The Bahamas are one of my favourite Caribbean destinations, and when you visit Great Exuma it is easy to see why!
The Exumas are known for their beauty- pristine beaches and blue water, but possibly the best part is the location. Only an hour and a half flight from Florida, this island is typical Bahamas scenery: low, flat and desert-like.
With Sandals as the leader in both the Adults-only and the Honeymoon categories, this Exuma resort is a great place to unwind with your partner.
On top of that, Sandals is one of the only resorts in Exuma that offers an all-inclusive package, making it a truly relaxing experience in the Bahamas.
Still on the fence about taking a trip to this Exuma resort?
I gotchu boo. Keep reading and check out the best and worst below.
BEST: The Property
I cannot stress this enough. This place is GORGEOUS. It used to be a Four Seasons Resort before Sandals bought it, and you can tell that they have made a solid effort to upkeep the property.
If you are looking specifically for a resort or honeymoon experience, this would be the place to visit. It is worth noting that you cannot use your Sandals Rewards (Free Nights) at this location!
BEST: The Golf Course
If you’re not looking to be totally lazy the whole week, a stay at Sandals Emerald Bay also includes a chance to play on their prestigious, oceanside golf course.
Each of the 18 holes has gorgeous views, and if they are busy hosting their PGA-Tour Classic, you get complimentary tickets! How awesome is that!
Even though we didn’t play a round of golf during our stay, we did make an effort to walk the course.
I would recommend a stroll if you are looking to work off some of those pina coladas, but keep in mind that you must be aware and respectful of the golfers that are playing.
We only had to pause twice to allow a swing or two, which I would recommend if you don’t really want to see how many golf balls you can bounce off of your head.
BEST? OR WORST?
This can be a pro or a con, depending on your outlook. For us, the isolated location of Sandals Grand Exuma proved to be a bit of both.
The remote location means that you are sharing the stunning landscapes of the Bahamas with very few people. Long, gorgeous beaches, clear waters and limited tourists (and vendors) meant that it was paradise. We truly felt unbothered and relaxed.
Adversely, this means that flights in and out are limited, as are the attractions. Small, remote islands can also mean limited services and resources: the airport was a small room with two desks inside. Your luggage was thrown through an opening in the wall, and there was one security scanner in the whole place.
This can mean that you may be waiting some time to go through customs as a whole planeload of people stresses the resources available.
WORST: Sand Fleas
No see-ums. You can’t see them, but they are there. They are nibbling away tasting your blood and you have no idea until your bite is itchy later.
Like many places in the Bahamas, Exuma has sand fleas. At the time of our stay, we had a nice breeze coming through, which helped keep them at bay.
Which that in mind, don’t let the no-see-ums prevent you from visiting the Bahamas! Just be sure to take some precautions to ensure a restful and enjoyable stay.
- use the available sun chairs
Don’t give the nibbling munchkins more to snack on than they deserve. Laying even 5 inches off of the ground can make a huge difference, as it is hard to jump high enough when you are the size of a grain of sand!
- pack an oil to protect your legs
Regular bug spray and DEET do not work with keeping the no-see-ums away, so you will have to look into alternative oils.
While some claim a blend of essential oils will keep them away, I found that baby oil did the same trick. The idea is to create a barrier to keep them from latching onto your feet, which will undoubtedly be the most exposed.
- don’t put your bag in the sand
Just as hard as you are working to keep the fleas from biting you, it is important that you leave the little critters at the beach. Placing your bag in the sand, and then bringing it back to your room (or on your bed!) is a giant NO.
- choose your pool days wisely
We certainly prefer the beach, but we like to sit by the pool once or twice a vacation. Plan the pool days for when there is no wind, as the sand fleas tend to be more active when it is calm and quiet.
TOP RECOMMENDED TOUR
If you are thinking of doing an excursion, I can’t say enough good things about the Swimming Pigs Island Routes tour. This is probably the only tour that I would do again and one of the best value tours I have ever done in my lifetime.
If you can choke down the cost of $100US Dollars per person, this would be the best and only excursion to do if you can manage to take one. I can assure you that this tour definitely gives you value for your hard-earned dollars.
Included in the trip is a land transfer, a boat ride, where you zip off to visit the swimming pigs as well as an island of endangered iguanas. You also have the chance to hike up where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea, bask on a private beach of your own, and then see the blowhole where they filmed the Bahamas portion of the television series The Bachelorette.
I can think of only one other time where we got what my husband calls “our money’s worth” probably a decade earlier, where we went swimming, four-wheeling, kayaking, and zip-lining in Mexico for $100.
THE ALL-INCLUSIVE EXPERIENCE
If you are choosing to visit Sandals over another Bahamas resort, it is likely that the all-inclusive experience was a deciding factor.
Luckily, Sandals delivers in every area, guaranteeing that you will be thrilled with your stay there.
Food & Drink
Like many of its sister resorts, Sandals Exuma has stunning restaurants and even more delicious food to satisfy even the pickiest of taste buds.
As always, Sandals provides an all-inclusive restaurant experience, where you can order 5 entrees if that’s what strikes your fancy.
The Exuma resort has a few Sandals classics as well as a couple of neat bars that make it uniquely Bahamas.
Restaurants included at this site
Bahama Bay (Buffet)
The buffet is open most of the day from breakfast starting at 7:30 am to a dinner closure at 9:30 pm. There are always many delicious options at the buffet, especially for lunch!
Cafe de Paris (Coffee and Pastries)
We made our daily rounds to the Cafe de Paris for Americanos and Nutella Crepes. This was the best Cafe de Paris I have encountered at a Sandals resort and is definitely worth a visit.
Bombay Club (Indian)
Super delicious, I would recommend making a reservation here. The food is offered as sharing plates, so you can try multiple things with your partner. Don’t pass up the naan bread or the buttered chicken!
Soy is hit-or-miss at Sandals depending on the location. You can either have delicious, mouth-watering sushi or you can have unedible sushi. It completely depends on the sushi chef. Thankfully, the location at Exuma has a GREAT chef and the food is unbelievable. We returned multiple times during our stay to this restaurant. A must-do if you like sushi.
Kimonos (Japanese Experience)
Kimonos is another Sandals classic. I call it an experience because it is definitely your evening entertainment. The chef cooks your food right in front of you and may even toss a piece in your mouth! It is a fun night out dining with others.
The Jerk Shack (Chicken)
One of our favourite parts of Sandals is this lunch spot. Although the best Jerk Shack is located at Sandals Royal Caribbean (Jamaica), this one is a close second.
Il Cielo (Italian)
Did I end up eating Fettucine in bed in my pajamas? Yes, yes I did. Let’s just say the food is drool-worthy and they are even open for breakfast.
Always a crowd-pleaser. You can’t beat a pizza baked in a wood-oven. Try the Margherita pizza for lunch or even just an afternoon snack.
Drunken Duck (Pub)
While a few Sandals resorts have British pubs, the Drunken Duck is unique to Exuma. We did go one night for some late-night fare and to watch the entertainment that happened right outside.
Barefoot by the Sea (Seafood)
Barefoot by the Sea is probably our favourite restaurant at Sandals. You can find the locations across all of the resorts and they usually offer both lunch and dinner options from a menu. It is always worth checking out the fresh fish local to the island, as they cook it exactly to your liking.
La Parisienne (French)
With white-glove service and air-conditioning, this is the fancy place to go in the Bahamas when you come to stay. We always enjoy the French restaurant at Sandals, and I end up dreaming of beef tenderloin and creme brulee for days afterward.
Don’t forget the drinks
You could eat to your heart’s content on vacation, but that’s not all that’s included.
Sandals has committed itself to the luxury all-inclusive, offering also:
- Jamaican Blue-Mountain coffee
- Robert Mondavi Twin Oaks as both red and white house wines
- premium liquors, including Appleton Estate Rum and Johnnie Walker served at bars all across the resort
Sandals has also already added in the tips to your trip, so you can definitely enjoy the luxury vacation experience.
I traveled here in 2017. As always, be sure to check your country’s travel advisories before booking any trips or excursions. You can check out the Canadian opinion here.