I left you hanging. Sorry. But although the rest of my boat trip through the Exuma Cays was just as epic as the others, it covered much of what I have already written about. So I didn’t want to bore you with the same details over and over again. I made some great new friends and participated in the first of what could potentially be an annual beach bash held on Starfish Beach in Great Exuma, Lost and Loaded (check out the facebook page and try to come next year). You missed an amaaaaazing time. It rained hard. Like really hard. Rained like hell. But that just brought even more fun and shenanigans. Enough about that.
Since I’ve been writing about Exuma and posting the most fabulous and stunning pictures on social media, several of you have reached out to me with the same two questions: 1. How much does it cost? 2. Can you help me plan a trip there? Neither question has a short answer so I’m going to dedicate the next couple of posts to these questions. So we’ll start with the first question. How much does it cost? Obviously, it can be as expensive as you want it to be. But if you are asking me how much it costs, you are no doubt trying to budget for it.
It’s absolutely true you can go to the Dominican Republic or Jamaica, or to some all-inclusive resort for likely half of what you’d spend to go to Exuma. Those resorts are cheap but, among many other reasons I don’t like them, often times you can’t leave the resort without fear for your safety. If you don’t want to leave the resort, why even go? Just save some money and book a room at a resort in your safe and secure hometown and just pretend you are in another country. Order some Mexican food and call it a vacation!
Exuma isn’t cheap. Nor is it developed. “So why would I want to vacation there?” you ask. Because no one else does!!!!! It is untouched, unspoiled, and you have unlimited access the most beautiful water and beaches you will ever lay eyes on. Fiji is in our backyard, people, and most of you don’t even know it. I didn’t. I lived in FL my entire life and didn’t discover Exuma until I moved to Colorado. If you’ve read any of my other posts, you know that it’s not just the water, but the beaches, the people, the culture, the island. It’s everything. And I’m a bit obsessed. Clearly.
As I may have mentioned before and alluded to above, Exuma does NOT cater to the masses. The roads are in bad shape, the rental cars are dirty, the restaurants open on their own schedule, they have a littering problem, and the grocery store is far less stocked than what you are likely used to in the US or Canada. But for all of the reasons in my previous posts, these islands are magical and will change your life. So if I haven’t already scared you out of visiting, let’s move on. Are you still with me? You better be.
I will make a few assumptions before proceeding. I will assume a flight from FL (since most of you asking are from FL) for two people staying for a week. If you are only staying for a few days, you aren’t giving yourself a chance to truly see and feel the island. Stay for a week. Please.
Flight: From FL, you will want to take Bahamas Air, Silver Airways, or American. If you have deeper pockets, there are a few charter companies that have scheduled flights as well. A flight from FL will cost approximately $450 per person. That’s quite expensive when you compare it to the distance and cost to fly to Puerto Rico, for example. But, it’s a small island so just deal with it.
Food: Is expensive as hell. Plan to cook as much as possible but I also encourage you to support and eat at some of the local restaurants occasionally. Do NOT miss out on local Bahamian food. If you don’t want to eat local, just stay at Sandals or stay home. A lunch for two will likely run about $50 total if you each get a meal and a beverage. Dinner will be about the same, however, if you decided to splurge and get steak or something similar, it could cost up to $100. Lunch and dinner for $30 is possible, you just have to find the right places and stay away from the fancier restaurants. In my opinion, breakfast is breakfast so just save some money and cook it at home. Groceries are about double what you are used to paying in the US. But they last longer so it’s your best bet. Alcohol is cheap if you buy your own liquor from the liquor store, but beer is still rather expensive. It’s about the price of a craft beer – $5-$6. Mixed drinks at a bar run about $7-$10. However, many bars free pour so expect more than half of the drink to be liquor in some locations. Your food/drink bill largely depends on whether or not you enjoy partaking in adult beverages. I’m going to assume you have just a couple of drinks a day. For 7 days and two people, plan to pay around $500-$700 total for food and drinks. And that’s if you are watching what you spend.
Lodging: There are a limited number of motels and resorts and the location matters, so choose wisely. I recommend staying close to town if you wish to participate in the local nightlife. If you plan to cook and/or have more than two people, I would highly recommend renting through VRBO/HomeAway. You get more bang for your buck here. It’s possible to find a place for $150/night. So plan to pay about $1,000 – $1,500 for your stay.
Rental Car: I highly recommend you rent a car for part or all of your trip. The myriad beaches on the island are spread out from top to bottom and makes it worth the money to rent a vehicle. If you are staying for a week, request the weekly rate from Thompson’s. It’s about $330. That will get you the smallest car you have likely ever driven but it does the job. Watch out for potholes and the sharp edges of the roads. You are responsible for tires.
Tours/Misc: Getting on a boat in Exuma is a must. There is really no other reason to visit the Exumas if you plan to just stay on the island the entire time. Do yourself a favor and take a tour to see the swimming pigs, iguanas, snorkeling spots, blow hole, etc. A full day tour will run about $180 per person and is well worth it. Whether you take a tour or not, also make an effort to rent your own boat to see all the sights in Elizabeth Harbour. Minns Watersports is the only option and is awesome. Rent the smallest boat for about $180 with tax for the whole day. Just do it. It’s a blast. Plan to spend another $400 or so on other random things like the water taxi to Stocking Island, trinkets from the Straw Market, art/pottery from Sandpiper, etc.
So let’s summarize….
Rental Car: $330
I told you. It isn’t cheap. And this is on the very low end. But it’s worth every penny and I’m pretty sure you will become just as addicted to these islands as I and some of my friends are. As always, shoot me a message if you have any questions about anything I post or anything about Exuma. If I don’t know the answer myself, I can get it for you in a jiffy. I’ll start working on the “Things to Do” summary so you don’t have to read my entire blog for the info. Hugs and high fives to all!
Here are some random shots from my last trip.