Great Exuma 2018

June 17, 2018  •  Leave a Comment


“For words, like Nature, half reveal and half conceal the Soul within.” - Alfred Tennyson

     I love this quote...for a variety of reasons, mainly the truth in it. Photos are like words for me, so while the photo above and the beaches in the ones below portray an incredible beauty, the things that stuck with me the most on this little excursion aren't photographed and I don't even know how to begin to share. We'll keep with the photos...Exuma is an incredibly beautiful place.

    The Exumas...a group of over 365 cays stretching 130 miles. We stayed on Great Exuma near Georgetown the capital. We also visited Little Exuma and Stocking Island. We found this little place when Delta opened service 8ish years ago. We were the second flight to the islands, the first one to refuel on the island, an experience in itself for the terrified to fly person I am, but it hasn't kept us from going back. This was our 3rd trip. I used to work at a scuba diving shop, love to dive, and I've been to over half a dozen different Caribbean Islands and Exuma is our favorite because of the solitude. We don't even scuba dive here. It is not for everyone by any means. There is no party night scene, no crowds of people anywhere, relaxed pace, make your own adventure, a different way of life. There are a few resorts on the island, all inclusive, but you miss out on the experience if you just stay put in one place. We have stayed at Hideaways, a condo type place we found on VRBO, and then here at Augusta Bay. They are all about the same. We aren't picky...just a place to sleep and wash away the salt and sand from the day :) 


 Augusta Bay

 

     We arrived early in the day and took out the double kayak (I wanted single ones lol, but we couldn't find two singles, just one, so we managed to kayak together haha). The beach in front of the hotel isn't terrible, again, just not where you want to stay. We kayaked around the point to Jolly Hall Beach. It's a beautiful beach that you can walk to just down the road if you don't want to kayak. Kayaking however, allows you to snorkel around the point. Exuma has a lot of beautiful sand...you have to work a little to find rocks and reef that make for good snorkeling. Jolly Hall beach itself is beautiful. We didn't see another human being the entire time we relaxed on the sand and in the water. 


Jolly Hall Beach

 

     The next day we decided to head to Coco Plum beach at the northern end of the island. I checked the tides before going (you want to go at low tide) and low tide was around 10. It is about a 30 minute drive, no road signs to get you there...driving....you drive on the left side of the road...one main highway. The roads are not crowded, in fact we took a round about the wrong direction and saw no one but when all you see is the back of the yield sign you know you are going the wrong way lol. Renting a car is the way to go. Taxi's are expensive, easily 30 dollars per way, I overheard $80.00 quoted for one location, and we rented a little car (pictured at the end) for 60 dollars/day, went all over the island more than once, and filled it back up for $25.00. We travel as cheap as possible. A car, or a boat to visit the different cays, are definitely worth looking into renting.

     Coco Plum is beautiful. It's where the first photo was taken. The water is low and you can literally walk for miles in the ocean which we did. I wore my GPS watch...it shows us going a mile into the ocean and the water never ever reached our waist. Here at Coco Plum you can find sand dollars. We have a basket full, only keep the dead white ones, throw the green ones back. We also found a few star fish, a few shells, and endless views of incredible clear/blue water. This was the most crowded beach we visited although at times just a few people there and there are literally miles of beach. I didn't edit people out of any of the photos...we were only around people for brief moments in passing. After enjoying the water, we walked back up towards the entrance and hung hammocks. Dave already fell out of his once, which was hysterical but not on camera, and then I wanted a photo of us both so I set up a the tripod, auto timer, 10 second delay, ran to get in my hammock, fell out, and of course that's what is captured on camera :) :) :) This is such a fabulous place to attempt to quiet your mind. 

Coco Plum Beach

Coco Plum Beach

     After Coco Plum we had intentions of eating at one of our favorite places, Big D's but they are closed on Mondays so we road tripped it to Santana's on Little Exuma. The BEST place to eat. We found this little gem on our second trip, it's a reason in itself to go back to the island. You never know what you are going to get though. They were out of ribs and shrimp this time, it's all fresh, but I go for the lobster, Dave got grouper so we were totally fine. Santana's is on the water...another beautiful view of incredible beach and water. We also made a stop after eating at the Tropic of Cancer Beach. We didn't play around here, just took a photo. There were about half a dozen people at this beach, but there would have been plenty of beach to walk and get away from the "crowd" had we wanted to stay. 

Santana's (the beach at Santana's has the grass and sea weed) and Tropic of Cancer Beach

     Day 3 we decided to take the water taxi over to Stocking Island. It makes two different drops...Hamburger Beach and the Chat n Chill. We've done the Chat n Chill before, wasn't our thing, the closest thing to a local beach hangout. We love Hamburger Beach though. It's $20.00 per person for the taxi, only $15.00 if you just want to do Chat n Chill. The solitude of Hamburger Beach is worth the extra $5.00. There are actually hiking trails all over Stocking Island. The entire Island is only 3.5 miles long or something like that. This wasn't a hiking adventure lol...this was Dave's beaches vacation so only a little light hiking. I wanted to hike to the top of the salt beacon and Dave agreed. We met another couple who seemed a little like Dave and I. He told his wife she wasn't even allowed to bring her running shoes on this vacation. We saw them at dinner the first night, then at Coco Plum the next day. We told them about Hamburger beach, hiking to the top of the beacon, that it was a short hike (although I was told by the guy that probably meant 30 or 40 miles lol) they rented a boat for the day, and we actually saw them here too. We exchanged photos...We were on the cliffs, they were on the beach and I've posted one of them and what she sent me. Love it! For the record though, it is only about a third of a mile round trip from the dock on the beach to the beacon. It's a little climb, but it's not far. We hiked more than that, but round trip to the beacon...1/3 of a mile lol. 

The trail and view from the salt beacon

Salt Beacon and Nev's Trail        

     This trail connected to what's called Nev's trail which leads to the other side of the island. Here there are incredible views of the Atlantic from the cliffs and as you follow the trail along, some points are just foot widths wide, which I didn't photo...didn't want to lose footing, the rocks are sharp, and you eventually get down to a the bottom. We found a hollowed out rock basically. Perfect shade for a beach towel, lunch, and shade. The tide was still low, you could lay in the tidal pools created by the rocks, see fish, and plenty of tiny shells to sift through. Beautiful, peaceful, and a beach with no footprints. We walked in the water and on the rocks a bit further looking in the tide pools, but left that part of the beach with no footprints. 


Nev's trail

Stocking Island Beach on the Atlantic side

     It rained on just about every beach but it was getting close to time for the water taxi to pick us back up, dark storm clouds, so we packed up and walked back over the Elizabeth Harbor side of the Island to wait on the taxi. If you have more time, you can hike north on this side to star fish beach and find quite a few Bahama star fish. We did this the first trip we made to Exuma. Our taxi had to make a pick up at the Chat n Chill so we were able to ride through one of the blue holes where the sail boats anchor.  


Hamburger Beach and a Blue hole

     We decided to drive back to Little Exuma after our taxi ride and look for a beach we remembered from our last trip. We couldn't find it the day before after Santana's and I hate being defeated. I told Dave it didn't matter, we could snorkel back at our hotel or drive. He chose to drive. I'm so thankful he did. This little beach is actually at Forbes Hill. Another beach with no people and a great place to snorkel. You want to snorkel when the tide is coming in...it brings the clear water from the ocean towards shore rather than the tides carrying some of the beach sand out. We timed it wrong on our last trip and weren't able to snorkel, the visibility was terrible. This time, even though it wasn't planned, the water was so clear. We snorkeled along the rocks (til I got scared, I don't like being deep in the water unless I'm under the water (scuba gear) I don't like to feel like shark bait on top of the water lol). A few people showed up which was no problem. We walked across the rocks to another beach and then through a little grass trail to get back to our car.

Beach at Forbes Hill


Second Beach at Forbes Hill

     We stopped by our hotel to wash off the salt and then back to Big D's which we hoped was open. The food is fabulous and the views along the water are too. We've been told you can snorkel the rocks at this beach too, but we still have yet to attempt it. We stopped by Jolly Hall at sunset, although it was cloudy and sunset is actually on the opposite side. I didn't know if the clouds would turn, which they didn't. Still beautiful, quiet, and not a single person on the beach. I also included sunrise photos from the hotel every morning :) 

Big D's Beach, Jolly Hall, Sunrises from Augusta Bay

     We thought we were waking up to our last day on the island. I was hoping for stars (I love to photo the stars) and they were covered by clouds every morning. I got back up for sunrise...red...I should have known, yes it made me nervous, it was stormy to the left, but you have no choice to fly home. We packed up and headed to one more little beach I'd seen across from the airport. We didn't see a single person here either. This is a great little beach to say good bye :)

Sunrise at Augusta Bay, Beach in front of the airport turn off, Our car :)

     Our day didn't go according to planned at all. Long story, I about panicked in that little airport watching right out of the terminal gate window, front row, as they tried to fix our plane. They day ended with a grounded plane on an island that shuts down at night and definitely doesn't wake up for a 7a flight. The island airport personnel did their absolute best though, managed to get taxi's together to pick us all up that early, even though breakfast didn't happen, and found us all a bottle of water while we waited at the airport. Once on the plane, the attendants gave anything in their cart for food since no one had breakfast, and made it work the best they could. We all made it safely back to Atlanta. I'd go back in a heart beat. I love Emmerson and his Nature writing. "We must trust the perfection of the creation so far, as to believe that whatever curiosity the order of things has awakened in our minds, the order of things can satisfy" - Ralph Waldo Emmerson...So many different meanings and I'll continue to do my best to "trust the perfection of the creation" and the One who created it :) Thankful for moments to distance and encounter/experience different surroundings. A huge thanks to my parents for keeping the littles too!!!  

 

 

 

 


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