Great Exuma, Bahamas
The swimming pigs of Exuma are always a prominent image on Instagram’s most beautiful destinations and for years I’ve wanted to tick this off my bucket list. The majority of tourists stay on the main island of the Bahamas but we wanted an idillic, relaxing, luxurious beach holiday after a long racing season and so we opted to stay on Great Exuma. The Bahamas consists of over 365 islands, called cays, with Great Exuma being the largest.
We managed to coincide this trip with a race I had in America which meant that we only needed to pay for our small internal flights from Orlando to Georgetown, Exuma. The extra money we saved on flights, we decided to splash out a little and stay somewhere luxurious. Sandals Emerald Bay was certainly that. The surrounding grounds of the hotel were spectacular and our room was only a few steps away from the beach! The beach was extremely quiet with only a few guests dotted across the large stretch of white sand with very still and tranquil waters. The water could have been mistaken for a swimming pool it was that calm!
There are numerous restaurants within the resort – all inclusive. Only two need a reservation but they are certainly worth booking into. Our favourite was the Japanese and French restaurants – the food was out of this world. For lunch, we regularly ate at the jerk shack as it was only a few steps from the beach and really quick service which meant we had more time to relax in the sunshine. A little coffee shop was open all day; serving pancakes, ice cream and a large selection of pastries and cakes – being on my end of season break, the never-ending cakes were a nice little treat.
Initially we had planned to do a full-day tour out at sea but unfortunately the incoming hurricane meant that almost all tour operators were cancelling trips.
We did however manage to squeeze on a half day tour with Island Routes before the weather took a turn for the worst. My main (only) reason for travelling to Exuma was to swim with pigs and so we took the hit and paid a little more money for a half day tour but it was worth every single penny.
The tour was incredible. Not only did we get the chance to swim with pigs we had several other stops along the way; a sand bar where we found huge starfish and beautiful conch shells, a blow hole, an island covered in wild iguanas and some scenic look out points from the highest cay in the Bahamas.
The gym facilities were pretty decent. Both myself and Michael were coming towards the end of our season break and so it was a great way to get ourselves back on the horse. Luckily we didn’t have to spend too much time indoors on treadmills as Sandals Emerald Bay has the most beautiful jogging trail. It is certainly one of the most scenic places i’ve ever ran. The 1.5mile loop, heads around the edge of the island and through the pristine golf courses. You can create a longer loop by running around the outskirts of the bottom golf course but this is mainly grass.
In November every year, Great Exuma hosts a range of races taking you across the beautiful island. From a 2K kids race, 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon and even a 50K ultra-marathon there really is something to suit everyone’s needs! More information at: https://runforpompey.com
Top Tip: I highly recommend heading out around the Sandals Resort Trail in the evening; you can catch the sunset on the tip of the golf course as the ocean crashes again the island rocks. It’s truly beautiful.
What else is there to explore?
Take a day trip over to ChatNChill. A lovely little beachside bar and grill on Stocking Island which is only a short boat trip away.
The bahamas has hundreds of Cays. Take a boat tour out to visit one of the 365 options – Staniel Cay and Little Farmer’s Cay are popular options.
Visit Thunderball Grotto – a marine cave that snorkelers and scuba divers can explore; featured in the James Bond films Thunderball and Never Say Never Again.
Swim with nurse sharks at Compass Cay.
Great Exuma Travel Tips
Split your flights – By far the cheapest way to travel is to split your flights through America. We managed to get a really cheap flight from the UK to Orlando with Thompson and then booked internal flights to Georgetown, Exuma. It’s a great way to add on a stop over – Miami and Orlando work best for the internal flights.
Rent a car and tour the entire island. There are not many hotels on the island but there are several hidden gems around the island.
If you love to play golf (or your other half does) – I would definitely recommend staying with Sandals. Not only do they do free water sports until your hearts content they also have free golf included.
Hotel: Sandals Emerald Bay
Tour Operators: Island Routes