We just got back a couple weeks ago from our third annual May trip to Great Exuma. This year we brought my boyfriend's father and his girlfriend, Exuma first-timers. It is always so fun to see people's faces when they see the water for the first time! The weather forecast was HORRID but we kept our fingers crossed and hoped for the best. We live in North Central FL, so we take the American Airlines flight Orlando-Miami-Georgetown. No issues, all flights on time and we arrived in Exuma around 1:15 pm. We rented a SUV from Thompson's right across the street from the airport. They were great to work with as always. As I was signing the paperwork I noticed a sign that said "Do not drive past Georgetown, the roads are all flooded." Our rental is past Georgetown and I got scared for a minute. I knew they had been getting a lot of rain but was not expecting that! The girl said to be careful but we should be okay to get to our rental...And to wait for a couple days of no rain before heading to Little Exuma. I was upset thinking about missing out on some of our favorite beaches and restaurants but like I said, we had our fingers crossed for the weather to improve. The Honda CRV was a little more beat up than the one we had last year but no issues with it whatsoever.
The skies were grey and the winds were high but we were so excited to be back and on our way to our villa. This was our second year staying at Cottage Cut Villas. We love the waterfront two bedroom, two bath villas... they are simple, clean, and everything you need. We were the only renters there that week so it was very private! The roads had gotten worse from all the rain and the potholes were HUGE. Just be careful and don't take your eyes off the road. We went thru some small flooded areas but when we got past Georgetown, there was a very deep "pond" right in front of February Point. We had to just aim for the middle and go slow but we made it.
We dropped our stuff off, and ran back to town for some groceries and beer. Exuma Market was well stocked. And at the liquor store next door, the price of beer had gone down a little, which was a bonus as we all four enjoy having a beer or two on a beach vacation!
We went to Blu at the Exuma Yacht club for dinner that night. The winds were wild but it kept the bugs away. Dinner was good and didn't take long. Their drink cooler was not functioning properly and the beers were warm, but we had a nice evening looking out at their awesome view.
Thursday had 80 percent chance of storms but we wanted to go to Stocking Island. Our villa has a boat rental there on sight but it was entirely too windy (25-30 mph) so we opted for the water taxi. We went over around 9:30 am and got dropped off at the little path for the Atlantic side beach. We had the whole place to ourselves for at least an hour, and even after that we saw three people total. We made our way back towards Chat N Chill when they opened around 11:30. We hung a T-shirt up for my boyfriend's family owned Hardware Store (Gilbert's Hardware)last year, and we were excited to show his father that it was still hanging up right at the front door. He thought that was pretty cool, and good advertising too! The stingrays kept us busy until you could order food at 12:30. The service was excellent compared to in the past!! We met lots of people and made plans to meet up with some later on.
Friday was the only day the sun didn't come out at all and the rain chances were high so we stuck close to town. We went to the Fish Fry for lunch. Ate at Shirley's for our first time and it was awesome. Had a couple beers at the little blue bar next to Two Turtles Inn in Georgetown. They always have a great bartender and if it's open we love to stop there. I don't think a lot of people know about it but it's one of our favorite little hole in the wall bars. Visited the Straw Market. Their new building was getting its final set of steps built while we were there. It is a great set up for the ladies selling their goods. We walked down to see the Peace & Plenty Hotel, as it was not open last trip. It is very nicely remodeled inside. We went in the Slave Kitchen bar and looked at all the old photographs on the wall. Their hotel greeter is the NICEST man and if you get a chance to talk to him, please do! He has worked there for over 50 years and has all kinds of history and information that he loves to share! We grilled out at home that night on our huge back porch and enjoyed the view.
Saturday the weather was still too windy to use our boat. We could tell the "pond" in front of February Point had gone down slightly, and also heard from a few locals that it was the worst part, so we decided to venture to Little Exuma. I was disappointed that the wind wouldn't die down but it was definitely helping with the bugs... I'm sure the mosquitos would have carried us off with all that standing water. Stopped at Forbe's Hill Beach first and swam awhile there in the protected cove area. We were the only people there. Then we went to Tropic of Cancer and it was gorgeous as always but very wavy and the wind made sure you got a nice sand exfoliation :) Time for lunch at our favorite place, Santanna's! We hung one of our hardware store hats up and Dee made sure she took pictures with us and the hat. She was out of lobster as it's not in season and she told us to call her on Tuesday (Monday was a holiday) and she would let us know if she got any in her shipment. Grabbed some cakes from Mom's Bakery next door. The food at both was amazing as usual. We love the hot sauce!! Stopped to visit the Salt Marker. Then we had to try to find Haulover Bay, as we had not done that in the past. We found it and they were unfortunately closed but the view is to die for. We just HAD to get in the water for a few minutes. We really wish they had been open and will definitely go back there in the future. We walked over to the cemetery next door and it was very interesting to see the old headstones. Headed home, took showers, and got ready for Rake N Scrape at Blu. It was a good time, lots of people, and the bartender recognized us and immediately offered to put our beer on ice. She remembered how their cooler wasn't working when we had been there a few nites before... that was very nice of her!Sunday the wind had let up a little tiny bit (now 15-20 mph) so we got to take our rental boat out FINALLY! Back to Chat N Chill for the pig roast. There was a HUGE ray hanging there today and we spent a lot of time giving them all scraps of conch. No one else was really interested in feeding them so it was like we had them all to ourselves. Had a great time and met lots of new people and saw some familiar faces of people we had already met. While waiting on food, the storms rolled in and everyone ran to the building. It made for tight quarters but after about 30 minutes the rain let up and it was back to a decent, but windy, day. Grilled out for dinner at home.
Monday we got up early as my boyfriend and I were going bonefishing. I went last year but he had yet to try it. Reno Rolle is an amazing guide and we had a blast. The scenery in the mangroves/bonefish flats is unreal. We each caught a couple bonefish, even with the sun not cooperating at times. My boyfriend's second fish was about 5 lbs! Such a fun time. We were home by lunch and jumped back on our boat. It was high tide so no sand bar at the end of Stocking Island but we cruised around a little and showed our first-timers some of the scenery. Went to the Mystery Cave in the lagoon and sadly enough, no Barry the barracuda to greet us. That was a first. We have tons of great underwater footage of him from previous years. We hope he is still around and we just happened to have missed him. Made another stop at Chat N Chill... we were regulars by this point but its literally just across the Harbour from our villa! We grilled dinner at home again and got to bed early because the first-timers were going on Sugar Adventures in the morning.
Tuesday, we all got up early as we had to make the drive all the way up to Barraterre. By this point I was a champion pot hole avoider left hand side driver. We have been on the full day tour twice now so my boyfriend and I decided to sit this one out. After getting them checked in at the office and dropped off at the dock, we decided to drive to Exuma Point. We found it but we unfortunately weren't thinking about how early it still was and nothing would be open. We parked and wandered around, found the cave etc. Very cool spot and we will definitely go back in the future. Stopped at Splash for a late breakfast. We stayed at Hideaways on our first trip to Exuma and they have done some improvements outside by the pool etc. The same ladies work there and one remembered us. Got back to the house and was almost tempted to take a nap but we fought the urge as it was our last full day. Jumped on the boat and went to a little secret spot we found near Cray Cay last year. Caught two big mutton snapper right away and then they quit biting but still super fun! Ran over to Chat N Chill to grab some tshirts and gifts to take home with us. We were waiting til the end of the trip to make sure we didn't spend all our money, the gift shop is not cheap! But we have never bought any shirts in the past and we went ahead and splurged. Went back to Barraterre to pick them up at the dock. They had a great time of course! We went to Peace & Plenty that night and I got the bartender to surprise my boyfriend for his birthday (it was the next day but we couldn't really celebrate at airports hahah). He was so shocked and the whole pool bar area was in on it, we had about 20 people all singing Happy Birthday. It was great but made me sad to leave all the awesome people in Exuma, both locals and visitors.
Wednesday we got up and packed. We had some time to kill on the way to the airport so we went back thru Georgetown, fueled up the car, grabbed a real estate book, and pulled in to Peace & Plenty to see if they were serving food yet. We were greeted with "There's the birthday boy!!" by all the employees that had been working the night before. I can't even explain how kind the locals in Exuma are. They want you to love their home as much as they do. And trust me we do! Can't wait to go back and maybe even one day own something there. All in all, our weather cleared up for the most part, other than the wind, and we had another memorable trip.