The Real Story Behind the Island Made Famous in Netflix’s Fyre Festival Documentary
It might not have hosted the ill-fated event in the end, but this Exumas paradise is open for business—and you can live and vacation there.
When the now-infamous Fyre Festival debuted its video promo (below) in 2017, it made quite a few hefty promises: two separate weekends of music-fueled fun, bikini-clad models galore, and stays on an idyllic Bahamian private island claimed to have been “once owned by Pablo Escobar.”
But what of the exclusive island once poised to host the would-be celebration? According to the Netflix documentary Fyre, that island is Norman’s Cay, a largely undeveloped spot of land at the very tip of the Exumas chain that’s reported to have had ties to the Colombian drug cartel in the ‘60s and ‘70s before being taken over by Bahamian authorities. In the end, Fyre Festival was forced off the private island after using Escobar’s name to promote the festival—against the wishes of the Norman’s Cay owners, according to the documentary.
This might have been for the best, considering the island's infrastructure would not have been able to support the horde of festival goers. But, as the documentaries reveal, the show runners didn't fare much better on their back-up island, Great Exuma, where attendees slept in rain-soaked tents instead of eco-lux villas and ate sad cheese sandwiches instead of gourmet catered meals. Great Exuma locals (who were hired to build the festival site and feed hungry workers and concert goers) likely fared the worst, having never been paid by organizers. A Go Fund Me campaign has raised more than $200,000 for caterer Maryann Rolle, who is featured in the Netflix documentary.
But festival or not, Norman’s Cay appears to be in the midst of a resurgence. Located just 45 miles southeast of Nassau, the three-mile stretch of sand is home to blissful white-sand beaches and crystal-clear seas. While the majority of the mostly untouched island is privately owned—with lots currently for sale for as little as $250,000—visitors looking to explore an undiscovered gem can book one of six charming oceanfront cottages at MacDuff’s, a tiny boutique resort and restaurant on the western side of the island.
And according to this Sotheby’s listing, development is soon to be growing, with “a top notch resort being built, a new protected harbour, a 4,800 foot runway, and all the services you would expect of a resort of this caliber … the island is steadily coming back to life.”
A peaceful Caribbean paradise where we can sip fruity cocktails on the porch of our tiny beach cottage? Now that’s our kind of party.
Related: Plan the Perfect Weekend in Harbour Island, Bahamas: