Monday, September 6, 2010

Bahamas August 2010

Saturday July 31 - Arrival Day
We left for the Bahamas today… We had to get up at 3:30am!!! What the heck was I thinking when I booked the 6:30am flight? Oh yeah, get to the Bahamas as early as possible and then take a nap on the beach. Usually this plan works but I forgot that we couldn’t check into the timeshare until 3pm. Thankfully the property had a bar and grill so we passed our time with conch fritters and rum punch.

Our First Rum Punch of the Trip

We stayed most of the week at the Westwind 1 timeshare property. This is the oldest timeshare on the island but the apartment was spacious and each unit has its own patio and grill. Yes, its decorated straight out of the Golden Girls but it was clean and comfortable. The pool and beach are small but we spent most of our days away from the property.

Westwind 1 Beach

Back to check-in… We got into our unit put on the bathing suits and went straight to the beach. Ahhh, this makes a 3:30am wake-up a distant memory. 12 hours in my memory to be exact…. The water was warm and we stayed in until our fingers turned to prunes and day turned to dusk. By the way, the Bahamas have lots of sharks so I don’t swim at dusk or dawn. Oh, did I mention I am obsessed with Discovery Channel's Shark Week?

After our long soak we cleaned up and headed out to the Arawak Cay fish fry for dinner. I have been to a couple of fish fries in the Caribbean. Fish fries are usually a collection of grills and amazing local foods and held once per week but this fish fry was much more organized. I don’t even think it should be called a fish fry since it is really a block of restaurants with a couple of outdoor grills. Swayed by the crowd and the “Featured on CBS Morning Show” we decided to eat at the Twin Brother’s restaurant. I don’t usually go to the restaurant that basically screams tourist trap but we were tired and it looked like an easy decision. Did I mention the 3:30am wake-up? The good news is the food was great. I got the fried /cracked conch and grilled snapper. Warning - the snapper arrived with skin, bones and head. It was good but way to much work. The cracked conch was amazing and we topped off the meal with a traditional Bahamian dessert called Guava Duff that tastes a bit like a fruity bread pudding.

Guava Duff

Sunday August 1 - Sandals
We wanted to find a better beach and just completely relax so I called up Sandals Royal Bahamian to ask about a day pass. Remember, it’s my job to check out the properties! I know, I have a horrible job.  Sandals  gave us a day pass as well as a short tour of the property. This is definitely one of the best Sandals properties I have seen. It was crowded but still felt very relaxed. We immediately hit the breakfast buffet and then grabbed a seat at one of the pools. After all of five minutes (mostly spent applying sunscreen) we hit the pool and then of course the swim up bar. Yes, you can get a drink pretty much any time of day.

So we ate, we drank and then ate and drank some more…. Oh, and then grabbed a dessert pizza to go…

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Monday August 2 – Day Trip to Exuma
Normally I like to do a sailboat / snorkeling excursion whenever I travel to a tropical island. I just find that it is the most relaxing and fun day and I always walk away with a smile on my face. We really wanted to get to Exuma (one of Bahamas out islands) and it just would have taken too long by sailboat.We  booked a day trip on Island World Adventures power boats. The trip took us out to a private island and included some shark sightings, snorkeling, lunch and open bar. We just needed a camera, sunscreen and towel.

I have never been on a boat like this but I knew it was going to go fast and bounce a lot. The trip was definitely fast and bouncy and I  think we made it to the island in less than an hour. We pulled up at the dock and there were sharks right there! It is truly amazing to see a shark in the “wild” rather than a tank. I wanted to reach in and touch them…but not really….


The tour company served us a little snack and some rum punch. We then made our way to the opposite side of the little island and one of the most beautiful beaches. We just floated away but I was also wondering if the sharks ever come around the bend to this beach.

Fruit and Rum Punch

Sharks Don't Come Over to this Side Right? Right?

The island we were on was Saddleback Cay and it is just one small island amongst the Exumas 120 mile long island chain. These islands have everything from inexpensive lodges to luxury hotels. Many celebrities own islands in the Exumas. Oh, if I only knew which island belonged to Johnny Depp. Ok, back to Saddleback Cay and my hour long soak…. This island is a private island and is run by a caretaker who was also our cook / bartender.

Caretakers House

Lunch was tasty with fish, salads and grilled chicken. After lunch we took our scraps and fed them to the sharks before getting back on the boat to head out to some snorkeling. We went out to a reef that was just ok. I kind of expected better for the Bahamas but it seems for some reason we couldn’t go out to the better reef that day. Still, it was enjoyable.  It's hard to have a bad day surrounding by crystal clear blue warm water.

After snorkeling the reef they took us to a sand bar. We hopped off the boat, beer in hand, and just played in the sand.

Drinking a Sands Beer on a Sand Bar

I think I decided right then and there that this just might be the most beautiful place I have ever been (so far). I will definitely go back one day and spend a few nights on one of these islands.

The last stop was the iguana feeding on Leaf Cay. The iguanas came right onto the beach as soon as we pulled up and the crew gave us grapes to feed to them. We were warned ahead of time that people with painted toenails need to bury them in the sand. Apparently they look like grapes to the iguanas. I looked at my toes and regretted my grape colored nail polish. I walked carefully and made sure I kept my toes covered in sand. I like all ten toes where they are thanks. The iguanas loved the grapes and it was kind of cool as well as a big hit with kids.

Tuesday August 3
Just a lazy day soaking in the sun and water.

Wednesday August 4 - The Atlantis
We decided to treat ourselves to a couple of days at The Atlantis resort on Paradise Island. I have been hearing about this place for years so we had to take a look. We were looking forward to playing on the waterslides and relaxing in the huge pools but it seems that every family in the world thought this was a good time to visit the Atlantis. It was just too crowded for me to completely enjoy the amenities. I would compare it to staying a couple of nights at Water Country…. The kids were all having a blast but if I return I will wait for school to be in session.  After all, this kid would really like to play with all the fun stuff without having to share with the real kids.

Still, I was on vacation, there are pools, waterslides and beaches. There is no way it can be bad. We moved past the screaming children and planted ourselves poolside. There were also a few trips around some lazy rivers as well as some not so lazy rivers. It took me a few minutes to remember how to hop on top of those tubes. I skinned my knee in the process. My first battle wound of this vacay …

Thursday August 5 - The Atlantis and Nobu
We had another lazy day sitting around the pool, a few dips in the ocean, drinking stupidly expensive mixed drinks and reading. Ahh, why can’t I do this every day?

This evening was our big dinner out at Nobu. I have been dying to eat at a Nobu and this dinner did not disappoint. This is different from any Japanese restaurant I have been to so it took me a while to put together my choices. I started with the yellowtail and caviar. Wow, I could eat that all day, every day. Amazing. My friend ordered the black cod and miso which was even better. She threatened to sell her child for a daily supply. I will make sure to mention this to him when he grows up. We had a few other dishes but those two were the standouts.

Friday August 6 - The Atlantis and Sea Lion Hugs
Another morning of playing in the sand and waterslides. We decided to check out the slide that has a tunnel through the shark tanks. I managed to slam my head while getting onto the tube. I think I saw stars... there were also some sharks but mostly stars. Second battle wound.

We left the resort and headed to Blue Lagoon Island for a Sea Lion encounter. This island is owned by Dolphin Encounters and has a series of pens for Dolphin swims as well as a Sea Lion encounter area. We opted for the Sea Lion encounter. Our Sea Lion was Pj and she had quite a personality. Pj is an actress / diva and has been in numerous commercials and movies. Her most famous role was Baby Andre in the movie “Andre”. We had a chance to get in the water with her, pat her back, feed her fish and she gave us each a big hug and kiss. Ahh, if only I could take her home. Kind of like a big puppy but better…

Saturday August 7 - Home :(
Home? Really? Why? Ah well, they say all good thing must come to an end. I will have to return here. There are still things I need to do… One day I want to scuba dive with some sharks and spend a few nights on a deserted island in the Exumas.

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