Thunderball Grotto, The Exumas
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The Exumas Landmarks and Attractions

The islands of the Exumas are rich with historical landmarks and natural attractions.

George Town is a major settlement in Great Exuma. Government Wharf is where most of the locals gather and the town’s daily activities take place. Have lunch or spend an evening or two getting to know the friendly folk who will delight in pointing out the best places to snorkel, dive, kayak, fish, and explore. Be sure to cross the demarcation line of the Tropic of Cancer, which runs through George Town, just to say you did.

A must see for divers and snorkelers just south of Stocking Island is Mystery Cave, a 400 ft. deep blue hole, which begins at 15 feet below the surface, but rapidly drops to 100 ft. Stocking Island is lined with talcum powder white beaches and is a great day trip from George Town.

North of George Town a mile offshore across from Mt. Thompson is an odd trio of large rocks jutting up from the sea, called Three Sisters Rock. Town lore explains the appearance of the rocks after three heart broken sisters drowned swimming out to sea to their wayfaring loves. Three Sisters Reef, nearby is another nice spot off the beautiful beach to go snorkeling.

The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park is the first of its kind in the world and is famous for its pristine beauty, outstanding anchorages and breathtaking marine environment. Under its transparent turquoise waters are beautiful natural gardens of coral teeming with fish and lobster. Within the boundaries of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park are several public and private cays: Little Wax Cay, Shroud Cay, Little Pigeon Cay (private), Hawksbill Cay, Little Hawksbill Cay, Cistern Cay (private), Long Cay, Warderick Wells, Halls Pond Cay, Little White Bay Cay, South Halls Pond Cay (private) Soldier Cay (private), O'Brien's/Pasture Cays, Bell Island (private), Little Bell Island (private) and Rocky Dundas. It is the first marine fishery reserve in the Caribbean and is accessible only by boat.

The rarest living creatures of the park are stromatolites, blue-green, reef-forming algae, which are the oldest living evidence of life on Earth; some of them on Exuma Island and Stocking Island are believed to be 2,000 years old. Fossil stromatolites date back 3.5 billion years.

Allan’s Cay

Allan’s Cay is one of the few places on the Out Islands of The Bahamas where you can see iguanas. Looks can be deceiving. While they may look fierce, iguanas actually are a gentle lizard.

The Hermitage estate ruins are just one reminder of the cotton plantation days on Little Exuma, which did not survive long. Visitors to The Hermitage can see the foundations of the main house and some old tombs that date back to the 1700s. Hermitage Tombs are the only three marked graves on the small settlement of Hermitage, which was settled by the Ferguson family from the Carolinas after the American War of Independence. Each of the tombs has a different inscription: to the memories of George Butler (1759-1822), Henderson Ferguson (1772-1825) and Constance McDonald (1755-1759). The unmarked grave is believed to be that of an unnamed slave.

A highlight for many vacationers is the famous swimming pigs at tiny Major Cay, a short boat ride from Staniel Cay. Not only is it a great place for snorkeling and beach bumming, it’s a hoot to frolic in the surf with the pigs. Remember to bring a snack for the swimming swine.

Thunderball Grotto is another Bahamian gem just northwest of Staniel Cay. Two James Bond scenes were filmed here, as well as the movie Splash and Into the Blue, starring Jessica Alba. Divers love this gin-clear watered cavern for the dancing sun and even moonlight that filters through the holes in the grotto’s ceiling, highlighting the fish beneath.

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