Once reached, the gemstone islets of Exuma invite you to meander at a deliberate pace in placid, gin-clear waters. There were sailboats and cruising lots galore along the islets, and you can see why. Sailing from one to another, dropping anchor by whim or fancy, is an experience that will wash the world away.
Every islet is different and has its own attractions. At Warderick Wells Cay is the Exuma Cays National Land and Sea Park—a good first stop after crossing over from Eleuthera. A marine fishery and native plant preserve, it occupies 176 acres. Fishing is banned to preserve the amazing array of marine life, which you can see by diving or kayak.
Thunderball Grotto, location for a famous James Bond film, is a cave in the coral where at low tide you can swim inside, surrounded by schools of curious, multi-colored tropical fish.
The diving here is spectacular. An upper wet suit was the most we needed, and though Bahamian waters are not known for tepid temperatures in February, it seemed the water out there was warmer than the south side of Eleuthera—more like the Atlantic, which by a strange inversion of the Gulf Stream, is warmer than the Exuma Sound in the winter.
There are many more photos of this beautiful little ocean hole. Just Google “Thunderbird Grotto Exuma.”
Underwater photos by Barbara Langworth.
At Major Cay, the famous “swimming pigs” prove that Churchill was right: “Cats look down on you, dogs look up to you—give me a pig! He looks you in the eye and treats you as an equal.” Click here for a good video.
The establishment of pigs on this uninhabited islet near Staniel Cay began a few years ago by a friend of Paul Petty. They have a freshwater pond for water and food to root in the bush, but are also well fed by tourists, who beach their whalers or anchor in shallow water. The pigs swim out, dog-paddling with their noses snorkeling in the air. A half-dozen fat, seagoing pigs are the only residents. Baby porkers are removed when weaned, so the islet doesn’t overpopulate.