Written by Missy Johnston
As you know, in September 2019, Hurricane Dorian caused significant damage to the Bahamas. The Abacos Islands, along with other popular Bahamas Out Island destinations north of Nassau, sustained a direct hit from the Category 5 storm. However, other Bahama islands remained untouched and still open for business, including the Exumas. The Bahamas Out Islands stretch over a very large area, so that while one island chain can sustain damage, other island areas are untouched. These islands are very dependent on tourism revenue, and the Exumas are still as beautiful as ever. If you are considering a private yacht charter in this region, this is a perfect time to go on a yacht charter in the Exuma Islands.
Beautiful Bahamas Beach
Welcome to paradise on Earth. The Exumas, an island chain located in the Bahamas, is a heart-stoppingly beautiful and endlessly exciting place. While a private yacht charter in any part of the globe will grant you access to unique and fascinating experiences, a yacht charter in this part of the Bahamas is something special.
Picture yourself hand-feeding fish and iguanas, snorkeling over shipwrecks in crystal clear waters, and swimming with friendly pigs. Soon, you could be visiting uninhabited islands and diving amongst turtles, eels, and curious (but harmless) sharks. A tropical rum drink awaits you before you lie down for an outdoor massage overlooking a white sand beach and crystalline blue-green water.
The History of the Exumas
Bahamas Water Fun
The story of the Exumas and its people is a tale that will thrill even the smallest adventurers. Columbus and his voyages brought the first wave of colonization to the islands. He was followed by the British in 1648. In the 1600s and 1700s, pirates were known to roam the Caribbean. Blackbeard, James Kidd, and others frequented these warm waters. Their travels have inspired many rumors of buried treasure around the Exuma Cays.
Infrastructure on the Exumas began in earnest when the British were granted control in 1783 with the Treaty of Versailles. American loyalists fleeing the Revolutionary War were also arriving in droves. The settlers grew cotton to clothe the British Empire.
In the more recent future, the Exumas have been used for rum-running during Prohibition, and drug smuggling. Of course, that’s no longer happening! This bright and colorful history brings us to today.
The Bahamas, and the Exumas in particular, are a pristine and highly tourism-friendly destination for people of all ages. There are 365 cays and islands; it can take many visits to truly see everything, so each trip is a new experience. We will share the best times to visit, our top reasons for taking a private yacht charter, and list some of our must-see sights and must-do activities while you’re there.
The Best Times to Book a Private Yacht Charter
The high season in the Exumas runs from mid-April to the end of September. Temperate weather and sunshine is what you can expect during this time period. October and November can be the rainy months, however it can still be quite nice, if you don’t mind getting a little wet from time to time with fresh rain water. The low season extends from early December to mid-April. In the low season, higher winds and slightly lower temperatures can be expected, with the occasional drop in temperature if cooler winter weather blows through.
Private yacht charters still take place in the low season. In fact, some visitors prefer winter conditions—it tends to be less hot and humid. Depending on your interests, a yacht rental expert can help you choose the best time of year to charter in the Bahamas.
Must-See and Must-Do Activities in the Bahamas
The Exuma chain of islands, cays, and other natural wonders begins about 35 miles southeast of Nassau. They are divided into three sections: The Exuma Cays, Great Exuma, and Little Exuma. Great Exuma and Little Exuma are the largest islands in the chain; they are connected by a bridge and sport large fleets of taxis and water taxis for getting around. These larger islands are known for their laid-back lifestyle, gorgeous hotels, and excellent food.
The Exuma Cays are a playground for the carefree tourist. It is in the Exumas that one finds excellent scuba diving and snorkeling, beautiful white powder sand beaches, miles of open coastline,and shallow waters for swimming and water sports, 5-star resorts, and an ecosystem as stunning as it is unique. Below are the attractions and experiences we highly recommend.
Great Exuma and George Town
George Town is the capital of Great Exuma, with a population of about 1,400 people. When visiting George Town, it’s all about the fun and the food. We recommend the Chat n’ Chill Sunday Pig Roast. Boats line up filled with visitors every weekend to drink, play volleyball, swim, and eat. Another great spot to take in the view is Haulover Bay Bar and Grill. This spot is popular both for its fare and its patio, which sits right on the water. Head over on the second or fourth Saturday of the month for killer live music.
Bonefish in the Bahamas
It’s also a lot of fun to go bonefishing off Great Exuma—one of the few locations in the world for top bonefishing. Several fishing companies specialize in this elusive fish that will put up a serious fight until it is caught, and will supply the flat-bottomed fishing boat, the right fishing gear and a great local fishing guide for a half day of this specialized sport fishing.
Named for its location, the Tropic of Cancer Beach is a blindingly white strip of sand extending into the distance, edged by electric blue waters. It is located at 23 26N 75 35W—the meridian line marking the northern end of the tropics. It’s also known as Pelican Beach, and it is a must-see when visiting the islands.
It’s also a great idea to visit the Hermitage Estate. This is an old plantation home dating back to the slave trade. The sobering site provides a detailed glimpse into history. It’s also a challenging hike to reach the site, complete with some friendly goats along the way.
The Exuma Cays
#1 on our list for the Cays is feeding the swimming pigs. Arguably the international celebrities of the Exumas, nobody knows exactly where these hungry little guys came from. Pirates? Now, they’re not afraid of humans and will swim right up to your tender for a snack. Mommy pigs teach their babies to swim so that they, too, will be fed. However, it is always wise to remember that these pigs are feral and have sharp hooves and teeth. It is best to visit the pigs by ship’s tender, and throw the food to the pigs. At the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, scuba divers and snorkelers are in heaven. Fishing and collecting of any kind is banned, so the marine life here is astounding.
Swimming pigs of the Bahamas in the Out Islands of the Exuma Cays
Another diver favorite, the Thunderball Grotto near Staniel Cay was featured in multiple movies including two James Bond films. Put on your snorkel or scuba gear and head in at low tide to see the sparkling space lit up by brilliant fish and the amazing colors of the water created by the sun piercing through small rock crevices. On the Sandbar at Musha Bay, you can walk two entire miles into the ocean on this seemingly endless stretch of white sand. Shroud Cay is another fascinating place. Here, the current zips around a peninsula—jump in on one side and you’ll be gently swept to the other in a phenomenon the locals call the “washing machine.”
Swim with the nurse sharks at Compass Bay! These intimidating creatures don’t have to fight for their next meal, so you are safe to enter the water, swim with them, and pet them. They even have names! At Allen’s Cay, local iguanas await you. These very large lizards are friendly; just like the pigs and the sharks of the Bahamas, they’re always looking for a meal. When arriving, the iguana hear the sound of
Thunderball Grotto Inside the Grotto
the tender outboard and come running. However, it is best to bring iguana food to feed these lizards which is available for purchase close by.
Finally, take a plunge into Dean’s Blue Hole. Measuring 663 feet deep, it is the deepest ocean plunge of its kind discovered by man. It is a marvel to behold (and even more fun to dive into!). There is also a massive cave “room” connected to the hole, filled with amazing creatures.
Why Take a Private Yacht Charter to the Exumas?
Hawksbill turtle eating around Tiger Beach in the Bahamas
The truth is, a luxury yacht charter is—by far—the best way to see these islands. A motor yacht or sailing catamaran charter from Nassau will find ample anchorages in the Cays. Although a few of the islands are privately owned, most are totally accessible and uninhabited.
The Exumas are known for their sparkling clear waters, incredibly diverse marine life, and beaches covered in soft, sparkling white sand. What better way to see all of this than by private yacht charter? The thrill seeker, the gambler, the foodie, the water sports enthusiast, and the budding biologist all will find what they seek here.
Choose a Luxury Yacht Charter in the Bahamas
By going with a private yacht charter in the Exumas, you will wake up every morning and go to sleep every night at a new cay. A front-row seat to stunning technicolor sunsets is all yours while you bond with family and friends over the unforgettable.
Tropical beach in Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas.
The entire region boasts otherworldly beauty and unique sights, sounds, and tastes. Popular Bahamian dishes include cracked conch, rock lobster, pigeon peas and rice, stew fish, and much more. Grab the national drink when you get there, too—the Yellow Bird, a concoction of orange juice, pineapple juice, rum, Galliano, apricot brandy, and banana liqueur.
If you still have questions about visiting the Bahamas and the Exumas in particular, we are here with answers. With so many things to see and do on the islands, we can prepare a customized itinerary for your Bahamas yacht charter in the Exumas based upon decades of experience focused on exactly what you like to do.