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For the musician Exuma, see Exuma (musician).
District of Exuma
Exuma and Cays in Bahamas (zoom).svg
Coordinates: 25°4′N 77°20′W / 25.067°N 77.333°W / 25.067; -77.333
Country (some privatization)  Bahamas
Island Exuma
Established 1999
 • Type District Council
 • Chief Councillor Franklyn McKenzie
 • Deputy Chief Councillor Raymond Carrol
 • Total 250 km2 (100 sq mi)
Population (2010)
 • Total 6,928
 • Density 28/km2 (72/sq mi)
Time zone EST (UTC−5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC−4)
Area code(s) 242

Exuma is a district of the Bahamas, consisting of over 365 islands, also called cays.

The largest of the cays is Great Exuma, which is 37 mi (60 km) in length and joined to another island, Little Exuma by a small bridge. The capital and largest city in the district is George Town (population 1,437),[1] founded 1793 and located on Great Exuma. The Tropic of Cancer runs across a beach close to the city. The entire island chain is 130 mi (209 km) long and 72 sq. mi (187 km²) in area.[2][3] Great Exuma island has an area of 61 sq. mi (158 km²) while Little Exuma has an area of 11 sq. mi (29 km²).[4]

Between 2000 and 2010, the population of Exuma more than doubled, reflecting the construction of large and small resort properties and the related direct air traffic to Great Exuma from locations as distant as Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The population is 6,928.[1]


Exuma was settled in or around 1783 by American loyalists fleeing the Revolutionary War. The expatriates brought a cotton plantation economy to the islands. George Town was named in honour of George III, to whom the settlers maintained their loyalty. A few smaller cays still remain partially or wholly privately owned, albeit they are still referred to as part of the Exuma–Bahamas Cays; they are distinguished by a three-digit suffix number. The best known ones are adjoined cays Exuma 642 and 643, which are suffering from receding shorelines.

John Rolle, 1st Baron Rolle, a major Loyalist settler of the Exumas, is a major figure in the islands' heritage. Upon his death in 1842, he bestowed all of his significant Exuma land holdings to his slaves. As a result, towns on Great Exuma such as Rolleville and Rolletown were named after him.

The islands are a popular spot for yachting, sailing, diving, and coral reef and cave exploring.[5] Many of the unnamed beaches and coves of the islands, including extensive offshore reef areas, are included in the protected Exuma National Land and Sea Park of the Bahamas National Trust. Some of the islands on which there are permanent residents and resorts include Staniel Cay (home of the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, a fixture in the Exumas), Fowl Cay, Musha Cay and Iguana Cay.[6] Thunderball Grotto, located just a few hundred yards off Staniel Cay, is one location where the James Bond film Thunderball was filmed. Sandy Cay, just a short boat ride from Little Exuma was the location used for filming the Pirates of the Caribbean beach scenes and a Shell commercial.[citation needed] The novel Wind from the Carolinas was set in Great Exuma.[7]

The Exumas are the historic home of the Lucayan Natives, who were wholly enslaved in the 16th century, leaving the islands uninhabited until the 18th century. In the intervening period, the Exumas provided many hideouts and stashes for pirates. Elizabeth Harbor was a favorite lair of Captain Kidd.[citation needed]


Exuma International Airport serves the city of George Town directly from Nassau, Miami, Atlanta and Toronto. Staniel Cay also has a small airstrip. Boat travel from Nassau to the Northern Exuma Cays is approximately one hour. From Nassau to Pig Beach is 89 miles and takes 2 hours by speed boat.[8]


Preparing dinner from fresh caught fish.
Preparing for dinner

The Exumas are known for fresh food and cultural significance to The Bahamas. The islands are a Climate resilient community. Sea life regularly caught for commercial purpose include bonefish, conch, grouper, lobster, marlin, sailfish, snapper, tarpon, tuna and wahoo.

The George Town Fish Fry is a collection of businesses that open at night - serving a variety of menus and meals. It is popular among local residents.


Tourism is crucial to the economy of the cays.
Tourism is crucial to the economy of the cays.

The capital city, George Town, is home to many different shops and services that serve both the travelling public and residents of the islands. The islands have built a reputation as a luxury travel destination.

The telephone area code for the island is 242.


Known as the "Grey Ghost", bonefish can be found in the flat areas covered by as little as one foot of water. Their fair colouration is perfectly adapted as camouflage against the sandy ocean bottom, making the fish difficult to spot in spite of the clear Bahamian waters. Anglers may employ spin casting equipment, but more often opt for fly-fishing in their hunt.[9]


The annual Bahamian Music and Heritage Festival is highly anticipated in The Exumas by tourists and islanders alike. The festival focuses on the food, arts, and music of the local culture.


Because the population is so tiny, there is a small traditional media industry. The Bahamas is served by many newspapers, radio stations and web sites, whereas the local media in George Town consists of Exuma Breeze FM, and a collection of mostly smaller business websites which publicize the much-needed tourism industry.

The Chain is a free newspaper published monthly and is the 'one source for current and accurate information' on the chain of islands.[10]


St. John's Baptist Church was built in 1892; St. Theresa's Church was built in 1960; St. Andrews Anglican Parish is the oldest church in Georgetown.[11]

The Baptist church of Farmer's Hill ordained Rev. Stephen Smith in 2015. Rev. Smith 'supersedes' Dr. Irvin Clarke Sr., who has been pastor for the past 45 years.[12] The culvert at Farmer's Hill is being repaired, with sustainable development by an islands construction company.[13]


Sandals Emerald Bay offers an 18-hole championship golf course designed by golf pro, Greg Norman, with a backdrop of the bright Exuma waters. This course was once named by Travel & Leisure as "Best Golf Course in the Caribbean".

Sailing in Exuma.
Sailing is a popular pastime in Exuma.

Sailing is a popular sport in Exuma and there are many competitions year-round. The Family Island Regatta in George Town is a recurring event at the beginning of every year. Others include the George Town Cruising Regatta, Black Point Regatta and more.

For fishing-enthusiasts, the Exumas offers many fishing tournaments.

Rowing is also being introduced and developed in Exuma with the aim of developing the island as an outlet for competitive and recreational rowing. [14][15]

Running has been brought to the island with the Run for Pompey; an international event with an ultra-marathon, marathon, half marathon and 10k road race.[16]

Notable residents[edit]

The main island has been a haven for celebrities for years. Until recently, the tourist population on the island was extremely minimal, allowing anonymity for anyone escaping the spotlight. Frequent visitors included Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, who stayed at Goat Cay (the home of Babbie Holt), Jackie Onassis, and Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn; the married couple spent a lot of time on the island also at Goat Cay for many years. Sigourney Weaver vacationed there as well with her family.

In light of the relatively low cost of purchasing islands and the relatively low Bahamian tax regime for non-locals, a number of rich people from America own islands in the Exumas. These include Aga Khan, Nicolas Cage, David Copperfield, Ali Daei, Johnny Depp,[17] Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, Ali Karimi, Eddie Murphy, Eddie Irvine and Tyler Perry.


  2. ^ Exuma Cays, Texas A&M University, retrieved October 11, 2013 
  3. ^ Exuma, The Government of The Bahamas 
  4. ^ Exuma Cays, britannica, retrieved October 11, 2013 
  5. ^ Discover more about The Exumas, Bahamas.com, retrieved October 11, 2013 
  6. ^ Beaches on Exuma Bahamas, The Bahamas., retrieved October 11, 2013 
  7. ^ Wilder, Robert. Wind From the Carolinas. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1964. Back panel.
  8. ^ "Getting to the Swimming Pigs from Nassau - Harbour Safaris". 5 January 2016. 
  9. ^ Exuma Bonefish Guides, Exuma's Bonefish Guide Listing[full citation needed]
  10. ^ The Chain, September 2015, Page 1
  11. ^ Aberland Publications Ltd., Bahamas Ministry Of Tourism, published: January 25th, 2016
  12. ^ The Chain, September 2015, p.3
  13. ^ The Chain, September 2015, p.4
  14. ^ Administrator. "Bahamas Rowing Association looking to close the season strong". 
  15. ^ "Security Check Required". 
  16. ^ "Run for Pompey". 
  17. ^ Brinkley, Douglas (July 2009). "Johnny Depp's Great Escape". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 

Coordinates: 23°32′N 75°50′W / 23.533°N 75.833°W / 23.533; -75.833