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.

Beekeeping in Exuma

Bees in Exuma

Until recently there was no beekeeping in Exuma.

Bees were scarce  until the staff at the Exuma Foundation, under the leadership of Catherine Booker  intervened and had some hives imported with the help of the Savannah Bee Company.

Now, only three years later there are hives across the island and honey is being marketed from the Exuma Foundation facility on the Queens Highway halfway between town and the airport.

Watch the video to appreciate the dedication that goes into this venture and check out our more detailed review of the process on Harborviewexuma.com

Guest Review for Harbour View Exuma (May 2019)

Sailboats At Anchor in Exuma

“What an amazing trip!! Everything we’ve ever dreamed of, perfect setting with perfect hosts.  We explored Exuma and its beaches but we always ended up at Moriah Cay. What a special place. Everything that you described was so accurate and stunning.

Kayaking, swimming, exploring, sunbathing, places to eat.

Special thanks for such easy and pleasurable arrangements. Look forward future stays.

Rita & Jim”

Harbour View Exuma

Rare Animals in Exuma

Exuma Iguanas

We have seven species of Bahamian Rock Iguanas in The Bahamas. In the Exuma chain of islands we have one species that is protected and endangered with around only 5000 animals remaining.

These brown bodied creatures grow to between 2.5 to 3 feet long. They are plant eaters and their diet includes the manchineel plant which is toxic to humans. They get their moisture from the plants they eat and it is believed they do not need water to survive.

The female lays between three and a dozen eggs at around 6 years old, which she buries in the sand. After 3 months the babies hatch and dig their way to the surface. They have a ridge along their spine which is used to dissipate excess heat.

If attacked they can disconnect their tale, which will regrow.  Iguanas have a life span of around 40 years.

These friendly creatures can be seen if you take the all day excursion known as the swimming pigs trip.

The Exuma Sailing Regatta Has Started

Sailing Regatta Exuma

So the largest, most important, sailing regatta has started in Elizabeth Harbour in Exuma. Formally named the Out Island Sailing Regatta, this is the 66th annual event.

Originally intended to preserve the boat building skills of the Bahamas boat building industry.  Now it is a vital part of the tourism attractions.

Held annually in the last week of April and broken down to classes determined by boat size. The boats have 60 ft masts, way longer than one would expect from such relatively small sailboats, thus providing the opportunity to fly enormous sails.

The celebrations continue on shore where shacks have been prepared to provide local foods and drinks.

So come on down and enjoy.

Harvesting Honey in Exuma

beehives in Exuma

We have a honey marketing facility here is Exuma. So next time you are looking for that unique gift to take home, why not buy a jar of 100% natural honey from Exuma.

I just spent a fascinating day at the headquarters where BJ spent the morning showing us around and answering our many questions.  They have more than a dozen hives and as the many local plants and trees come into bloom, so the pace of activity at the production site speeds up, this time of year being their busiest.

opening the hive
The hive with the cover removed

We watched as BJ sprayed a hive with smoke to calm the bees, although we were assured that this type of bee is favored because of its lack of aggression.  Then slowly and carefully he removed the lid exposing the top box.  Another puff of smoke and he starts to very carefully remove one of the 9 panels the spanned the box. On the panel were maybe a thousand  bees. BJ gave a sharp shake and the bees fell off or flew away.

extracting the panel from the hive
Removing a panel

Then that panel was put in a separate box to be processed and a new clean panel put in its place. There is about half inch gap between the panels and the foraging bees bring the pollen back to the hive entrance at the base of the stack of boxes. The pollen is then transferred to a worker bee that makes its way up the gap through the stack and the produce is put into the honeycomb and sealed with bees wax. The collection process was repeated for the remaining panels until we had a box with 9 new panels inside, ready to be placed back on the stack when we had gone through some of the lower panels.

Full panel of honey
The wax that seals in the honey

All this was done without gloves, just a beekeepers protective hat.  It was obvious that the beekeeper had to be confidant, move slowly and carefully, especially when rebuilding the hive as he lowered each box back in position taking great care not to crush any bees.

The predominant tree that is currently in bloom is the Logwood Tree and the honey from this tree is paler and processed separately from other blossoms that occur later.

Once the full panels reach the processing area. the wax is scrapped off,  exposing the raw honey. The panels are then placed in a large centrifuge, spun at high speed so the honey flies out of the panel and slides down inside the drum and is filtered and bottled.
Scraping the wax off

In a hive there are around 1000 bees on each panel and more than 90 % are female. The male bee’s only function is to fertilize the Queen, a job that costs them their lives. There is just one queen who lays eggs for 2 to 5 years. When she is past her prime she is replaced by feeding a replacement with Royal Jelly which will become the next queen. It’s a tough life being a worker bee and their life will last around only 2 months.
The honey centrifuge

The hub of this growing industry is at the Exuma Foundation located on the Queens Highway roughly halfway between GeorgeTown and the airport, and that is where you can buy your special Exuma Honey.

Sailboats in Exuma

Sailboats At Anchor in Exuma

Every year here in Exuma we watch a community of sailboats grow in our picturesque islands. Many are known as snow birds and they bring their boats to Exuma to escape the bitter winter weather  in their home area.

The migration starts around November as we see a trickle of  boats enter into Elizabeth Harbour and drop anchor in one of the many perfect locations that offer access to the soft sand beaches and protection from the prevailing wind.

Elizabeth Harbour is a beautiful area extending some 7 to 8 miles East to West and around a mile North to South. The southern shore is Great Exuma, the main island. The northern shore is a string of islands starting with Stocking Island at the western end, followed by Elizabeth Cay, then Guana Cay and finally Fowl Cay at the eastern end. So this Harbour is both large and well protected from the Ocean swells.

Inside the Harbour area are more small islands so during their stay in Elizabeth Harbour, which can vary from a few weeks to maybe 6 months, the boats can change their anchorage and their surroundings based on changes in the weather and the pure desire to change their setting.

Who is on these boats? Well it is a real mixture of solo sailors, many couples, and some families with children. The majority have travelled from Northern America and Canada.

The boats they are living aboard also vary from sailboats ranging from the 30ft to 60ft, some catamarans, mostly monohulls then a few power boats.

As Christmas approaches the numbers continue to increase, until by the New Year the totals are around 400 to 500.

So you are on a sailboat in a beautiful tropical setting, escaping the crappy weather up North, but what are you going to do with yourself each day?  Well we can swim, snorkel and scuba in 70 degree water, we can play volleyball each afternoon with your fellow boaters on the four courts on Stocking Island.  We can set up groups to play bridge or mahjong. 

Each of the boats will have an inflatable run about of 10ft to 15ft that they use as their personal transport to get ashore, go shopping, visit other boats.

At the end of the season, usually starting at Easter, the numbers start to decline as some boats leave to return to the East coast of the US where the boat will be stored for the summer and the owners fly home. Others leave their boats in Elizabeth Harbour when they head home. There are areas in the Harbour where many moorings have been placed ready to accept stored boats. The boats are managed by local boatmen who check the security of the boats, run the electrics to keep the battery charged, and open them occasionally to avoid stale air.

There is another category of boater that I have not mentioned. That is the true cruiser. Usually a couple, sometimes a full family, that are fortunate enough to be able to adopt the cruising lifestyle and travel the world at a leisurely pace (Ah sweet memories !). Not surprisingly you will be able to pick them out by the national flag at their stern.

So there you have a short version of the life on those many boats that visit this boaters paradise. 

Why don’t you visit Exuma and experience it for yourself. If you don’t have a boat you could stay with us at Harbour View.

Cruising sailboats

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

Public Holidays in The Bahamas

Junkanoo in Exuma

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 Exuma 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).

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