How Much is a Trip to Exuma?

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….

Flight:             $900

Food:               $500

Lodging:         $1000

Rental Car:     $330

Tours/Misc:   $940

Total:              $3,670

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.

4 thoughts on “How Much is a Trip to Exuma?

  1. Cara says:

    Hello- I just stumbled upon your blog and am planning a trip to Exuma later this month. Was wondering if you put your things to do summary somewhere that I could review? Thanks so much!!

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    • airieb says:

      Hi Cara! Thanks for your email. I don’t think I have a summary but I’m happy to help. Let me know what your interest are (are you looking for adventure, just lazing on the beach, etc).

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  2. Heather Land says:

    Hello there! Going to Exuma for the first time this December. We are SO excited! Of all the blogs/sites of come across, I think yours has been the most helpful!! Just wanted to say thank you. We will be there a week, staying in a vacation rental in Hooper’s Bay. Any tips? We will be taking the full day tour to see sharks, pigs, iguanas, thunderball, & sandbar. Want to take the ferry over to stocking island 1 day. Possibly rent a boat for a day exploring the harbour and cays. We want to rent a car, but couldn’t decide if we should do so for our entire stay, or just a few days, to go to tropic of cancer and check out little exuma for a day, and one day on the north end to see 3 sisters and cocoplum. We are a “3 minute walk” from the deli/grocery store, and will prob. do most of our own cooking, pack lunches for our beach days, and go out for a few dinners… Just trying to justify renting the car for our full stay. I have read taxi fares are very expensive, so I imagine for convenience and cost it would balance out to have it the whole week. Just wanted your expert opinion! Is the $330 per week with Thompson’s the best rate you have found so far? There is not much info about rental cars on tripadvisor. Sorry for so many questions! Would love your feedback. Thanks again!!

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    • airieb says:

      Hi Heather! So glad you found it useful. It’s probably not organized very well for a first timer but it sounds like you at least got something out of it. I am a huge fan obviously. 🙂 Went 8 times last year alone and a couple times this year. Swore to myself I would try some new islands this year so I haven’t made it down there in a few months. It sounds like you have a good plan. The tour will be amazing. I would save stocking island for the day you have the boat. Stocking Island is not an island that you can tour by foot once you get there. In other words, there is no road or public access, you really have to hop around by boat. So you could take the Minns boat to Chat N Chill, snorkel the reefs off the shore (marked with a yellow buoy), visit Lumina Point for lunch, Visit St. Francis Resort for a drink or snack, anchor at Starfish Beach and hike to the salt beacon, etc. The taxi really just takes you to Chat N Chill and you can’t really go anywhere else from there except to the other side of the island to see the Atlantic (which I highly recommend). Besides the tour you take, the highlight of your trip will be the day you rent the boat. There something about independently island/beach hopping with no one around that is fantastic. Have you look at the Exuma Map link on google to see where all the snorkeling spots are? Regarding the car, I ALWAYS rent a car now. I love to bar and restaurant hop and it just makes the most sense. Thompson weekly rate is the best deal I have found so far. You do know the sea turtles congregate in Hoopers Bay right? Go to Smitty’s and buy some frozen squid and you can pet them all day. 🙂

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