Top 10 Bahamas Bucket List: The Exumas

The Exumas are a district of The Bahamas with sapphire blue waters and tons of things to do! Find out what to do, where to eat, and where to stay, or live!

When I was a kid, I started to get obsessed with the Bahamas.

There are so many reasons for it! It wasn’t even that far from my house – as in not 12 hours by plane – but it felt like a whole new world of magic and vacation. I used to dream every day about parrots and sapphire blue water. To get even more dorky, the theme from my Bat Mitzvah was Tammy’s Tropics and it was filled with palm trees, hanging parrots, and tropical drinks. Seriously, my mom is an artist. I’ll have to get her to find/share photos of that gem. (if you can excuse my bangs in the photos) When I was a teen and we had Internet, I used to Google: Exuma house rentals. I’m not kidding I had it all figured out to live there after college! I was going to have a banana or coconut stand and live on the sand and sapphire blue water.

I had so many other dreams, like living in Japan (unfulfilled) and California (fulfilled) but I still think about the Exumas.

I’m sand and sea obsessed. It’s a little funny that my adult obsession with mountains and cabins and moose even exists, because my Bahamas obsession is ancient and strong! I especially loved to read about Exuma – a district of the Bahamas consisting over 365 islands (cays). The largest of these islands (cays) is called Great Exuma and it’s 37 miles in length – joined to Little Exuma (another island/cay) by a small bridge. They all have a lot of history, and each offers a unique Bahamas experience. Years ago I started a list of things to do in Exuma, and I continued it recently when Cassidy and I started planning a large trip – just the two of us. I believe our time to go is coming sooner than I even think. Maybe 2018!

My Top 10 Bahamas Bucket List: The Exumas:

1 – Basically, nothing. I know, right? I want to actually be unplugged (at least for an hour? a day?) and spend some time lounging around a pool or beach. Bonus points for renting a house with a pool. I heard the islands don’t get crowded!

2 – Chat N’ Chill at Chat N’ Chill! Bonus points here that I heard you can swim with stingrays! I’d like nothing more than to talk to people and find out what drew them to the Exumas to live or vacation. I know I’d talk their ears off!

3 – Take a boat tour. These are family friendly, although I am thinking this will be a trip for Cassidy and me only.

4 – Photograph wildlife. This is something I do wherever I go, but I’m particularly looking forward to iguanas, swimming pigs, nurse sharks, and starfish. I would practice my underwater photography, of course, to get the whole picture.

5 – Swimming with pigs! And I promise I wouldn’t feed them my food! I love loud, snorting pigs and someone once described it to me – that they greet you like dogs! They are on Big Major Cay and I heard that they are taken to shelters when hurricanes are coming. Ah, for the love of pigs! This would be such a joy to me.

6 – Snorkel at Thunderball Grotto. A few people have told me to do this! It’s a marine cave that snorkelers and experienced scuba divers can enjoy at low tide (for the snorkelers). I’d love to be able to say I snorkeled in a cave! Total bucket list.

7 – Eat at Shirley’s. This is a quintessential Bahamas fish fry shack. I’m thinking the smell of coconuts and fresh seafood.

8 – Spend a day at Tropic of Cancer Beach. It’s named after the meridian line that runs through it but there’s often no one there (why?!) and the views are supposedly breathtaking. This is where I see reading a whole book or too between swims.

9 – Swim with Nurse Sharks! I’m one of those special people who is not afraid of sharks. Trust me I have my fears, but not sharks! Plus, they’re docile. I want to head to Compass Cay in the Exumas and both pet them and swim with them.

10 – Take a romantic stroll along the Sandbar at Musha Cay. I keep reading about how stunning it is and a MUST SEE. I’d love to sit back and enjoy the miles of sapphire blue. I want to feel the soft sand under my feet and listen to the sounds of the waves. The sandbars shift and contain unique marine life. I can’t wait to take it all in!

Ultimately, I’m having so much fun pre-planning our trip! I love that I have covered some places to eat, some places to stay, and some adventures. What I’m wondering is if you’ve been there? What are the best things to do in Exuma? We have a few trips lined up for 2018/2019 but I’m feeling like right now is an important time to travel. Our kids are getting older, we have tons of pet care for our dogs, cat and chickens, and we have six grandparents we can line up to watch the kids. And who knows? I think we’d love to come back as a family and then I’ll be writing about all the family-friendly things to do in the Exumas. I’d love to hear more about YOU! Have you been there? What did you do while there? What should I do? You know I’m obsessed with relaxing, although I need a nudge to do it, and you know I love scenery and wildlife and conversation.

And ice cream, of course, and lots of it!

What is there to do in the Exumas? So much! Tell me more!

P.S. This post is NOT sponsored by the Bahamas – I just wish it was!

My Mama Weekend Getaway: 5 Ways Red Roof PLUS+ Treated Me Well

This post is a partnership with Red Roof PLUS+. I received a free hotel stay to facilitate my honest review.

I had the best mama staycation EVER in a local hotel. I got to experience all of the wonderful parts of my region, while getting that great vacation feeling. Find out 5 reasons to book #RedRoofPLUS! #ad

Do you ever feel like you just really, really need a staycation? And not the kind at home?

I was feeling that way desperately a few weeks ago. The winter to spring transition always gets me a bit down. It’s always cold and rainy longer than I’d like, and the kid activities ramp up in the spring. Cassidy spent the kids’ spring break in Belize and I was doing double duty at home. Not to mention I had a work trip planned in which I’d also have time to relax, and then the kids got sick and I got sick, and I had to cancel. I was incredibly bummed. When Red Roof PLUS+ reached out to me about a stay, I was more than ready. I was packed days in advance. Books. Magazines. My camera. And some clothes and toiletries. I was ready. I was a woman with a plan. And that plan was to stay in a Red Roof PLUS+ close to home.

Close enough to call it a staycation, but far enough to greet an entire new community and culture.

Red Roof

Here’s what I did:

On Friday night, I kissed my family and left. Before checking in, I got dinner at an Au Bon Pain next door to enjoy in my room. The first thing I did was read outside on a comfy chair before the sun set. It was what I needed for the evening.

After the sun completely set, I decided to check out the inside of the hotel. It had some fun amenities I’ll get to talk about later in the post. Mainly, I’m so down with a pool, vending machines, and arcade games too! Some of my favorites.

After exploring my room and the hotel (more on that later) I decided to see a movie! Alone! I picked I Feel Pretty because it had been out for awhile and I love to sink down in a nearly empty theater with snacks. The drive back to the hotel was quicker than the drive from the movie theater to my house. I camped out on the bed with Royal Wedding coverage and candy. Before I knew it, I was fast asleep. The next morning was rushed because I did have to temporarily quit my mama vacation to take Scarlet to a vocal lesson for work, so I had breakfast at a local co-op and then went home for a bit.

After the lesson, I went back to my hotel room to read. I had dinner plans with four friends, and we had chosen a restaurant closer to my hotel than home. I had a great night, and it was nice to know I was going back to my own big bed!

Sunday was REALLY fun. I asked around for breakfast recommendations and found a local diner in the middle of nowhere. Everyone there seemed to know each other, but they were really nice to me. Then I went to Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory. I don’t like crowds so I went when it opened and enjoyed the garden nearly to myself. I saw a Monarch emerge from a chrysalis and saw a turtle that smiled on command. It was so peaceful and cheerful on a foggy morning.

Then I wandered over to Yankee Candle Headquarters. It’s actually one of the top five tourist attractions in New England, but we live so close to it that I often forget that. I remember the first time I was there – you could smell the apple candles being made from the highway. My kids love to go but I can’t say I’ve ever gone alone. It was nice to focus on me. I got vegetable soup and coffee and wandered around the holiday displays. This was an uplifting experience from the weekend.

My time was winding down so I got a Butter Pecan Latte and went back to the hotel to read until checkout. That was honestly all I had wanted to do all weekend so everything else I did? That was bonus. I love spending time with myself. I also love going back home to my family. The sun was coming out and I think they all missed me. It’s important to take this time for yourself. Last time I stayed in a Red Roof PLUS+, it was in Boston and we had a whole city to explore. Staying in one closer to home gave me awesome perspective. I knew I could relax all I wanted, and explore my own section of the world as a tourist. If I was needed home, I could get there. I recommend taking a “vacation” in your region, or slightly beyond it!

Here are 5 Ways Red Roof PLUS+ Treated Me Well:

1 – The room, of course! Mine had a wood-like floor, a flat-screen TV, a vessel sink, a spacious workstation with special lighting, and an ergonomic chair. The Rest Suite bed by Serta was fitted with plush, high-end (and WARM) bedding and topped with a variety of soft and firm pillows. I loved that I could choose soft or firm, or mix and match.

2 – Extras. If you get a premium room at Red Roof PLUS+, it includes a complimentary snack box containing bottled water, orange juice, popcorn, trail mix and two Nature Valley® granola bars. You also have amenities like Seattle’s Best in-room coffee, a microwave, a mini-fridge, a hair dryer, an iron/ironing board, and a spa-like bathroom with a multiple setting showerhead.

3 – The staff. From giving me extra bottled water, to getting me the best restaurant recommendations in town, I loved knowing all my questions would be answered. They even called to check on me after check-in. In terms of fun things to do in western MA, they had all the info I needed. I loved the brochures highlighting western MA attractions, and their knowledge of western Mass tourism. I actually did feel like a tourist in my own community! This was all new to me.

4 – Staying with a trusted brand. Red Roof PLUS+ is a go-to upscale economy hotel of choice. Use it for business travel, last minute get-aways, family vacations, traveling with pets, traveling as a veteran or military personnel, or having a mama vacation! There are so many reasons to get away (or stay away close to home) that why not stay somewhere you love?

5 – The benefits. There’s the Red Roof loyalty program, RediCard®. You can also travel with your pet. That’s timely with our new puppy. You are allowed one well-behaved pet per room, nationwide. And you get bottled water for each day of your stay.

If I haven’t convinced you yet, make sure you see all the reasons you should stay at a Red Roof PLUS+ for your next getaway. This is my second stay in only a few months, and I can’t wait for my next getaway, wherever it may be!

With locations nationwide, where will I explore next?

I had the best mama staycation EVER in a local hotel. I got to experience all of the wonderful parts of my region, while getting that great vacation feeling. Find out 5 reasons to book #RedRoofPLUS! #ad

When was the last time you stayed in a hotel by yourself? Did you know there were so many western Mass things to do?

I had the best mama staycation EVER in a local hotel. I got to experience all of the wonderful parts of my region, while getting that great vacation feeling. Find out 5 reasons to book #RedRoofPLUS! #ad