Harbor View Vacation Rental in Exuma

Memories in Exuma

Manta Ray

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

Exploring the Lagoon inside Moriah Harbour Cay

Moriah Harbour Cay

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

Deans Blue Hole

Deans Blue Hole

Deans Blue Hole is located west of Clarence Town on Long Island and Out Island Adventures or Roberts Island Adventures will take you there on a day trip from Exuma.  A blue hole is an underwater sinkhole caused by rainwater sinking through limestone and also the chemical reaction when salt water and rainwater meet.

There are many blue holes in The Bahamas, several in Exuma. The easiest to see are one in the “hurricane holes” on Stocking Island and a second off the coast of Crab Cay. When you snorkel over a blue hole you can see to considerable depth and are guaranteed to see many fish of all sizes. If you are scuba certified then spend a day with Dive Exuma and explore inside a blue hole, a once in a lifetime experience.

Deans Blue Hole

Deans Blue Hole is famous as the second largest blue hole in The World at 663 feet deep. Because is is close to the beach and protected by surrounding rocks, it is almost always calm and so a perfect spot to snorkel over and see rays, turtles, snappers, tarpon and many other colorful tropical fish. Near the surface the blue hole is around 82 to 115 feet diameter, although at 66 feet down it widens to a 330 feet

Since 2008 Deans Blue Hole has been the location of an annual international free diving event called Vertical Blue.  Started by a world famous free diver, William Trubridge from New Zealand, this event has grown year by year and now includes several different forms.  The most famous and original free diving event involves a diver in a skinsuit, no scuba tanks, no fins, taking one breath and swimming down as far as they can and then returning to the surface unaided.  The winner is the one who reached the greatest depth.  Not a sport for the faint hearted !!

Free Diving

Variations of the basic free dive involve adding a fin to your feet, usually a monofin. Another variation is add a weight belt which helps the descent ( but not the ascent).
Then there is the machine aided where a devise takes you down and back but still on one breath.

The purists, free diving with no fins or aids, have reached depths of 400 feet ( height of a 40 story building !) and exceeded 4 minutes below on one breath.

We at Harbour View would love to host your trip to Exuma, and we can organize a trip to Deans Blue Hole.

History of Exuma

beach

Sixteenth Century

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.

Seventeenth Century

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.
salt flats

Eighteenth Century

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.
War of Independance

Nineteenth Century

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.
loading liquor onto ships

Twentieth Century

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. 

Moriah Harbour Cay
Moriah Harbour Cay

Moriah Harbour Cay National Park

Moriah Harbour Cay national park

Moriah Harbour Cay national park was first established in 2002 and extends for 16,800 acres. Located North of Exuma off the coast near Hartswell and close to the rental property at Harbour View.

beach scene
PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay

Moriah Harbour Cay national park and its marine environs area a vital part of the ecosystem between the Great and Little Exuma.
It encompasses pristine beaches, sand dunes, mangrove creeks, and sea grass beds. A variety of bird life nests there, including the gull-billed and least terns, nighthawks, plovers, oyster catchers and resident pair of ospreys.
Osprey in flight

The mangroves are a vital nursery in their own right for juvenile crabs, crawfish, conch, gray snappers, yellowtails and groupers.

Landward, palmettos buttonwoods, bay cedar, and sea oats work in concert , providing stability, nutrients and beauty to the ecosystem. Moriah Harbour Cay is an outstanding example of the Bahamian coastal zone and is an important addition to the park system.
Mangroves

Exploring Exuma’s Oceans

exploring Exuma's Oceans

This is the second  part of the story of  “Exploring the Oceans around Exuma”

The M/V Alucia, which is operated by ocean exploration organization OceanX, visited CEI twice. The first mission took place over six days in April 2018 and was a learning experience for the Bahamas-based research team.

“None of us had worked off a sub before, so we didn’t know what it could do,” said Talwar. “We had to deal with simple things like getting our gear to be the right size and the right weight. We tried it out to see what we could actually achieve using the platform, and then we had a few months before they came back to refine what we wanted to do.”

Moored off the Eleuthera coastline, the M/V Alucia attracted a lot of attention, with around 400 visitors touring the boat before the work began. Students from The Island School, an educational facility attached to CEI, and the local Deep Creek Middle School were enthralled by the high-tech vessel, which includes a helipad, fully-equipped science labs and the two manned subs.

Exuma Sound

Even the more experienced members of the faculty were impressed.

“It blew me away,” Talwar said. “The first time I went out to the ship, it seemed unreal. You feel like you are a part of something really big. It was an inspirational experience.”

For that first mission, the team had the choice of two subs – the Nadir, a Triton 3300/3 sub capable of accommodating two passengers and a pilot, and the Deep Rover, a two-seater vessel fitted with a Shilling T4 manipulator, a robotic arm designed for collecting specimens and operating sampling tools. Both subs can descend to 1,000 meters (3,280 feet).

The subs explored the rocky terrain of the Exuma Sound, which includes a vertical wall that descends down 200 meters (656 feet) and ends in a steep slope marked with boulders, rock falls and ridges.

It was otherworldly, according to Talwar. “There are incredible ridges that come out of the shallow water embankment and run down to 800 meters (2,624 feet),” he said. “Going over that in a sub feels like you are flying over a mountain range.”

Submarine photo in Exuma Sound

It took around 30 minutes to fully descend in the sub. “The light changes as you go down. You see purple, dark blues and then black” Talwar said. “There is a bioluminescence layer, and if you turn off the lights you can see these little fireworks going off. It is beautiful and incredibly peaceful.”

Between 300 meters (984 feet) and 500 meters (1,640 feet), on the edge of the Exuma Sound wall, the team found various species of echinoderms (starfish, sea urchins, and sea cucumbers) and a previously undocumented species of glass sponge. They also collected samples of sea cucumbers and crinoids at 630 meters (2,066 feet).

Tagging, monitoring and observing

Although it is too early to tell if the samples they collected are new species, Talwar is hopeful, saying: “We pulled up a number of invertebrates. We saw all kind of things, it just takes time to identify them. I would be very shocked if we did not find any new species.”

Alongside samples, the team collected valuable footage of life on the ocean floor. They rigged up bait boxes with cameras on timers, synced with lights, to capture deep-dwelling fish such as night sharks.

photos at 2000 ft
Cameras attached to bait boxes monitored marine life in the deep ocean. Image courtesy of The Island School

Dr. Dean Grubbs from Florida State University, which partnered with CEI on the mission, led efforts to tag a notoriously elusive deep-water predator, the bluntnose sixgill shark.

The sixgill is one of the oldest sharks in the ocean but learning more about the species has proved difficult. Tagging a sixgill shark usually involves dragging it up to the surface, putting the animal under extreme stress.

six gill shark off Exuma

Part 3 of this story will follow shortly.
story copied with author’s permission from https://news.mongabay.com

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

Public Holidays in The Bahamas

Junkanoo

Public holidays in The Bahamas are something you might consider when booking a vacation. Why?  Well not only will it mean  that the shops will be shut, it also has an effect on flight costs which often increase due to the higher demand as people take the opportunity to travel. On the positive sign it often means that there is a Junkanoo parade,  a colorful street parade with elaborate costumes, music and dancing.

Public holidays in The Bahamas include the ones we all love and know such as Christmas Day, New Years Day, Easter Monday and WhitMonday and Good Friday. But we need more days off from work and time to let our hair down so in The Bahamas we thought up a few new excuses to have a good time.

First on January 10th we celebrate Majority Rule Day which officially “symbolizes the promise of equality and fair play for all”, unofficially its a day at the beach, its a day for a family picnic….Yes we can spend a day at the beach in Exuma in January (don’t forget the sun screen).

Next public holiday in The Bahamas is the first Friday in June when we celebrate Labour Day. This is the day when we celebrate the hard work and prosperity provided my the islands work force. Picnic time!

Another public holiday is July 10th when we have Independence Day celebrating The Bahamian day of independence from Great Britain while still remaining a member of The British Commonwealth…. off to the beach again!

August 15th is the next local Bahamian public holiday. This is Emancipation Day which celebrates the 1834 abolition of slavery…… BBQ on the beach!

On October 12th the next public holiday in The Bahamas is National Heroes Day. It used to be called Columbus Day to commemorate the day that Christopher Columbus landed on Watling Island (now called  San Salvador ) but as doubt was shed on that claim, the day was renamed in 2012 and now we celebrate famous Bahamian persons of merit, some sports related, some politicians, or someone who has achieved something remarkable.

Then the last public holiday in The Bahamas is Boxing day which is copied from an old British custom. The day after Christmas Day was a day that the landed gentry reversed the roles and  they devoted the day to their servants. the wealthy would wait at the table serving their servants and would present each with a box with a gift, hence Boxing Day. The Bahamas adapted this tradition and the wealthy land owners gave gifts to their slaves.

We cannot talk about public holidays without mentioning the one event that occurs on many of those days, especially Boxing Day and New Years Day. Then we are entertained with Junkanoo.  When rival communities dress in elaborate brightly colored masks and outfits and parade through the town along with their band of musicians and dancers.  They are judged by local personalities and one community is awarded the coveted prize as the best.

So come on down to Exuma and see Junkanoo and explore our beautiful island. We at Harbour View would love to have you stay with us in our luxury home overlooking the deserted islands that are just a short kayak paddle away.

junkanoo in Exuma

Christmas in Exuma

Santa Claus on Beach

Have you considered spending Christmas in Exuma?  Why spend Christmas in frigid temperatures doing the same old same old?  Exercise that spirit of adventure and do something different this year.

If you decide it’s time for a change then why not go somewhere where the Christmas weather is warm? A tropical island maybe?

Come to Exuma and instead of spending  your morning slaving in a kitchen preparing  the turkey;  have a leisurely coffee or Proseco on the balcony over looking the Ocean, then head for the  beach and work up an appetite with your toes in the pale blue water. Celebrate the 70 degree temperature and avoid the traffic and crowds.

Why spend your time getting a celebratory meal ready?  This Christmas in Exuma let someone else plan the delights.  There are several options for your Christmas festivities.  You could be at one of our famous beachside restaurants, Santanna’s or Tropic Breeze, sitting in the sun (or the shade), enjoying a rum and coconut water, or maybe a Bahama Mama.. Hey you are on vacation!!. alternatively you could be at the Rusty Anchor, inside but still enjoying the view, appreciating a gourmet meal.

Still have some energy left?  Get the water taxi over to Stocking Island and spend a happy hour or so feeding the Rays in the shallows and appreciating how great and different your Christmas has been, just you and your partner, a tropical island and idyllic accommodation at Harbour View. We have availability from mid December through Christmas and would love to have you share our home.

….. Enjoy !…. Merry Christmas (in Exuma).

A Day Trip with Robert’s Island Adventures

swimming pigs

Want a day trip on a boat, full of adventure, great scenery, pristine blue waters, including the famous swimming pigs?  Then give Roberts Island Adventures a call and they will make it a reality.

Robert Thompson, born and bred in Exuma has spent his life with boats and the Ocean. Now the proud owner of Roberts Island Adventures, he has a fleet of power boats including a 38 foot Rabco that takes crew and four guests, and a 35 foot Avanti that takes up to 6 guests and crew. All boats are regularly maintained and have all necessary safety gear.

Robert and his son William are the skippers and they are just itching to take you and your friends on either a full day or half day trip of a lifetime. Whether your interest in going snorkeling, spear fishing or fishing, the boys know where to go to get the best results. They know where the turtles can be found, they know where the lobsters are hiding, so you can be sure of getting those pictures you crave or that fish dish you were planning.

Their all day trip starts by wending your way through the smaller cays, passing by the islands of the stars, David Copperfield, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Tiger Woods, they all have homes on a Cay (an island). The order of the stops will vary with the tide but you will stop at Leaf Cay and go ashore to see the iguanas, unique to the Bahamas. Feed them some grapes, pose for the photo op and off we go.  Next stop may be at Big Major Cay where you will be greeted by the sight of pigs of various sizes swimming out to the boat, looking to be fed. Be warned, these are wild animals and they do not like their backs scratched as they get sunburn.  After a fun time and more pictures its “all aboard” and off to swim with the sharks! No panic, their nurse sharks, large and intimidating but basically harmless. The last part of the trip is to Thunderball Cave close to the island of Staniel Cay. This picturesque location was in one of the first James Bond films, and it truely is spectacular. More fish of all varieties and the hole in the roof provides beams of light which reflect down into the water.
Now its time to digest the exciting places you have visited as the boat makes its way back to Exuma.

Robert’s adventures come with a knowledgable and smiling crew and a cooler of cold beverages. So indulge yourself, and let Roberts Island adventures provide you the trip of a lifetime. To book go to his website

roberts island adventures
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