Planning your itinerary for one week in the Exumas? While much of the Bahamian experience is rooted in the trifecta of sun, sand, and sea, there are a range of things to do in the Exumas as you craft your itinerary for an epic week in the Bahamian Out Islands. Below I’m sharing our itinerary for a week in the Exumas, which includes a couple of memorable boat days, plus some beach exploration.
Day 1 ✧ Arrive + Settle In on Great Exuma
Following our trip to the Exumas, I had many intrigued people send me messages on Instagram asking how exactly to get to the Exumas. It’s a valid question if you haven’t been and the natural consideration is flying into Nassau, the Bahamas’ most popular point of entry. Unless you’re planning on spending time in Nassau though, your options for flying direct into the Exuma island chain are likely a better bet. Great Exuma (GGT) has a great airport for accessing the region, and direct flights from FLL, ATL, MIA and CLT are available. If you’re on an early flight like us, you’ll be able to check into your accommodations by mid-day, giving you the afternoon to settle into beach life with a Goombay Smash in hand.
Tips + Takeaways: For those planning a trip to the Exumas, a follow-up question – naturally – is where to base yourselves in the region. We opted for a stay at Grand Isle Resort on Great Exuma, but other popular options include Sandals (adjacent to Grand Isle), February Point, Lumina Point (on Stocking Island) and Staniel Cay Yacht Club (on Staniel Cay). Beyond hotels, villa rentals are a popular option (Salt House, for example is a gorgeous villa property), and one that I’d absolutely explore on a future visit. If you’re the kind of traveler that tends to like to get off-the-beaten-path and you’re worried that staying on Great Exuma will feel too ‘done’, let that worry go. Opt to rent a villa vs. staying in a hotel for a more secluded experience, but know that being on Great Exuma has its merits as you’ll have access to boat rentals, ferries to Stocking Island, grocery shopping, etc.
Wondering what to wear? Read my guide to Packing for the Exumas for a bit of inspo!
Day 2 ✧ Exploring Highlights by Boat with Sugar Adventure Co.
With a week in the Exumas, we opted for two full days dedicated to boating in the region. As I’ve mentioned in every post I’ve written on the topic, I think boating is really non-negotiable if weather permits. Factor at least one boat day into your budget (whether you opt for a shared trip or a private charter) because you really get to understand the wow-factor that draws people back year after year when you’re zipping through this island chain by water.
For our first full day boating in the Exumas we opted for our self-dubbed ‘Highlights Tour’, scoping out the region’s main draws by boat. If you have only one day of boating on your calendar, this is the itinerary you’ll want to replicate with stops at Leaf Cay (Iguana Island), Pig Beach, Thunderball Grotto and Compass Cay to swim with the sharks.
Read about our full day boating in the Exumas with Sugar Adventure Co. for more inspiration!
Day 3 ✧ Golf + Sun at Grand Isle
As one of my New Year’s resolutions, I vowed to take a golf lesson. I’ve always wanted to learn to play but never made it a reality until this year when I signed up for a couple of private lessons and played a few holes at our local golf course. Having only taken my first lesson a few weeks prior to this trip, I bowed out of golfing at Sandals Emerald Bay Golf Course but did follow the guys around in our golf cart for the second half of the round where the majority of the holes are on the water. For golfers, I can’t imagine there are many courses that out-rank this one on beauty! The green fees for non-resident golfers is about $125 for a round.
After a round of golf we jetted to Big D’s Conch Shack for lunch with a view before soaking up some sun for the rest of the day. If you have a week in the Exumas (or the Bahamas in general!), you must get your fill of conch during your trip. You’ll see it served up in a million ways. Conch salad (fresh, done ceviche-style) was my absolute favorite but you’ll see conch burgers, cracked conch, conch fritters, blackened conch and more available on menus. Eat up!
Tips + Takeaways: Let’s talk food for a second here. If the Exumas have one area for improvement, it’s the dining scene. We found good dining options extremely limited, especially for dinner, which is why I think renting a villa is a great alternative to provide options for grilling in with your group. We didn’t venture too far afield for dinner but our favorite options were 23° North at Grand Isle and La Fourchette.
Day 4 ✧ Little Exuma, Sandy Cay + Stocking Island
After having experienced the highlights during our first day boating, we asked the team at Sugar Adventures to take us to some new fan favorites only accessible by boat. This time, we headed south to the furthest point of the Exumas: Sandy Cay. The journey there was just as beautiful as the destination, through the crystal clear shallows where water is often just a few feet deep. Sandy Cay was a highlight but it was followed with a lunch stop at Chat n’ Chill at Stocking Island which closed out the day on a high note!
Read about our day exploring Stocking Island and Sandy Cay by boat!
Tips + Takeaways: Interested in bringing your drone to the Bahamas? It’s an incredible destination to capture the water from above but there are regulations for bringing in your drone. You’ll need to email the government in advance to get a written letter and provide those details upon entry. We left a $150 deposit upon arrival and retrieved it upon departure when we showed that our drone was still in our possession.
Day 5 ✧ Golf/Spa Day + Tropic of Cancer Beach
For the second golf day, we opted to head to the spa while the guys got in their second round of the trip. With an Elemis Spa on site at Grand Isle and nearly a week’s worth of sun, I knew my face would need some extra TLC. The spa (which is small but well equipped) offers a range of facials plus options for massages and scrubs on site. Following our spa + golf combo, we jumped in our car and headed south to Little Exuma and Tropic of Cancer Beach.
Little Exuma and Great Exuma are connected by bridge so getting to the smaller neighboring island is a cinch. The famous Tropic of Cancer beach is on Little Exuma, about a 45 minute drive from our home base. There are a few famous restaurants and beach bars that grace this sandy stretch but the advice we received from a range of locals pointed us to Tropic Breeze (the other option is Santana’s). After lunch, we headed to the beach for the afternoon. And can I be honest? Yes, Tropic of Cancer is gorgeous but I’m not entirely sure what makes it more gorgeous than any other beach in the Exumas. Making the pilgrimage to this stretch is practically a rite of passage for beach enthusiasts but if you aren’t able to swing it, don’t fret!
Tips + Takeaways: Take chairs and/or beach towels to Tropic of Cancer beach (chairs are recommended). Many people complain about No-See-Ums in the Bahamas and laying in the sand isn’t going to help with avoiding bugs! There didn’t seem to be places to rent chairs when we arrived in the mid to late-afternoon so come prepared.
Day 6 ✧ Stocking Island
During our second boat day, we stopped at Chat n’ Chill for lunch on Stocking Island but we wanted a fully dedicated day to enjoy the beach bar and neighboring island. For our final full day, we took Elvis’ Water Taxi to Stocking Island ($15pp round trip) where we spent the day from about 11AM until 4PM, soaking up the sun, swimming with stingrays and enjoying fresh conch on the beach. If you’re not based on Stocking Island a day trip there is worth putting on your calendar! For those that aren’t as big on the beach bar vibes, check out the restaurant at Lumina Point, also located on Stocking Island.
Day 7 ✧ Departure
Finally, it’s time for departure. We had an early morning flight home via Florida while the rest of our crew had the morning to hang with their afternoon flights. If you do have time to enjoy the morning, you can take the opportunity to enjoy one of the beach bars for a bite before saying goodbye.
Bahamas lovers out there (I know there are many!), what would you add to a perfect week in the Exumas? Any restaurants that are secret faves that are worth mentioning?