Just yards from our home, Harbour View, and in less than 10 foot of water lies one of the best snorkel spots in Exuma. Located just off shore between Hartswell and Moriah Harbour Cay. While the area of the reef is not large it is well populated with all sorts of fish, from medium sized Grouper and Permit, to the dreaded Lion Fish, and even some lobsters, It’s a rewarding swim.
This is the third in a series of articles about Exploring the Ocean around Exuma:-
Attaching a modified speargun to the front of the Nadir and travelling down to 800 meters (2624 feet), the scientists hoped to tag a Bahamian sixgill in the safest, most humane way possible.
Although their efforts were unsuccessful, they came close. “The shark came right in front of the sub, but it was just a little too high up,” Talwar said. “Just putting in the legwork was great. It’s never been done on a sub before at those depths.”
Another key objective during August’s mission was to sample the water at 200-800 meters (656-2,624 feet) to test for environmental DNA (eDNA). “When an animal swims around, it leaves little pieces of DNA behind in the water,” Talwar said. “We are trying to see if environmental DNA can reveal the abundance of certain species.”
The team had specially adapted bottles attached to the front of the sub that collected water. The water was then run through filters in the lab and the results cross-referenced with footage the team took from the site to see if the species caught on camera are the same as those identified from the DNA.
“We put a lot of effort into figuring out where to site protected areas, but a lot of that effort goes into shallow-water areas,” Talwar said, adding that he wanted to see more of a focus on deep-water habitats.
“We want to highlight that there is ecological value down there that is not recognized,” he said. “Going down and shining a light on everything that is often forgotten or not considered was really amazing. Now when we go out to dive, I can look into the deep blue water and know exactly what’s down there.”
This the third and final part of the story exploring the depths of the Ocean than borders the islands of Exuma. The story was first published in Mongabay by Catherine Morris
Just about every visitor to Exuma has Santanna’s Bar and Grill on their to-do list. Rated on most sites as one of, if not THE best, to sample Dee’s culinary skills.
Based in Williamstown, this beachside eatery first came to fame when the Pirates Of The Caribbean film was being made. The stars, Jonny Depp, Orlando Bloom would return from their days filming on Sandy Cay, to relax and have a beer or meal at Santanna’s where their boat dropped them off. Dee still has the photo album with all the pictures and it comes out at visitors request just about every day.
While my video is entitled “Feeding at Santanna’s”, it’s not going to be what you expect.!!
This event takes place each day when the diners arrive, always at the same time, to check the menu of the day. Enjoy the video!
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
I am often asked what the temperature is likely to be in July. Or which is the wettest month of the year. These are questions that form part of vacation planning, so I have set out below yearly weather pattern in Exuma that I hope will provide you with the information you need to be able to relax and enjoy your vacation in Exuma, hopefully with us at Harbour View
The first yearly weather pattern I will show you is the average temperatures in Fahrenheit.
As you can see the Exuma temperatures rarely drop below 70 F and rarely go above 90 F. So whenever you choose to travel to this beautiful part of the tropics, Exuma has warm weather to greet you.
The next Yearly weather pattern for Exuma I will show you is the second most asked. “Does it rain much that month?” or the other question is “I was looking at the weather forecast and I see that its says 20% chance of rain”. If you do check the forecast you often see a percentage rain chance listed.
What you need to realize is that when its says 20% chance of rain that indicates that there is a 1 in 5 chance that it will rain somewhere in the area, and if you have any experience of rain in the tropics you will know that our rain is usually short and heavy and very limited in coverage. Its not like rain in Europe where it can be gentle rain all day over a vast area. It’s a common occurrence to have a 5 minute downpour in George Town then drive home and find they have no rain at all.
So here is the yearly weather pattern in Exuma for rainfall:
Your first reaction may be to think ..avoid end of May early June. But statistically most rain comes in short sharp local downpours so when the temperature is in the nineties you might be grateful for a cooling shower. Just don’t let the sandwiches get soggy!
As for the October hump, that is in hurricane season, so some years its three times that amount, then others it’s around zero.
The next yearly weather pattern in Exuma that I will look at is humidity. The amount of moisture in the air.
The next yearly weather pattern for Exuma illustrates why our busy season is December through May. It also illustrates why visitors in July and August spend most of their time in the Ocean or on a beach. August can be the month when many Bahamians take their vacation and go off island, they become reverse snowbirds ! Fortunately the effects of the high humidity are offset by the effects of the next subject we will look at, the wind.
As you can see from the wind chart it is usual to have a light breeze, usually from the East. The benefit from the breeze is to dissipate some of the heat and to deter mosquitoes. Occasionally the wind, as shown in the chart, will get up to around the 20 mph and thats when the kite boarders and windsurfers will be in their element.
The last yearly weather pattern in Exuma I show you is another factor which is important to people on vacation. The temperature of the Ocean water.
I think the chart is self explanatory but I would add that if you want to spend a lot of your time in the water in January, February or December, then you would be more comfortable is a shortie wetsuit.
So in conclusion I would stress that any time is a good time for a vacation here in Exuma. Admittedly we do have a hurricane season but the months you should take seriously are mainly September and to a lesser extent October. That is the peak time for hurricanes and I would not advise you to choose those months because it’s also the time when many businesses close for maintenance.
We have experienced nearly twenty years of delight in Exuma and we strongly recommend you add it to your bucket list. And if you do make it a reality we hope you will consider Harbour View as your base. We promise to afford you total privacy, but with the knowledge that if you havea question, or want advise, we are just a door bell away…. Welcome
Planning your Exuma Trip? Wondering what to expect, how to get there, what to take, how to get around.
Planning a trip to a new destination is a mixture of excitement and concern. Let me share my twenty years of experience of The Bahamas and Exuma in particular, with you, and answer the many questions that are buzzing through your brain like bees round a honey pot. Maybe checking through our list will calm your nerves, let you relax and enjoy this new adventure.
Exuma, The Island
Exuma is part of The Bahamas, located south east of Florida, and is a tropical island some 80 miles long by between 1 and 5 miles wide with the deep Atlantic Ocean on the eastern shore and the shallow sheltered water on its western coast. Famous for its blue warm waters and its friendly locals.
The climate of the islands is tropical with air temperatures varying from 70 degrees in January to 90 degrees in August with only 20 inches of rain per year.
Exuma is subject to hurricanes. The highest risk is in September and October and rather than risk cancellations many properties close at those times. If you are traveling during those months you should give thought to taking out an insurance policy against having to cancel. In fact you should consider whether to insure your trip, whenever you are traveling, to cover those unforeseen circumstances, like medical emergencies.
Planning your Accommodation
So planning your Exuma trip begins with choosing your accommodation. You have a choice of staying at an all inclusive resort (adults only), hotels or rental accommodation. Resorts include Sandals, Lumina Point, St Frances Resort, all of which have their own websites. Then hotels range from Peace and Plenty, Beach Resort, Hideaways and Augusta Bay. Then there are many rental properties in Exuma and if you choose from the selection listed on the three major listing sites you will be paying a premium of around 20% extra. My advise would be check the newer websites that do not charge a commission, such as Houfy.com and VacationSoup.com or contact me for advise.
Planning your Flight to Exuma
Planning how to get to Exuma involves choosing the flight as there are no ferries that can get you there. So you have your accommodation sorted, now to flights. Your destination is Exuma International (GGT) and we have direct flights arriving from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta, Toronto, Charlotte and Nassau. For more information on flights with contact details go to our website links page.
You must also provide evidence that you have a return ticket to your country of residence.
Getting Around in Exuma
So you have your flight sorted and you know where you are staying. Next step in planning your Exuma trip is deciding how you are going to get around and explore the islands many beaches and oceanside bars and restaurants and shops. There is no public transport in Exuma, you have the option of renting a car or relying on taxis. My advise is rent a car. I know its another expense but when you rent a car you can go where you want when you want. Sudden decision to go to a restaurant? if you have a car… off you go. No car then wait for half an hour while a taxi drives from the airport. Finished your meal? Wait another thirty minutes for a taxi and be faced with a hefty bill. So rent a car. For a list of providers and contact details again go to http://harborviewexuma.com./links
Planning Ahead for the Trip
So now the dates are getting closer and its time to turn to the next part of our planned trip to Exuma. We need passports for everyone, are they up to date? Do they all have at least six month between the trip and when our passports expire?
If traveling on a US, Canadian or EU passport do not need a visa to visit The Bahamas.
If you are planning on bringing a drones to get those fabulous aerial shots, be aware that you need a license. for full details go the government website . If you do not have the license then your drone will be held at customs and you can only retrieve it as you leave.
The Bahamian Currency
Note that the currency in The Bahamas is the Bahamian dollar but you do not want to get Bahamian currency for your trip, get US dollars. The Bahamian dollar is pegged to the US dollar so the rate of exchange is 1:1. When you pay for goods in Exuma you can pay in US dollars or Bahamian dollars, or a mixture of both, and any change may well be a mixture of both. Just ensure that when you leave Exuma you change any Bahamian bills you may have back to US currency.
Some shops and restaurants take credit cards. Some charge a fee for the use of credit card. Some places do not take cards, so have the cash available. There are ATMs around the island.
Packing for your Trip to Exuma
So now your vacation dates are close and you are getting ready to pack. The climate in Exuma is tropical and dress is casual. So pack cotton and light weight linen clothes. For men shorts are OK day and evening, lightweight long pants if you are more comfortable. The most important item is swimwear, pack plenty, you will probably spend most of your time in swimwear. Ladies take some wraps to wear over swimwear when in town or traveling, locals will not be comfortable seeing you in a bikini shopping, take wraps. Another useful item is a lightweight windproof jacket so if you go on the famous swimming pigs trip, when you get out of the water and back in the boat, you will not feel cold when the boat speeds up and you are still wet. Pack hats for sun protection, flip flops and water shoes so you can walk across rocks at the waters edge.
If you are traveling with a partner and taking two pieces of luggage then a wise precaution would be to pack half of your clothes and half of your partners clothes in one bag and the other half in the second bag. Then if one of the bags gets delayed or lost, you both still have some clothes to wear. Whereas if you pack all yours in one bag and that bag goes missing then you will be a bit stinky by the end of the trip !
If you are traveling in the cooler months like November through February, a thin wetsuit or shortie would be good for swimming.
Next part of planning your Exuma trip are items other than clothes that you should consider. Are you taking your laptop? Your I Pad? or other electronics, if so don’t forget your charger or USB plugs. The electronics in The Bahamas is 120 volt and the plugs are the same as in the US. So if traveling from Europe you will need to bring a converter plug.
Have you checked if a hair dryer is provided at your room?
Now some advise when traveling. Don’t have labels on your luggage with your home address. It has been known for thieves to spend time at airports noting the addresses on luggage then robbing the home knowing that the owners are away on vacation. Any external labels should only have your name and cell phone number. The full address should be inside the luggage.
Ladies do not take your best jewelry. It not worth the risk of losing expensive earrings on the beach. Similarly check that your wedding ring is not loose, loosing that when swimming could be a disaster. Your on vacation so use fashion jewelry.
Don’t forget that you cannot have liquids in your hand luggage, those must go in your check-in luggage.
Medicines. Packing for your trip it is easy to forget to get sufficient medication and remember to pack it. Bring your prescriptions with you. We do have a hospital and a pharmacy on island, so if you run out of your prescription medicine you could get refills.
Cell Phones in Exuma
If your cell phone does not work in Exuma you could call in at Bahamas Telephone office in George Town and purchase a local SIM card and have them fit it. Dont forget to keep the original card somewhere safe to replace it in your phone when you head home. Lastly don’t forget the charger.
Your drone will be held by customs if you do not have a license to import it. See notes above and in the government website
Importing Items into Exuma
There are some items that cannot be imported into any Bahamian island, and these restrictions may effect you if you are stay at a self catering address. No fresh fruit or vegetables. If you are bringing in meat or cheese make sure it is in its original packaging. You are allowed to import up to $100 worth of goods.
Exporting items from Exuma
If you are thinking that at the end of your trip you would like to take back some fish or lobsters then be aware there are limits to the size of catch you can export. They are: 6 pelargic fish such as mahi mahi, wahoo, king fish or tuna. 6 lobsters (during lobster season) and a maximum of 20lbs of other fish.
I trust that this information helps you have a smooth and trouble free holiday on our tropical island and that one thing you definitely take home are fond memories.
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 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 !!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Part 3 of this story will follow shortly.
story copied with author’s Catherine Morris permission from https://news.mongabay.com