The Bahamas country guide | Caribbean

National Park

Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park

Founded because the world’s first land-and-sea reserve in 1958, this beautiful 283-sq-kilometer expanse of reef, cay and sea is world-famous amongst divers. One of the jewels of the Bahamas, the reserve protects the second largest barrier reef within the Western hemisphere, after the Mesoamerican Reef in Central America, making certain prolific marine fauna beneath the water and plentiful land-based life on shore. Unfortunately (or fortuitously, in conservation phrases) it is solely accessible by personal boat or constitution, so getting right here might be expensive, however most guests agree it is definitely worth the expense for the spectacular pure atmosphere.

Who to do in Exuma Land & Sea Park

Most individuals who make their technique to this idyllic Marine Protected Area are drawn by the wildlife. The reserve is run based on strict No Take rules, which means nothing might be taken away from, or left on the islands, preserving a pristine pure ecosystem for an incredible number of marine life, ample birdlife, and a few fascinating critters on land. Keep a watch out for uncommon Bahamian rock iguanas, rodent-like hutias, and stromatolites, created by blue-green algae which were alive for greater than 2000 years.

The most thrilling a part of Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park is underneath the water, so you will must convey your individual snorkeling or diving gear (and your individual boat) or organize a ship journey in both Nassau or George Town, the tiny capital of Great Exuma, the most important cay within the Exuma group. Several operators provide diving and snorkelling day-trips in and across the marine reserve, together with Dive Exuma in George Town. You also can come on all-inclusive, week-long diving journeys that hopscotch across the park’s prime dive websites.

Commonly seen marine species embrace angelfish, eagle rays, reef sharks, Nassau grouper, porcupine fish, clown fish, lobsters and turtles, although there’s an opportunity of recognizing bull sharks and different bigger critters at a number of places within the park. Another perk for divers is the gathering of ‘blue holes’ shaped by collapsed undersea sinkholes, which lie dotted across the islands, with a number of near Stocking Island. However, essentially the most well-known website is Thunderball Grotto, a shallow community of caves and tunnels that will probably be perpetually linked to the eponymous 1965 James Bond movie.

There are additionally some charismatic non-native animals who’ve made a reputation for themselves at Exuma. While divers are off swimming with sharks elsewhere within the Bahamas, guests to the Exumas swim with… nicely, pigs. The feral hogs on uninhabited Major Cay have been residing right here for nicely over a decade, and so they routinely swim out from the shore looking for meals, normally offered by visiting day trippers (in case you take part, do not get too shut, and use pure plant-based meals).

Getting to Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park

There are a number of methods to succeed in this beautiful pure playground, although expensive flights and boat fares are an unavoidable a part of getting round within the Bahamas. Some excessive fliers include their very own boats, however bizarre of us normally go to on live-aboard dive journeys or day-trips by chartered boat from Nassau, or Great Exuma, the sleepy, 37-mile-long cay on the south finish of the Exuma archipelago. While you could not save a lot cash, there are particular benefits to coming by way of Great Exuma, not least the prospect to glimpse Bahamian life away from the principle islands.

Great Exuma is about 135 miles southeast of Nassau and the island’s backyard shed-sized Exuma International Airport receives common flights from Nassau, Rock Sound, Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. It’s a brief cab trip from the airport to George Town, the island’s diminutive capital, with its scattering of low-rise, pastel-colored buildings. There are a few boat journey and dive operators primarily based on the city jetty, and you’ll find funds lodging on the motel-style Marshall’s Guest House, or posher rooms (and good Italian meals) at Club Peace & Plenty.

The seashores round George Town are not any nice shakes, however water taxi operators can zip you over to Stocking Island, the beautiful sand-edged islet to the north of Great Exuma. Bank on round BS$20 for a return journey – simply inform the boatman when and the place to select you up. There are seaside bars and resort eating places dotted alongside the lengthy, beautiful seaside that traces the north shore, however with the low, scrubby Bahamian vegetation, there’s not a lot shade – slap on the sunscreen. Alternatively, take a taxi to languorous Tropic of Cancer Beach in Moore Hill on neighboring (and linked) Little Exuma.

If you have got your individual boat, it is a totally different story; mooring charges inside Exuma Land and Sea Park are average (from BS$25) and you may kayak and camp on the Hawksbill, Warderick Wells and O’Briens cays contained in the reserve in case you pay BS$250 for a allow, plus a B$25 each day charge. Make preparations on the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park Headquarters on Warderick Wells Cay. If you do not have your individual boat, Out Islands Explorers in George Town provides crusing journeys, guided kayak journeys, and kayak leases.

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