by H. Vaz
adventure in the outislands of the Bahamas
|As the Cessna 172 was bouncing through the air, I was feeling that this was too much work for a little trip. We were close to Lake Okeechobee and heading south practically in the middle of nowhere.
We banked left and were now heading east. In just a few minutes it became clear why we were putting so much effort and planning into our trip. We were over West Palm Beach and then Palm Beach. Once we saw the blue water I felt all my tensions surrender. Below was a mooring field full of sailboats. For me, it does't get any better than that.
Once crossing over the Atlantic there were no planes or boats in sight. Waves were breaking in the open ocean that only we could see. I felt they were making their display just for me. Soon we were approaching Grand Bahama Island. We descended to see the island better. I was surprised on how much open space there was. This is where Freeport is. I had always thought this was full of tourist attractions, but it appeared that there were many inhabitants having a peaceful, quiet life there.
Just a hop, skip, and jump from Grand Bahama is Abaco, one of Bahama's Out-Islands. Marsh Harbor is a tiny airport without a tower. You'd think it's tiny because of little use; however, this is a very busy airport. So, it's a quick landing and taxi off the runway.
Once through customs we were in an inexpensive-looking taxi that was very expensive, taking us to the ferry to Guana Cay. Run by the Alburys, this is a good 30 minutes on a pedestian ferry (just room for people, no cars, etc). We made it to the last ferry of the day and by then is was getting dark. The wind was coming strong and waves were blowing over the top of the ferry. There I had my first taste of the Sea of Abaco and my first taste of a fews days of tranquility.
We had the ferry crew radio ahead to the caretaker of the property we rented and once on Guana Cay we had made it just in time to pick up our reserved golf cart. This is your best choice to get around on these small keys. There are a few cars, but none for rent. Part of our group rode with the caretaker and the rest of us putted down the road on the cart to the house we rented "Baharini". The photos looked great but we really had no idea what to expect. Guana Cay is about 7 miles long and this was at the isolated northern end. In the darkness it was very clear that this is not the part of the Bahamas where the cruise boats dock.
As the sun rose the next morning we finally got to really see what kind of paradise surrounded us. The blueness of the water was beyond what I thought water could reveal. This is the kind of place that makes doing nothing enjoyable. It was beautiful and quiet. Our house lay directly on the Sea of Abaco with a peaceful path that lead through sea grapes and other small trees to the water and dock. The water was so clear it was almost impossible to tell the depth.
We had a good chance to explore the island in those days. That little golf cart was as tough as a steam engine. With about 5 restaurants total and one small market, we knew each enterprise personally.
There is one restaurant that must be mentioned when talking about Guana Cay, Nippers. A notable restaurant is usally because of the food, but for Nippers it is everything but the food. The food there isn't bad, just very typical. So nothing special. What makes Nippers special is the drinks (try a Nipper if you want a punch, or a cold Kahlik), the location (right on the beach with huge rocks with waves breaking over them), and the amenities (a pool and large outside deck area). What happens at Nippers, I cannot explain why. After about 8:00 pm this place really reaches an unbelievable state. Now, I've been around drunk people before, but I've never seen anything like this in real life. It was like they were giving out a free Ectasy with each Nipper. It was so crazy that I felt like maybe these people were just putting on a show to appear to be having such a wild time, that once we left they would go back to sitting at the bar and eating peanuts. Well, we had some children with us and we did leave.
A boat really does make the most of the Abacos. This is one of the best places in the world for sailing and fishing. We went to some other cays, had some dolphin visitors and got our chance to savor the sea. There is so much to see in the Abacos that you'd have to dedicate several years of exploration to experience it all. So, that's whats next. Another trip, staying on another cay in Abaco.