Deal of the Week: Chase the Shark in Great Exuma
The Atlantis mega-resort soaks up a lot of the vacation attention the Bahamas receives, but is probably closer to a Las Vegas experience than a true island vacation. Great Exuma is a little more work to get to -- and more expensive -- but worth it for the golf vacationer who is looking for some solitude.
The Sandals Emerald Bay Resort in Great Exuma took over the property from the Four Seasons in 2010, and they've amped up attention to the Greg Norman-designed Emerald Reef Golf Course. That's a good thing, because the 2003-design winds it way out onto a spit of land jutting into the ocean, and offers one of the toughest tests in the Caribbean.
Now, you score two free rounds on Emerald Reef if you book any Sandals stay of three nights or more. If you book a butler-level room -- which features (as you can imagine) a personalized concierge doing your bidding, you get free unlimited golf during your stay.
The rates aren't at the bargain end of the spectrum, but Sandals Emerald Bay offers a premium, all-inclusive experience -- food at seven restaurants, and unlimited top-shelf booze. Basic rates start at $600 a night for two people, and rise to $1,200 for a oceanside butler villa.
You can fly direct to George Town, Exuma from Atlanta and Miami, or take the short hop from the main Bahamas airport in Nassau.
Great Exuma is known for its solitude, reef diving and shark watching -- all of which was on display during the famous speargun battle in the 1965 James Bond classic Thunderball, which was shot north of Staniel Cay in Exuma. Any of the energetic charter captains can take you there, and most will swear that they know Sean Connery personally.