Experiencing Exuma from an insider's eye
May 01, 2018
A Native's Perspective
"All around the world I’ve been, all the places I have seen, there’s no place I’d rather be than Exuma down by the sea!” These words were penned by a native Exumian, Al Gibson. Why such a strong sentiment? Here are some of the reasons why:
- A slower pace: New Providence the capital, 21 miles by 7 miles has a population in excess of 175,000 persons, with fierce competition for jobs and a higher cost of living. Exuma: No traffic lights, traffic jams, traffic noise or pollution; no police sirens, occasionally the one ambulance whizzes by. Replace fast food chains with ocean fresh fare at the local “fish fry”. Is it underdevelopment or island-life preserved? However you view it, residents seek to integrate a simplistic, unhurried lifestyle with modern amenities and conveniences. The locals love it like that and the visitors do too.
- A sense of community: A sense of community and family is strong on the island. The Mt. Thompson settlement built a Heritage Center just to celebrate the ancestry of the community, dating back to slavery. The spirit of community comes to life most visibly during homecoming festivals, hosted by the different settlements on the island. As the name suggests, Homecoming is a time for residents who no longer live on the island to return to reconnect with family and childhood friends. Sometimes combined with a regatta, as in Barratarre, homecomings feature activities like plaiting the maypole or “old-fashioned” church services, and lots of local food, music and entertainment.
- Accessibility: Exuma has an international airport with direct airlift from Nassau and the United States. Airlines such as American Airlines, American Eagle, Air Canada, Aztec Airways, Delta Airlines, Eastern Air Express and Silver Airways are gateways to the Exuma from Florida. Along with Bahamasair and other air services, Exumians are spoiled for choices. There are also mailboats, fast ferries, and charter boats that can easily get you to Exuma.
- A strong affinity to the sea: The water is unavoidable. Whether for the view, for its bounty or for sport and commerce, the water plays a large role in the life of an Exumian. The highway is coastal. The main settlement George Town is structured around an iconic Harbour. All of the major hotels have the sea as their backdrop.
Exumians are proud of their island. With continued upgrades to infrastructure and amenities, there is a slow and steady return of residents and an increase in visitors.