The Bahamas boasts beautiful white sand beaches and crystal clear waters that are unbelievably blue.
There are nearly 700 islands in the Bahamas, but only 30 of these are inhabited. If you are trip planning, there is one paradise island in particular that you should be paying attention to this fall.
Great Exuma is home to the world-famous swimming pigs, but if taking a dip with swine isn’t your idea of a good time, then there are plenty of other reasons to visit the island too.
The beaches are pristine, the people are welcoming, and Great Exuma is considered to be one of the most beautiful islands in the world as a result.
Here are 5 reasons to visit this paradise island in the Bahamas this fall:
Great Activities And People
What do you like to do to unwind? Whether it’s fishing, golfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, or just laying on the beach and catching some rays you can do it in Great Exuma.
It is the ideal island for travelers looking to indulge their hobbies, try a new one, or embrace doing nothing much at all.
The Bahamian people are known for their friendly and outgoing personalities and this is certainly true of the people of Great Exuma.
Fun and colorful they ensure that every visitor is as warmly welcomed as possible.
It’s true that, like much of the Bahamas, Great Exuma has been touched by mass tourism and many Bahamians on the island work in the tourism and hospitality industries but this doesn’t mean they aren’t authentically welcoming to the tourists that visit their island.
Relax and Breathe
If you’re looking for beautiful beaches (and why else would you visit the Bahamas?) then Great Exuma is the whole package.
You can explore 17 stunning white sand beaches on the island itself and there are 365 adjacent Exuma islands with their own beaches for you to explore.
One of the most famous of these is Compass Cay where travelers can swim with the population of docile nurse sharks. The sharks are used to visitors and happy to share their waters.
If you prefer your beaches a little less populated by sharks then try Jolly Hall beach. Located just 2 miles away from the island’s capital of George Town this small beach has been described as a slice of paradise.
Visiting in fall rather than the more popular winter season means that you’ll stand a better chance of getting a spot on the beach free from crowds and accompanying bustle. Simply relax and unwind on your own piece of island paradise.
Swim With Pigs
It would be impossible to talk about visiting Great Exuma without discussing its biggest and most unique tourist attraction: swimming with pigs.
Big Major Cay is easy to access from Great Exuma and is better known as Pig Beach. Most Great Exuma hotels will arrange full-day tours to see and swim with the pigs for their guests. You can also feed the pigs and pose for photos of your bucket list moment.
The number of visitors to Pig Beach is limited each day, so booking with your hotel or another reputable tour operator is the best way to ensure your trip goes ahead and that it runs smoothly.
As with all animal encounters, there is a lot of controversy surrounding tourists visiting Pig Beach.
To protect the pigs, the Bahamian authorities have introduced safety measures, including restricting the food that tourists can give to the pigs, clear signage to communicate the rules to tourists visiting the beach, and a task force of caretakers to ensure visitors are engaging with the pigs responsibly.
Easy To Access
The most popular and easiest to access Bahamian destination is Nassau, which is the capital of the Bahamas. But Great Exuma is just as easy to reach for many American travelers.
American Airlines offers direct flights to George Town, Great Exuma from Miami and Charlotte. If you’re close to Atlanta you can fly nonstop to Great Exuma with Delta.
Bahamian national carrier Bahamasair is also launching a new direct route from Fort Lauderdale to George Town, Great Exuma from November.
The nonstop route will operate twice a week. This will give visitors a range of travel options and ensure Great Exuma is easy to access.
The island is relatively small when you land, so you won’t have to worry about expensive or complicated transport on the ground either.
It’s easy to get around using taxi services or if you want to explore independently then there are also two car hire companies on the island too.
There are very few bad spots for snorkeling in Great Exuma. But in one of the best spots, you can make like 007 himself when you don your snorkel.
Thunderball Grotto is a beautiful spot where you can snorkel and was used for the filming of two James Bond films. Thunderball (hence the name) and Never Say Never.
You can enter a large hollow cavern with holes in the ceiling that only reflect the light off the water even more. The snorkelling here is truly unforgettable and the array of fish you can spot is exceptional. Bond villain not included!
Outside of Thunderball Grotto Exuma seas are noted for having shallow reefs which make them ideal for snorkeling.
Visit in fall and enjoy the benefits of the great weather and clear water ideal for snorkelers but free from the crowds that descend of the island during the peak period between the end of November and May.
The sea is also at its warmest between June and the end of October making the conditions in fall ideal for snorkellers visiting the island.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com