It’s shocking to hear people say they think of the the Bahamas like it’s just a quick stop on some major Caribbean cruise. You could spend a lifetime enjoying all the excursions and diving possible in the Exuma Cays! With options for all sorts of outdoor adventures – diving, hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, island-hopping, paddle boarding, fishing, etc. – you’re seeing the best nature has to offer!
The Exumas make up a stunning archipelago just a little southeast of Nassau. Find yourself exploring down here and you may never want to leave. Several celebrities even own islands in this little paradise – and I don’t blame them!
The area is best explored via boat, or more specifically, a dive liveaboard. This gives you the chance to experience the Bahamas’ best diving, and you’ll be able to make some fun stops along the way to see what makes each of the islands so amazing! Without further ado, here’s a list of all the best shore excursions in the Exuma Cays!
#1 – Meet the Swimming Pigs of the Bahamas
If you thought the Bahamas were just famous for clear water and pristine beaches, think again!
As far as Bahamas shore excursions go, the swimming pigs of Big Major Cay are certainly a major point of attraction. To be fair, cruising through the beautiful Exumas to find yourself face to face with a bunch of beach-bum pigs is pretty neat!
No one is completely sure how the pigs came to inhabit Big Major Cay, but they likely swam to the island from a shipwreck or were left by sailors who planned to come back and eat them…luckily for us, they never made it back to have that beach BBQ with a main course of pork chops!
Bringing them a healthy snack of veggies or fruit is a sure-fire way to make a good impression. Feeding an apple to a pig whose purpose in life is to lay out on a beach is a really unique experience for travelers wanting like to take a break from diving to see something new on land.
There are actually other island-dwelling pigs in the northern Exuma Cays on Ship Channel Cay, which might be a more accessible excursion if you’re staying closer to Nassau, but the ones you’ve likely heard of before are the ones residing on Big Major Cay.
#2 – Discover the Rocky Dundas
These two incredible caves, lesser known than Thunderball Grotto but often considered more impressive, are one of the most interesting places in the Exumas. Swim in to see stalactites and stalagmites and even fossilized beetles on the cave walls.
Snorkeling in the area will give you a glimpse at some colorful corals, including one famously enormous Elkhorn coral at the entrance of the left cave. The snorkeling in this area is said to be some of the best in the Bahamas!
To enter this cave, you’ll have to swim underwater, but a nice beam of light coming through the roof makes it worth the trouble!
You’re also just a quick ride away from Compass Cay, home to Rachel’s Bubble Bath – where waves crash over a unique rock formation to create bubbles all of the water’s calm surface inside. You can even spend the day swimming and feeding local nurse sharks on this island, so it’s definitely an exciting follow-up for the incredible Rocky Dundas excursion.
#3 – Visit the Strange Island of Warderick Wells
Another of the popular Bahamas shore excursions is a hike on Warderick Wells. Home-base for the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, this island is a beautiful place to explore. It’s covered with hiking trails, on which you can spot several endangered bird species.
You’ll probably notice the colossal sperm whale skeleton first as you cruise up to the beach. It’s said to have died after eating a plastic bag, which is a stark reminder to do what we can to protect the ocean.
Boo Boo Hill is a must-visit site on the island. Visitors to Warderick Wells often leave a piece of driftwood or sign on the hilltop with their ship’s name on it as an offering to the god, Neptune, for a safe passage home. The top of the hill also offers a terrific view of the clear blue Bahamas waters.
This island has another interesting, visit-worthy feature, as well – blowholes, where the waves crashing below create a geyser effect through holes in the rock. It’s a lot of fun to stop by and see so many unique things on one stop.
#4 – Adventure in Shroud Cay
Shroud Cay, another notorious destination for shore excursions in the Exuma Cays, is a great spot to stretch your legs after a few days of stumbling around on the boat.
You can hike up to the island’s highest point to have an amazing view of the beautiful surrounding waters or have a relaxing beach cookout in Camp Driftwood.
Kayaking and snorkeling around the mangroves are another favorite among fanatics of Shroud Cay. The things that snorkelers can see in this area are absolutely fascinating – juvenile fish, crustaceans, and nudibranchs are hiding all throughout the healthy mangrove forest.
People also like to jump into the “Washing Machine” (not the swift drift dive off of Norman’s Cay). It’s a calm (but not too calm) drift on the surface of shallow water that pulls swimmers and snorkelers around beautiful sandy beaches on the island.
You could spend several days on Shroud Cay and not be bored for minute! There’s just so much to do in such an amazing place.
#5 – Feel Like James Bond in Staniel Cay and Thunderball Grotto
Right across the water from the swimming pigs is Staniel Cay, the perfect place to split your shore excursion day into two different spots. Saying goodbye to the pigs to have the rest of the day snorkeling in the mangroves and visiting a sunken plane wreck in shallow water makes for a whole lot of fun on this island.
Snorkeling in healthy systems of mangroves like these really is one of the most exciting things in the world for lovers of water and nature, so try to make a stop while you’re in the area!
However, even though the snorkeling is fantastic, Staniel Cay is most famous for being home to Thunderball Grotto, which was featured in, and named after, the 1965 James Bond movie. Snorkelers can get into the cave at low tide to see beautiful corals and fish illuminated by the sun shining through a hole in the roof.
Adventurous travelers can even jump through the hole into the water down below! It’s a surreal experience to visit a place that doesn’t just look like it came out of a movie – it actually did.
#6 – Feed Some Wild Iguanas
Yep, swimming pigs aren’t the only interesting (and hungry) critters inhabiting the islands of the Exuma Cays, Bahamas. Endangered Bahamian rock iguanas also sit back and wait to be fed on Allan’s Cay in the northern Exumas.
As you pull up, you’ll see more and more of these guys coming out on the beach to get ready for your arrival. You’ll notice immediately that they’re way bigger than you expected! Dozens of them will be coming out of the woods to watch your boat from the beach!
Bring a bag of grapes and let the fun begin. Toss a grape into the crowd to watch them race for the prize, or put one on a stick to let them come snag it right off the end. Make sure you aren’t wearing purple nail polish on your toes, though – an iguana might just want to try a bite!
They aren’t quite as cuddly as the pigs, but they’re great company! As it turns out, iguanas are some pretty funny creatures. You certainly won’t be bored on this Bahamas shore excursion.
#7 – Relax on Uninhabited Islands
The most underrated of all Bahamas shore excursions is a casual trip to an uninhabited beach. Trust me, it doesn’t just feel like a day in Miami.
It’s a unique feeling, stepping onto a beach that hasn’t been visited in a long time. No footprints, no garbage left in the sand, just perfect shells and the sound of quiet waves rolling in.
The beaches in the Exumas often have impressive rock formations, some of them coming up through the sand with huge conch shells and sea biscuits (basically a thick sand dollar) resting inside. Bring the rum punch and go out exploring the cool rocky craters to spot your next favorite seashell.
Even just taking some time to lay out on a towel in the sun is a really great way to chill out after a few days spent earning your sea legs on the boat! Stop at one of these uninhabited islands and find out what the word “paradise” really means.
What Are Some Other Amazing Bahamas Shore Excursions?
Do you have a favorite Exuma Cays shore excursion that we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments!