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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
One of the pleasures of a vacation is to visit the local bars and sample cocktails.
Cocktails of The Bahamas are many and varied but tend to revolve around tropical produce like coconuts, pineapples and rum. So join me as we explore five of the best known cocktails of The Bahamas.
It is believed that the name derives from a Caribbean dancer and performer in the 1930s who also went by the stage name “Bahama Mama.”
To make the drink pour 1 ounce coconut rum, 1/2 ounce each dark rum, coffee liqueur, and grenadine, and 2 ounces each pineapple and orange juice into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into a hurricane glass filled with cracked ice.
The name comes from the fact that you need a coconut to make the cocktail and they grow on very tall trees, hence Sky Juice.
Sometimes called “Gully Wash”. This cocktail varies from sweet to very sweet.
To make Sky Juice, gin is mixed with coconut water and condensed milk, served over ice and garnished with freshly grated nutmeg. It’s creamy without being too thick, sweet without being too sweet.
Named after the wife of a bar owner in Abaco, Miss Emily. Although Miss Emily never touched a drop of liquor, she brewed the first Goombay smash. She made it in gallon batches from where she served it to the bar clients. Now it can be found throughout The Bahamas.
To make a Goombay Smash start with a large glass of ice cubes. Add six tablespoons of pineapple juice. Quarter cup orange juice. Quarter cup of coconut rum. Two tablespoons white rum. 2 tablespoons good rum. Two tablespoons dark rum. Shake well and garnish with pineapple wedges.
This Cocktail of The Bahamas was named after the song “Yellow Bird”, made famous by Harry Belafonte.
The recipe says take the juice of half a lime, add one and a quarter ounces of orange juice or pineapple juice. Add one ounce light rum. Add one ounce dark rum. quarter ounce Galliano liqueur or grenadine. Garnish with pineapple chunks.
Pineapple Upside Down Martini
This one is the easiest: Pour the pineapple juice, vodka and grenadine into a shaker full of ice. Shake, then strain into two martini glasses. Garnish with a piece of pineapple and a cherry on a skewer.
So there you have it. Five Cocktails of The Bahamas. Try them and decide which is your favorite. But be warned, they have a kick so drink responsibly… Enjoy
If you go to our website you will find a comprehensive list of the bars and restaurants where you can try these local specialities
We often see him from our balcony at Harbour View, as he poles his 16 foot Dolphin boat through the shallows of the southern side of Moriah Cay. Both he and his anxious bonefish client scouring the calm waters with their polaroid sunglasses, searching for that elusive bonefish.
We watch closely as Drexel points some 30 yards away, the fisherman nods and starts the rhythmic motion with his fly rod, back and forth, back and forth, each time feeding more line in an arc, then he casts.
Silence reigns as the line descends into the water. Then suddenly there is a major disturbance as the fish bites, realizes he has a problem and shoots off at maximum speed. The sound you hear is the reel as it feeds out the line, the fisherman tightens the clutch on the reel just slightly, and the battle begins.
For the next 45 minutes the guide advises the client as the fish continually changes directions, hoping to get into the mangroves, to double back and get some slack, then another run. All the time the guest is working to keep tension on the line, to keep his catch away from the rocks.
Eventually the fish tires and is drawn to the boat where Drexel uses his net to bring the beautiful victim aboard. A quick high five, a photo shoot, remove the lure and gently lower the fish back into its habitat.
Well that’s the result today but how did this guide know where to take his guest? How did the guide know when to take his guest to that location and how did he see that fish when most of us miss them?
Well twenty plus years ago Drexel Rolle, born and bred in Exuma, had just left school and had his first job working at the Peace and Plenty Bonefish Lodge. The lodge, now a private home, was the hotel on the Northern shore of Exuma across from Moriah Harbour Cay. If fly fishing was your thing, then this was one of the best World class locations. Aficionados from around the world made their way to Exuma and the bonefish lodge.
The enthusiasm of the fishermen and the enthusiasm of the guides quickly set Drexel on a course that was to serve him for the rest of his days. The stories he heard and the excitement they expressed made him decide that he was going to be a renown bonefish guide.
So years of training, how to cast, where the bonefish will be at different states of the tide, how and where they will be at different stages of their lives, what lures get the best results. Safety training, CPR, boat safety, captains license. All the things he needed to master before he could have certification and therefore promote confidence in his clients
Move forward to the present day and Drexel Rolle is one of the leading experts and guides in the bonefish industry in Exuma. Nowadays everybody need a license to fish and bone fishing is a catch and release sport. You can fish for bonefish without a guide, (you still need to get a license ) but you stand a good chance of a long tiring day with little results.
The guides know where, they know when, and they know how. That’s why you pay them the big bucks !
Bonefish can live for 15 years and as juveniles they tend to stay in shoals, mainly on the flats on the southside of Exuma where they vary between pound and a half up to seven pounds.
As they mature they become more solitary and the larger specimens can be found off Crab Cay, or between Hartswell and Moriah Harbour Cay where they can weigh up to 16 pounds and will give you an arm wrenching two hour battle.
If you want to try this exciting sport give Drexel Rolle a call at 1 242 345 5025 or on his mobile at 357 0243, or better still e mail him.
Drexel is also available for a fishing trip for a day, so go search for that Wahoo or Mahi Mahi. Let an expert help you provide the meal of a lifetime.