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Out is the New In
By Michael M. Clements | Photo: Exterior resort photos by Anchyi Wei | July 30, 2018
The Exumas, a string of atolls located within the broader Out Islands of the Bahamas, is a secret celebrity paradise. At Lumina Point, find the low-key luxury life without the paparazzi.
Day three: Island time finally sets in. The torrid pace of life is no match for The Exumas. Here, Caribbean breezes and electric-blue waters mix with the gentle sound of waves lapping lazily against isolated beaches, grabbing my soul and gently leading it through decompression.
The unspoiled lifestyle here has made this island chain a favored celebrity haunt. Johnny Depp lords over the 45-acre Little Halls Pond Cay. Tyler Perry, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, David Copperfield, John Travolta, Sir Richard Branson, Eddie Murphy and Nicholas Cage also own island havens. More visible occupants include the thousands of yacht enthusiasts who make an annual pilgrimage here. One type of boat you won’t see? Cruise ships.
These ultraexclusive jet-setters and ocean-faring snowbirds know a good thing when they see it. Those without the means to sail from the mainland can simply stay at eco-friendly Lumina Point Resort and Spa ($450-$650 per night, @luminapointresort). Located on Stocking Island, only a five-minute water taxi ride from The Exumas’ main port of George Town, Lumina Point offers 12 raised rustic-chic bungalows—luxury wooden hideaways cuddled into a lush and unspoiled landscape of a coppice forest. The mostly solar-powered property features a gym, spa, pool and restaurant, along with a pavilion for weddings and yoga overlooking two private beaches. Boat service to the mainland is complimentary.
There are no roads on Stocking Island, so my preferred method of transportation is by resort-supplied kayak. A 10-minute paddle brings me to Angelfish Blue Hole, the entrance to a natural cave system where hundreds of fish congregate in crystal-clear waters. I can also park the kayak and hike over the island’s only hill—the Beacon—and blissfully spend an afternoon on my own private Caribbean beach, living the life of Depp and snorkeling through healthy reef systems teeming with aquatic life.
Just around the corner by kayak—or on foot during low tide—is popular watering hole Chat ‘N’ Chill. This dive beach bar specializes in tropical cocktails, made-to-order conch salad and selfies with affable stingrays.
Mostly, I relax under one of the tasteful resort beach cabanas—ideal for beachcombing between glasses of pinot grigio and lobster wraps—and explore the vast sandbars that appear twice daily when the tide rolls out. Each Bahamian-style bungalow is equipped with a walkie-talkie so guests can place orders and communicate with Lumina Point staff—attentive, sincere and readily available—from anywhere on the property (even while out exploring). The concierge helped book several half-day excursions via Exuma Water Sports ($150 per person, @exumawatersports). You must try swimming with pigs and stingrays, feeding iguanas and visiting James Bond’s Thunderball Grotto. It’s kitschy but fun and highly Instagrammable. If traveling with kids, they’ll love it. There are full-day and private charter options too. I tried several dives as well—the islands have world-class blue holes, reefs and wrecks to explore.
After one long day of sand and sun, I retire to the resort for dinner. Executive chef Winfield Rolle spent 30 years honing his craft in Toronto and now commands the kitchen at Lumina Point. When he’s not preparing daily-caught seafood, he’s catering for celebrities and VIPs. After dinner, I stroll down to the beach for real stargazing. With no light pollution, the evening lights up in a menagerie of stars—infinitely more than the ones who call this picturesque string of emerald isles home.