The Exumas (pronounced ex-OO-mas) are a hidden treasure: a mostly uninhabited, 120-mile long archipelago of 365 cays that stretch in a narrow crescent southeast from Nassau. In the crystal clear water ranging from pale aqua to deep sapphire, the bottom never seems out of reach. The crown jewel is the Exumas Cays Land and Sea Park, 174 square miles of fish-filled waters and miniscule cays populated with tropical birds, fauna, and the faded ruins of British Loyalist plantations. Anglers will find a haven outside the Park in 6,000-foot depths on the Exuma Sound.
Snorkelers, SCUBA divers, kayakers, and naturalists can explore endless reefs, caves, and mangroves that are brimming with wildlife. From the prehistoric Bahamian Iguanas on Allen's Cay to wild pigs that swim out to greet visitors, the Exumas never cease to thrill.
Fortunately, the intricate shallow reefs that surround the Exumas keep larger and deeper drafted vessels away, leaving these truly virgin islands free of commercial development and cruise ship clutter. The few settlements and marinas have colorful character and island flair.
Like the rest of the Bahamas, the Exumas have a rather eclectic history. Lucayan Indians inhabited these islands until Columbus' arrival led to their demise. Pirates exploited the hidden anchorages, and British Loyalists grew cotton in its thin soil. Watermen tried their hand at running blockades during The Civil War and rum during Prohibition. A crashed cargo plane at Norman's Cay is a reminder of the area's drug smuggling days. These are truly islands of adventurers!
Nassau/Paradise Island/Rose Island/Green Cay
Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, is located on New Providence Island. The Bahamas is an independent country, although they still have many flairs of their former British government, quite evident throughout downtown Nassau. Paradise Island lies just across the harbor from Nassau, with Rose Island and Green Cay nearby. These undeveloped islands, with miles of beaches, coves and reefs to explore, take less than an hour to reach, but you'll feel worlds away!