Located on the beautiful island of Great Exuma in the Bahamas, George Town is a small, but in island terms, significant town, with shops, a bank and a range of places to eat and drink. With a population of fewer than 1,000, it’s not a metropolis, but has everything you need to hand. Plus, you get those incredible views and the chilled-out vibe these islands are famous for.
The Exumas are a network of 365 islands, one for each day of the year, of which Great Exuma is the largest, connected to Little Exuma by a small road bridge. George Town is on the middle of the north-east coast, right on the Tropic of Cancer and opposite Stocking Island. Just hop on a water taxi and you’ll be there in minutes.
Water, water everywhere
As you might expect, a lot of the activities available to you when you visit George Town are water-based. Fishing, yachting, scuba diving and snorkelling are some of the highlights. Fishing charters are popular, with sellers in the harbour daily, just pay your Bahamian dollars and off you go. The harbour is also the place to be if you want to go snorkelling and scuba diving, with equipment hire and charters leaving on selected days each week.
Fly-fishing for bonefish, known locally as bonefishing, is a great way to pass an afternoon. Because these fish feed in shallow water, they’re easy to catch by wading out from the shore or from a boat.
There are also a number of island tour operators, who’ll take you around the Exumas by boat to see the fascinating wildlife in the seas and on the beaches. Iguanas, turtles and dolphins all make regular appearances, while the famous swimming pigs at Big Major Cay (also called Pig Beach for obvious reasons) will paddle out to greet you). Island Boy Adventures is a popular charter choice, with music and a party atmosphere on board, plus knowledgeable guides who experience the whole thing with you.
For serious divers, there are a number of underwater caves to explore across the bay on Stocking Island. Locals know all about the Mystery Cave, one of many blue holes in the area, so called because of the intense circle of blue visible when viewed from above. Accessible from George Town, it’s easy to find as part of an organised dive. Several companies operate out of George Town, with Dive Exuma also offering coral safaris and a wreck dive experience: they sunk their own wreck in 2005 for this very purpose.
Shopping and browsing
You’ll find a lot of specialist shops selling souvenirs, trinkets and gift items in George Town, perfect for finding those take-home items, as well as the supermarkets and food stands you’ll need day-to-day. Arts and crafts, clothes and jewellery come to you via open-air markets, boutiques and local galleries.
A Bahamian staple and a must-see while in George Town is the Straw Market, the place to buy anything and everything made from straw. Bags, hats, shoes, clothing and scarves, musical instruments, costume jewellery, gifts and ornaments, the list is endless. Some vendors will even be weaving stall-side and it’s fascinating to watch. It’s just another way islanders have chosen to use their resources to their advantage, so you can take a slice of Bahamian life home to treasure.