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Is Great Exuma For US?

Anguilla
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927 posts
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Is Great Exuma For US?

My wife and I have vacationed on Anguilla frequently for the past 19 years and we just returned from Anegada in the British Virgin islands. We're looking for two new island destinations that are both inhabited by friendly people who are very laid back. Since we are animal lovers, we would prefer to vacation on islands that are animal-friendly.

We're planning a 2 week vacation for July, and would prefer to split our time at two different destinations; one week on Great Exuma and the other week spent on another island that can be reached by ferry or a "puddle-jumper aircraft, will offer many of the same attractions.

We are NOT strong swimmers so we prefer calm, warm, turquoise waters. We have snorkeled various Caribbean islands and have not found any of them to be a snorkeler's paradise. We'd love to snorkel reefs that are in shallow water and that are relatively close to the shoreline; reefs that are teeming with marine life and beautiful live coral heads.

We are not fancy people and do not prefer to stay in a luxurious resort populated by several hundred guests. We would rather rent a very comfortable cottage that is on or very close to the beach. We would prefer this cottage to be within a 15 to 20 minute jeep drive to 3 or 4 restaurants serving very good food. We would also love to listen to a live band and do some dancing during our vacation.

Can any of you Great Exuma specialists make recommendations to us that will suit our needs or are we being unrealistic with our "laundry list" of amenities and requirements? Thanking you in advance for your suggestions! Zabar

Philadelphia
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800 posts
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1. Re: Is Great Exuma For US?

Sounds like Great Exuma can fit most of your requests. I'll bullet point it to make it easier to read.

- The people on Exuma as extremely friendly. You'll see this observation made on many on posts in the forum.

- Not sure what you mean by animal friendly. Were you looking to bring your pets with you? That may be a problem for quarantine reasons and accomodations. On the island you will see a number of "potcakes" - local dogs. You should take the same precautions you would at home around dogs you don't know. Not all are friendly.

-Long Island or possibly Staniel Cay may be reachable by one-flight puddle jumper. Other islands will require a stop in Nassau.

- You should find most beaches in and around Exuma very easy to swim off of - especially off the harbor side of Stocking Island - VERY CALM. Snorkeling is alright. There are a few reefs of the beach. Most, however, will require a bit of a swim from the beach or off a boat. The reef between Fowl and Guana Cays are great but might not be good for you if you aren't good swimmers.

- There are a number of cottages to rent. Just look on the forum for some names. There are also some resorts that rent reasonable cottage like accomodations with hotel amenities too. Look into Regatta Point and Palm Bay for smaller studio like rooms. Club Peace n Plenty or Coconut Cove for more hotel like rooms. There is a friendly dog and some nice cats that live at Regatta Point too. On RP's website you'll see that the dog, Grosvenor, is the director of activities.

- All of the previously listed accomodations are close to the restaurants on the island. Most are situated close to Georgetown.

- Dancing and bands may be hard to come by this time of year. July is very off-season. One possibility is the rake 'n scrape at Eddie's Edgewater in Georgetown- if it's happening.

Good luck

Houston
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2. Re: Is Great Exuma For US?

Wow! Sound slike a great vacation:)

Exuma has what you are looking for. If you check out this message board, you'll find all the recommendations for what you need.

Hotels: Most are pretty small. No big resort type places. 'House' type rooms are very popular. I would recommend Palm Bay as it has nice rooms, food on site and close to George Town for entertainment and other restuarants.

Water: Very calm, shallow, clear. We found great snorkling off Stocking Island in a spot where the Atlantic washes into the harbour; south of Char N Chill. There are numerous spots where you can walk out to snorkle.

Pets: We didn't bring our 3 labs:(, but we haven't seen many strays or anything like that. The island is raising funds for a new animal shelter if that helps.

Any additional questions (or answers)? I'm sure you'll get great responses from the others that frequent here!

Anguilla
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927 posts
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3. Re: Is Great Exuma For US?

You folks are making me feel right at home, just as though I was posting on the Anguilla Forum.

By the way, "Blamona" and I are "buddies", but I thought that I would publicly post anyway, just to see what the "vibe" was like on the "Great Exuma Forum". The "vibe" feels just fine... thank you.

If any one of you are interested in Anguilla and you would like any information on AXA that Blamona hasn't already provided to you (and I sincerely doubt that I know more than Blamona about Anguilla), I'll do my best to assist you. Zabar

Laurel, Maryland
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325 posts
107 reviews
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4. Re: Is Great Exuma For US?

In the interest of helping you manage your expectations about the Out Islands in general, I'm going to offer some thoughts here. I preface them by noting that the Out Islands are MY favorite place in the islands to travel (and I've just been to Anguilla -- see my report here: www.islandtime.homestead.com -- so I have a basis for comparison). I've also seen your report on Anegada (and have visited there myself, but only by saiboat), so I have a sense of some of your concerns. With that as background, I offer the following thoughts:

- The waters of the Out Islands are calm and turquoise on the lee sides of the islands; the ocean beaches are dramatic and have the expected Atlantic surf (and also the associated flotsam). The beaches, in my personal opinion, are as nice as -- if not nicer -- than those on Anguilla. I prefer the Bahamian beaches because most of them are empty and secluded, and there is an endless variety, but I also appreciated Anguilla's fantastic beach bars. There are fewer beach bars in the Out Islands.

- I don't know about Exuma in particular, but I've not been wowed with Out Island snorkeling in general (but I've not been to Andros, which is supposed to be pretty great). But I haven't looked that hard, either.

- The islanders are very friendly and warm, but can be somewhat reserved; they are not as openly friendly as Anguillans are. As you have probably learned in your travels, interactions should follow the expected routine of a greeting and small talk before launching into "business."

- The islanders may appear quite poor to our eyes, and much of the housing stock will also appear so. There are no subprime mortgages here (or any mortgages for that matter), so people build what they can afford. You'll see buildings in various phases of construction; they are not abandoned, but are in progress.

- There is a lack of infrastructure. Trash collection, especially bulk trash, is a problem. Animals will be a concern, too, especially the "potcake" dogs. Some islands, like the Abacos, have spaying/neutering clinics, but that's hardly universal. I haven't seen much in the way of feral livestock, however.

- "Very good food" a la Anguilla is not going to happen, except perhaps at the "fancy" resorts like the Four Seasons. You'll get basic, decent food. Conch prepared ten or more different ways (salad (ceviche), chowder, cracked, fried, burger, stewed, creole, etc.) and fresh grouper are common. A lot of fried food, peas and rice, and iceberg lettuce. Most food is shipped in from the US, and costly. Be prepared to make reservations, so they know whether to open.

- Grocery stores are not going to be especially well-stocked, and you may need to go to several shops to find what you're looking for.

I don't want to scare you off; clearly, Walker's (and others') candor about Anegada didn't frighten you, and Anegada is much like some of the Out Islands. While I'm a big fan of the Out Islands, I recognize they are not for everyone. I can't get enough -- I'll be flying to Georgetown myself in a few months, and then puddle jumping to Long Island where I'll stay at Cape Santa Maria. That might be a good Part Two for your trip as well.

Good luck planning!

Mobile, Alabama
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5. Re: Is Great Exuma For US?

Well said, Red Sabre.

North Carolina
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6. Re: Is Great Exuma For US?

Have not been to Out Islands and am considering. Since Zabar did not mention boating should he possibly consider Eleuthera instead or in addition to Exuma if he is not that much into boating?

Nashville, TN
Destination Expert
for Nashville
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2,703 posts
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7. Re: Is Great Exuma For US?

I do think Eleuthera beats Exuma for snorkeling close to shore. Overall, Eleuthera has more beach choices with the calm waters of the west side and the Atlantic's wilder seas.

Baltimore, Maryland
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63 posts
8 reviews
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8. Re: Is Great Exuma For US?

OK I was planning to go to Anegada, now I'm not sure I want to I also love Anguilla, but looking for another island I have been to Virgin Gorda, Bequia, Barbados, St Martin, Lucia, Barts, Johns, Thomas, Grenda, Bermuda, Culabra, Martique Turks, Cayman and Nevis

Looking for quiet, privacy and great beaches-just 2 of us Thinking of Palm Island, Peter Island, and Canouan Don't want to spend an arm and a leg

We love to just relax eat in most dinners- so looking for a villa/house

WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND

THANKS FOR ALL YOU HELP

BEACHAGO

Colorado, USA
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174 posts
19 reviews
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9. Re: Is Great Exuma For US?

To BEACHAGO

Exuma is a superb location for relaxation, privacy and great beaches. You can go upscale at February Point or Four Seasons, mid range at Palm Bay Beach Villas, Peace & Plenty, Regatta Point, Coconut Cove or St Francisville hotel (on Stocking Island). There are also private villas/cottages, such as Mermaid House. Read around this forum andyou will see reviews of all of these places.

Exuma is very low key, you won't see any celebs, such as on St Barts. The beaches are long and quiet, much like you see on Corona commercials. You can rent a small boat and explore the many beaches around Elizabeth Harbor, or just hang out on a beach and read a book. Since you have explored so many other islands on the Caribbean, Exuma would be a good spot to try the Out islands. You can fly into Georgetown (GGT) on flights from Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Atlanta or Nassau.

Colorado, USA
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10. Re: Is Great Exuma For US?

Correctingmyself, the hotel on Stocking Island is called the St. Francis resort.