The Bahamas | Exuma

January 8, 2024

This past December, my family and I celebrated Sarah’s 40th birthday in The Bahamas! It couldn’t have been a more special time to truly unwind and relax together. With everyone’s busy schedules, it can be tough to find the time for some R&R, but we really soaked it up this trip, and it was completely amazing!

We flew into Exuma International Airport (airport code: GGT). There’s a direct flight from Miami, which is super convenient for us Florida folks. On the topic of travel, I would recommend renting a car upon arrival to the airport. There are several local and reliable taxi’s in the area, but we really enjoyed the convenience of having out or car to run up to the grocery store.

We stayed at Ballymena, which was a total slice of paradise! It’s a five bedroom villa – all bedrooms being on suites (and two with additional outdoor showers!),  a half bath, a large fully stocked kitchen, spacious living and dining areas, and the best part; the outdoor living space. This rental truly had it all. Of course, we spent most of our time outdoors; in the hot tub, pool, beach, and just lounging on the comfy furniture that’s set up everywhere. The house came equipped with paddle boards and kayaks, which were super fun for the kids and kept them busy for hours. It was really nice to watch them enjoying it so much! Another perk of Ballymena is that it has its own marina next door. This is ideal for renting your own boat (which my brother in law did for us) or being picked up by boat for an excursion. Seriously so convenient! The marina is shared by a few other rental homes, which would be so perfect for a large group or family reunion. The other homes you can rent that are all next door to each other (but they’re all extremely private so you don’t even realize you have neighbors!) are: Casa Bella, Peeps Cottage, and Marina House.

Most of our days in Exuma started out by leisurely waking up and having coffee outside – is there any better way to start the day than with that view?! Since the house was set up so well, you really could hang there and never leave if you wanted. We really did just enjoy out time at the house together so much – not making tons of plans and tending to busy schedules felt great. My brother in law did rent a boat that we kept at the maria, which was super nice. The guys and kids took it out almost every day, and us gals joined a couple times too. The views and water is something spectacular in Exuma! Honestly the most beautiful blues I have *ever* seen. One day we chartered a large boat, which was fun for everyone. It took us by Chat n Chill, which is a touristy beach hang out where you can grab a bite, pet and feed sting rays, play corn hole, etc. It’s a neat spot that I would definitely recommend checking out if you’re in the area.

The best meals we had were when we hired private chefs to come to the house. Chef Gavin and Thai’s Hibachi being our favorites! We always had lots of leftovers, which were perfect lunches for the following day. For Sarah’s 40th birthday dinner, we went the hibachi route which was so fun! We brought out the celebrity mask game and some party crackers and had lots of big belly laughs. I sat in between my dad who had a Pink mask on and was truly terrifying haha. My husband’s mask was Jason Sudeikis and although we were a group of Ted Lasso fans, half of them didn’t recognize him without the thick mustache! LOL – we always get a kick out of this game and knew it had to make its way to the Bahamas with us.

I can’t say enough great things about our time in Exuma. If you’re looking for a tropical destination where you can really unplug, I highly recommend Exuma and staying at Ballymena. I also loved the time of year we came – December 15-20. At home, the hustle and bustle of the holidays were really ramping up, and in the Bahamas, all of that extra stress didn’t seem to exist. It helped that I luckily did all of my Christmas shopping before we left :). When we got home, we were refreshed and ready to take on the holidays!

Such a special time, in the most beautiful place. We all can’t wait to get back!