The history of Exuma and The Bahamas is shrouded in mystery until Columbus discovery the islands in 1492. We do know that the peaceful Lucayan Indians inhabited these beautiful tropical isles until driven out by the more aggressive Carib Indians.
Following the discovery of The Bahamas islands, the Spanish quickly took the local Indians captive and shipped them to nearby Hispaniola (now Haiti and Dominican Republic) where they were used as slave labour to farm and mine.
The only industry in Exuma at this time was harvesting salt. With parts of Exuma being low lying it was relatively easy to allow high tide waters to flood a field. Then block access so the water could not recede and let nature evaporate the water leaving salt to be raked, piled and stored, then sold for shipment to the US and Europe.
This was the time that the history of Exuma was quiet except for characters such as Captain Kidd who became the first “tourist” to use Exuma as one of his bases. In fact it is rumored that he buried part of his plunder somewhere on the island. Another reason to spend a vacation in Exuma (we at Harbour View will provide you with a free shovel if you stay with us).
In 1783 the Brits and the Spanish stopped fighting for the ownership of the Bahamas and signed the Treaty of Versailles recognizing that the islands belonged to the British.
That same year the American War of Independence ended and any land owner who had supported the British was ordered to leave the US. Fortunately for them, king George 111 rewarded them for their support by offering tracts of land in The Bahamas, some in Exuma. So, consequently many shipped their belongings, including their slaves southwards. The best known was Lord Rolle who owned a ship called “The Peace and Plenty” after which the oldest hotel on the island is named. The loyalists, as they were known, tried cotton farming but after some years the crops dwindled and became unprofitable. Even now you will see a few cotton bushes on island.
Slavery was abolished in 1834 and Lord Rolle moved on to new pastures, donated the land he owned to his slaves, who collectively assumed his surname, and set up settlements at what is now RolleTown and RolleVille. Even today these are what became known as generation land and only descendants of the original slaves are permitted to build homes here.
Because of the poor soil and the high salt content, agriculture has always been a problem and the only time The Bahamas has been wealthy is when problems brew in the Untied States. because the island are little more that a days sail away, when the war of independence, then the civil war, The Bahamas flourished as they smuggled arms and needed supplies to the US through Florida.
Yet again the islands of The Bahamas awoke from slumber when prohibition was introduced in 1920. Vast quantities of liquor were imported to Nassau and then smuggled into the Americas. This cash rich crop lasted till 1933 when The Bahamas went back to sleep.
During the second world war Exuma gained from the US making Elizabeth Harbour a seaplane base. Then after the war the gradual increase in tourism started. British Investors came to Exuma, set up a company called Bahama Sound and purchased large tracts of land which they subdivided, installed paved roads and marked out individual lots which they advertised for sale in Britain. For a relatively small amount of money you could buy your tropical island lot which many did as an investment for the future.
If you were one of the few wealthy enough to fly out to Exuma and see your lot, then if you were disappointed you could upgrade to a better location. It was only in the 2010 era that the last of these lots were sold and up to today most have never been developed.
So that brings us up to the present day, when tourism oils the wheels of the Bahamas and Exuma is at the forefront of the Out Islands. More tourists each year visit from far and wide, many fall in love with the islands and set up a second home here, so if you want to see what fabulous weather, what friendly locals, what tropical blue waters and soft sand beaches are on offer, then book your flight, come and stay with us at Harbour View.