Harbor View Vacation Rental in Exuma

Sailboats in Exuma

Exuma Sound

Every year from November onwards cruising yachts start arriving in Elizabeth Harbour in Exuma. Then over the next two months we get a daily intake, weather permitting, of more yachts until we have a fleet of around 400 cruising yachts in Exuma.

cruising yachts in Exuma

The boats arrivals coincides with the end of hurricane season and on a calm day you will see a line of sails on the horizon approaching the entrance to the harbour.

Each yacht will fly a flag at the stern of their boat,  the flag of their country of registry. So you will see mainly US Stars and Stripes, Union Jacks, and Canadian maple leafs.  Amongst that fleet will also be boats from many Europian countries and probably some Australian. As they arrive they will fly a yellow flag from the spreaders which indicates that the yacht has yet to check in with customs and immigration.

Some yachts are live-aboard cruisers, whose boat is their home, many of them will live on board for several years and some have children aboard. Some are snowbirds, heading south to escape the winter weather others will be cruising the Caribbean islands.

The boats vary in size and design, from 30 foot monohulls and catamarans, to 100+ foot mega yachts.  With 400 boats  that equates to over a thousand persons, which obviously plays a significant part to the local economy. The social life of the boaters is pretty hectic with daily volley ball matches, mass organized dinghy trips to various beaches and restaurants and culminating with  week long festivities at the cruising regatta. Events will include competitions in: The round-the island-yacht-race, talent shows, treasure hunts and sand sculptures.

boats at dock

Each morning the boats will listen to their vhf radios for weather forecasts and if there is a threat of strong winds in the future days then they often move their vessel to a more sheltered location, which is easily done in a large harbour that encloses many smaller islands.

The season starts in November and runs through to Easter, when many either start heading North to their summer home, or head  South to continue their Caribbean or even their circumnavigation.

This coming winter is expected to be busier than ever due to the devastation in the Northern Bahamas caused by hurricane Dorian. This monster storm ravaged The Abacos and Grand Bahama islands. Two of the islands that many cruisers visit. So where will they go this year?  Only time will tell, but many are expected to head on down to Great Exuma thus increasing the boat count for 2019-2020, and some years to come.

How to Save Hundreds on Your Next Vacation

Exuma marathon

On November 9th 2019 the fifth annual Exuma marathon will take place. This year will be special as much of the funds raised in this non profit event will go to a special cause. That special cause will be comfort and education of the 40+ students living and studying in Exuma, who are displaced from their homes in Abaco and Grand Bahama.

Exuma marathon
Exuma marathon

These young people, a sample of the future of The Country,  watched their homes ravaged by hurricane Dorian with over 200 mph winds for an unbelievable 40 hours non stop. Many escaped and were rescued with only the clothes they were wearing.

hurricane damage

The race organizers have pledged at least $5000 towards the fund, with the Bahamian Government adding a further $3000 prize money. Spectators who line the route are being asked to provide items that benefit the students.

The Exuma Marathon caters for all skill levels. From a 2k dash to half and full marathons. There is even a 50k ultra marathon. So November 9th looks like a busy day.

finish of Exuma marathon
finish of Exuma marathon

Black Point Sailing Regatta

sailing regatta

Last weekend was the annual Black Point Sailing Regatta. Held every year on the public holiday commemorating The Bahamas emancipation from Great Britain.

sailing regatta at Black Point

The event is held off the shores of Great Guana Cay, one of the many small islands which form part of the chain of islands known as The Exuma Cays.

This is the 56th year of this annual event and the commodore Gregory Adderley is the son of the founding commodore Lawrence Adderley who died earlier this year.

Black Point regatta

The 2019 winner was a local sloop “Crazy Partner”. Second was “Lady Eunice” and third “Sacrifice”. The races were in temperatures hovering around the high 90s with light winds.

Coolest Beaches in Exuma

Moriah Harbour Cay

After living in Exuma for many years I am convinced the coolest beaches in Exuma are to be found on Moriah Harbour Cay.

Why do I make that claim?   Well the beaches on this deserted island are so pristine, so varied and so many, that whatever your tastes, be it exploring, be it observing the unspoiled beauty, or just laying on the soft powder sand and listening to the Ocean lapping at the shore, it’s all there on Moriah Harbour Cay.

Harbor View Exuma kayak

There is one more factor that adds to the islands charm. The difficulty of getting there. Rental boats are not permitted to travel that far. Privately owned boats either have to access the open Ocean or know how to navigate the shallows in the area known as “The Haulover”. So few visitors get to reach Moriah Harbour Cay. Consequently guests from the nearby rentals, such as Harbour View, who can paddle a kayak across the sheltered waters from Hartswell, almost always have the entire 16,800 acres to themselves.

If I have had a stressful day my favorite way to unwind is to get in a kayak, paddle for ten minutes across the flat calm Ocean on my way to Moriah Cay. Then I have tons of options;
I can walk in a clockwise direction along the edge of the water until I come to the gap between Man O War Cay and Moriah Cay and here I can float in the crystal clear blue waters and let the current take me for some distance parallel to the shore.

sandbar Exuma

Then we reach the North shore which is one long pristine soft sand beach. Here is where you unwind and forget the stresses of modern living as you watch a Ray lazily glide through the Ocean, or a tiny crab building a new nest. Now its decision time, I can either cut back across the island and return to the kayak (about a one hour total trip) or I can continue following the beach for a mile or more then head South and come to the lagoon in the center of the island. As you then walk back to the kayak you will almost certainly attract the attention of one or more of the baby sharks. Usually about 9 inches long, they are drawn by the noise you make as you walk the shallows and these inquisitive creatures will follow in the hope that you disturb a meal..
Can you imagine any better way to commune with nature?

Buying A Home in Exuma

Harbour View Exuma

Many of the guests who stay with us at Harbour View fall in love with the charm of Exuma and express the wish that they could buy a home on this island paradise.

So let’s explore the idea. The Bahamas does not have income tax, does not have capital gains tax, does not have inheritance tax and with low mortgage rates, now could be a good time to invest. Let’s see what is involved in having a second home in The Bahamas once you have decided that Exuma is the place to be.

Swim Time

One of your first decisions would be whether to buy an existing home or whether to buy land and build your dream home. Tempting as it is, the latter is much more difficult, stressful, time consuming and costly.

To buy an existing home is pretty straightforward. Agree a price with the seller, hire a lawyer, you will already have arranged finance, have the property surveyed and sign the contract.

Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park

To have a house built involves finding and agreeing the price of the lot. Hiring a lawyer to check the title and ensure clear ownership, paying any outstanding property tax on the land. Then hiring an architect and getting plans drawn. Submitting the plans to the planning department.  Waiting for their response and making any changes that they determine are necessary.  Choosing a local builder (has to be Bahamian) and arranging payment terms.  Flying to the US to order building supplies and arrange shipping. Negotiate with customs and pay the 35% import duty. Arrange to have materials delivered to your site.  Hope that you have a responsible builder to complete the stages you have agreed.  Fly down to the island to check that what you have paid for has been accomplished. Hire a plumber, hire a painter, hire an electrician and trust that they will deliver what you request. Get Bahamas Power and light to couple you to their grid ($1000 minimum). Get building inspector to sign off and get your occupancy certificate.
Is your head spinning yet? By now at least 9 months will have passed.

So if you want a simple life, buy an existing home.

sandbar Exuma

Let’s now look at the expenses involved in buying your home in Exuma.
There is stamp tax currently at 10%, an expense shared between both parties.
There is the buyers legal fees to his retained Bahamian lawyer. Then there is VAT (value added tax) at 12.5% on the service fees. The realtors commission is usually paid  by the seller.

One very important option in the purchasing is to consider “owner financing”. Let’s consider an example:

Your finances plus the mortgage you have been approved for come to $500,000 but you fall in love with a house costing $700,000. This is where owner financing can play a role. The owner agrees that the $200,000 you are short can be paid to the owner over a given period of time, say 5 years. Basically the owner is providing the buyer a private mortgage over the agreed time period, with an agreed interest added and hefty penalties if the buyer defaults.

So where can you find your dream home? Best place is one of the websites from the realtors. These include, in no particular order:

Seahorse Realty owned and operated by Judy Hurlock

Ocean View Realty

Caldwell Banker-Lightbourne Realty

H G Christie

or contact the writer for more information.

If you want to explore the property market why not stay at Harbour View for a week or more and we will share our 20 years of living on a tropical island with you.

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.

Exuma Weather in July

Girl on a Beach

So what weather can you expect on your July vacation in Exuma?

As the calendar moves from June to July we are into the height of summer and also statistically, we are in hurricane season.  In the 20 plus years we have lived in Exuma I do not recall experiencing a hurricane in July, that problem is usually threatening in September.

Girl at Sunset

So back to the weather. Our temperature statistically shows highs of 87 degrees F ( 30 C) during the day and 78 degrees F (26 C) at night.  But, as a believer in global warming, and someone who has just experienced one of the hottest Junes on record, I suggest that you can add a couple of degrees to have us hovering around 90 F.

Swim Time

While June is statistically one of our wettest months, July offers us up to one inch of rain for the month.

Humidity has by now soared into the high nineties with a 13 knot breeze providing a little cooling effect.

Now to the good news !  The Ocean has really warmed and is now a toasty 84 F (29 C) degrees, Yippee !  So no excuses for missing that dip.

So July is on our doorstep, it’s going to be hot and humid, so keep hydrated,  loads of water,  loads of sunscreen.

So why not picnic on a soft sand Exuma beach, choose one with shade and exposure to the East to get that cooling breeze, and spend your day in and out of the Ocean till you become all wrinkly !…. Enjoy

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.

The Bahamas National Trust

Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park

Ilya Tolstoy was the grandson of the famous Russian playwright. Ilya was a naturalist and he visited and fell in love with the islands of The Bahamas back in the 1950s.

He became very concerned that irreparable damage could be done to the ecology and natural beauty of the islands by  developers.  So Ilya got together a group of conservationists including The Audoban Society, the US parks service, and Miami University. The group produced a report which was presented to The Bahamian Government.

The year was 1959 and after much debate the government decided to establish the first Land and Sea Park in the World.

The responsibility for managing this unique undertaking  was put in the hands of The Bahamas National Trust and the area was named The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park.

This is the 60th year that the Bahamas National Trust has managed this, and other younger parks, including The Moriah Harbour Cay National Park which we see daily and visit often from our home in Hartswell to appreciate the natural unspoiled beauty of this pristine setting.

Moriah Harbour Cay National Park
Moriah Harbour Cay National Park

Weather in June in Exuma

Beach Waves

As June looms on the horizon it is time to look at the average weather statistics for the month of June.

The daily temperature is usually around 86 degrees during the daylight hours and dropping to 77 degrees at night.

June statistically is one of our wetter months with as much as 2 inches. But, when you check the weather forecasts during June you may see forecast saying “70% chance of rain”. Before you reach for the umbrella be aware that what this means in reality is that there is a 70% chance that it will rain somewhere in the islands. If you have experienced tropical weather you will know that we often get rain in very local patches.  Rain in George Town, not a drop in Hartswell.

The humidity has been climbing throughout the year and now it is approaching 90%. So its not surprising that if you exercise we recommend you get an early start before the sun gets too high.

That humidity we just mentioned will be to some extent offset by breezes from the East at 13 miles per hour.  Enough to provide a cooling effect, but not enough to make swimming or kayaking difficult.

Now we come to the best news !   The Ocean temperature has reached 83 degrees !!

So now we see the adults cooling off with a gin and tonic or a beer as they sit in the shallows and work on their tan.

So come and join us for the Month of June in Exuma. Check our website for availability