So in November 2017 I visited the Bahamas and did a week in Exuma followed by a week in Nassau. I had such a chill time in Exuma as it was completely different to any other place I had been, and was really inspired to write a blog post following my trip there because I thought there were loads of little suggestions that I believe would have been great knowing before going.
Generally speaking, Exuma is nothing like Nassau. You have two completely different ends of the spectrum in terms of what you get out of a beach holiday so if you are planning a trip to Exuma (Rolleville) be prepared that it is not full of big resorts swarmed with tourists, and instead very basic barely touched life of Bahamian locals.
I have broken this down into 5 categories: Accomodation, Transport, Activities, Food and Weather.
ACCOMODATION: I stayed in an Airbnb in Exuma for 2 reasons…
- There wernt that many hotels, and the hotels that were there were either really expensive or not very nice
- I wanted the traditional experience of Exuma with quiet untouched beaches and no noisy tourists around
I found Betty’s rooms (https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/8266447) which are based in Rolleville. The reason I chose this room was because..
- It was right on the beach – private beach yes please
- It had basic cooking utilities so I wouldn’t have to eat out 3 meals a day
- It was close to Barreterre Dock which is where I wanted to book a jet ski tour
- It was cheap(!) – £82.25 a night
Now I think it really depends on whether you want to want to save or splurge as to whether you book an Airbnb or a hotel for your stay. Another reason I thought an airbnb would be a good idea is because you get a local (aka Betty) who can give advice on things to do and the best places to visit on the island which you may not get at a hotel.
TRANSPORT: Getting around is very expensive on the island and I believe its because of the costs around importing fuel. A taxi from the airport to Rolleville was $40 and was about 15 minutes long.
Alternatively you can hire a car at around $70 a day, however I chose to use taxis as I didn’t plan on exploring the island much, as I more just wanted somewhere to relax on a private beach with no hassle.
Either way – be prepared for the cost to get around!
ACTIVITIES: Now the main reason I went to Exuma was to see some swimming pigs (yes it was a life goal and my dream came true). You can get many boat tours out to Pig Island from George Town, the centre of Exuma. Expect to pay around $200-$400 (plus tax) a head and this tour will include seeing other attractions such as iguanas, a cave where a James Bond movie was filmed (yeah I don’t know which one), nursing sharks, and sand bars.
Another great activity is a jet ski tour (Waverunner) with http://exumawatersports.com/ . They take you around different parts of Exuma with some stunning beaches, blow holes, and also to an island with some new Bahamas Piggies. The reason I loved this so much was because even though I booked onto the group tour with my partner, we were the only 2 people there so we basically got a private tour to ourselves, which meant we could stay as long as we wanted at each stop we made. This was definitely the highlight of my holiday! The jet ski tour is $250 a head but I shared a jet ski with my partner and took it in turns so we only had to pay $50 for the second person (plus tax). $322.50 for a private jet ski tour for 2 around the Exuma Cays? Was I dreaming?!
FOOD: Ok so probably my biggest insight for you is regarding food. Now I can only comment on food in Rolleville as I never ate in Georgetown so please consider that… but food is very basic, and eating in doesn’t necessarily mean saving money.
There were 3 restaurants (beach hut style) close to where I stayed, all serving similar foods. You could get things like conch, fish tacos, or a burger, plus chips or rice for around $15-$20. The restaurants generally add on tip themselves to the bill so be careful you don’t double tip! The fish was great and tasted amazing but after a few days of little variation I was ready for the international array of food that Nassau was going to offer me.
Now on our way to Rolleville we decided to stop off at the supermarket to buy some groceries so we could have breakfast at the room instead of heading out every morning. The supermarket is more like a corner market, as it is small, basic and very expensive. As an idea for price, a bottle of orange juice was around $8, a large milk $10 and a box of cornflakes $8. Similarly the price of fruit was expensive and maybe it was naive of me but I thought there would be a great range of fresh fruit rather than just an abundance of plantain! My advice here is be prepared to pay a fair bit for food even if you are eating in and bring as much food as you can fit in your suitcase as possible as it will either cost you 5x the price on the island or they wont have it.
I was told the water was drinkable but it had a very pungent acidic smell (maybe sulfur?) and neither my partner nor I could stomach it so we got large bottles (5l) of water from our airbnb host for around $3.
WEATHER: Ok so I know telling my experience with the weather could mean absolutely nothing because its in the tropics and the weather is coonnnstantly changing, but I was actually really suprised with how windy it was there. We went in November and experienced pretty consistent weather: sunrise around 5/6am, pretty cloudy until late morning/midday, sunshine for a few hours, leading to rain around 3pm and then sunset around 6pm. Through day and night there is wind so if you burn easily (and even if you don’t I guess) just be wary that even though it doesn’t feel very warm, the sun is still shooting down with its rays.
Exuma is one of most beautiful natural (and by natural I mean little human intervention) places I have visited and I had such a relaxing time there experiencing peaceful Bahamian life. If you are looking for relaxation and simple basic life, look no further – just be prepared to take a book incase it rains and you’re stuck inside for a few hours a day 🙂
I tried to be as thorough as possible but if I have missed anything off this post feel free to let me know in the comments and I will try to help you as much as possible. In the meantime, get booking those flights to Exuma 😉