If you're looking for a true escape, a vacation where you're more likely to see giant starfish, wild iguanas, swimming pigs, dolphins, and sharks than fellow tourists, you should follow our footsteps to the little-known paradise called Exuma in the Bahamas.
Since we live in a tourist mecca like Cape Cod, we searched for an undiscovered backwater which doesn't yet have an America Express office or many of the things you find everywhere else.
We found that paradise in Exuma in the Bahamas.
We just spent eight nights with our whole family in an exquisite beachfront home called "Calypso" in Exuma which had it all - the conveniences of a well equipped five bedroom home literally on the beach.
Luxury at a modest cost
This spacious, beachfront home (see the deck view and living room on the right or click here to see photos of the other rooms) provided for the utmost in relaxation and privacy, along with stunning views.
This 2,300 sq. ft. single-story house has 5 bedrooms with 3 full baths and central air conditioning. All bedrooms were fully renovated in 2012. There are unsurpassed views of the beach and ocean from most of the rooms. The living room is lined with sliding glass doors.
A $475 a night, the cost came to a modest $68 for each of the seven members in our family, a fraction of the cost at any local resort or hotel. As beautiful as the rest of this island is, we found it difficult to tear ourselves away from "Calypso".
The rest of Exuma
Exuma is a district of the Bahamas, and it consists of over 360 islands (or cays), the largest of which is Great Exuma which is basking in an idyllic archipelago in the shallow, Bahama-blue waters of the Caribbean.
Although they are part of The Bahamas, this area has been all but overlooked by traditional tourism, becoming instead an exotic anchoring point for weather-worn sailors and a hide-out for island-hopping escapists.
The Tropic of Cancer runs directly through the small capital Georgetown. There are less than a thousand residents in the colonial era seaport which is a favorite spot for yachters.
What others says about Exuma
The New York Times says the real Exuma is " best discovered with sand between your toes. On its unspoiled beaches, the only footprints are probably your own, and the clear Atlantic waters that feed them dance before you like a kaleidoscope of jades, purples and blues. It is also a place where street addresses are nonexistent and where you will have to slow down in spite of yourself: there is regular time, and there is Bahamian time, and the more you try to hurry, the longer it will take you to get there."
The website Villa Reverie says about this town, "Georgetown has a colorful history and its pink and white Government Building, which is said to have been inspired by the architecture of the Government House in Nassau, grabs the attention of tourists. It has an intriguing past. Pirates used Georgetown’s deep water harbor during the 17th century and the “plantation aristocracy” from Virginia and North and South Carolina settled here in the 18th century. Elizabeth Harbor became a refitting base for British vessels and the U.S. Navy used the port during World War II..."
Swimming with the pigs
Swimming in Exuma is beyond compare, with wrecks, reefs and caves, including Thunderball Grotto, unique snorkelling caverns made famous in the 1965 James Bond flick, and yes, swimming pigs as well - click here to watch the video.
Everyone falls in love with these enchanted and non-touisty islands - Johnny Depp was so taken with The Exumas while filming "Pirates Of The Caribbean", he bought one of them - Little Hall’s Pond Cay in 2004.
The James Bond Islands
Exuma is the location of not one but two James Bond movies, "Thunderball" and "Never Say Never Again", and is made up of 365 islands and cays strung out like jeweled stepping stones across miles of shimmering emerald ocean. The bright white sand of the deserted beaches contrasts strikingly with the deep aquamarine and jade hues of the water, making this chain one of the prettiest in The Bahamas.
And what a place for a wedding
If you are searching for something “off the beaten aisle” that will WOW you and your guests with an amazing experience that stands out from the last dozen weddings you attended, look no further. Exuma is that special place which will be the icing on your wedding cake.
All you need to get married in Exuma is valid passports, birth certificates, and a valid photo ID (such as a driver’s license).
28 things to do in Exuma
The Grouper at Santana's was the best we have ever tasted.
Rent a car at Airport Car Rental, a boat from Minn's boat rentals, and be sure to have several lunches at Santana's in Williamstown for the best Grouper you will ever taste. Order a rum and coconut juice and watch Dee Rolle-Styles prepare cracked (battered and flash fried) lobster or grouper behind the bar while you perch on a plank bench chatting with the locals. That's Walter, Pat and Marina on the right at Santana's which Johnny Depp says is his favorite local hang-out.
TrippAdvisor lists twenty-eight things to do here - everything from scuba diving to beach combing for starfish to bone fishing to renting a boat at Minn's Boats in Georgetown to simply watching the sun set over the incredible Bahama blue waters.
It was a truly beautiful, beachfront house.