As with any nearly location, there may be some concern about safety, especially as a traveler who is new to the visiting the area. So, let’s discuss if it is safe in Exuma, and the main types of safety concerns one should be aware of when visiting the Exumas.
Most of the following will be focused on George Town, Great Exuma, and Little Exuma, as the safety on most of the other Exuma Cays has somewhat different concerns, but by and large they are considered very safe for tourists.
Overall Safety for Tourists in Exuma
The Exumas are all considered generally very safe for tourists (and residents) but the “don’t be stupid” rule still applies just like it would anywhere else. For example, don’t leave valuables in your vehicle or well down the beach unattended. Don’t get blasted drunk and start insulting people. Don’t drive drunk. You know, all those same things you shouldn’t do pretty much anywhere else.
In addition, do be careful whom you trust. The locals are mostly friendly, helpful, and kind (one time I had over 20 people stop in the course of less than an hour when I had a flat tire, which never happened to me back home in decades) but there are, just like anywhere else, some people you want to be wary of. It’s easy to have a happy, laid back “everyone is my friend” attitude when you’re on vacation, but do be careful about whom you make friends with.
Main Safety Concern in Exuma for Tourists
In my opinion, road safety is the main concern for visitors to Exuma. Whether it is getting used to driving on the correct (notice I didn’t say “right”) – left – side of the road for those who have never done it, or swerving to avoid potholes, potcakes, people or other (potentially drunk, depending on the time of day) drivers on the road, this is probably the greatest danger visitors may face during their trip to Exuma.
Most people will recommend to not drive at night, especially late at night as there are very few street lights and the chance of encountering a drunk driver coming the opposite direction, perhaps even on the wrong side of the road coming straight at you. Visitors may be drunk drivers too, and this increases the chance of forgetting which side of the road to drive on.
As Exuma does not have substantial medical care available, urgent and/or dire patients will need to be airlifted to Nassau or the USA, at substantial cost.
Crime in Exuma
The crime in Exuma is almost exclusively focused on thefts. While vehicle thefts (it’s and island, and getting the car off island inconspicuously is hard) are not a major issue, boat thefts are becoming more common, and petty theft is as well.
There are generally very few, if any, substantial crimes against tourists on an annual basis in Exuma. I’ve had my flip flops walk away from our rental house porch once, and a couple other small things taken, perhaps by a stray dog, a person, or a visiting chickcharney.
With the aftermath of devastating hurricanes in Abaco and Grand Bahama, there has been an influx of more locals to Exuma, which is not a bad thing, as Exuma needs more workers to support it’s fast growing tourism and construction economy, but this increase in population also is resulting in an increase in crimes.
Over the last few years there have been a few robberies, but none that I know of targeting tourists. Actual numbers are not available, but I have heard about 1 or 2 per year. And when it happens, everyone hears about it through the coconut telegraph – or what modern people would call WhatsApp groups.
Stray Animals in Exuma
Most “stray” animals in Exuma are actually not strays. They are just friendly local pets who have figured out how to tug at the heart-strings of visitors for food and petting. However, in some cases the animal may be a stray, or a dog that is protective of it’s environment, so be aware and observe the animal’s behavior before just leaning in to pet one.
Snakes and Other Creatures
There are no wild venomous snakes in Exuma. Whew! While a bite may happen if you encounter a snake, most of the time using common sense to avoid them and places they like to habitat mean you won’t even see them.
- Scorpions, Centipedes, Spiders & More:
While not deadly, various crawling critters can give you a nasty bite, if not just a fright. The worst are scorpions and centipedes. Keep your eyes open, especially around piles of laundry and when walking barefoot. Generally these critters will not be near the beaches, so it’s usually fine to walk barefoot on the white sand beaches of Exuma.
Sharks are plentiful in Exuma, but primarily not near most beaches.
You will most often find sharks out in the deep stealing fish off some fisherman’s lines, or cruising the flats looking for a meal or transiting the water to some other location.
There are a few places that sharks have been spotted more often, such as Hoopers Bay where they feed on the turtles, the beach in Little Exuma in front of Santanna’s Restaurant and Choppy’s at Exuma Yacht Club where the waters have been previously chummed to feed sharks as a show for tourists.
I am not aware of any incidents with the above areas in terms of human contact by sharks, but there are occasionally accidents which happen in areas where people swim with nurse sharks. Generally these are not malicious attacks, but a simple mistake as the sharks are there because they are fed regularly, so mistaking a finger, toe or other body part for food may happen, and while nurse sharks are generally docile, there is no guarantee with wildlife so caution is advised.
Whoa! That Sounds a Bit Unsafe, Eh?
Man, that sounds like all sorts of things could happen, doesn’t it? While that is true, the fact is that most of these things do not happen, and if they do they are uncommon (other than critter bites, most namely mosquitoes or sand flies) and Exuma is one of the safer places I have been. Be aware of your surroundings, and enjoy your trip!