Coral Gardens is situated just above Hoopers Bay in fantastic Great Exuma. It is described as the "best beach" in Exuma which some may say is an exaggeration. Having now been there, I can tell you it's true! Not only is it mostly deserted but it has a resident family of three Green Turtles which are more than happy to come have a chat with you, expecially if you take some food with you - little bits of squid being their favourite, apparently - but they seemed to like the cereal too! There are manay many other fish that will swim around your legs quite happily, even in the shallows. Best place to find huge shoals is betweent the two docks, which is where the turtles can also be found. The water is crystal clear and warm.
Other beaches of note are Forbes Hill Cove which is just fantastic. Again, loads of things to see in the clear waters, especially around the rockline. Fantastic clear waters and pristine sands. Head on down the same road towards Little Exuma (in the car Peter can provide) and you come to Little Exuma. On the way, stop in at Turquoise Cay for a drink, then head down to Santana's Grill Pit for fresh lobster - $22 or "cracked" chicken or conch - cracked means battered then deep fried. All excellent.
George Town at first seems a bit shabby but once you spend a few days there and realise you have the Exuma Yacht Club, Peace and Plenty and Minns Boat Hire, you realise it's a very nice place to be. Hire a boat for a day or two and discover the hundreds of sand bars, hidden coves and even pop over to Stocking Island to visit Chat and Chill. Take an old t-shirt with you and they will let you hang it up next to the dozens of others, having scribbled some "hilarious" comment on it first, of course. A great beach which is home to a family of huge stingrays who swim in and around everyone, holding out for scraps of conch, thrown from the Conch Grill. Perfectly safe to be around and an interesting experience when a ray the size of a car glides past you!
You might hear someone mention the "circuit". This is in reference to the list of places that have the most entertainment on any given night and this is where the crowd goes. From the Rake and Scrape in P&P on a Thursday night to the all night drinks at Exuma Beach Club on a Friday, there is something to do every single night. Every night we were there, we met the most welcoming people from all sorts of backgrounds - from millionaires to the man with hardly a bean, everyone was great and everyone was great to each other. There is no "us and them" kind of feeling that you can find in other islands - everyone's the same here, mon!
Coral Gardens itself really lives up to its name. It is set in 16,500 ft of established garden grounds and has a large variety of visitors on any given day. Sat on the porch on night one of our trip and we were greeted by huge money moths and dozens of little lizards. Night 2 and a little frog jumped from the timber deck on to my knee, then onto my shoulder. It then sat there for a photo opportunity, which was thoroughly amusing. Nights 3, 4 and 5 onwards were just as interesting as it just kept coming, 2 hummingbirds, a huge toad, a family of geckos, a huge locust that jumped onto my partners head (well done for not freaking out, evie!) the list goes on. Perfect for those of you who like that kind of thing but certainly not intrusive or freaky in any way.
We stayed in the one bed apartment on the right hand side of the building which was perfect for our needs and had everything you would need. There was a slight issue with the electrics one night but Peter had that attended to the very next day. Betty was off island for most of our trip but good old Peter managed admirably. We did partake of his helpful tips on where and when to go as some restaurants are only open on certain days and he even advised where to stay clear of because of excess mosquitoes and flies after dusk. Very helpful.
All in all, we had a great time. The car from Peter is a necessity if you want to see the island as taxis are a bit hit and miss. The freedom a car gives you is certainly worth it as the island is bigger than it may seem and you dont want to miss out on seeing everything.
We are already planning another trip in January and we will definitely be staying at Coral Gardens. It's not a resort as some people have stated, more like going to stay at good old Uncle Pete's house, where he wont tell your parents what you got up to!
Stay here if you're coming to the island, you wont regret it.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Quiet hillside location with beautiful sea views. Convenient for airport & Georgetown whilst only a short walk to best beach on island. B&B with choice of 3 double/twin bedrooms or 2 self-catering apartments. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Coral Gardens Hotel Great Exuma