… and then they found their way to Paradise, where they abandoned their troubles, sipped the nectar of gods and swam with pigs. (That’s not a typo. More on the ‘Official Home of the Swimming Pigs’ below!)
For millions of Canadians, The Bahamas is on their travel bucket list.Set in the breathtaking turquoise and azure waters of the North Atlantic Ocean, The Islands of The Bahamas are a group of over 700 islands boasting some of the world’s most beautiful beaches – graced with perpetual sunshine and warm balmy breezes.
I’ve longed to visit The Bahamas. Interestingly, my husband and I had planned to honeymoon at one of their scenic, enchanting islands – only to cancel our vacation when I became violently ill from morning sickness just weeks after our wedding.
(Yes, we had a ‘honeymoon baby”… we just never made it to the actual honeymoon!)
So, you could say that I’ve been drafting my Bahama Islands Bucket List ever since; we hope to turn those plans into reality in the near future. And today, I’m happy to share what’s at the top of my list!
But first – why The Bahamas? Apart from the beauty of the islands, it’s only a 3-hour direct flight to Nassau, Grand Bahama Island and Exuma from many Canadian cities. And if you happen to require a connection to a different island, you can find same-day, super convenient options from Nassau. Here, you can experience vibrant culture, exhilarating entertainment, a full range of accommodations for every taste and the most welcoming people in the world… No wonder so many believe #ItsBetterInTheBahamas!
Let’s get to that Bahama Islands Bucket List, shall we?
On today’s agenda: Exuma. With sapphire-blue water everywhere, The Exumas are an exotic collection of dream destinations. Imagine footprint-free beaches and ultra-exclusive resorts and islands. Here, nature outnumbers man, coastlines are virtually flawless and private homes play host to some of the world’s most famous stars. The Exumas truly are the ultimate escape.
Activity #1: Swimming with Pigs. No really, I had to put this on here first. Exuma is the “Official Home of the Swimming Pigs” – located on the uninhabited island of Big Major Cay (affectionately called “Pig Beach”), the swimming pigs live freely on the sandy beaches, and after basking in the sun for hours, they swim in the surf.
(Popular lore suggests that the pigs were dropped off by a group of sailors who wanted to come back and cook them, or that there was a nearby shipwreck and the pigs swam to safety.)
Visitors may book their visits to Big Major Cay for an opportunity to swim with the pigs through a variety of excursion vendors on the Islands. Anyone can swim with dolphins… only in The Bahamas can you swim with pigs!
Activity #2: Tropic of Cancer Beach. Also known as Pelican Beach and one of Exuma’s well-kept secrets, chances are you’ll have it all to yourself. Revel in a graceful crescent of white-powder sand bordering the translucent blue-green water along the coast of Little Exuma. The longest beach on the island, it is also the prettiest in the Exuma chain.
A word of warning: you won’t find the beach on a map – located at 23 26N 75 35W, the beach is named after the meridian line that defines the northern extent of the tropics and crosses right through it.
Activity #3: Dining. Of course! Bahamian cuisine is spicy and uniquely flavoured, indicative of the diversity of the islands and their people. Fresh seafood is the staple (high on my must-try list: fresh conch sprinkled with lime juice and spices). Other delicacies include land crabs and the Bahamian “rock lobster.” Beginning with local ingredients – tropical fruit, seafood and spices – the eateries feature traditional Bahamian favourites, while more artisan options combine international cuisine with island flavour. To wash it all down, try some Bahamian-style lemonade, unleaded or leaded coconut water (which locals call “sky juice”), or one of the local beers—Kalik or Sands.
Activity #4: Boating. Quite possibly the very definition of the good life, there is no finer journey than the one that leads you to paradise. The Exumas boasts miles of cays and hidden coves which make for some of the most spectacular sailing in The Bahamas, and frequent stops are recommended to really appreciate the picturesque islands. Heading north from Allan’s Cay, glide atop a hundred miles of pristine, colorful water ranging from light green to deep blue. Heading southward, follow uninhabited beaches to Great Exuma Island and Hog Cay. Just gazing at the picture above takes me to my happy place.
Activity #5: Learn About Life on the Island. My favourite thing to do on any vacation is connect with the locals. (I’ve been known to Facebook friend a bartender or two!) And one of the best things about Exuma is the friendliness of its Bahamian residents and the others who call it home. Well, there’s my Bahama Islands Bucket List! And now that it’s on paper, you know I’ll make it a priority to bring it life. I think everyone needs a little sunshine and Junkanoo in their lives!
Although this post has been generously sponsored by The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, the opinions and language are my own.