Our next trip was to mark off a bucket list item of mine….which was to see the swimming pigs of Exuma! We made this a family trip with my parents and my husband’s mom. I don’t think you can ever go wrong with Bahamas for any age group. It is a destination that anyone can love.
For this trip we made the 3.5 hour drive once again to Atlanta and then a direct flight on Delta into Exuma. Flight costs were around $550 per person. We stayed in another VRBO (Vacation for Rent by Owner) called Aqua Vista and couldn’t have asked for a more perfect location. I still get asked where we stayed when anyone comes across our vacation photos. The total price for a 7 night stay was $2160 at the time of that booking. We split the cost between 5 people which equals out to around $865 per couple for the week. You will absolutely need to rent a car in Exuma. Places to visit on the island are not close together so I would imagine you would spend more on taxis than to rent a car.
Exuma was everything you see in photos but better. The water is so many shades of turquoise and blue and crystal clear. The water in front of our rental in an area called Bonefish Flats was breathtakingly beautiful. You could walk for miles and it was no more than waist deep. It was like a forever swimming pool. There were little cays about a mile out from the house that my husband I walked (swam) to and it had some of the most beautiful snorkeling. The small reefs were virtually untouched and perfect. If we ever go back, we will most definitely stay in the same area.
My bucket list reason for coming to Exuma was to see the swimming pigs. I booked a tour for us to do so. We used 4 C’s Adventures and did the day trip which included Starfish Bay, sight-see private islands, viewing a sunken plane wreck, snorkeling Thunderball Grotto, the swimming pigs, a sand bar, and swimming with the nurse sharks at Compass Cay. The price was $180 per person plus lunch which was $25 per person. While it was an experience I’ll never forget, it was not at all how I imagined it would be. I imagined getting onto the island and being surrounded by pigs. Instead, it was getting onto the island and surrounded by boats and people trying to take photos with pigs any way they could. It was really disheartening watching people chase the baby pigs around and pick them up while fighting and squealing all in the name of a photo op and selfie. Swimming with the sharks was the same way. You could barely enjoy the sharks from the amount of people in the water at one time. The same for Thunderball Grotto. Too many people snorkeling a small area. The excursion also felt rushed so I was a bit disappointed in the whole experience. I enjoyed it but it was more touristy than I like. If I did it again, I would probably spring for a private charter. I would have loved to snorkel the sunken plane, but we weren’t given that opportunity.
Visiting Chat N Chill at Stocking Island was on my “to do list” while we were there. We took a small boat over that cost about $3 per person. Once there, we just hung out and enjoyed the view. There wasn’t much snorkeling but there were stingrays that would come very close to the shore and you could touch them and feed them. We ate at Chat N Chill while we were there. Service is slow. Even for island time. We waited about 30 minutes for a drink and over an hour for food. But I have to say, it was the best ribs I have ever eaten so I that made up for it!
You absolutely cannot take a trip to Exuma without visiting Little Exuma and eating at Santana’s. If you do, go back because you missed an experience. Little Exuma is across the bridge from Great Exuma. The world famous Tropic of Cancer Beach is also located here. Tropic of Cancer Beach was probably the most beautiful beach I have ever seen. It was postcard perfect. White sand and calm turquoise water. We had it basically all to ourselves. No snorkeling here though. We tried but there was nothing under the water to see. The beauty of it is all above. We didn’t spend long here since there was no snorkeling and no shade. So back to Santana’s. The view is absolutely the best view you could ever imagine while eating the most delicious fried lobster and enjoying a Goombay Smash.
We saved the best part for last which was a dive trip. My husband had just became certified and I was awaiting my checkout dives. So this was our first official dive in the ocean! There are not many dive shops to choose from in Exuma and we were unable to get ahold of the main dive shop there. We left voicemails and went by their shop but our messages were not returned. We thought we were going to have to skip diving in Exuma and then a local told us of a dive master named Garvin Turtle and gave us his phone number. I called him and we had a dive booked the next day! He took us to a place called Stingray Reef. Although Exuma is not a world class diving destination, we thought it was gorgeous and we were not at all disappointed.
As I said above, Exuma has something for everyone of any age. From just relaxing on the beach to diving to exploring. It’s affordable and can be a romantic trip or fun for the whole family. It should be on top of any ocean lover’s bucket list.
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