09.08.2016 - 10.08.2016
We enjoyed our side trip to Eleuthera during a previous visit to Abaco so much that we decided to repeat it on our most recent trip in August.
With 3 couples, Ocean Tally was the perfect place to sneak away for a night. With only 3 private cottages, our group would basically have the place to ourselves.
When I contacted Annette at Ocean Tally, I was delighted to find that all 3 cottages were available for our stay, but was heartbroken when she told me that the bar and restaurant would not be open.
No matter - it was still worth the trip!
It was a beautiful morning as we flew high over the famed “Glass Window Bridge” on the north end of Eleuthera. The deep blue ocean was separated from the incredible turquoise sea by only a few feet of rock and earth. It was as magnificent as I remembered.
Landing at the North Eleuthera airport, I was reminded how relaxed and laid back this island was. The airport was empty and quiet. “Customs and immigration” consisted of a nod and a wave and a “have a nice time.”
Within minutes, we were loaded into a dusty, old minivan – our proud car rental for the next two days. No paperwork, no credit cards, just a cash exchange and a reminder to park it at the airport and leave the keys under the mat when we headed home.
Not wanting to lose any time, we made a quick dash through the liquor store across the street from the airport. We planned to spend the day at the beach before heading to Ocean Tally so we needed beach libations. There was also that business about Tally Bar being closed. Sobriety was not a viable vacation option.
The next stop was the North Eleuthera Shopping Center, on the way to the beach. I had found the description online, “One of the largest grocery stores on Eleuthera, located just outside the Bluff Settlement. They have a good selection of deli meats, frozen food and produce.”
That description was slightly misleading.
They had a large selection of crocs, flip flops, scrunchies, miscellaneous household goods, artificial flower arrangements, and industrial sized foods. What they did not have a large selection of was chips, dips, and sandwich items. The “good selection of deli meats” was dominated by various types of bologna and a few very suspicious looking packages of ham. We finally found a deli counter, sighing in relief as we realized we would not be forced to buy the 3 lb. jumbo package of chicken bologna we had in our hands.
Unfortunately, the “oven roasted turkey” left something to be desired.
I am 99% sure this came out of a can.
It was like a giant naked chicken nugget that had been sliced.
I wasn’t sure it was real meat. It looked like a "meat product."
But, we bought it along with an industrial sized bag of tortilla chips and were on our way.
We were headed to Ben Bay beach and I couldn’t wait for our friends to see how beautiful it was.
I found myself having a little trouble with the directions.
The directions from Discover-Eleuthera-Bahamas.com: “From the highway turn right, then left-right-left. And there you'll be, at a really pretty beach.”
It should not have surprised anyone in that dusty minivan when we drove past the airport for the fourth time.
I was just about to give up on the beach and start eating the gray-turkeylike-meat-product in the minivan when we finally found the right turn, wound our way through several narrow dirt roads, and found ourselves at the parking area for Ben Bay.
Unfortunately, we had wasted a lot of time looking for edible items in the grocery store and had wasted even more time driving up and down the same road four times looking for the turn to the beach. We reached the beach shelter just as it started raining.
Let me rephrase that.
Just as it started POURING. This rain was biblical. I expected frogs and locusts to come out of the sky with it.
I’m pretty sure I saw seagulls and beach lizards pairing up two by two.
You know how people say, “It always rains on the beach, but it only rains for a minute or two and then the sun comes out again?”
Those people are liars.
It rained for an eternity.
So, we did the only thing we could do. We ate our weird meat, almost 6 lbs of tortilla chips, and drank an entire bottle of tequila.
But then….it happened….a hole literally opened in the sky.
I did not see a dove with an olive branch fly through it, but I did see the sun. We were able to enjoy a couple of hours of glorious sunshine on Ben Bay Beach.
Then it was on to Ocean Tally!
I love Ocean Tally.
The owner, Annette, is one part beach babe and two parts coastal chic hostess tied together with flowing white linen tunics, seashells, and perfectly sun kissed hair. She is at once casual and elegant. She welcomes you in like an old friend. Her place personifies Bahamian charm. Ocean Tally strikes a sweet balance between a boutique hotel and a bed-and-breakfast, and stands in stark contrast to the cookie-cutter resorts that dominate the islands.
The cottages are bright, airy structures that overlook the dramatic rocky cliffs and out to the ocean beyond. They are stylishly but simply decorated, with billowing white curtains, clean white walls, and crisp luxury linens. Ocean Tally is an oasis of relaxation. It is a perfect, intimate hideaway.
My only disappointment was the knowledge that we wouldn’t be able to visit her beautiful and delicious restaurant and bar. One of my most memorable beach meals was in that restaurant.
I can still taste the buttery curry lobster….
I apologize for getting distracted, but don’t judge. You haven’t tasted that lobster.
We all settled into our cottages for afternoon naps under the breezy fans and agreed to meet at the lighthouse later that evening, where Annette promised to have some dinner recommendations waiting as well as a boat to take us to Harbour Island if that’s what we wanted to do.
What I didn’t know was that everyone had a secret.
When we arrived at the bar, expecting to be whisked away to some sub-par dinner experience, Annette was smiling and pouring champagne at the bar.
“Happy Birthday,” she said.
With Annette’s help, my friends had planned a surprise birthday dinner at Tally Bar as a late celebration. Annette had endless bottles of champagne and wine, a private chef, and a beautifully set table waiting.
It was perfect.
Our first course was a salad of fresh greens, marinated artichokes, and toasted goat cheese medallions.
Then there was wine. So much wine.
For dinner, we were served delicious herbed lobster tails with black beans, sweet potato cakes, carrots and asparagus.
Then there was more wine.
The grand finale was a birthday cake.
I felt like a queen. (Maybe it was all the wine.)
The evening couldn’t have been more perfect.
We woke up to a beautiful Ocean Tally morning.
Even though the restaurant was closed, Annette (always the gracious hostess), whipped us up some coffee, juice, fruit, and fresh coconut tarts for breakfast (okay, she might have bought the tarts, but SOMEONE made them with love…I could tell….).
It was time to head back to Abaco, but not before everyone had a chance to jump into the Blue Hole. We made the short drive, soaking in the last of the views before we had to leave.
Having shamed myself with a horrible “running man” posture, side slide, and butt splat on my previous jump, I had no foolish intentions of trying to redeem myself with a second go. I know my limitations and considered myself lucky that I emerged from the water the first time with all of my appendages still attached.
However, Mr. Olympic felt the need to do it again just to prove he could do it perfectly a second time.
I had no doubt.
And, we had newbies who wanted to give it a try. We had a couple of takers who made the leap of faith.
Much like that leap into the Blue Hole, our trip to Ocean Tally had been exhilarating and glorious, but over in the blink of an eye.
Our love affair was brief, but intense. I know I'll be back. Until next time, Ocean Tally!