islands. This is the kind of place where one is romanced by the splendor of nature. The lull of the tide, the balmy fragrant trade winds, the gulls and other wildlife all form a symphony that resonates deeply in the soul, inspiring a kind of euphoria.


The wild pigs are too cute – especially the piglets

Forget crowds, blaring music, nights on the town, and all the trappings of a harried civilization. This is where the aromatic breezes, powdery-white sand beaches, and water the color of pale aquamarine will capture your heart and set your imagination on fire.
All I wanted to do was enjoy this natural splendor: long walks on the beach and leisure swims in the water made for an unparalleled delight. The water here far surpasses that of Fiji, the far coasts of Africa, and even Bora Bora. It took my breath away.


These local stingrays love being fed

Yes, it’s a bit off the beaten path, but that is what makes the Exumas so appealing in its remoteness. If it were easier to get there, it would be far more crowded. If you live on the East Coast of the USA, it is not hard to get there. But if you are west of the Mississippi, count on at least two flights to paradise. But it’s worth it. This is one place where you will find many pristine beaches that are completely deserted. Just bring some sunscreen and a sense of adventure.



The Exumas were first settled by expatriates in the late 1700s, who maintained their loyalty to King George III during the Revolutionary War. They set up cotton plantations on the islands. But before that, the Exumas served as a hideout for many pirates, including Captain Kidd who was eventually caught, sent to England, tried, and finally executed in 1701. Poor fellow… He did not manage to escape as did a certain Captain James Blackburn, with whom I am very well-acquainted. Ah, but that is another subject matter entirely.

Now back to the Exumas…


This big guy is a sweetheart. He swam right up to us from a cay in hopes of a treat

With all its cays, one can easily see how the Exumas, and many of the islands of the Bahamas, were attractive hideouts to pirates fleeing capture and seeking a place to stash their treasures. There are many hidden beaches and secluded bays that would have been perfect to careen their ships safely out of sight.


This storied background only enhances the Exumas appeal, spicing it with a hefty dose of myths, legends and romantic adventures.




The Lighthouse Cafe and Ice Cream Parlour made a lovely treat after a day at the beach

It’s always fun to go exploring a new place, especially one like the Exumas. Boat tours offer visitors a chance to visit some of the many cays, hidden grottos and caves. There are so many unnamed beaches whose white sandy shores and clear waters just beckon to be discovered.


This iguana likes to be fed as much as the pigs do

There is an abundance of picturesque wildlife including iguanas, sting rays, starfish, and swimming pigs – a major Exuma attraction. Snorkeling and water sports are also popular, with great snorkeling opportunities along the reefs. The National Family Island Regatta is a sailing competition held in the Exumas annually.


Whatever your passion, the Exumas are not to be missed. With its many beaches, balmy weather, and warm and inviting locals, the Exumas will continue to beckon visitors to its pristine shores for a very long time. It is one of those places that has remained untouched by time, but is certain to leave a lasting impression on those who come here. It did for me.

avatarAbout the Author:

Jocelyn Murray is a travel writer and historical fiction novelist. She holds two university master's degrees in both English and Education, along with a bachelor's degree in Economics and European Studies. She also has a teaching credential and taught at the elementary school level.

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