You know you’re way past due on a trip recap when you’re already trying to plan another one! Actually that’s not really true. It usually only takes me about one night sleeping in my own bed again to get energized enough for another adventure. Am I the only one that does this?! Either way, I’m super excited to share all of the (million) photos from our trip to The Exumas and Sandals Emerald Bay. Be warned, there are lots of pig photos!
First things first, don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t dream a little dream via a Pinterest travel board, because that’s how I found out about Exuma. I have NO idea who is to blame for keeping this hidden gem a secret, but it’s by far one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been and it’s only a 45 minute flight from Miami…
Not only are The Exumas gorgeous, but the people there are super friendly, which is not always the case when you’re traveling out of the country.
After deciding on Great Exuma, we knew we wanted to stay at a resort instead of a rental. I’m one of those people that has a hard time relaxing when I know I have to cook or try to navigate somewhere unknown for every little thing. I love that when it comes to exploring new cities, but when it comes to REALLY relaxing, I need something that’s already all said and done.
That said, we stayed at Sandals Emerald Bay and absolutely loved it! We’ve been to some all-inclusive things that weren’t great quality, but Sandals definitely exceeded our expectations (hence their “luxury included” tagline was true!). Plus Jared was ridiculously excited about golfing the Greg Norman course.
I skipped the golfing and went for the doing absolutely nothing route, and then we got a couples rain forest massage after that, which is an A++ day in my book.
We also got an oceanfront villa that, if you can swing the price point, is worth every penny. It also comes fully equipped with a hammock, stocked (name brand!) bar, and second bathroom in case that’s a deciding factor for you.
If you’re one of those people that like wild nightlife, then Exuma probably isn’t for you. They have plenty of activities, restaurants, and water sports at the resort, but it’s definitely a very laid back environment which was perfect for us. They even have a pool that’s the “serenity area”, aka no Beiber songs playing in the background there, but you’re welcome to bust them out on your headphones if you want.
If you do need some adrenaline, feel free to find one of the giant floating tricycles and try and pedal that bad boy around for half an hour. Not the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but it was the closest I’ve ever come to feeling like the missing Mario Kart character.
We also made a few new friends (hey, Mark and Kelly!) after lounging around the pool a few days, and we even ended up going on the same excursion… and then forced them to take style Titanic photos on the beach at some point. Clearly you can’t be friends with us and escape photos, ha!
The only major drawback of the island for me was the bugs. They LOVED me, and even with bug spray on they are me alive. But would I go back? Definitely!
We only stayed four nights, but in hindsight, I think you need to stay a minimum of five. I feel like we still didn’t get to see and do everything we wanted to in that timeframe, and we only went on one (very necessary) excursion to see the swimming pigs.
Not going to lie, I thought I was going to fall off the boat with excitement when we approached these not-so-little babes (no pun intended) in the water! Fair warning though, no one mentions that eventually they’re going to poo in the water after 15 people are feeding them for 20 minutes straight. Minor details, my friends!
It also turns out I was a tiny bit afraid of them once I got in the water. They’re huge and they don’t have much sense of braking when it comes to dangling food in front of them, but I did much better once I got to shallower water.
The particular excursion we took wasn’t through Island Routes (which is the partner company for Sandals), and I kind of wish we had done both! It turns out there are two different islands with pigs on them in the Exumas, and depending on when you visit each one, there may or may not be baby pigs. The Island Routes tour is also much shorter and cuts out a lot of the getting to and from that takes a while.
The one we took was through Four C’s and was a full day trip. I think it was 172 miles round trip if I’m remembering correctly, but you basically take a high speed boat around a good portion of the cays in between Exuma and Nassau, which ended up being really awesome.
We stopped to dive/hold live starfish, got a tour of the celebrity owned islands from the boat, visited the swimming pigs, had lunch, stopped at the most ridiculously awesome sand bar in the middle of the sea, fed the iguanas on Iguana Cay, swam with nurse sharks, and snorkeled in the underwater cave from the movie 007, Thunderball Grotto.
Aside from the swimming pigs, the sand bar basically made dreams come true. I could honestly walk about as far as you could see in any direction and the water still wouldn’t have been waist deep. It was crazy awesome!
In case you were wondering just how majestic the view is from pig island, it looks like this! I think they have a better view than most people, ha!
Have you all been to any ridiculously awesome all-inclusive destinations we should know about?! I’m already itching to go somewhere else! I really want to try St. Lucia, Barbados, and Turks & Caicos.
Spill your tips and secrets with us if you’ve found a hidden gem we should know about, too!
31 thoughts on “Our Trip to The Exumas & Sandals Emerald Bay”
Just wondering if you encountered any bugs Hearing a lot about sand flies and no seeumsw
Hi Brenda! Yes, sandflies aren’t uncommon. It’s best to go during the non-rainy times. If you apply baby oil, the bugs can’t bite you! Hope this helps!
Definitely put St. Lucia on your list. It was our favorite of all so far!
Thanks, Deborah! Will do!
My husband and I will be there in April. Websites the Sandals resort inJamaica 12 nights in the Sandals/south coast the best vacation I have ever been on.
Hi Patsy! Hope you guys have lots of fun!
I’ll be going there next month and I can’t wait! Needed done more insight on the pigs excursion. Your page definitely encourage me. I think I’ll try it!
Absolutely, do it! A total bucket list experience!!!
What time of the year did you go?
Definitely St Lucia AND Turks! We’ve gone to Turks 3 times n due to Hurricane Irma, was diverted to Sandals La Toc! Fell in love with St Lucia for the lush green but does not compare to Turks sand and water! Sounds comparable to Enerald Bay, which we will experience in Oct! Thx for the wonderful blog!
My husband and I are planning on going in April for my 35th birthday. Is it an option to choose which company we want for our day tour? I would prefer the Four Cs from your experience.
If you want to go the Four C’s route (which I highly recommend!) you’ll have to use your room phone to book the tour locally yourself instead of through the hotel. They take cash only, so be sure to get that in advance if you can!
We are currently at Sandals Emerald Bay and signed up to do the Four C’s tour during our stay – looked awesome! We were in Saint Lucia about a year ago at Sandals Grande, check out the adventure here; I definitely recommend taking the speedboat tour with Lyle and Terry .5 ! Saint Lucia was an amazing trip. http://www.aweekendaffair.com/blog/2016/3/24/adventures-in-saint-lucia ALSO, go to Grenada (Sandals), the resort is still very new and it’s an absolutely beautiful place with some of the nicest people ever. Both worth the trip. Loved reading your post.
So glad it sounds like you are having a blast! xo
Thank you for the amazing review! My husband and I found this page last night and chose the destination based on your pictures and amazing review. I cannot wait to feed those pigs!!!
My absolute favorite part of the trip, hands down! Hope you guys have a blast! xo
Where is that blue checked suit from?? These photos are giving me some serious wanderlust!
We sail there a month ago, was wonderful!
It is beautiful! Glad you guys had a good time :)
Loved great exuma…we went back in 2006 and stayed at four seasons which is now sandals…next time you go you need to rent a boat and go to chat and chill…
I stumbled across this while looking up the exumas and so glad i did:) the bf and i have a 4 night trip planned this oct and staying at the sandals resort as well! We def plan on booking the tour they offer to swim with the piggys!! So excited any reccomendations as far as somewhere to eat off the property one day or shopping?! Trying to do my research in advance so we will do as much as possible in the short time frame….thanks!!
This recap is great! Pigs are my favorite animal so I am now completely sold on going there. I can’t believe I never knew about this place before and that it was so close.
Thank you for sharing! Now I need to start planning..
Amazing. Gorgeous. I want to go.
What an experience you’ve had over there. Really nice. I want there too. Just checked Exuma on the map and on Wikipedia, I got to get there.
The PIGSSSS! Oh, I want one. And also – are you the cutest jumper on the beach? Yes.
Could those blues be any more vibrant?! I think not.
Woah! This looks amazing!
Grenada! It’s a sandals too- so beautiful!!
Wowza awesome trip! Oh those swimming piggies! Love <3 You're right when it comes to really relaxing it's best to stay at a resort than a rental!
That looks amazing! We went there a few years back and did the same excursion. It was a dream! I have posted my pics in Instagram and Pinterest of the pigs as well! So glad you enjoyed it! We are going back in March with family on the same excursions. Can’t wait! Thank you for sharing!
The swimming piggies are hilarious!!! I’ve never heard of Exuma but I might have to go one day to see swimming piggies!! I’d probably shriek and run away but they do seem cute!!! I can’t believe the water was so clear!! Looks like a fun trip indeed!