Trip Report | Exuma, Bahamas

Happy, happy Monday, friends! I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend, with lots of family, food, and fun! We spent a few days unplugged at the lake, celebrating both the holiday and our son’s 18th birthday. Then we packed the kids off for camp…and Mr. SP and I are positively giddy about a little time to ourselves!

It’s not like we can’t have regular date nights when the kids are home, but there’s just something different about having the whole house, right?! It’s definitely quieter, and I know I’ll be ready to have them back soon, but for now I’m enjoying every peaceful second! We’re taking turns planning the date nights, and tonight’s all mine…so you know it starts with tacos!

We’ve also got an exciting week ahead, with the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale starting Thursday for Icon and Ambassador members (the big shoppers!), and Friday for all cardholders. (Public Access starts Friday, July 19.) Immediately followed by Amazon’s Prime Day next Monday and Tuesday!! #holla You know I’m here for you, and already working hard to assemble just the best of the best, and my absolute favorite Sugarplum Style finds.

Last week I shared everything I wore in Greece, plus how I packed it all in a carry-on, and I’m excited to start recapping the trip details. But first, ya’ll have been burning up my inbox about our Spring Break trip to Exuma! #badblogger So before we embark on all things Greece, today I’m sharing the scoop on Exuma!

Until a few years ago, I’d never heard of this idyllic little island in the Bahamas…with crystal clear waters, powdery soft beaches, hearty food, and a single two-lane road. But my friend Emily Hewett (the mastermind behind A Well Dressed Home, who just so happens to be designing our master bath remodel right now!), goes all the time, and literally wouldn’t stop raving about it. I mean to the point that I just had to see this place for myself!! (She has a lengthy Instagram Story in her highlights with tons of island details.)

Emily’s so passionate about the island and the people there, that as soon as our flights were booked, she essentially planned our entire week for us! We discovered a few additional spots, and had seriously one of the best family weeks we’ve ever spent together. So while there is still so much to experience in Exuma, between the two of us, these are our highlights.

Day One // Arrive in Exuma

The airport is Georgetown, Bahamas (GGT), and from Dallas we flew American Airlines and connected through Charlotte on the way there, and Miami on the way back. You could also fly direct to Nassau, Bahamas, and take a puddle jumper to Exuma.

We rented a car from Airport Car Rental, which is located across the street from the airport, call and reserve ahead of time (no website, and the confirmation comes in the form of a vague email). They do drive on the left side of the road, but the roads are good to decent, and no special 4-wheel drive is necessary.

Sugarplum Travel Tip: Don’t forget your passport, and make sure it doesn’t expire within 6-months of your trip!


Pocket Tee | Jean Jacket | Jeans | Sandals | Earrings | Bag | Luggage

We arrived around lunchtime, and immediately hit the pool and beach at our hotel, The Grand Isle Resort (more on the resort at the end of the post). We spent the afternoon there, followed by an amazing dinner at nearby Big D’s Conch Spot.

Here’s what you need to know about restaurants in Exuma…99% of of them are practically in the sand (a dress code is non-existent), it could take 5 minutes or 1 hour to get your food (we played cards while we waited), and every meal will be one of the best you’ve ever eaten!! We loved every meal and restaurant mentioned in this post!


Swim Top | Swim Bottoms | Hat | Bangles | Ring | Earrings | Sunglasses


Striped Jumpsuit | Sandals


Crop Top with Shorts | Sandals | Earrings | Bangles | Sunglasses

 

Day Two // Swimming with the Pigs

The best thing about Exuma, besides the people, is the water! So you definitely want to get on it, and we loved every second of our Swimming with the Pigs excursion! We booked the ‘Public Half Day Swimming with Pigs Tour’ through Exuma Water Sports, and can’t recommend them enough! The guides were so fun, friendly, and knowledgeable, and the boats are pristine and well-maintained. See more about our experience with the pigs and the events of the day here.

Sugarplum Travel Tip: Book the morning trip when the weather is cooler and the pigs are still hungry! Plus, it leaves you the afternoon to explore the nearby Cocoplum Beach.

Mens’ Printed Swim short | Girls’ Ruffled Bikini | Swim Suit (same style for less here| Bangles | Hat | Sunglasses


Girls’ Ruffled Bikini | Swim Suit (same style for less here| Bangles


T Shirt | Shorts | Flip-Flops | Bangles


Tunic | Hat | Sunglasses | Flip-Flops

After the pigs, we headed to nearby Shoreline Beach Club for amazing fish tacos and a nap in their hammocks. Then it was an afternoon of swimming and exploring Cocoplum Beach, with fresh coconut water courtesy of a roadside stand.

The water is as calm as a lake, and you can see your feet no matter how deep you wade. At low tide, you can walk to nearby islands with the water never going higher than your waist!


Swim Suit (same style for less here| Bangles | Hat | Sunglasses

Dinner was stewed chicken and rice at Lighthouse Cafe. But go early, he posts 5-7 specials every day, and they sell-out fast!


Sante Fe Top | Shorts | Bangles | Earrings | Sunglasses

 

Day Three // Island Hopping

On day three, with Emily’s insistence and assurance, we hit the water on our own! We rented a 17-foot Boston Whaler from Minns Water Sports, located at the harbor in town (about 30-minutes from the hotel). They armed us with a cooler, map, and a few basic instructions, and we were off!

You’re never in open ocean, and the water is smooth and clear as far as you can see, so we felt comfortable the entire time. We started at the famous sandbar, a mile-long stretch of ankle-deep water in the middle of the bay, where we swam, hunted shells, and basically just frolicked and gawked at the beauty.

Sugarplum Travel Tip: Take advantage of the full-day boat rental (surprisingly affordable considering the boats!), and plan on starting early!


Colorblocked Swim Trunks


Palm Print Suit | Hat | Bangles | Sunglasses

From there, we motored to the Chat N Chill for lunch, a quirky spot on a little island accessible only by boat. You literally pull right up to the shore and anchor next to a line of boats. There’s music, amazing food, a fun bar, volleyball courts and swings, and lines of picnic tables.

If you’re lucky, the Conch Bar will still have fresh conch salad, but if not you can always feed the stingrays swimming nearby.

After dropping the boat back in town, we stopped at the Peace and Plenty bar for snacks and drinks…and some seriously good talks with locals.

 

Day Four // Little Exuma

Little Exuma is the next island over, accessible by boat or a single-lane bridge. It’s full of jaw-dropping beaches (where Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed!), yummy lunch spots, and a few swanky rental homes. Our favorite meal of the trip was at Tropic Breeze Beach Bar, overlooking the cliffs and water of Little Exuma. Afterwards, stop at Mamas for homemade rum cake!

We set up at Tropic of Cancer beach for the afternoon, before heading back to the Grand Isle for sunset by the pool. After that we headed back to Big D’s Conch for another round (Mr. SP loved their curry!).


One Piece Suit | Hat | Bangles | EarringsSunglasses

Day Five // Haulover Bay

We had plans for another day on the water with a boat from Minns Water Sports, but upon arrival, discovered the weather had become quite windy and it was best to stay on land. Instead, we explored the little town of Georgetown, with a cute library, straw market, and tiny waterfront area.

We had a huge breakfast at the sunny Peace and Plenty, then headed to Haulover Bay for the day. It’s a small little cove with a cute restaurant and bar, and a dock perched in knee-deep, crystal clear water. Just like everywhere in Exuma, it’s absolutely straight out of a postcard and hard to believe real!


Embroidered Top | Shorts | Hat | Flip-Flops | Bangles


Suit (same style for less here) | Hat | Bangles | Sunglasses

 

Day Six // Home

We squeezed a few hours and breakfast in at the hotel pool, then it was time to head home. But be warned: Exuma is not an easy place to leave!

Sugarplum Travel Tip: The Exuma airport is a single room with limited air-conditioning, so check-in for your flight, but linger outside until your flight is called before heading to the gate!


Pocket Tank (40% off!) | Jean Jacket | Jeans | Sandals | Earrings | Bag | Luggage

 

Where We Stayed // The Grand Isle Resort

Part of Exuma’s appeal is its lack of tourism! The bulk of the island is very bohemian and a little rough around the edges. So while the Grand Isle is incredibly nice (one of only two resorts on the entire island!), I had a hard time passing through the grand gates after a day spent with locals. I just couldn’t reconcile the two worlds. Also, our trip fell over Spring Break and the rates were ridiculously inflated.

That said, The Grand Isle is incredibly nice and I’d 100% recommend staying there if it fits your budget. They are fully-stocked condo units with a range of sizes, each with washer/dryer, full kitchens, and patios or balconies. There’s a gorgeous pool and beach, along with huge fitness room, on-site restaurant and bar (dress code enforced!), and a water sports desk. The employees are incredibly responsive and kind.

We had lunch there the first day, but opted to go off-site for more affordable, authentic lunch and dinner the rest of the trip. Breakfasts were made ourselves in the condo.

We had a one-bedroom, which was huge, but the small sleeper sofa made it a tight fit for sleeping four (the two-bedroom units were booked). We were also on the backside of the property, so we overlooked a marina, but some units are beachfront. When we return to Exuma (not if!), I’ll check rates and availability at the Grand Isle, but will also consider renting a little beach house.

Sugarplum Travel Tip: The Grand Isle offers grocery service, and will stock your fridge prior to arrival! The fee is a little steep, but worth the time savings for shorter trips.


Board Shorts | Seersucker Suit | Shorts | Black Swimsuit | Vans Tee | Swim Trunks

 

It was one of our favorite trips ever, and perfect for family! My photos and words can’t possibly do it justice, Exuma has a special magic, and definitely a place to experience, rather than just visit. I’m so grateful we had the chance before it becomes too ‘discovered.’

When asked about Exuma, we all agree it’s about two things…the water, and the people. You won’t find prettier or nicer!

See more of our Swimming with the Pigs Day here, and everything I packed and wore here. The full video highlight of our trip, with live shots of the beaches, restaurants, pigs and more, can be viewed here. I hope this Trip Report has been helpful in planning your own adventure, but feel free to leave any unanswered questions in the comments!

Leave a Comment

32 Comments

  1. Yay!!!! I’m so glad you loved it as much as I do!! It really is the best place ever!!!

    Posted 7.8.19 Reply
  2. Sandy wrote:

    What a great post !!
    Most helpful. It’s on my list, for sure.
    Sadly, many of those islands have been too “discovered”.
    Thanks, SPs!

    Posted 7.8.19 Reply
  3. Jessica Barshinger wrote:

    Great post! Can’t wait to go in two weeks! Cassie, did y’all find a need to rent a car while you were there? We plan to rent a boat a couple days but wondered if we need a car as well??? And, do you just call the hotel regarding the grocery service or can you do it all on line????? Thank you! This post will be so helpful for our upcoming trip!!! Xo

    Posted 7.8.19 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      So exciting, take me with you! Yes, you’ll need a car for exploring, the island is about 45-mins tip to tip by car. And if you want to go to Little Exuma, it’s a little further. I linked the agency we used in the post! have so much fun!

      Posted 7.8.19 Reply
  4. Cherith wrote:

    Thanks so much for sharing! If we were to plan a similar trip for 4, how much would you suggest to ‘budget’?

    Posted 7.8.19 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      It totally depends on how long you stay and what you do! I’d start with airfare, then price hotel/rental prices. There aren’t a lot of options, so the prices can be high. From there, add on the excursions like Exuma Water Sports and Minns Boat Rental. The restaurants are all pretty fairly priced, especially for the serving sizes.

      Posted 7.8.19 Reply
  5. Elyse wrote:

    Hi Cassie! Will we be able to shop the Nsale through your blog post on Thursday?! I always look forward to your coverage of the sale!

    Posted 7.8.19 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      Yes ma’am!! I might include a few first picks in Wednesday’s post! Then thursday will have my first faves, followed by a dressing room diaries on Friday!

      Posted 7.8.19 Reply
  6. Fran wrote:

    We just came home from a few days in Fort Lauderdale and the beaches were a mess with seaweed are the beaches in Exuma as pristine as the photos look all around the island?

    Posted 7.8.19 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      Oh no, that’s such a bummer! The beaches look exactly as pictured in my photos!! That’s how they were in March, anyway!

      Posted 7.8.19 Reply
      • Fran wrote:

        Totally adding Exuma to our bucket list. Thank you for sharing your experience!

        Posted 7.8.19 Reply
  7. Shirley Thurston wrote:

    Thank you for sharing your photos of your trip. It us so gorgeous there. Hope I can make it some day!

    Posted 7.8.19 Reply
  8. Beth K wrote:

    Oh my goodness! Beautiful! How do I convince my husband we need to go here ASAP?! Love all of your tips!

    Posted 7.8.19 Reply
  9. Rebecca wrote:

    Cassie. We are planning a trip in the spring. Reading your post was great. Now I have to talk hubby into the Greece trip!!

    Posted 7.8.19 Reply
  10. Anna wrote:

    Looks absolutely amazing and love your outfits, especially the blue tile print shorts and crop top, screams summer!

    xx A. | mylondonandbeyond.wordpress.com

    Posted 7.8.19 Reply
  11. Blair wrote:

    A friend recently visited Exuma and said similar things. It is on our list for a family vacation when our children are all a little bit older (can all wear underwear and swim independently).

    Posted 7.8.19 Reply
    • Sule wrote:

      On our first trip we took our 2 year old and he had a blast in swim diapers! There are tons of spots only a few inches deep; the massive bonefish flats on the south around Moriah Harbour (Haulover Bay, for example) and basically all of the southern/western side of Great and Little Exuma average about 1 foot deep at high tide. You can literally wade for miles, and it’s also good for kids sitting in a kayak or paddleboard being pulled by mama or papa.

      BTW, rent a house – cheaper and much better interaction with locals than the big resorts. Many even have waterfronts with free toys, and are uber private if you crave solitude. Disclaimer – we’re biased since we’re building a home there. Years ago, we abandoned hotels and mega resorts and never looked back.

      Posted 8.23.21 Reply
      • Stefanie Richter wrote:

        We are looking to do a first trip to Exuma this summer and looking at renting a house. Would love your insight as to where to rent on the island?

        Posted 6.21.23 Reply
  12. Melissa wrote:

    Thanks so much for sharing. Would you recommend any other resorts/places to stay? Starting to price it out for November.

    Posted 7.8.19 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      There’s a Sandals next door, and a handful of smaller hotels. I don’t have experience with them though!

      Posted 7.8.19 Reply
  13. Alicia wrote:

    Love your blog post!!! The Exumas are my absolute favorite in the Caribbean. We have been to Great Exuma twice and stayed on another island twice. Hoping to go back to Great Exuma next year. We have experienced several of the places you’ve mentioned… but your post has given me some more we haven’t been and to go and check out!!! Thank you!!!

    Posted 7.8.19 Reply
  14. Ginger wrote:

    Hi Cassie, Lovely to read about your wonderful visit to Exuma! Next time check out the Exuma Cay Land and Sea Park, an amazing and beautiful protected area with gorgeous marine life and exotic shells to see and enjoy! We have sailed around the Bahamas for years and are always moved by the incredible natural beauty and warm and friendly Bahamian people.

    Posted 7.8.19 Reply
  15. Julie B wrote:

    The pictures are stunning! Did you capture them with your phone or a digital camera?

    Posted 7.10.19 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      Thank you! All iPhone!!

      Posted 7.10.19 Reply
  16. JESSICA KELLER wrote:

    Hey! I was wondering would it be too crowded to visit here in the summer? What was the weather like when you visited in March?

    Posted 8.19.19 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      Hi Jessica. I’ve only been this one time, and it was Spring Break in march. And not crowded at all. So I can’t imagine it gets more crowded than that!! The weather in March was warm and sunny!

      Posted 8.20.19 Reply
  17. Paula wrote:

    Hi Cassie! Going to Exhuma next week and staying at Sandals! I have read all your reports about this fantastic island and appreciate your attention to trip detail so much! I will have my iPhone for pictures (like you) and wondered if you use a waterproof phone case (the kind that’s on a lanyard around your neck). Have never used one and not sure about picture quality through the plastic but I’d hate to drop my (new) iPhone in the water with all the excitement and great photo opportunities. Thanks!

    Posted 2.27.20 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      that’s so exciting!! You’ll have the BEST time! I don’t have a waterproof case…but do keep my phone in a zippered pouch when on a boat, etc.

      Posted 2.27.20 Reply
  18. Nicky wrote:

    we are booking a trip as of now, for spring break. Your blog has been super helpful!!!

    Thank you so much!!

    Posted 1.4.22 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      Oh I am so glad to hear that, Nicky! There are tons of Bahamas post on the blog!!! xo, C

      Posted 1.5.22 Reply
  19. Gainor Davis wrote:

    This is very helpful and looks amazing. Super random, but did you see many chickens roaming around at restaurants, etc.? A person in our group I had a major chicken phobia.

    Posted 9.18.22 Reply
    • Cassie wrote:

      This made me snicker a little…I get it, chickens aren’t my favorite! I don’t recall seeing many, if any at all! And if we did, they certainly wanted nothing to do with us!

      Posted 9.23.22 Reply