A quick trip to Elbow Cay
05.11.2011 - 09.11.2011
Everyone has that “go to” destination. That place you have been so many times that it’s like a second home. That place where you can get around with your eyes closed and where a trip requires virtually no planning. It’s that place you go when you have a few days and decide to take off at the drop of a hat. Abaco is our “go to” place, and we headed down for a quick getaway in early November.
Day One: Travel Day
Knowing the weather in the Bahamas is not as warm as the Caribbean in the cooler months, we decided to stay on Elbow Cay where there are more “out of the water” activities than our usual haunt of Guana Cay.
This gave us the chance to rent our own boat at Marsh Harbor rather than taking the ferry which was a really cool change of pace! We stopped at Seahorse boat rentals, tossed our luggage into our boat and were on our way. It was a pretty quick hop over to Tahiti Beach on the southern end of Elbow Cay and we were amazed at how much time we saved by not having to wait for the ferry.
We had toes in sand and drinks in hand by noon.
We stayed at Barefoot Bay, an AMAZING house near Tahiti Beach. The first thing everyone wanted to do was grab a cold drink and run up to the Crow’s Nest deck and take in the amazing views.
And people wonder why we keep coming down here.
We had brought newbie friends, John and Kelley, with us and Barefoot Bay provided a perfect set up. Not only did it have amazing views of Tahiti Beach and Tilloo Cut, but the house was split into 3 separate buildings, offering tons of space and privacy. The main building housed a beautiful kitchen, dining, living space with a great sound system.
Then, each of the other two buildings had a large master bedroom and two smaller bedrooms. This place can seriously sleep a lot of people.
Not to mention the pool....
Once we had all settled in, we took John & Kelley into Hopetown for lunch and to grab a few essentials.
By “essentials,” you all know I mean one of Vernon’s key lime pies and several bottles of rum.
Seriously, do you need anything else? You have all the food groups covered. Fruit & Veges: Limes. Dairy: all that darn creamy stuff in the pie. Meat: Hello....merengue. What do you think it’s made out of? Eggs. Duh. Grains: I think graham crackers can be considered a grain. And don’t forget the rum food group, because it deserves one all on it’s own.
We were sad to find the Reef Bar at Hopetown Harbor Lodge closed for a wedding, but happy to find that Cap’n Jacks was open. Hello, jackhammer!
When I saw coconut fried lobster with mac n’ cheese on the menu, I was all over it.
We took it easy for the rest of the afternoon and, after seeing the condition of the road to town post-hurricane, decided maybe we’d stick close to home for dinner that night!!
Besides, I was dying to try out a new place, Firefly. Like any good southern girl, I love Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka and couldn’t help but notice the bar highlighted the delicious South Carolina libation in their cocktails.
It was a beautiful restaurant with a nice outdoor deck and sparkly sign. I love sparkly.
The menu was small and seemed to highlight unique, creative, and fresh items. I ordered up a firefly cocktail and a curry lobster salad with papaya. Both were fabulous and refreshing!
Travel day over, we retired to Barefoot Bay and watched the stars come out to play.
Day Two: Nippers or BUST (literally)
What we didn’t know when we decided to head down to Abaco was that it was going to be UNGODLY windy the entire time we were on Elbow Cay. I think the wind averaged 25 knots each day we were there.
It was Sunday and that always means one thing: NIPPERS BEACH BBQ. Staying on Elbow, that meant a 45 minute boat ride to get there. When I looked outside our window and saw that the swimming pool was whitecapping….I knew we had a problem.
Not realizing the wind was a permanent fixture on our vacation at this point, we decided to head down to Tahiti Beach for a while to “give the wind time to die down.” (I laugh on the inside as I type this….ah….hindsight…you devil, you).
Tahiti Beach is one of my favorites. A long curve of sand down one side, fringed with beautiful palm trees, takes you to a small point, where the beach then curves in, forming a perfect crescent beach with shallow water that goes so far out, you can almost walk to the next island.
We noticed the sandbar had moved/vanished/shifted, I guess due to the hurricanes of the summer, but the beach was still magically beautiful.
When we returned to Barefoot Bay, totally planning to boat it over to Nippers, we found the house owner’s brother, a super great guy we had met the day before, hanging out to see if we were heading over. He was down with a group of guys on a “guys’ maintenance week” trip on their other house. I put this in quotes, because we all know what this means. This means, they spend 4 hours drinking beer and then change a lightbulb. Spend another 2 hours sipping frozen Nippers and then rehang a door. Right?
They were also planning to head over to Guana that day and thought there might be safety in numbers. I mean, 9 idiots on the water who have no business being there is certainly better than 4.
We loaded up and headed out.
HOLY MOLY. That was one rough ride. I think I would have fared better trying to stay on a mechanical bull for 8 minutes than trying to endure that boat ride. It was like trying to ride a really slippery, wet bucking bronco with nothing to hold onto as someone pours a bucket of cold, salty water over your head every 3 minutes.
Our level of dedication should tell you how good that Nippers mac n’ cheese is.
Kelley and I held on for dear life. I made the mistake of thinking it might be easier to ride in the front. We were coasting along and I thought, hey, this isn’t so bad. I’ve got this! Just then, we hit the first big wave, sending me about 3 feet up into the air, after which I crashed down on the hard fiberglass deck of the boat and am pretty sure lost about 3 inches on my spine. I’m pretty sure I am now significantly shorter than I used to be…and I think a chunk of my tailbone is somewhere up around my ears.
I quickly jumped onto the padded seat, squeezed my eyes closed, and held on for all it was worth.
Soaked and salty, we finally pulled up to that familiar dock in that familiar town on that familiar street where all roads lead to Nippers.
When we got to Nippers, I looked out at the ocean. What I have come to know as a tranquil sea of blue green that stretches calmly into forever, was a raging ocean of foam and waves. I have never seen it like that. It was pretty wild. Since there would be no swimming, I guess that meant we just had to do more eating, drinking, and dancing.
We had our frozen Nippers and BBQ and sat back to enjoy the show. It was a pretty quiet start to the Nippers BBQ….until this guy showed up.
Frozen Nippers have the ability to make even the most stiff legged stuffed shirt get out and bust a move and before long, we were all at it.
We shook it until the sun started to go down and suddenly realized…Holy Crap…were not staying on Guana….we still have a boat ride!!!!
The group high tailed it out of there, hoping we had just enough time to get back before the sun finally set.
I think we made it with about 2 minutes to spare. Maybe one.
We grabbed dinner at Sea Spray and I think I had a chicken in a bag, but there is no photographic evidence and my brain was a little Nippers fuzzed by then, so I really can’t tell you much more than that. Bon Appetit!
Day Three: We Ain’t Afraid of No Wind!
We had planned to see some beaches by boat but the wind and waves were even worse than they had been the day before. Rather than push our luck, we decided to head into Hopetown for a while.
The Reef Bar was OPEN…but there was no Gary.
We enjoyed a little time on the Hopetown Beach. This has to be one of the most beautiful beaches ever. I never get tired of seeing it.
There’s nothing better than a burger on the beach, in my opinion, so I dove head first into a Reef Burger and washed it down with a rum punch.
Inappropriately confident, due to our previous day’s boating success, we decided that the weather wasn’t going to keep us off the water. We were smart enough to stick close, however, and only headed for Tilloo and the Pelican Cays.
It was a pretty quick trip and relatively painless, but when we got to what I think was North Pelican Cay, the water was so rough, none of us had the heart to get in. Well, except Matt, but I am pretty sure he regretted it.
Instead, we just enjoyed some tunes and rocked along on the boat, watching the incredible colors of the water.
When we got back to Elbow, we just walked over to Tahiti Beach where we spread out in the sand with beer and chips.
It was late in the day, so we settled in to watch the sky go from blue to gold as the sun dripped down into a golden haze on the horizon.
Sometimes it’s the simplest things that bring the greatest pleasure.
We ate in, throwing together a platter with some cold cuts, cheeses, olives, smoked salmon, and baguettes.
Within minutes there was a knock at the door.
Our new friends stopped by to let us know that there was Karaoke at Ray’s that night.
Ha. Me? Karaoke? Fat chance. I sing like a badly scratched record and no one EVER hears me sing. No not ever. Never.
Not gonna’ happen in this lifetime.
Okay, so apparently, after enough adult beverages, pigs do fly and hell freezes over.
Day Four: Searching for Treasure
We woke up to strong winds AGAIN and decided (wisely) that the boat was not an option. We had met a couple on the beach the night before that were sailing and they really talked up Treasure Cay. As soon as Kelley heard them say it was named one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, she was there. She was going and she was not going to take no for an answer.
We had nothing else to do, so we decided to take the ferry over, grab a taxi, and visit Treasure Cay. Uber planner that I am, doing something unplanned with no information left me a little unsettled…but hey….a ferry, a taxi, a great beach…what’s to worry about?
I’ll tell you what’s to worry about: A total of 2 hours to get there from Tahiti beach between golf cart rides to the ferry, ferry rides to Marsh Harbor, and taxi rides to Treasure Cay and a total of $25 per person for the ferry and $175 for a cab. Ouch!!
But…what’s done was done. By the time we realized how long it would take to get there and how much it would cost….we were already there.
I can’t say I regretted it, though. We had nothing else to do and despite the windy seas, Treasure Cay was GORGEOUS.
We set up camp at the Coco Beach Bar, a great beachfront place that let us use their thatched umbrellas and chairs as long as we were eating and drinking. For a while, we just took the lazy route and crashed in some chairs.
When the smell of food got to us, we headed up to the bar for some fried grouper fingers and conch fritters.
And an amazing Pina Colada that was reminiscent of a soft serve ice cream. Oh yummy.
After lunch, we decided to walk the beach. I am so happy we did. If you stick to the area of beach behind the Coco Beach Bar, beautiful as it is, you will have seen only the least attractive part of Treasure Cay. Head down toward the water, turn right and walk as far as you can. Head toward the little cay you see offshore in the distance. You won’t be sorry.
The first part of the beach just stretched out long and blindingly white, with crazy turquoise water lapping the shore.
As you rounded a point, an entirely new and remarkable vista opened up.
The water was super shallow and clear….stretching out to delicate sand bars that popped up just off the beach like tiny oases of white sand and bejeweled water.
Beyond that was a small cay, shimmering just off shore like a mirage. No matter how far you walked, it never seemed to get any closer.
There were beautiful shells, starfish, and sand dollars along the way to look at and enjoy. I found tons of these little guys along the beach. They are definitely too small to be sand dollars. I think these are sand pennies.
As we splashed in the shallow waters and enjoyed the beautiful views, we all agreed that this alone made the entire trip worth every minute and every dollar. If you ever get a chance to go over to Treasure Cay for a day, you should do it.
For our “last meal” we returned to Cap’n Jacks for more lobster. I know there is something about food always tasting better after a day on the beach, but I swear, Kelley and I both agreed this was our favorite grilled lobster EVER - perfectly grilled and juicy, with a squeeze of lime and dripping with melted butter.
It seemed over before it had really begun. It was time to head home. As always, Abaco delivered beautiful vistas, the most perfect beaches and the most beautiful water, lots of frosty island cocktails and beach eats, and even some new friends.
I watched the islands disappear from the plane window, a haze of blue and green below me, and I couldn’t help but wonder what next time would hold……
For more photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/42427255@N00/sets/72157628127135090/
And if you want to check out Barefoot Bay: