By: Beach Bum Rachel
Visiting Great Exuma is the type of experience you could never duplicate anywhere else. Bahamians light up when describing the electric blue, deep turquoise and crystal clear waters surrounding the 365 islands and cays. The beauty of Great Exuma attracts travelers from all across the globe as the landscape is not just to be seen, but experienced as well.
The locals will tell you, anyone making a visit to their highly esteemed island must take in the James Bond 007 Thunderball Tour. Operated by Exuma Water Sports, the James Bond 007 Thunderball Tour is “one of the world’s most spectacular tours” allowing adventurous visitors to experience the beauty and hidden secrets of 150 islands and cays stretching from Great Exuma to Compass Cay. As destination experts, your Beach Bum Vacation team knew this was an experience not to be missed. The morning started out on an up beat, everyone stirring with excitement as we boarded the 35 foot, 600 HP sea rocket and took off on what we knew would be an experience of a lifetime.
Captain Ray Lightbourn along with his first mate and son, Justin were the perfect hosts. We’d be flying through the islands and come to a quick stop so they could point out a site of interest we’d never have picked up ourselves – a sunken plane visible through the turquoise waters here, a celebrity home there, the last lighthouse in the Bahamas and at one point Justin dove off the boat to grab a starfish resting just 10 feet below on the ocean floor for us all to see. Not only do they know the sites but they explain the significance of the landmarks which helped us all to better understand and appreciate the island history.
After an exhilarating ride and site seeing tour, it was time to get to the action. We started by pulling up to what seemed like an uninhabited island but as soon as we hit the shore, iguanas started descending from the hills knowing we were waiting for them with delicious grape kabobs. The friendly lizards were all too happy to entertain us by dancing and smiling for our cameras.
Among the next few stops was one of our favorites. The famous Swimming Pigs were just as anxious to see us as we were to see them. They paddled their way out to the boat and we jumped in for a swim with them. While we were having fun, these pigs were on a mission to eat as many rolls and turkey dogs we could feed them. As soon as our supply was out, they ditched us for shore, and we were off to our next exciting adventure.
The James Bond 007 Thunderball tour has attracted the attention of celebrities and national media crews looking to see one of the best kept secrets in the Caribbean, the Thunderball Grotto. As the ‘headlining act’ of the tour, we were excited to slip our fins on and dive in and see what all the hype was about. After a quick lesson on navigating through and under the rock walls, we swam with ease into the Thunderball Grotto. The most amazing rush of tropical fish surround you as you enter into the cave, and taking a rest on the inside walls allows you to marvel at the hidden cove of sea life inside the rock. Ducking through the passages makes you feel as adventurous as James Bond himself! After all, it is the location where the fight scene between James Bond (Sean Connery) and the SPECTRE henchmen was filmed in the 1965 classic Thunderball!
Throughout the day we enjoyed cruising along with plenty of refreshments, fresh pineapple slices and coconut cookies. For lunch we stopped at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club and sampled their fresh specials including conch fritters, the mahi mahi sandwich and of course, the Goombay Smash! The day would have not have been complete without a sweet ending of home-made rum cake on a secluded sandbar out in the middle of the ocean. All in all it was a delicious, adventurous, beautiful day every beach bum should experience!
After living on Caribbean and Mariana islands as well as traveling extensively abroad, Beach Bum clients Melissa and Rick agree that the tour was the best they’ve ever experienced.
“Our Beach Bum, Robert, recommended that we take the 007 Thunderall Tour during our trip to Exuma to celebrate our 30th anniversary. Let me just say it was the highlight of our trip. We took lots of pictures and I display them on a digital picture frame in my office. People always ask about the “swimming pigs” and laugh when they see it! It is a tour that I also recommend and when I tell them about all the activities and experiences they are amazed. The beauty of the ocean and abundance of sea life leaves a lasting impression and wonderful memory to cherish for a lifetime. This has been one of my best days ever!!!!! I want to go again!”
Be sure to check out Exuma Water Sports on Facebook!