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EXUMA, BAHAMAS

For my dad’s 50th birthday, we took a trip to Exuma in the Bahamas. (Yes, this is where #FyreFest went down.) It was one of the most memorable family vacations we’ve ever been on and I can’t wait to return someday.

We stayed at a house called Ba Roos and it exceeded all of our expectations. It was a newly-built luxury home but still felt cozy and fit the laid-back island vibe. I can’t recommend this place enough. With an open-concept floor plan, it is perfect for entertaining and spacious enough for a large group. It comfortably sleeps 10 and even has a private detached guest house for two. It has a stunning infinity pool, a lounge area and is just steps away from the crystal clear waters the Exumas are known for.

Exuma is unlike anywhere else. The island itself isn’t very developed or filled with tourists (yet), and it’s almost like taking a step back in time. It’s the most casual destination. You’ll be overdressed if you’re in anything other than a swimsuit. It’s the ideal spot for a relaxing, no-obligations beach vacation. See below for some of our favorite activities and spots we visited, but my best advice would be to just relax and enjoy all of the beauty the island has to offer.

WHAT TO DO

TAKE A BOAT TOUR – Yes, this includes swimming with the famous pigs! We booked our tour with Perez from Exuma Cays Adventures and it was the most fun day of the trip. Not only did we swim with the pigs, but they also took us to swim with sharks, feed iguanas and experience the local island of Famers Cay for an authentic lunch. It was well worth the money to book a private tour. Our guide, Perez, was very knowledgable about the area and felt like an old friend by the end of the day.

HIRE A FISHING GUIDE – While the ladies had a girl’s day laying out by the pool, the guys took to sea on a chartered fishing boat. They caught some barracuda and mahi-mahi and enjoyed the open waters.

LISTEN TO LOCAL MUSIC – When we said we wanted to listen to live music, all of the locals directed us to Eddie’s. It’s a great local dive bar to end a night with a cold beer and dance the night away.

WHERE TO EAT

SANTANA’S BAR AND GRILL – This was by far our most tasty and memorable meal! We called to make reservations for our large party to celebrate my dad’s birthday. We arrived only to find out they were supposed to be closed and had reserved the entire place for us. It’s a super casual joint (everything in Exuma is) right on the water. They feed sharks off the dock in the evening.

We walked next door to Mama’ Bakery which was quite literally the restaurant owner’s mom. She had plates full of fresh, warm banana bread and other pastries. The people at Santana’s are friendly and welcoming and it’s a must-have meal if you find yourself there. It was a bit out of the way from where we stayed, but well worth the drive!

CHAT ‘N’ CHILL – Well, the name says it all. Located in the cove of Stocking Island, you must spend a day or an afternoon here. We had the tastiest fresh conch salad from a little colorful shack here! This divey beach bar is one-of-a-kind and they are famous for their pig roasts. There are also areas for volleyball and other activities and the area is very family friendly. Make sure to feed the stingrays in the crystal clear shallow water.

SHIRLEY’S SEAFOOD – This little beachside restaurant is not to be missed. It’s perfect for a quick lunch or late afternoon snack. Everything is fresh and delicious. Don’t miss out on the coconut pie. If you’re lucky, you might even get to meet Shirley herself!

*I would also like to note that groceries were quite pricey on the island, and the selection was very limited. People recommended that we pack our own groceries in a cooler on the plane (we thought they were crazy), but next time we definitely will! Produce and selection on items like coffee creamer were limited.

All in all, I highly recommend Exuma for a relaxing beach vacation. It is not a luxurious destination, but to me that’s the beauty of it. You will leave feeling refreshed and grateful. I can’t wait to return to Exuma again soon!

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