Shades of jade, aquamarine and amethyst in deeper waters turning to translucent opal near sandy shores … water and land seemingly inseparable … secluded beaches opening onto tranquil cays … Welcome to the Exumas. This string of 365 islands and cays — most of them uninhabited — stretches over 120 miles. Most of the Exumas’ 3,500 residents live on two main islands, Great Exuma and Little Exuma. Located near the southern end of the chain, these islands are connected by a short bridge. Great Exuma is known to be the opposite of a tourist trap — no cruise stops and no crowds. Its seclusion offers the chance to hide away on a pristine white-sand beach. Some days, you may be the only one sitting under a palm tree on a beautiful beach. But do not worry that you will get bored on the island. Adventure-seekers will be enticed by the endless number of activities available on Great Exuma: sailing, scuba diving, snorkeling and fishing, among others. The Exuma National Land and Sea Park, which encompasses much of the coastline, is accessible only by boat. One of the major natural wonders and sightseeing destinations of the Bahamas, the park has an abundance of undersea life, reefs, blue holes and shipwrecks. BEARINGS: PLAN YOUR TRIP! Ready, Set, Sail (From March 2006 Issue) A Private Grandstand Club Peace & Plenty has rooms with balconies overlooking the action in Elizabeth Harbour, but book a year in advance of the Regatta. The hotel’s eight waterfront rooms start at $205. peaceandplenty.com No Shoes, No Problem Grab a seat on a seaplane, boat or ferry for the short jump over Elizabeth Harbour to Stocking Island where you can catch a lime at the Chat ‘n’ Chill.Sunday nights feature local music and a pig roast ($17). chatnchill.com Majestic Sailing Sloops The success of the National Family Island Regatta inspired other islands to mount their own races: Andros, the Berry Islands, Acklins, Bimini, Cat Island, Freeport and Long Island as well as the Valentine’s Day Massacre mini-regatta in Montagu Bay, New Providence. bahamas.com Traveling Tips:
- Fly to George-Town on American Airlines, US Airways or a charter.
- Skipper your own craft. Starfish Adventures will take you on a four-hour guided kayak tour for $85. exuma-bahamas.com/starfish
- Look for the Regatta magazine, published annually and available only at the event.
- Spend your dollars: $1 Bahamian = US$1.
- Listen up when Bahamian bands take center stage on Cultural Night.
- Go to myoutislands.com for more info about the Exumas.