My wife and I just returned from the most wonderful 10th wedding anniversary trip. It was the kind of get away that seems to be only for the privileged. Not because it is expensive or luxurious, rather the rare opportunity to disappear into an island paradise without breaking the bank. The St. Francis Resort is indeed a special place that allows its guest to feel more like family then customers. George, Jill and their son Greg have indeed worked overtime to turn their slice of paradise into your very own experience. I had taken a rather big chance having talked my wife out of Hawaii and into a trip to Exuma accompanied by a short boat ride to Stocking Island.
The trip into Exuma was rather uneventful. It started in Houston to Miami and then over to the Exuma International Airport (Don't let the name full you, it is your typical small Bahamian Airport). We got a good chuckle at the "International" part. The airport is small but clean. The customs agents were friendly and quick. We picked up our bags, hailed a taxi and off we went. The owner’s son, Greg, picked us up at the local dock net to the Exuma Market. While we waited, my wife purchased 2 gallon jugs of imported US fresh water for only $2.95 each. The market does have provisions, but as mentioned by others it can be expensive for certain items. That would be expected as most everything in the market is imported. We packed several snacks in our suit case and that turned out to be a great idea. Greg picked us up shortly after and ferried us across the beautiful Elizabeth Harbour.
What can I say that hasn't already been said in previous reviews, St. Francis occupies a beautiful location on Stocking Island with direct access to wonderful beaches and CRYSTAL clear water. This was the slice of ocean/beach paradise my wife and I had been looking for. We originally rented a boat from Minn's for two days. That quickly changed to four days and gave us access to multiple beaches where we rarely encountered another soul. We motored around until we found a spot that seemed to call our names. The problem is, with so many fantastic beaches it seemed as if they all called our names! We literally spent the entire vacation sitting on the beaches sunning, reading, snorkeling and perhaps taking a nap or two. If you plan on staying at Stocking Island I would say a boat rental is a must. I haven't driven a boat with much frequency and the last time that occurred was over 15 years ago. Needless to say, the 17' Boston Whaler was a joy to drive and quite simple. If you can drive a car, you can drive a boat. After one day you will feel at ease. We docked every night at the St. Francis pier. With out the boat your access to the beaches on the Northern and Southern sides of Stocking Island will be limited. Some are accessible by walking but, it would be a long hike through thick brush. I didn't post any pictures because I noticed just yesterday (6/22/10) that the St. Francis website photo gallery had been updated. There are more than enough photos between Trip Advisor and the resort to give you an idea of the beauty.
Back to the resort. Our rooms were large and clean. We did have a few bugs visit us throughout the stay but, that should be expected. The four duplex type units sit in the middle of the natural foliage. The sand and brush come right up to your back patio so, nature’s creatures are near by. It wasn’t anything terrible, and this is coming from someone who’s fairly picky about that kind of stuff. It is more of a reminder that you are in a relatively undeveloped place, which is a good thing! With that said, as so many have pointed out bring bug spray with Deet. We applied it every morning before venturing out. We also used it in the evening before heading to dinner. I returned with no bits and my wife only had only two or three. The bugs weren’t bad on our trip but, a good rain storm can change that. I want to say one thing about the quality of sleep. I won’t down grade it on the rating because it was more of a personal issue. I am a light sleeper. The sound of the ocean along with the wind coming off the water did tend to wake me up at times. My wife had no problems but, you should be aware of that in case you are a light sleeper. Otherwise I’m sure most persons would find the sounds to be quite soothing.
The grounds are well maintained and certainly give you the feeling of being on an island. The bar/restaurant is a great place to eat, drink and meet new people. My wife and I enjoyed several conversations with other guest and especially with Jill and George. They are very interesting people and a delight to talk with. They may be two of the hardest working persons I’ve ever met. Jill delivers breakfast to your room every morning between 7:30 and 8:30am. We found the breakfast very filling and a great way to start the day. The lunch menu consist more of bar food type selection i.e. buffalo wings, Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches, fresh tuna wraps etc. With that said, the lunch food is excellent. The dinner menu is more expansive with Mahi-Mahi, Tuna, Grouper and other dinner selections. We enjoyed every meal we had. Do yourself a favor and try the Bahamian beer, Kalik. It is a great beer and I’m not much of a beer drinker. Also, Jill makes a mean Penis Coladas, inside joke :) What can I say, they don’t have ice cream so it was the next best thing!
If you are a true beach person that wants the opportunity to just slip away, this is it. If you require shopping, restaurants, spas etc, look elsewhere. St. Francis and Stocking Island give you the chance to visit paradise. I can definitely see why Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed on Exuma! Which brings up a point, we never visited the Tropic of Cancer beach or other southern portions of Exuma. After talking with other guest, they told us the beaches around Stocking Island were some of the best in the area. I’m sure the beaches on Little Exuma are nice; however, I can’t imagine they would be any nicer than the beaches on Stocking Island. We definitely will return and the next time ours kids will be old enough to go. I knew things went well when the wife said it was the best vacation ever! And she’s been to Hawaii already! Thank you Jill, George and Greg for a fantastic vacation!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- St Francis Resort is located in a pristine location on Stocking Island. Enjoy miles of whitesand beaches, diving and watersports, sailing, dining, and much more! ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Expedia, Venere, Hotels.com and Tingo so you can book your St Francis Resort reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- St Francis Hotel Great Exuma
- St Francis Resort Great Exuma, Bahamas