Islands: Exuma, the new Maldives

On a typical trip from North America to Maldives, you can expect to travel some 10,000 miles. The airline ticket will cost anywhere from $1,200 to $5,000, and beyond, depending on where you’re leaving from, the time of year and what class.

And a direct flight? Forget it. Travelers flying commercial airlines are looking at two, perhaps three stops before they reach their tiny bit of paradise.

Yet despite the costs, the time and the headaches, this island nation floating in the Indian Ocean remains a classic wish-list trip for millions of people.

In the November issue of Islands, which hit newsstands late this month, the magazine begs the question – why?

Why would you go to all the travel and expense, when a destination just as good, perhaps better, is right around the corner?

That place is Exuma.

“After more than 30 years of travel and shooting and writing for National Geographic and other magazines in over 160 countries, I stand by my statement that the most beautiful beaches in the world are in the Exumas,” said Jad Davenport, the illustrious photographer and writer, whose shots are featured in the latest Islands. “And, being a scuba diver and underwater photographer, the Out Islands are among my favorite places to explore.”

The resounding endorsement from one of the best in the business came after the publication of Islands’ latest cover story, which looks at lessor known Caribbean destinations and compares them to more far flung locations. The Bahamas, and in particular Exuma, was compared to the Maldives because the archipelago possess so many islands, all surrounded by perfectly clear water in a stunning array of blue.

A photo of Exuma’s famous waters received a large two-page spread.

“I don’t understand why so many people look way past these out islands when planning a dream trip,” Davenport added in the article.

Indeed, while the Bahamas has some of the best beaches and water in the world, most of the Out Islands have flown under the radar, as most marketing dollars tend to promote Nassau and Paradise Island.

In the background, for now, is Exuma, with its 365 islands and gin-clear waters. The articles makes the point that tourists can spend a fraction of the price, take advantage of direct flights and be there in just a few hours.

The article in Islands comes shortly after Travel + Leisure’s recent World’s Best Awards 2014, which placed Exuma as the second best island in the Caribbean, head of well-know destinations such as St. John, St. Barts, Barbados and Bermuda.