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The Exumas are an archipelago of 365 cays and islands, beginning just 35 miles southeast of Nassau and stretching for over 100 miles. Most of The Exumas’ 3,500 residents live on Great Exuma or Little Exuma, the two largest islands, which are connected by a short bridge. They play host to much of the commerce and tourism in the island chain.

Exuma History

The Exumas have a proud history among their people, and over time, The Exumas have gone through many changes. From a salt mining colony to a haven for pirates to a cotton-producing colony, all have influenced its historical development. In fact, many of the islands residents are direct descendants of plantation slaves from the late 1700s.

In the 1500ís The Spanish turned the island into a salt mining colony. Pirates also used the islands' many cays and hidden coves as bases from which to conduct raids and hide stolen goods. Then, in the 1700s, a group of Loyalists sought refuge here and wealthy European landowners started large cotton plantations. The most notable was John Rolle, who eventually freed his slaves and generously deeded his land to them. The grateful slaves adopted his surname and today sixty percent of the locals still have the last name Rolle.


Legendary characters are abundant in The Bahamas and the Exumas include the Shark Lady and Pretty Molly as their own. Born in 1917, Gloria Patience earned her nickname “Shark Lady” over decades of snaring more than 2,000 makos, lemon tips, hammerheads and other types of sharks many weighing hundreds of pounds and hauling them into the boat herself. Every part of the sharks she caught was used: the meat was eaten or buried for fertilizer, earrings and necklaces were made from the spines and teeth, and the jawbones were turned into wall hangings or coffee table conversation pieces. “The Shark Lady” died in 2002 at the age of 85.

Pretty Molly the beautiful but elusive mermaid, is said to live in Pretty Molly Bay. Just try and catch a glimpse of her!