Harbor View Vacation Rental in Exuma

Pretty Molly Bay, Favorite Exuma Beach.

Pretty Molly Bay

Which beach is the best in Exuma? I suggest that Pretty Molly Bay is top of the long list.

Pretty Molly Bay is located on the northern shore of Little Exuma, just before Forbes Hill when motoring East. It has long been one of our favorite beaches. Its charm is the fact that it is a curved soft sand pristine beach with rocky outcrops at the sides. So its shape provides protection from the Ocean and the water remains a calm blue color even when the wind is strong.

Pretty Molly Bay

Years ago there was a plan to build three cottages on land by the bay. Construction started but never finished and over time the half finished cottages deteriorated and building debris littered the approach to the beach.

Well now for the good news !   The ground from the Queens Highway to Pretty Molly Beach has now been cleared.  Now there is a designated parking area, and a footpath that leads directly to this picturesque location.

Pretty Molly Bay footpath

I can guarantee that as you walk down the short path and Pretty Molly Bay’s beach comes into view, it will get a “Wow” and have you reaching for the camera.

Be aware that all beaches in Exuma are open to the public from the Ocean to the high water mark.   Private property starts above the high water mark.  So explore the many beaches that Exuma has to offer and see if you agree that Pretty Molly Bay is the best.

The beach is just a five minute drive from Harbour View rental property.

Pretty Molly Bay

The Welcome Book

welcome to Harbour View in Exuma

As vacation rental property owners we feel a responsibility to ensure that our guests get the maximum pleasure from their vacation. But we have to draw a fine line as on-site owners between respecting our guests privacy and helping them get the most from their valued time.

When a guest arrives we are well aware that it can be overwhelming after an all day travel experience to be in a new country, a new island, new accommodation.   where to go?, what to do?, what not to do?

The answer is a “Welcome to Harbour View” book. It’s there in the lounge for them to read and benefit, as and when they are relaxed; in their own time. So when they arrive we only have to greet them and point out a few basics, such as operation of the air conditioning. How to contact us if they have a question, or are looking for local knowledge.

The Welcome book is divided into chapters.

The first chapter relates to a few house facts. Such as; our internet details. We are on a well so we appreciate guests being frugal with water.  That we recommend they use bottled water (where to get it, where to get bottles refilled) for drinking.

The second chapter is about traveling. Guests are advised to rent a car in advance of their arrival. So we remind that we drive on the left.  That they should put our phone number into their mobile phone or take one of our business cards so they can contact us if they experience a problem. Similarly they are encouraged to take the welcome book with them.

The third chapter is a comprehensive list of the many beaches that they can visit. Each beach is shown on a map with the distance from our house. So that if they set the mileometer to zero when they leave the home, their beach destination is known to be “x” kilometers away. The beach is described by size, whether there are shells,  shade or which is best protected from winds.

Pretty Molly Bay

The fourth chapter is a comprehensive list of restaurants. Again we give directions, show each on a map, and give the distance.  We also enclose a menu in order that they can get some idea of the range of costs and whether they have specialities… asian food….. Bahamian fare.  And most important, the contact phone number and which days they might close.  There is nothing worse than getting all dressed up and driving 20 minutes to find some restaurant is closed.

lobster at Santannas
DCIM100GOPROGOPR2528.JPG

The fifth chapter is a list of special excursions that are available. These range from fishing guides (bone fishing is very popular in Exuma), scuba trips, ATV guided tours, kiteboarding lessons, and of course the most popular at present is the “swimming pigs” trip. This is an all day boat trip through several of the nearby tropical islands with stops to see, feed and swim with wild pigs on a deserted island,  see and feed wild Iguanas found only in Exuma, to swim with (or not) nurse sharks, and to swim and explore Thunderball Cave, made famous in two James Bond films.  An exciting and a trip to remember. Well our book tells you who runs the trip, who to contact, how much it costs, and where to go on the big day.

Swimming Pigs

So what have I learned  from writing this story?  That I can improve my welcome book.  

I can add photos.  I can make my welcome book more interesting to my valued guests. 

In fact I think I will devote some time to making my book, not just factual and informative, but make it a coffee table book and find out how much it would cost to print and present to our guests as a thank you for staying with us.  If the improved version sits on their coffee table it could be talking point with friends and, who knows , maybe a new enquiry??

Memories in Exuma

Manta Ray in Exuma

After 20 years in Exuma I have, as you might expect amassed a considerable amount of fond memories and I would like to share some of them with you.

One of the main reasons for visiting or living in Exuma is the Ocean. It’s always warmer that 65 degrees, even in Winter. Its colors are vibrant, and vary from sandy white to deep blue. On a calm day you can clearly see the coral, the fish, the reefs, even to depths of thirty feet.

Its ever changing with sandbars at low tide and amazingly as you explore the beaches chances are you will see more fish, more baby sharks, more rays, more turtles, than you will see people. (and long may it stay that way).

So back to my promise to tell you of just a few of my more memorable events that few folks have the good fortune to experience.

Swimming with a Manta Ray

If you visit Exuma one of the trips you MUST try is to visit Chat N Chill, not just to experience the bar and restaurant and the beautiful beach, but more importantly to see, and swim with the Sting Rays.  These tame docile beautiful creatures will brush against you as you stand in the shallows, you can pet them and feel their velvet like skin, you can feel them take food from your hand.  Well my fond memories tops that experience !

We were renting a cottage on Hoopers Bay and I looked out over the blue Ocean and could see a shape of something large swimming parallel to the beach about 10ft offshore. I watched as it reached the end of the bay, turned and swam back, still just offshore. It was something I had never seen before.  It was a Manta Ray !  From wing tip to wing tip it must have been eight foot across.

Luckily I had my snorkel and mask handy, but not my camera, I ran down to the beach and stood chest deep as the majestic creature came towards me, with the graceful flying wing motion, till about 20 feet away it just stopped, facing me.  For a full minute neither of us moved but I felt so calm and safe and peaceful.  If you have ever had the opportunity to swim with dolphins you will know that serene feeling.
After a minute the Manta Ray slowly moved in a full circle around me, always some 15ft away, then majestically turned and continued on its track.  I was so excited !

Manta Ray

Nurse Sharks Mating

Close by our home at Harbour View is the deserted island Man O War Cay. I have spent many happy days kayaking there and then walking the soft sand beaches of the eastern shore then crossing over to the western shore for the walk back. The western side tends to be a series small coves with sandy beaches then a rocky outcrop.

As I walking back on a warm sunny day I approached a rocky section and could see something flapping beyond the rocks, so I slowed and crept forward being as quiet as I could thinking it was probably a heron.  As I got closer I could see a large dark shape half in and half out of the water.  It was a nurse shark !  No, wait, its two nurse sharks and they are noisily mating !  The male is biting the back of the neck of the female  but as he sees me just yards away, he releases her and slides off into deeper water.  She just laid there for a further few minutes before she to slid into the water.  I could see the male swimming back and forth some 100 yards offshore.  Probably very unhappy at my arrival.

Nurse Shark

The Snorkeling Dolphin

My last story is a fond memory that happened in Elizabeth Harbour.  Here you can see bottlenose dolphins. Not every day but often. These majestic creatures are playful and love to swim alongside moving boats. Most boat skippers will tell you how a pod of dolphins will swim alongside their boat and continually cross in front of the bow just inches away.

Well in my story I was taking a 20 ft boat across the harbour to Stocking Island. As I got close to the shore I saw about eight or nine adults standing chest deep in the water very excited and agitated, so I stopped to see what was the cause of their commotion. Then I saw a dolphin surface in amongst them then dive again. It continued to dive and surface in amongst the group such that they never knew where it would be next, but the dolphin always managed to be just out of arms reach.

As I watched, one person, wearing snorkel and mask, bent down to get an underwater view, took water down the snorkel, and came up coughing and spluttering having dropped the snorkel. So our attention returned to the dolphin. Where would he surface next?  Then it happened !  The photo opportunity of a lifetime !  The dolphin surfaced with the snorkel in its mouth ! 

bottlenose dolphin

I hope you enjoyed these three fond memories.  There are many more..but that’s for another day

Our Favourite Beach in Exuma

coastline adventures

Here are our top ten reasons to visit Exuma. 

Here are the top 10 reasons why you should visit the island of Exuma in The Bahamas. Some are well know, some not so well known. Have a look around as we have included photos, videos, information and links. They are in no particular order:

1. Explore Exuma’s Best Beaches

When was the last time you had the opportunity to explore a deserted island?  To travel there under your own power and not see another soul. To walk through warm clear water and see fish of  all sizes.
To walk the powder soft sandy coastline and find one of many sheltered bays each with the gentle waves lapping at your feet.  Of course Moriah Cay is just one of the many beaches we recommend, follow this link to see more Exuma Beaches

2. Day Trip to See Swimming Pigs

We have recommended to almost all of our previous guest that they devote one day to the trip to see the swimming Pigs and without exception they have returned saying it was a trip to treasure for a long time (just check our guest reviews to see their words).

Your all day trip will include passing the Cays bought by the stars, stops to see wild Iguanas, Swim with Nurse Sharks, visit the swimming pigs, and explore Thunderball Cave, but rather than me go on about it, watch the video and see for yourself. want to see more of swimming pigs? Just click on this link

3. Rent A Boat

Minns Water Sports based on Lake Victoria in George Town will rent you a self-drive boat for a day or half day. Enabling you to build your own adventure and explore Elizabeth Harbour. you have many beaches to visit, snorkel areas to explore, and a choice of Restaurants to visit….check out the video.

Or maybe you want to travel outside of Elizabeth Harbour, or just want to rent a boat with a knowledgeable skipper for the day. No problem contact  Coastline Adventures.  Whichever you desire, click here for more information.

coastline adventures
photo by Nelson Ranger of ibababahamas.com

4. Dining Out

One of our favorite ways to spend a day is to lunch out at one of the many beachside restaurants, get a Kalik (local beer) and enjoy a meal such as lobster  at Santanna’s.

On the way there we visit one of the beaches, and if we have the energy, another beach on the way home…heaven!

Talking of restaurants, I invite you to check our Restaurants page.

dining at tropic breeze

5. A Kayak Trip

My perfect day is to be in Exuma and to take my kayak to explore. It could be a trip through the mangroves, It could be around Moriah Cay to the Ocean or past Man O War Cay to the sandbar. I may see a Turtle, a Dolphin or a Sting Ray. Then home with a smile on my face and some good pictures in my camera,
talking of good pictures take a look at our kayaking page.

kayaking

6. Kiteboarding

Over the last few years the sport of Kiteboarding has blossomed and Exuma is the perfect location. Which ever way the wind is blowing there is a shallow coastline to visit. For more about this sport in Exuma follow this link

7. Scuba Diving & Snorkeling

Exuma Scuba have been taking divers on thrilling trips for some years now. With their base on the town dock at the edge of Elizabeth Harbour they are ready to take you on your next adventure. They carry PADI certification and have a wide range of locations to take you.

If you are looking for a snorkel spot we have a list of locations for you.

More information if you go to our Scuba & Snorkel page 

8. Jet Skis in Exuma

Jet skis, you love them or hate them ! Whichever, they are a perfect way to explore the many islands that surround Exuma and also the adjacent string of islands called the Exuma Cays. For more information follow this link

9. Beach Weddings in Exuma

Want a wedding that is laidback and off the charts? We can organize your beach wedding free of charge if you stay at Harbour View for at least a week. We know the rules, we know the cost, we know the locations.

10. Bonefishing in Exuma

One of the areas to bonefish favored by the professional guides is directly in front of our home in the shallows by Moriah Cay. You are allowed to fish alone if you wish but you do need a reasonably priced license. For more videos of this difficult sport visit our bonefish page

https://youtu.be/znd-C9Mf1LY

Exploring the Lagoon inside Moriah Harbour Cay

Moriah Harbour Cay Exuma

Moriah Harbour Cay is a marine reserve and has some of the best beaches in The Bahamas. But that is only part of the story. Because Moriah Harbour Cay is an island, a deserted island, access is limited to those with a boat or kayak, so it is unusual to see another person.

I regularly kayak across to the Cay and enjoy a leisurely walk along the edges of the lagoon that takes up the center section. Depending on the state of the tide you will see baby sharks, that approach you to see what is causing the noise as you paddle, they come within feet until they realize your size at which point they turn tail and accelerate.  The same applies to baby rays that live amongst the mangroves.

Take a walk in the warm water, let the stresses of modern day wash away and watch natures young creatures. For more information check out our website

Exploring the Oceans around Exuma

Submarine photo in Exuma Sound

Researchers at the Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI) have been mapping the deep waters at the northern end of the Bahamian archipelago for many years, but their efforts got a boost recently when they partnered with state-of-the-art research vessel M/V Alucia.

Equipped with two manned submersibles carrying cutting-edge cameras and high-tech sensors, the Alucia allowed the team to journey down 800 meters (2,624 feet) into the dark, mysterious depths of the Exuma Sound to see, monitor and sample the creatures and terrain.

Exuma Sound

For CEI Research Associate Brendan Talwar, it was a game-changer.

“All of our information about the depths came from dropping lines, which didn’t give us very high-resolution data,” he said. “We had a very basic understanding of what was there. There is something so different and incredible about actually going down and exploring it.”

Pancake batfish, swimming sea cucumbers, white-spotted catsharks and a dazzling array of jellyfish greeted the subs. When they broke the surface, the research team had a new understanding of the environment they’d been studying for so long.

pancake fish

This is the first part of an article by Catherine Morris published in Mongabay

Guest Review:

swimming pigs Exuma

As the owner of a rental property I fully understand that when I extoll the benefits of a vacation on our fabulous island, and tell you why you should consider staying at Harbour View; you may question whether my claims are accurate.  So instead take a minute to read what our recent guests have to say:-

“If you are planning on visiting Exuma and are wondering where to stay, save yourself the time and look no further. Book direct with Harbour View.  We explored the majority of the island and many different beaches during our stay and I promise you will not find a more beautiful beach than the one outside your door. Moriah Cay has to be the most beautiful place on earth and they are not lying when they say that your footprints will be the only ones on the beach. Imagine finding one of most beautiful places on earth and then having it all to yourself.

On top of the stunning location, Don and Gail were amazing hosts, never once intruded on our vacation but were always just a moment away if we needed anything at all. It’s like having a personal island guide with knowledge of literally everything that goes on on the island. Don even greeted us at the shore one evening with fresh warm towels when my fiancé and I got caught in small rain storm while over on Moriah.

Definitely plan on renting a car while you’re here. We rented from Thompson’s rental and had zero hassle. The rental place is right across the road from the airport so it’s super convenient! Although you do drive on the left side of the road, there is literally one main road that runs across the entire island so it’s very basic, easy driving and not much traffic! Our preference for groceries was the Exuma market in Georgetown located a few miles from the rental. Of course everything is a little pricey but the market had a much larger selection than the others we saw and with lots of fresh produce .

The hundreds of reviews for this rental are soo positive for a reason. Don’t let this one pass you by. We will most definitely be planning another trip back to this little slice of heaven on earth. Thank you so much Don and Gail for your amazing hospitality and the opportunity to explore such a beautiful place.”

Magical Moriah Harbour Cay

Moriah Harbour Cay Exuma

It truly is magical on  Moriah Harbour Cay.  I spent an entire afternoon first kayaking the short distance across mirror calm seas to reach this marine park in front of our home in Hartswell.

I then

walked beside the  lake on the interior of the island as the tide came in and had visits from four baby sharks and one baby ray which I caught on video. I then walked across to the North and checked out one of the many stunning beaches. Although its late April it felt more like July with the temperature climbing into the low nineties.

My entire time on this island amounted to about 3 hours and all that time on Magical Moriah Harbour Cay without seeing another person. I truly had the island to myself.

National Parks Week in Exuma

Moriah Harbour Cay Exuma

National Park Week will be a worldwide event on April 21st.

We have a National Park half a mile from us at Harbour View in Exuma. It is Moriah Harbour Cay National Park. Because it is a Cay, as islands are called in The Bahamas, you need either a boat or a kayak to get there and boats can only arrive around high tide so the number of visitors to this pristine 13,000 acre location is limited, in fact our guests rarely see another soul when they visit.

Moriah Harbour Cay is noted for the many soft sand beaches and bays that extend, some for a mile others as small intimate bays. Some beaches are protected from the Ocean by offshore islands, others are on the Ocean, So you have the options of swimming and snorkeling in shallow, calm waters, or venturing into the open Ocean.

At low tide the whole area is dotted with sand bars, some with sand dollars. Providing ideal conditions for photographers and adventurers alike.

In the center of the Cay is a lagoon and this is where you find the fish. This is a nursery for juvenile fish of all sorts that use the protection of the mangroves as their home as they develop and grow. As you walk through the shallows your noise attracts some fish, including baby sharks, to approach you. You will see them slowly make their way to wards you until at a short distance they realize your size and they turn and shoot off.

Exuma is very proud to have so many national parks and Moriah Harbour Cay is an excellent example of nature conservancy.

 

Feeding The Rays in Exuma

Feeding the Sting Rays Exuma

If you want to feed the rays in Exuma then you need to take a boat, either a rental boat from Minns Water Sports, or by water taxi, to Stocking Island.  There on the famous Chat N Chill beach is where these enchanting creatures live.

They are attracted by the scraps from the conch shack at the waters edge. Over the years they have become very tame and will be happy to let you touch their velvety underside, which is completely white, or their rougher top skin which is all black.

The larger rays are the females and what you might think are the juveniles, because of their smaller size,  are often the males.

The larger rays can grow to over 4 foot from wing tip to wing tip and most have scars on their backs, sort of stripes,  which I guess are battle scars, either from predatory attacks or fighting at breeding time.

So take a trip to Chat N Chill and meet these enchanting creatures.

hand feeding the rays
hand feeding the rays