After a whirlwind wedding weekend, Sean and I were excited to board our plane for our honeymoon to Great Exuma Island in the Bahamas that following Monday. The cab picked us up at our apartment that morning, and off to the airport we went. The weather wasn’t great, a little rainy, but we expected no delays and to be sitting on the beach by lunchtime. Boy, were we wrong!
To make a long story short, our plane was delayed getting into Philly, causing us to miss our connecting flight out of Ft. Lauderdale. This was a big problem because that connector was the only one of the day. Frustrated and unwilling to waste our day in Ft. Lauderdale, we were given the option to take a 40 minute cab ride to Miami’s airport where we’d board a flight to Nassau and then another to Great Exuma. We found our bags and jumped into a cab to Miami, without hesitation.
Once again, our flight was delayed. Finally, we boarded a small plane and buckled in for takeoff. Twenty minutes later we were asked to get off the plane and wait outside, as there were engine issues and we were going to need a new plane—while outside, it began to downpour. Luckily, we were standing on a covered walkway; unluckily there were no walls and in Miami it rains sideways, so we got pretty wet. Finally we were able to get on a new plane and make the trip to Nassau. The delay in Miami put us behind schedule to catch our connector from Nassau to Great Exuma, so we ran Home Alone-style through the terminal to baggage and through customs, barely making it to our terminal just to find out our final flight had been delayed as well. We sat in the tiny terminal and caught our breath. While it would be seven hours later than we had planned, we were going to make it to Great Exuma by dinnertime, and that was what really mattered.
As awful as our trek to Great Exuma was, our honeymoon made up for it in spades. Sean and I had an absolutely amazing trip that we wouldn’t trade for anything! Great Exuma isn’t a big tourist destination, so we really got a glimpse into the laidback island lifestyle. Our hotel, Exuma Palms, is not a five-star resort, but was exactly what we had hoped for. Our room had a balcony that faced the ocean and the hotel’s beach was stunning. The couple who own and manage the hotel were incredibly welcoming and friendly. Clare booked our boat-cruise and rental car for us, she drove us into town for groceries, and poured us ice-cold pints of Sands (the local beer). Ben runs the kitchen and made us excellent meals most mornings and evenings. Both were happy to point us in the direction of other beaches to explore, restaurants to try, and even took us out to a locals-only karaoke shack one night, and experience we will never forget!
On the second day of our vacation we went on a full-day boat tour of the outer islands near Great Exuma (there are over 400 total!) with Captain Bob. We were picked up at our hotel in the early morning and taken to a dock some miles away and boarded our boat. After driving out into the Intercoastal waterway we, along with a few other couples, dove for (and later ate) conch, saw giant starfish and stopped at an island covered in large iguanas. We swam with nurse sharks and 400 pound pigs! We snorkeled with colorful fish in a grotto featured in a James Bond movie (Thunderball Grotto, if you’re curious)! We hopped from island to island, seeing the most beautiful beaches we could imagine, private islands owned by celebs like Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, and David Copperfield. We had a delicious snack of fresh conch ceviche, prepared from conchs we caught, on a breathtaking sandbar between islands, and had unlimited rum punch and Caribbean beer. By far, this was our favorite day on the trip.
The rest of our time was spent island hopping, boating, visiting beaches (on most of which we were the only people in sight!), snorkeling, eating fresh seafood and local favorites like sheep’s tongue sous) and, of course, steadily drinking Bahama Mamas and Goombay Punch. Our trip was incredibly laidback—there were many days we didn’t change out of our bathing suits until bedtime. The people of Exuma are incredibly friendly and will belly up to the bar with you and chat for hours. They are very passionate with hometown (home-island?) pride and are excited to share that with anyone interested in listening. This trip was everything we were looking for in a honeymoon and we’re so glad we found it!
If you feel so inclined to visit Great Exuma island (and I encourage you to, for sure!) here’s a Top 10 List of must-dos:
1. Stay at Exuma Palms, or at least eat at their restaurant. Either way, say hi to Clare and Ben!
2. Rent a car and go exploring from one end of the island to the other
3. Visit Stocking Island (via the water taxi) and feed the sting rays and grab a drink at Chat n’ Chill.
4. Rent a boat (they don’t care if you’ve never driven one) and snorkel as much as you can!
5. Have the lobster at Santana’s. Wash that down with a Goombay punch.
6. Go to the Fish Fry. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the sous. If not, go late night for the locals dance-party.
7. Spend a day boating with Captain Bob. Everyone on the island knows Bob, so booking a tour won’ be too hard!
8. Listen to live music at Peace and Plenty
9. See the sunset at Catch-a-fire
10. Visit Tropic of Cancer Beach. It’ll be the most gorgeous beach you’ve ever seen.
(Stay tuned for photos of Carly and Sean’s Great Exuma honeymoon!)