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Exuma, Bahamas Travel Guide with Grand Isle Resort & 23 North GR

It has been almost a year since our last trip to Grand Isle Resort (you can read that post here) and I was so excited to bring Roman back this time with us!  Last time we only stayed two nights on the resort and brought Lainey, this time we stayed 4 nights and also brought our friends to experience it!  I felt like we were able to appreciate the slower lifestyle Exuma is known for this time around and I always love visiting a place a second time because you know what to do, where to go, and where to eat by then.  Also since our last visit, Grand Isle opened up a new area with an Adults only pool & new restaurant known as 23 North Beach Club.  See below for the latest about the island 🙂

(The new adults only pool at 23 North GR)

About the Island:  “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 in length and joined to another island, Little Exuma, by a small bridge. The capital and largest town in the district is George Town.”  Exuma is located on the southern Bahamas.  They were not affected by the recent hurricane and a percentage of all bookings at Grand Isle Resort is going towards the relief for the northern Bahamas (Abaco islands) that was directly hit by Hurricane Dorian.  Book here for last minute escapes!

How to get there:  We flew directly into Georgetown Airport this trip from RDU, with a quick connector in Miami, FL and it was the best experience so far.  We have flown into Nassau before because we missed a connector in Atlanta (you can read about that story here) & hopped over to Exuma later in the day on another connector flight and it made us miss an entire day.  Highly suggest just flying directly into Georgetown Airport!  From there, the resort is a quick 10 minutes away!

What to pack:  I got this question a lot which was surprising to me since it is a typical island lifestyle to me!  It is a small island, nothing fancy, so I was either barefoot or had sandals on with a maxi dress half the time and the other half in a bathing suit!  The weather year round stays in the lower 80s, so just pack comfortable.  If it did rain, it only last maybe an hour throughout the day then the sun would shine.  I usually pack a sweater as well to throw over in the evening when the sun goes down!  Also I always pack my own beach bag with all the kid pool accessories they love.

Where to Stay:  Of course we love Grand Isle Resort!  We stayed at other properties in Exuma before and the experience was not even close to the service and luxury accommodations Grand Isle Resort has to offer.  You can choose between 1-4 bedroom luxury villas.  We stayed in a 3 bedroom this time, but actually ended up switching to a 2 bedroom because apparently only 2 bedrooms have whirlpool tubs and my kids love baths!

Dining Options:  At Grand Isle Resort you have a few options for dining.  You can eat at Palapa grill by the pool for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  23 North also just opened up their newest restaurant which is Asian-Bahamian inspired food that is open for lunch or dinner.  We had an amazing dinner there on one of our nights, see all behind the scenes on my Instagram stories here.  During Hurricane Season a lot of places shut down on the island so options are slim.  We enjoyed taking the boat to Staniel Cay for lunch one afternoon and also make sure to do Sunday Buffet lunch at Chat & Chill!  You have to take a boat to both of these places, you can easily rent your own at Minns Water Sports!

Excursions:  We did a private boat tour for the first time with Triple A Adventures and I will always do that moving forward especially with a group in Exuma!  It also made our day a lot smoother on a private boat with toddlers.  We had a group of 8 people and I loved it because we were able to schedule the day how we wanted and avoid the other boat crowds at key tourist spots (swimming with pigs and shark pictures you see here).  You can customize your private boat tour for a half day or full day depending on what spots you want to visit.  Book your next adventure with Triple A Adventures here!



Thank you to the amazing team at Grand Isle Resort for hosting our stay!  As always, all opinions are my own!

travel

Nassau, Bahamas Travel Review of Baha Mar Resorts

We started in Exuma & took a quick (45 min) hopper flight over to Nassau to stay 2 nights at Baha Mar Resorts.  I absolutely loved our resort, after being on quiet Exuma, Nassau is definitely where you come for most of the action.  I loved it so much, that we never even ventured off property.  Everything was perfectly set up for you to enjoy everything on site without getting bored.  There is a section on my instagram highlights here where you can see videos of entire trip!
Here is everything you need to know about our stay:

(Suit Pearl Street Swim)
(Suit Lspace)

Accommodations:  Baha Mar Resorts
This Resort is brand new (as in built in the last 3 years) and there are three different areas on the property you can choose to stay at.  The property is all connected, but it never felt overwhelming to me like Atlantis did (we have stayed there before, and I would never go back except for a day trip after this experience).  You also have access to every single pool on the property, which I thought was amazing no matter what section you stayed at.  There is a Casino on the ground floor.  If I had to describe this place, I would say a mix of Vegas Cosmo feel with Miami/Nobu dining.  Basically all my favorite things combined into one Resort.  Needless to say, we will be back!

Here are your options at Baha Mar

1. Grand Hyatt Baha Mar– We stayed here, I felt like this was perfect & affordable for families.  The rooms were all white & felt very luxury.  I loved how low the beds were to the ground.  The room came with your own iPad to show you the result property and let you choose activities for the kids or spa during your stay.

2. SLS Baha Mar I would stay here without the kids, or even with older kids if you want luxury feel all around.  Their lobby during Christmas was a beautiful site and their pool was my favorite.  Every pool has a different menu, and SLS pool was the only one that had the EXOTIC fruit plate I was obsessed with.  I probably had two a day :).  They also serve a variety of popsicles for kids and adults, heaven!

3. Rosewood- We didn’t get a chance to really check this area out with so much to do in our lobbies.  But their properties have direct beach access and I’m sure just as amazing as the others.

IMG_9323
(Views from our room, Grand Hyatt.  Dresses: little Choco Pink)

Amenities on the Property:

  •  The Pools: There are 6 pools!  Yes, 6 very different pools.  It was like you were at a different resort every hour, amazing.  Our favorite pool for food menu was the SLS pool.  For exploring/fun- Dean’s Blue Hole, you could jump off the rocks into the pool & there was an underwater aquarium where you went under caves.  We stayed at the hot-tubs right by that area a lot too.  It was the closet pool to the beach.

    (Suit Montce)(Suit Minnow Swim)
  • The Beach:  Beautiful as usual and not crowded at all.  Comfortable lounge chairs waiting for guest use, and there was a local Cabana boy that sold Coconuts for $15, and after you drank it he would provide an alcoholic drink in it complimentary!  They had water-sports equipment you could use, but we never made it down there enough to do it.(Dress PinkChickenNY)
  • The Sanctuary: This was an onsite interactive water area that grants guests access to feed the nurse sharks, stingrays and turtles!  Kids 8+ older can participate, or enroll your child in the kids camp and they will take them there too!  (I did this for Lainey and met her at the site & watched her feed the turtles & sharks!)

    IMG_8744
    (Suit Lspace)

  • The Food: Ahhh, I’m already dreaming of going back for the food.  There were amazing food trucks on every
    corner of the resort, from hot-dogs to tacos to snow-cones/ice-cream you name it.  Then the restaurants on site, hands down as good as Nobu chain which is our favorite restaurant.  We made reservations at Cleo & Katsuya both nights.  So good, Katsuya was my favorite.   We also had breakfast at Cafe Madeleine, Avocado toast + their cappuccinos were amazing.  Again, no complaints on any food which is rare because my husband owns an Italian restaurant and is always the biggest critic!
    (Suit Minnow- Mine: Montce)
    IMG_8020
    (Get the exotic fruit plate)
  • Service: Last but not least, the service at Baha Mar was 5 star!!  I don’t think one single employee ever looked mad, or answered my question with any hesitation.    Anything I asked for, they delivered happily.  I felt like we were their number one propriety when there were so many other guests there too.
    (two piece: Tiare Hawaii)

All & All, If you can’t tell from my review, this was an absolute new favorite resort of mine I am so glad we found.  I plan to take many future family trips here.  Thank you to the team at Baha Mar Resorts for being so amazing!

(Dress Ivy City Co, Discount: Becca10)

travel

Exuma, Bahamas Travel Guide with Grand Isle Resort

The beginning of our trip to Exuma, Bahamas was rough to say the least.  We have traveled there before (you can read that blog post here) and we were dying to go back.  From the East Coast, it typically is about a 5 hour travel day, a short two hour flight from Florida airport connections!  Our plan was to take our daughter Lainey on a girls trip to meet my sister in Nassau, but my husband didn’t want to miss out and decided to join!  By that point I had already arranged my son Roman to stay with my parents, but I regretted not bringing him the entire time.  So if you have toddlers, this place is perfect for them!
Pro Tip: Do not connect in ATL, or any big airport for that matter, with less than an hour layover.
Expert tip: Wait a couple days after the weekend of thanksgiving to travel.  The busiest travel day of the year is the Sunday after thanksgiving, we traveled on the Monday following and still saw the run over from the holiday by having our first flight delayed to Atlanta. Which then caused us to miss the one flight a day to Exuma from that airport (cue tears).  We also were traveling with my four year old daughter, thankfully I didn’t have our son who is two that day during the chaos.  We were able to get a flight over to Nassau a few hours later, then grab a connection from Nassau to Exuma.  This is where it was hectic, that plane in Nassau had a 6 hour delay!  :: This was Bahamas Air, who I don’t recommend flying in the future.  Everyone we talked to said they were notorious for long delays.  We finally landed in Exuma at midnight (left that morning at 5am).  We were all beyond exhausted.  This is where the vacation took an amazing turning point :).
Read below on everything you need to know.

Where to Stay: Grand Isle Resort & Spa
(I have a section on my instagram on my highlights where you can view all the videos of our stay and entire trip here)


(Views from the entrance/path to villas)

  • Accommodations: The entire resort includes Luxury Villas.  They range from one to four bedrooms with multiple level floors.  As soon as we arrived we were taken straight to our villa because it was midnight and the gate had our key ready.  The second we walked in I was blown away.  We had a two-bedroom, two level villa, with three total bathrooms.  Traveling with kids and staying in hotels a lot can be rough, but when you stay in a Villa you have all the accommodations like home you need (full kitchen/Washer/dryer).  This place was a slice of heaven.
  • Service:   They have a full time team available at all times to help you with anything.  I knew the service was going to be 5 star when I was in touch with their marketing team prior to arriving.  Patricia Santos (GR Social Media Manager) connected me with Lori Beal, a travel specialist with Stenner Travel who made sure we even had food waiting for us after all our plane chaos.  They both checked in on me non-stop from our delays at the airport, to us getting back home safely!  You can never go wrong having a travel agent when traveling.  They had their regular driver, Kevin, also waiting for us in an Escalade in the middle of the night.  They made us feel like we were the only guests on the island & took so much stress off my shoulders as soon as we got there.  I’ve never felt more special!

    (Breakfast/lunch & dinner at their onsite restaurant by pool)
  • Location: Grand Isle Resort & Spa is located on a beautiful strip of Emerald Bay on Great Exuma.  They have their own private beach steps down from the pool.  It was a quick 10 minutes from the airport, and still felt secluded yet close to other areas of the island if you wanted to scoot around.

    (Outdoor cabana bar by the beach)
  • Amenities: Okay, we have never stayed anywhere in the Caribbean that provided you your own golf-cart with your stay!  That was my favorite thing about this place.  You can take the golf-cart along the golf-course on the beach for a beautiful scenic ride or around the entire property at your own leisure.  Their Restaurant on site was overlooking the pool, which overlooked the beach!  The beach had kayaks, scuba gear, and sandcastle buckets for your own use too.  Yeirdon & Lainey took the kayak out one day & they provided the life jackets.

    Here is a glance at all the amenities on property:
  • The Palapa Grill ( we ate here for all our meals, sooooo good!)
  • SeaStar Spa
  • Fitness Center
  • Poolside and beachfront food and drink service
  • Free-form infinity-edge pool and an expansive sundeck patio
  • Complimentary supervised children’s activities
  • Access to the Emerald Bay Golf Course, a Greg Norman-designed course
  • Concierge
  • Daily housekeeping
  • Pack n’ plays and high chairs (subject to availability)
  • Nanny service (fee)
  • Private chef (fee)

What to do on the island, Excursions:

  • Exuma Water Sports:  We did the half-day Swimming with Pigs Tour.  We were picked up by 8:30am and brought back to our resort by 1pm.  If you had kids that still nap, I recommend this tour because the boat ride to all the action is not long.  This company was very smooth to book & work with.  They also had the nicest tour boat we have been on, with bench cushioned seats and fully covered underneath.  If you don’t have kids and want to experience everything on one boat trip, I would do the full day tour with them (We did the full tour last year, blog post here on that).

  • Rent a boat from Minns Watersports, and explore the island yourself if you know how to drive a boat.
    You can take it to Chat & Chill for lunch, see stingrays, and go scuba diving at your own pace!

  • Head to Tropic Of Cancer Beach.  We heard it was amazing, but didn’t have time to check it out.
    Spend an entire day there, grab some local lunch, and enjoy the beauty.
    Its the longest beach on the island.

    *We really enjoyed our stay at Grand Isle Resort & Spa, I wish we would of had more time to relax there.  Next time we will stay more than two nights :).  Book your stay with them here & prepare to enter into total relaxation!
    *Traveling Packing list
    : You can shop all our outfits and luggage on shop my Instagram page tab above or click here!
travel

Bahama Mamas

All about the Bahamas!

We wanted a quick weekend trip with friends before the rush of the holidays (see christmas post on all those events) so our travel agent gave us the best options to get to an island from RDU airport by lunchtime on a friday, and we settled on Exuma, Bahamas!

  • Where we stayed: Sandals Emerald Bay (Adults only all inclusive) – If we go again, Highly suggest the VRBO’s online in georgetown, the entire island was very safe and those are cheaper options.  You also are able to go to off property restaurants to experience Georgetown.
  • We flew: American Airlines- connected Atlanta, which i don’t recommend if you have a short layover, we ended up RUNNING to our connection making it within 5 minutes because there is only one flight a day to Exuma.
  • Activities: 
    4C’s adventure– full day boat tour.  I think there is another option with a boat that goes faster, because it took us a full two hours to get from one side of the island to the other and we got caught in a storm on the way back.  We were able to see the Pigs, Sharks, Iguanas, Caves, Sandbar and the sunken plane..-Best Tip* Rent a boat from Minns Watersports and go to Chat & Chill.  We did this our last day, and wished we had done this everyday!  You can see the stingrays and go at your own pace.  The entire place is breathtaking.-Find the swings on Coco Plum Beach! See Pic below, I would recommend low tide because we almost drowned 😉
  • Outfits: My goto swimsuits were all LSpace, Accessories (Hat and skirt from Saltsuit)