Our Holiday Vacation In Exuma, Bahamas

I had mentioned a couple posts ago how we decided to take a last minute vacation. I had not been on vacation with the girls in over 2 years and I was a bit nervous. We have been camping since (in NB and PEI), went to visit my aunt in Boston, stayed by the sea in NH but I have not flown and gone somewhere really far with the girls for basically more than half of Ava's life! If you've travelled on an airplane with small children you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. Calling it stressful doesn't do it justice. It's just, something else.

But this time was different. A whole new ball game. My kids are getting older. 8, 12 and Ava, almost 5! What. A. Difference. WOW! Packing was different.The only babyish thing we had to bring now was a car seat for Ava. The girls each get a carryon so in there were their books, toys, electronics, and dolls.  They were each responsible for packing what they wanted to bring on board. And nobody forgot anything!

Something else different? They were angels on the plane.  We had a flight to Toronto at 6 a.m. and Brook sat alone in front of me with 2 very sweet passengers who explained to her how to use the screen in front of her and helped her throughout the short flight. I sat with Ava and I think Charlize, lol, it was really early and we weren't going on much sleep. The next flight Charlize and Brook sat together and were content the whole 3 hour flight. It is impossible to sit all together as a family of five, but we were always within arms length of each other (pretty much anyway). I sat with Ava on all flights there and back.  Even with a 3 hour delay on the way home the girls were still in good spirits which made everything that much better.

Being on vacation is so important to my family. It creates moments and connection for a long period of time which helps us bond even deeper. It's easy to get lost in the day to day especially with school, work, chores, activities, parties, etc. Taking a break from all of that is what we look forward to every year. We try to take 2 vacations a year but lately it's been 1, so this was especially appreciated this time around by all!

We had beautiful hot sunny weather the whole time (except the day we left) kept ourselves hydrated with lots of water (and a little rum punch) and slathered with 100 SPF. Charlize still turned brown, lol. 

If you've never been to the Bahamas, you should definitely put it on your list of places to visit. There are many islands, we've stayed at three different islands in the past (Nassau, Eleuthera and Exuma before).  If you rent your own home, you can vacation for the same price you'd pay for 2 adults at an all inclusive in Mexico, but with your whole family! And personally, since renting our own homes now for years, it would be really hard to do an all inclusive again. The beaches here are sandy powder white (pink in Eleuthera) and the water is more blue than anywhere else on earth (even according to NASA).

Ava sipping on club soda, sitting on her big sister.

We rented a boat for the day and visited a few small islands. We all snorkeled (even Ava!) and were greeted by a wild dolphin! He swam with us for 10 minutes, circling around Myself, then Charlize and Greg. We have the whole thing on video (underwater!!!) You can hear him talking to us or laughing or whatever it was he was doing. It was incredible to say the least. It made the cost of the boat (180$ US) so, so worth it. Renting a boat is a must do anyway as you can tour several islands, snorkel beautiful reefs and see many different kinds of beautiful fish and turtles!

Charlize convinced Brooklyn to jump off the boat into the water. This was were we met the dolphin.

My girls are pretty brave I must say. There was a barracuda swimming just below. If you don't know what that is, it's a pretty big, scary looking fish with razor sharp teeth. The eat fish but have been known to attack dolphins (which may be why the dolphin was pushing him away!!!) and
have bitten humans out of confusion (rare, however).  I've jumped in the water (on our last trip) knowing a shark was in the distance (I had to see him!) so a barracuda to me wasn't that scary.

This time the house we rented was in a little community of 8 or so houses, and had a shared in-ground pool, hammock and bar area. That was definitely something we loved. Houses we rent generally never come with pools (too expensive) so it was nice to have. The girls swam in it everyday as well. Apparently there was a shark in the water where we stayed so we stayed off that beach (or at least not in the water, lol. We were on the sound side anyway where it doesn't get too deep and is rocky compared to the pristine beaches of the Atlantic side. It is perfect for bone-fishing but not so much for swimming.

The house was really nice. 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms. It was open and very tastefully decorated. It was perfect and I would certainly stay there again.  The girls slept in 1 room together the whole time! I guess we really didn't need a 3 bedroom, lol.  It made me sooooo happy to see them play together all day. On the beach, in the pool, at the house, it was never ending. They all get along quite well more than half the time so that's probably as good as it gets!

The girls trying hard not to fall off the hammock.

We explored the island everyday anyway in our rented car. That also is a must when visiting the smaller islands of the Bahamas (not Nassau). If you plan to go without kids than maybe the Sandals resort is for you. It looks beautiful. But then you are stuck there and can't visit some of the other gorgeous beaches.

The Chat n' Chill is a restaurant on a private beach just across the island. You need a boat (or you can take a water taxi) there for lunch and a delicious Bahama Mama (local drink). There the girls pet a friendly stingray that hangs around for the free conch that is served to him by the local conch salad maker.  They are super silky soft to the touch.

The boat on the left is the one we rented. It's the perfect size and provides us with some shade.  We contemplated renting the boat another day since we had so much fun but figured we may not top the day we had already had;)

Greg caught a couple fish during the trip. The grouper, speared off one of the beaches is the best fish we ever ate. So, so good. Lightly dipped in flour, of course, yum. Restaurants are quite pricy here so we prepared our own meals and brought frozen meat and lots of snacks with us from home. You can bring almost anything from home except fruits, veggies, and breads. Meats are o.k. oddly enough.  The house caretaker provided us with a delicious meal the evening we got back from boating of lobster, fried fish, rice & peas, and a yummy coleslaw. I ate three plates and whatever was leftover on the girls plates. So good. It was cheaper than going out for dinner and we really wanted a nice local meal at least once.

Selfie of Ava & Myself on the boat.

Another tidbit of information; you can get flights as cheap as $230 per person tax included. I know- insane. Air Canada flies to Exuma and sells off its available seats for cheap on closer-to dates!!! Another reason we love the Bahamas.

Already looking forward to our summer vacation because these last three weeks flew by! Have you gone somewhere you keep returning? I know there are so many great, beautiful islands we still have yet to visit! I'd love to know!


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