One of the best things about travelling to a new destination is that you never know what to expect. No matter how much research you do online, how many people you talk to, you can never guarantee that you’ll have the same experience as them.
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from The Bahamas, but I was pretty sure it would be nothing short of spectacular. Was I right? You bet.
After what seemed like a lifetime of transit, one plane after the next, 25 hours later we arrived in Nassau, The Bahamas. Unfortunately, we weren’t quite there yet, with an overnight stay in Nassau before heading to The Great Exumas. One thing that isn’t widely published online is to get to anywhere worthwhile in The Bahamas, you’ll need to catch a short flight or ferry from the mainland of Nassau. Unfortunately, these ferries don’t run everyday and most planes don’t depart after 8pm, so it is wise to check this before booking your flights. Nevertheless, we were on our way at 7am the next morning, a forty minute flight from Nassau to George Town.
George Town is The Great Exuma Island’s major city, and I use that term loosely. There really isn’t anything major about this town, other than a few sparse shops and a tiny airport. But this is the beauty of The Bahamas. With their limited shops and facilities, you realise the main tourist attraction is one simple thing – to relax.
A quick taxi ride takes us to our resort – Paradise Bay Resort Rokers Point. I found this place after doing extensive research online, still a little unsure of what to expect given that I read mixed reviews. I can say though, Paradise Bay exceeded our expectations. Our cottage was situated right on a secluded beach, looking straight out onto that ocean of calm, crystal clear water.
It’s the kind of place you can only dream about. When you finally get there, you still think you are dreaming. It’s like you’ve escaped reality, a surreal feeling of being lost in paradise but never wanting to be found. Every time I looked around, I couldn’t believe my eyes. This place is perfection in every sense of the word, something that I’ll keep in my mind forever, the ultimate depiction of wanderlust.
WHERE TO STAY: Paradise Bay Resort Rokers Point. Some of the other resorts seem to have better reviews than this place, but if you’re after a more homely, Bahamian style resort, check this out. Paradise Bay Resort offers free kayak and stand up paddle boarding, along with a beach that isn’t overcrowded and super friendly staff. Unlike other resorts, it only has one small restaurant and doesn’t necessarily offer every facility under the sun, but I truly believe that’s what makes it special. In comparison to some of the resorts up the road where you are gated away from the real world with several restaurants, unlimited facilities and loads of tourists, Paradise Bay is a taste of the real Bahamian culture – simple, understated and enhanced by the natural beauty of the island.
WHAT TO DO: Relax! Swim and sleep on the beach! Or hire a car and drive around the Island, visit the Tropic of Cancer Beach, where the Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed.
On Sundays there is a party at Stocking Island where you can catch a quick ferry from George Town and visit the quirky Chat n Chill, have a drink with locals and tourists alike. Here you’ll find friendly stingrays in the water, they’ll swim right up to you.
THE SWIMMING PIGS (Four C’s Adventures): If you don’t do anything else in The Bahamas, you have to do this! I chose to do this tour on my 32nd birthday and in all my years, it goes down as the best birthday I’ve ever had. The tour starts in the morning where they’ll pick you up from your hotel, take you to the boat dock where you’ll head off with your tour group exploring the islands of The Bahamas. First stop takes you past islands owned by celebrities, followed by a snorkel in Thunderball Grotto, then off to Staniel Cay where the infamous Swimming Pigs live. These pigs are wild and will swim right up to you in the water, something that has to be seen to be believed. After the pigs you’ll head to lunch on another island, followed by a swim with Nurse Sharks, visit the Iguana Island and finally Starfish Bay. This tour is a full day of exploring the islands so make sure you bring an underwater camera and don’t forget your sunscreen!
SAFETY: The Great Exuma Island is incredibly safe so don’t be afraid to talk to the locals and get an understanding of their culture. If you are spending time in Nassau however, be extremely careful! Nassau is notoriously dangerous due to poverty and drugs, so just be on your guard.
MONEY: The Bahamas accepts both Bahamian and US Dollars however make sure you spend all your Bahamian dollars before you leave as it can be a bit harder to convert it back.
CAR HIRE: The Exumas Island is small, however hiring a car for a few days can maximise your time there. It is extremely hot so just walking down the road can feel like a huge mission.
FOOD: If you have a fussy diet, it can be tricky finding food on the island, especially if you’re vegetarian. Don’t be afraid to ask the chef to cook something especially for you – The staff and locals are the friendliest people in the World!