Harbor View Vacation Rental in Exuma

Covid-19 in Exuma

In February 2020 most vacation rental property owners in Exuma  were thrilled with the bookings they had enjoyed since the beginning of the season, and were looking forward to an expected record season for the remainder of the year. The construction industry was going full speed to build more homes and new restaurants had just opened their doors for the first time.

Then the unthinkable happened.  At first it seemed more like a rumor, that some flu like problem was causing problems on the other side of the globe.  No big deal.

Then, in what seemed like a few days, what was page five news was front page news, and the new flu was everywhere…its a problem…its an epidemic….its a pandemic…stop the world I want to get off. Covid-19 was worldwide (except Exuma).

sand bar

For the first time in living memory we were told to stop everything and stay home.  Immediately the rental cancellations poured in.  The shops shut. The streets emptied.  In the civilized world the death rate soared.

In Exuma we looked to our government for guidance. Fortunately our Prime Minister is also a doctor, so he could see the potential health risks as well as the economic risks, and had to create a balance. By mid March we were under night time curfew on weekdays and 24 hour curfew at weekends. Only essential stores were open, and they restricted the number of customers in the store. Restaurants, many of which had sizable amounts of produce in store ready for regular business, suddenly were told to only provide curbside takeout.

Pretty Molly Bay

Every year Exuma is populated with around four hundred visiting boats amounting to a population increase of around a thousand. Most are American and Canadian owned and the families come down to enjoy the beautiful weather that Exuma enjoys in the large and safe anchorage areas of Elizabeth Harbour and its many islands. Some are live aboard from many countries, some on a round the globe trip.  All suddenly find themselves stuck, not allowed to move or even come ashore.  All beaches are off limits to boaters and Bahamian locals alike.

All flights in and out of any of the many Bahamian airports are cancelled. Nobody in: Nobody out.

Now the decisions have to be made. Decisions that would normally be based on how long before normality returns. Would it be three months?  would it be the year end?  What about hurricane season which runs June to November?  In our case we had an immigration card that allowed us to remain in our Exuma home until the end of May, at which time we would normally leave Exuma and return to the US. Were we safer in the isolation of a remote island, or in a large city in the US?  Seemed like a no brainer.  So we decided to stay and see what happened. If by the end of May things had not changed then we could apply for an extension to our stay.

Exuma Sound

Most of our future guests were as shocked and disappointed as us, to learn that their planned vacation was in jeopardy. Fortunately almost all decided to accept our offer to  rebook for later dates.

So from late February until now, and on until the end of June, we have occupied our time doing any repairs or maintenance on the house, the garden, the car, exercising and  perfecting our Skype and Zoom skills and watching too much television.  

Guest Review Harbour View Exuma

Now we see some light at the end of the tunnel.  From July 1st tourists will be allowed to fly to Exuma. Quite which airlines will be ready,  what their flight plans and costs may be, whether potential guests will feel safe flying, all remain to be seen.

So if you are ready for a vacation after this stressful experience Exuma, and Harbour View in particular, are ready to welcome you. Just bare in mind that:

There have not been any cases of Covid-19 in Exuma. 

 We will have been in isolation for over 100 days when guests return.

  Sunlight is rumored to limit the spread of the virus

Social distancing will not be difficult in a one bedroom apartment

We have introduced a much more invasive cleaning regime between guests

We have a 16,000 acre deserted island in front  of our home just waiting for your footprints.

Stay safe, we hope to see you. 

Moriah Harbour Cay

New Peace and Plenty Beach Bar

Peace & Plenty Beach Bar

A lot has been happening in Exuma this summer, especially at the Peace and Plenty Hotel.  Peace and Plenty Hotel is the oldest hotel in Exuma. Originally it was a customs house, then it was converted to a home for the Minns family.  Then the Minns sold to Stan Benjamin who with the help of his sons, converted the property into the hotel so many have come to enjoy.

Peace & Plenty Beach Bar

It was about two years ago that the hotel changed hands. The new owners updated the property and have built a great reputation for hospitality and cuisine.

Then this summer we heard that Peace and Plenty had taken over the luxury resort on Stocking Island known as Lumina Point.  Currently closed for hurricane season and therefore receiving a new coat of paint and some modification ready for another busy season.

Peace & Plenty Beach Bar

But it doesn’t stop there !  Now P&P have taken over the eco friendly resort of Higgins Landing, again on Stocking Island.  While the cottages are being renovated, the new P&P Beach Bar has been constructed.  With a fully stocked bar  in the capable hands of Wizard, and the BBQ ably controlled by Jerome, and the whole enterprise managed by Greg.   So  great burgers and generous drinks at reasonable prices, What more could you want?  How about the softest, safest white sand beach you could imagine with sunbeds and umbrellas and rental paddleboards to explore.  All this in the protected calm waters of Elizabeth Harbour.

Peace & Plenty Beach Bar

Take the water taxi or rent a boat from Minns Water Sports and have a fun day out, Sun, Sand, Music ( a little on the load side for my tastes, but I’m an old fart!).

So welcome to the Peace and Plenty Beach Bar, keep the Kaliks cold, the burgers hot and the beach pristine.  Good Luck Guys!   May you prosper and grow like Dora-Lee from years ago

September Weather in Exuma

sand bar

September is on our doorstep and we have to be aware that this is the height of the hurricane season. This year we have Dorian knocking at our door. Fortunately this category four monster has ignored Exuma but is battering Grand Bahama and Abaco.

Northshore Moriah Cay

September is our least favorite month because we are constantly watching weather forecasts. It is for this reason that we do not accept rentals bookings. This is our month for visiting friends and family off island, while Harbour View is enclosed in hurricane shutters.

Traditionally the ambient temperature is 87 degrees but I believe that this year is considerably higher, nearer 90 during the day and dropping to 80 at night.

September is one of our wetter months with 3.5 inches which normally comes in heavy downpours over a short period of time and tends to be very local. Maybe raining in Town but not at home.

Wind averages 11.5 mph which is great for windsurfers.  If one of the hurricanes materializes then wind speed can be 150 mph or more, but not let’s dwell on that !

The good news with September is the Ocean temperature. It is a toasty 84 degrees.

Moriah Harbour Cay

So thats what we expect for September.  If you decide to spend your vacation in Exuma at this time of year I would strongly recommend you take out travel insurance, as the dreaded Hurricanes can develop quickly.

Better still, delay your vacation until November when the weather is more predictable.

Shark Attacks in The Bahamas

nurse sharks

Should a restaurant feed sharks?

How can a restaurant pull in more clients?  One way a beachside restaurant can increase its clientele is to provide some attraction other than the quality of their food.

In the case of a beachside restaurant on a tropical island one easy way is to dump the food scraps into the ocean at the same time each day and watch as a group of sharks (what is the collective name for a group of sharks?) have a feeding frenzy. Then spread the word that you can watch a shark frenzy here.

This idea works, as Exuma has experienced on at least two ongoing restaurants.

When Gail and I bought a parcel of land in the Hartswell area we thought we had gone to heaven without dying !  We had amazing views over what was a deserted island which was to become a National Park. We could swim and sail our Hobie Cat  in calm waters. 

Lemon Shark

Then a nearby restaurant, the Bonefish Lodge which as the name suggests, was a popular haunt of the fishing fraternity, decided that they needed to increase their restaurant trade. after some deliberation they decided to add shark feeding to their menu. For only a matter of days they chummed the Ocean waters adjacent to their verandah before the nocturnal visitors would arrive for their evening meal.

It worked !  Their customer numbers increased and they enjoyed a good meal and an entertaining half hour watching the terrors of the seas bare their teeth.

What was good news for the restaurant was scary news for us local residents.  We feared that the sharks would associate humans with food.  That they would use that association to chomp down on a swimmer.

Eventually the restaurant changed owners and the feeding was discontinued.

Many years later, one of Exuma’s most popular beachside eateries was faced with the problem of what to do with their increasing volume of food waste, when we only get one bin collection per week.  Since its biodegradable, it could be dumped into the ocean.  Plus if it is done daily towards the end of their opening hours, it would pull in more clients.  Problem solved !  No more smelly waste sitting in a bin in the direct sun, attracting flies, wild dogs and other undesirables.  And increasing their profits. Win Win.

The good news is that the restaurant have rethought this practice, and shark feeding has stopped.

After 20 years of living on this beautiful island, swimming frequently and not expiring a problem, I believe that sharks get a bum rap.

lemon shark

I acknowledge that there are (and always will be) cases of sharks attacking people but considering the number of people swimming on a daily basis, and the number of sharks there are in the ocean, the risk of being attacked is infinitesimal.  I suggest that coastal  sharks see swimmers frequently but do not attack.  Ask yourself why would an intelligent creature attack a larger creature when they have the option of feeding on smaller prey that cannot defend themselves.

Just about every shark attack you hear of, involves the shark biting a limb then releasing their grip. Unfortunately that can often cause severe blood loss. Often the victim is a surfer with an arm or leg dangling in the water,  or someone spear fishing with a speared fish struggling and attracting the shark.

So, take precautions such as:  don’t wear shiny jewelry, if you are spear fishing and see a shark dump anything you may have caught, if you see a shark get out of the water but do not panic, exit in a calm and smooth manner. Enjoy your time at the beach.

Where to Exercise in Exuma

Beach Waves

The Exuma shoreline is dotted with beautiful soft sand beaches so there is no excuse for not enjoying a swim any time of the year.  The average water temperature around our coastline is 75 at the lowest in winter rising to 88 in summer and it is very rare that the swell becomes a problem.

Moriah Harbour Cay National Park
Moriah Harbour Cay National Park

Next on the list of where to exercise also involves our beaches. Now we are talking about walking or running.  What could be better that indulging in a brisk walk, or a run along a soft sand beach, maybe barefoot, with the sound of the Ocean breaking on the shore beside you.

Exuma’s beaches are not littered with beach umbrellas and deckchairs, our island is not that sort of resort. On most beaches at any time of year you can expect to be one of a few, or even the only, person in sight.

walking the shallows
walking the shallows

If you are fortunate enough to be renting in The Hartswell area you have the big advantage that you have access to Moriah Harbour Cay where you could exercise on the mile long North beach to your hearts content. Take a picnic and explore the ever changing beaches, spot the many juvenile sea creatures, turtles and rays. There are literally hours of exploring to do, so you will certainly burn those calories and be able to cool off with a relaxing swim. All with the bonus of a kayak trip to and from the deserted island and National Park.

Talking of kayaking. That’s another popular exercise in Exuma. Many rentals include kayaks in their listing, we at Harbour View certainly do. So burn those calories as you paddle the blue ocean, the mangrove areas, see the bonefish, watch for turtles and enjoy.

Harbor View Exuma kayak
Harbor View Exuma kayak

Wherever you stay for your accommodation you will be close to The Queens Highway.  So if beaches are not close by then you can walk or run the tarmac road.  There are no pavement or sidewalk so go with care.  Travel on the right hand side of the road so you are facing traffic and keep to the verge and wear something light colored or reflective.  It may sound dangerous, and I guess it is !  But I have have walked daily for many years and still have no tyre (tire) marks on me.

I would not recommend you exercise along the roads in dusk or dark or even an hour after dawn. Cars can have the sun directly in their eyes and have difficulty seeing you.

So have a great vacation, relax and burn some calories, keep hydrated, wear a hat and plenty of sunscreen.

sorry we don’t have a gym for you, but it’s more fun in the sun.

Rare Animals in Exuma

Exuma Iguanas

We have seven species of Bahamian Rock Iguanas in The Bahamas. In the Exuma chain of islands we have one species that is protected and endangered with around only 5000 animals remaining.

These brown bodied creatures grow to between 2.5 to 3 feet long. They are plant eaters and their diet includes the manchineel plant which is toxic to humans. They get their moisture from the plants they eat and it is believed they do not need water to survive.

The female lays between three and a dozen eggs at around 6 years old, which she buries in the sand. After 3 months the babies hatch and dig their way to the surface. They have a ridge along their spine which is used to dissipate excess heat.

If attacked they can disconnect their tale, which will regrow.  Iguanas have a life span of around 40 years.

These friendly creatures can be seen if you take the all day excursion known as the swimming pigs trip.

Exuma Weather in April

Harbor View Exuma kayak

So as we move into April let me tell you what weather your Exuma vacation has in store for you. Weather records have been collected for many years and averaged so we can be sure that it will not snow this April in Exuma ! in fact we are seeing a trend for higher temperatures.

The average daytime temperature in April is 82 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees centigrade) and drops to a comfortable 73 degrees at night.  So open windows and no need for air conditioning.

The humidity is rising and April levels are expected to be around 61%, which is comfortable but does mean in my case that my daily walks move from an afternoon event to an early morning happening.

Rain is forecast to total one inch for the month. When you consider that rain in Exuma tends to be in short heavy amounts, it probably means it will rain about twice this month.

Winds in April average around 13mph from the east. Around twice during the month we may get stronger wind from the West. These tend to be remnants of storms off the east coast of the US. On those occasions a day with wind from the west will be followed by another blustery day with wind from the north, then 24 hours later it will settle down to an easterly breeze.   Great for those who live for Kitesurfing.

Perhaps the most important weather fact for those on vacation in Exuma, is the Ocean temperature. The good news is that it is expected to be at least 78 degrees.  So you can spend as much time as you like in the water.

For a look at what the weather is currently in Exuma check out this link.

So there you have a prediction of April weather in Exuma. Come on down and enjoy.

The Salt Flats in Exuma

The Salt Beacon in Little Exuma

The salt flats in Exuma are located near Williamstown on Little Exuma.

For thousands of years salt was an essential component of civilization. Only those who had access to salt were able to sail long distances and have useable preserved meat and fish. In fact in Roman times the Centurions were paid in salt.

In the middle ages when empires were being built, and explorers were financed to find new lands, one of the commodities that  the ships were looking for was an easy access to salt.

The early settlers in The Bahamas realized this demand and used the shallow flat land around what is today the settlement of Williamstown, to meet this need and provide them with an income.

The land was channeled to allow sea water to flood the land at high tide to a shallow depth and then the warm tropical sun worked its magic by evaporating the water leaving pure sea salt. This was then raked into pyramids to dry.

Then the message had to be provided to the passing ships that this was where they could purchase fresh sea salt to preserve their purchases of fresh meat and fish.  Hence the need for the monument, reputed to be 200 years old, to indicate that this was where you should anchor off to provision.

At its peak the output was reputed to be 10,000 tons. The flats are not commercially worked now but you can still purchase sea salt locally, ask at Santanna’s Bar and Grill for details.

Gourmet Dining in Exuma (2)

Big D prepares Conch Salad

Gourmet dining in Exuma must include a ride to Steventon to Big D’s restaurant and watch the master prepare  a conch salad.  This Bahamian delicacy is not to be missed and Big D makes an entertaining presentation with full description, showmanship, all with his signature smile.

The ingredients for this delicacy include raw conch, fresh tomatoes, Exuma onions, fresh Exuma salt, fresh peppers

all finely chopped then drizzle squeezed orange and lime.  Adding a Scotch Bonnet pepper is optional.
then enjoy.

The real skill is extracting the conch meat from the shell. Knowing exactly where on the shell to hammer a hole to place a sharp slim knifein to cut the foot free so the meat slides out. Then you are faced with  knowing how to remove the skin and other parts from the meat.  My recommendation would  be to leave it to the experts and Darrren certainly qualifies .

That is just one of the many ways to enjoy gourmet dining in Exuma.