A Travellerspoint blog

August 2008

Guana Cay, Abaco, Bahamas

July 2008

-17 °C

Well, despite all the less-than-pleasant things that happened on this trip to Guana Cay, I still had a good time (for the most part). I do love these little cays that fall alongside the main island of Abaco. They don't quite measure up to the love I have for St. John, but they sure are a nice place to visit when St. John is just a little too far.

What makes the Abaco cays so appealing is the fact that we can fly there in our own plane. We are just too chicken to fly all the way down to St. John. An hour over the water is just about more than I can take at this point, thank you very much. Also, being the out islands, they are very laid back, unpopulated, and natural. While the islands themselves lack the mountainous beauty and lush tropical foilage you can find in the Virgin Islands, the waters of the Bahamian islands are remarkably beautiful. Also, the uniqueness of each settlement (the small "towns" found on each cay) and the friendliness of the local people (not to mention an almost non-existent crime rate) gives it tremendous appeal.

This was my fourth trip to Guana Cay, so it was okay that not every thing went as planned.

Arrival Day: July 26, 2008

We arrived on Saturday, early enough to catch the 1:15 ferry, but the customs guys sort of screwed us out of that one. It took over 2 hours to get through the tiny private airport, for absolutely no reason. The good news is that we had time to stop at Curly Tails Bar and Restaurant, next to the ferry dock, and grab some food and drinks while waiting for the ferry to take us over to Guana Cay from Marsh Harbor, Abaco.

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Bahama Mama and Jerk Grouper Fingers at Curly Tails

The ferry deposited us at the Guana Cay ferry dock, in Guana Harbor. Guana Cay has a tiny settlement that stretches around a small bay. A bakery (that's closed), drug store, liquor store, post office, grocery, gift shop, produce stand, and the local fig tree that serves as a gathering place are pretty much it. We piled off the ferry and were met by Maria Albury. Troy and Maria run the dive shop, rent boats, check folks into villas, and pretty much help you out with whatever you need. They are great people. She helped us get our golf cart (the mode of transportation on the cay) and we arrived at our beachfront house early enough to take a beach walk before heading out to dinner.

We headed to Grabbers, a casual little place that puts your toes in the sand, a frozen drink in your hand, and points you at the best sunset view on the island. We got there to discover it was Rib Night! Bonus! Steel Daddy was also playing steel drum music.

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Top: Sunset at Grabbers; Bottom: Rib Night and a Frozen Grabber

With a frosty Grabber in my hand and a plate piled high with ribs, Bahamian Mac-n-cheese, and veges, I drifted slowly into island time.


Day Two: July 27, 2008

Sunday morning, I woke up early, which I always seem to do on vacation, and took a long walk down the beach. You can walk for miles on this beach without seeing another soul. I love that. I also love that this beach is a wonderful place to find pieces of sea glass, little jewels laying on the sand in blues and greens that have been softly rubbed and rounded by the sea and the salt.

After some down time and breakfast, we headed to Nippers around 10:00 am. Nippers Bar is THE place to be on Sunday. One of the coolest beach bars I have been to, it draws a crowd every Sunday for it's Pig Roast. They come by land and by sea. Nippers is also home to the most lethal frozen drink I have ever had. Looking and tasting like an innocent Icee, this pink concoction will knock you on your butt in 10 seconds flat. One is never enough, but two is too many. It's craziness in a plastic cup. Thanks to the Nipper, this bar gets positively insane on Sunday afternoons.

I wasn't interested in the party, really. Nippers Sunday buffet has some of the best Bahamian food you can get. BBQ roast pork, mac-n-cheese, peas n' rice, bread pudding, tangy cole slaw....the list goes on and on. I had been looking forward to it for weeks. There was also a special bonus: the Barefoot Man concert was today. This only happens once or twice a year and is a BIG event.

All signs point to Nippers

We arrived early to secure a table. I had pledged to stick to one frozen nipper, having nearly killed myself on a previous trip by drinking too many of the things.....the others in my group, however, quickly lost their minds to the frozen devil. A thunderstorm blew in around 11:00 am and we decided to ride it out at our table, so we didn't lose it. It was insanity. The wind was blowing, lightening was cracking, and water was pouring down our backs. The more it rained, the more they drank. By the time the storm moved on, my travelling companions were done in.

Nippers Bar

The madness started at that point. People got sick, people got in fights, strangers were dancing on our table, my food tokens got lost, my plate got dumped on the table....it didn't take long before I had enough and took my leave. I didn't get to eat and I didn't get to see the concert. I tried to tell them....the Nipper is madness.

Nippers Beach

At this point, the day was shot. Everyone made up and we enjoyed the sunset and turned in.

Sunset from Docksiders Restaurant

Day Three: July 28


On Monday, we had a rental boat and headed to Man-O-War Cay. Man-O-War is a small cay, only 2.5 miles long and is a very short distance from Guana Cay. It has a beautiful settlement where you can find Albury's Sail Shop, where the ladies no longer make sails, but sew canvas bags and other items on the old sewing machines.

Albury's Sail Shop

You can also find Miss Lola here. She seems to have a 6th sense that tells her when someone new sets foot on the island and she shows up with her golf cart loaded with fresh baked Bahamian Bread and cinnamon rolls. Her cinnamon rolls are $7, but they are big enough for 6 people and are out of this world.

Miss Lola's Cinnamon Roll

Miss Lola

Man-O-War has many beautiful buildings, old boats, and colorful cottages lining it's quaint streets. There are also several beautiful beaches on the island.

Old Boat on Man-O-War Cay

After a stroll around Man-O-War we took the boat over to Fowl Cay Reef, a great snorkeling spot. Entry is pretty tenuous, as you have to weave carefully through reef and rock that is barely hidden below the surface, but the snorkeling is outstanding.

Fowl Cay Reef

After a pretty full day, we returned to the scene of the previous day's crime for dinner: Nippers. The others stuck to beer this time! Food wasn't the BBQ buffet, but it was still great.

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Cold shrimp, conch fritters, and mahi-mahi dinner platter

Day Four: July 29

It was my birthday! Since the bakery was closed, I made my own birthday cake. Can you tell?


Since it was "my day," I chose to spend the day at the secluded beach that sits on Guana's northern tip. There is no land access, thanks to the blight that is the impending Baker's Bay development, and we always manage to have the entire beach to ourselves. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth, in my opinion.


The group went snorkeling and I just stayed in the shallow water by the beach all by my lonesome. I had some Bob Marley playing up on the boat and I just drifted lazily along on a float. It was a small slice of heaven.


We had a picnic on the boat and headed over to Shell Island. This man made island is the product of some dredging done by Disney to create a channel for their cruise ships (that they abandoned....after making such a mess....). The small dot of land collects an incredible number of shells along its shoreline. A person could walk for hours along the sand, looking at all the special, tiny treasures that the sea has brought.

Shell Island

When we were all sufficiently sunned, baked, soaked, and loaded with shells, we headed back to Guana for dinner.


Dinner was at Grabbers again. You have to understand, there are only a few restaurants on the island, so you end up rotating a few! More frozen grabbers, another beautiful sunset, and a fish fry basket was all it took to make me a happy birthday girl.


Day Five: July 30

No sooner than we had arrived, it was time to go! It was a short trip, but once you've been a few times, a short trip works. I definitely plan to go back, despite the laundry list of things that went wrong on this trip. However, next time I think I'll try staying on Elbow Cay just to gain a new perspective. With its candy striped lighthouse, Vernon's key lime pies, and ultra tropical Tahiti Beach, I think Elbow Cay might be a great next stop.

Don't you?

Thanks for coming along.


Posted by vicki_h 10:49 Archived in Bahamas Comments (0)

20 Things I Learned on Guana Cay....

a.k.a. The Worst Vacation EVER.

This was a very short trip that we took with our good friends, John and Teresa, to Guana Cay, Abaco, Bahamas. The plan was this: fly down in our Seneca on Saturday, July 26; spend a few glorious, sun-drenched days on Guana Cay; and fly back on Wednesday, July 30. With John's birthday being July 28 and mine being July 29, it seemed like a great plan. But you know what they say about the best laid plans........

#1. When the customs guys at the Marsh Harbor airport want lunch….customs closes…..sometimes for 2 hours.

The flight in was pretty good. We got there pretty early, at noon. We had plenty of time to catch the 1:15 ferry from Marsh Harbor on Abaco to Guana Cay. Or so I thought. My first clue that this trip might go south was when the customs guys at the tiny airport made us stand outside for almost 2 hours before checking us in because they wanted to stop for lunch. Okay, maybe they weren't having lunch. Maybe they were watching T.V., taking a really long smoke break, or napping. I don't really know. I just no there was no one in line and we waited for FREAKING EVER.


#2. Going anywhere closer to the equator in July is just a stupid, stupid idea.

We have never been south of Florida at any time other than spring, fall or winter. Now I know why. Holy crap, it was so HOT. By the time I had waited on the hot pavement at the airport, waited for the ferry, and made the trip by golf cart to our little house, I finally understood why "peak season" is in the winter.....


#3. Hot sauce repels flies.

First order of business upon arrival was FOOD, because we made the 3:30 ferry instead of the 1:15. I was officially starving. We headed to Grabbers, a great little beachfront bar and grill. Like I said, we’d never been to Guana Cay in the summer…so we had no idea HOW bad the flies and no-see-ums would be. Every restaurant is outdoors. We literally got swarmed every time we tried to eat. Thank goodness for the waitress at Grabbers that told us hot sauce repels them. Sprinkle a little around your plate and VIOLA! No flies. We may have had severe indigestion for the rest of the trip, but we didn’t have flies! Heck, by the end of the trip, I was ready to just bathe in it.


  1. 4. Flimsy beach umbrellas, while cute, do not offer actual protection during a severe thunderstorm.

Okay, so the highlight of the trip was supposed to be on our first day on island. I couldn't wait for the Sunday beach BBQ at Nippers with an afternoon beach concert by Abaco favorite, Barefoot Man. You have to understand, Nippers is a beach bar that serves a very lethal drink called the “Frozen Nipper.” The contents are a highly guarded secret. I personally think it contains a controlled substance. Because of the frozen nipper, Nippers is a crazy place, especially on a Sunday.

The Sunday event gets really crowded, so you have to arrive early to ensure having a table. We did. Shortly after we got there, a HUGE thunderstorm blew in. I had the brilliant idea to stay at our table so as not to lose our claim. I mean, there were people standing nearby that were eyeing it like a bunch of vultures looking at roadkill. We rode out the entire storm under that stupid little umbrella.....the girls getting soaked and the guys getting drunker by the minute on those dang frozen nippers. This was not looking good.


#5. Frozen nippers cause men to pull down their pants or their friends pants.

Well, with nothing to do but drink during the storm, the guys simply got out of hand. Things really started to go south at this point. The other patrons were talking about "those crazy Tennesseans" and everyone wanted to join our table. The guys were getting hammered. Strangers were at our table. People were dancing on the tables. It was all at little too much. I was doing my best to keep a low profile. Having gotten pretty sick on nippers once, I learned my lesson. I am a one nipper girl. Unfortunately for the party, I was sober as a judge. I knew I was in trouble when John's shorts went down. Twice. Granted, Matt started it by pulling John's pants down, but guys, no offense, but ladies don't want to see IT. It ain't pretty. When are men going to learn this?


#6. Spending $120 on lunch tokens at a beach BBQ does not guarantee you will get to eat.

So, while John, Matt, and Teresa are more nippered by the minute, I sat there sober as a church mouse. All I was looking forward to was the meal and the concert. At about 1:00 they put the food out. Yay! Bahamian Mac-n-cheese and BBQ pork. Yum! Sadly, Matt had lost our 2 $20 lunch tokens because he was drunk and acting like a fool. No problem, we bought 2 more and I got my lunch. I was just digging in when Matt got mad because Teresa kept teasing him and he dumped my plate on the table and in my lap.....before I got to eat it. WTF??

Happy Birthday to me. I was PISSED.


#7. Drinking 5 frozen nippers in an hour will cause one to vomit on a table in front of strangers and proceed to pass out in said vomit.

Well, I had enough and I walked home. It's about a 30 minute walk down the beach. I am sure I was cursing to myself and kicking imaginary Matts all the way down the beach. However, I think I left at a good time. Apparently, after I left, all hell broke loose. First, John threw up and passed out. Matt decided to take him home. One guy apparently said, as the Tennessee fools were leaving, "Damn, you Tennesseans know how to party hard, but you sure burn out early...."



#8. Nippers vomit will stain a white beach hat.

The frozen nipper is RED. John’s projectile nipper vomit allegedly (I can't say, I wasn't there....) went all over Teresa, her hat, her bag, her towel, her clothes.....While she was trying to find her bag and clean herself up, Matt left the bar with John passed out in the seat.

They left Teresa there.

In a strange place. Drunk. Alone.



#9. It is unwise to try to walk home on sharp, jagged limestone while drunk.

Poor Teresa tried to walk home drunk, along the jagged limestone on the beach. She fell, hit her face on the rocks, and pretty much busted her whole face. By that afternoon, Teresa was lying in bed with ice on her face, John was asleep on the deck in the blistering sun, and Matt was apologizing profusely to everyone and unpacking my suitcase....because I had packed up and was ready to LEAVE! The only reason I was still there is because I couldn't find my stinkin' passport. (I had apparently hidden it so well from would be villa thieves that I couldn't even find it...)



#10. Ladies with black eyes don't want to go to the beach.

Okay, so T. had some real shiners. I was mad at Matt. John and Matt were hung over. And it was only Day 1.

We decided to put that bad day behind us and try to enjoy the next two days. So, the next day, we decided to stick with my original plan to go to Man-O-War Cay, a neighboring island. Teresa stayed at the house to rest. Can't say I blamed her. The other three of us went to Man-O-War Cay for a day of sightseeing and snorkeling. The day started off pretty good. Maybe things were going to take a turn for the better.

I didn't knock on wood soon enough.


#11. Taking photos can be hazardous to your health....at least if you are me.

Never try to walk down a cement boat ramp that is covered with green slimy algae. Just sayin'.

I tried to walk down a cement boat ramp to take a photo while Matt and John got the rental boat. I am a clumsy girl. It's no secret. I am as gawky as a newborn foal. Well, I slipped on the layer of green slime that was covering it and proceeded to smack right on my ass and then slide about 20 feet, giving myself a pretty good cement rash down my tookus. Oh, and I had green slime from my ankles to my ears.

Just. Great.


#12. Rental boats + underwater rocks = $500 new boat propeller.

Oh yeah, the day just got better from there. Once I got the slime off my clothes, we got in the boat to head out.

The cement slide should have been a clue to turn around and stay at the house, but noooooo.....away we went. About 30 minutes later, while trying to drive the boat into Man-O-War harbor, we ran the propeller up on the rocks. Yep, we had to buy that propeller.

Did you know that propellers in the Bahamas cost a hell of a lot more than they do in the states? Just in case you needed to know.


#13. Never try to walk across Man-O-War Cay with 2 hungover men with no water when it’s 98 degrees outside.

Well, my brilliant idea was to walk across Man-O-War.....hey, how hard could it be? The entire cay is only 2.5 miles long. Okay, in 98 degrees with no water, a block is too far. Add to that the "hangover duo" whining like girls every 10 steps. I am big enough to admit it was a bad idea. We nearly died. We all got mad. Everyone started yelling at everyone else. So, we aborted that plan and I stomped off back to the boat and decided I just wasn't speaking to them any more. Where was my friend Teresa when I needed her? Oh yeah, banged up back at the villa.


#14. A cinnamon roll can cost $7.

By the time I got my sweaty, and still partially slime covered, butt back to the boat, I was hungry. This sweet little old lady pulls up in a golf cart and asks if I want to buy a cinnamon roll. Turns out this was Man-O-War's famous Miss Lola, who bakes yummies and sells them from her cart. Did I want one? Heck yes! I asked how much……


For a cinnamon roll.

Did I buy it? Hell yes I did. Granted, it was as big as a pizza pan. And it was GOOD.


#15. Wild kittens like cheese.

We managed to get through the rest of Day 2 without too many mishaps and even managed to have a little fun snorkeling out on the barrier reef. On the third morning, Teresa decided to join us out on the boat. We were packing lunches when 3 wild kittens came up begging on the deck. So I tossed them some string cheese. They ran off with it like a prize. We fed them string cheese for the rest of the trip.

Don't worry, you animal lovers out there, we also bought a bag of cat food at Guana Grocery (for $35.....no....I am not exaggerating....) that we left at the house for them.


#16. When on the beach, always use lip gloss with SPF.

We spent a LOT of time in the sun on the 3rd day. Someone told me not long ago that wearing lip gloss without sunscreen can burn your lips. Well, I am such a girl. I slopped lip gloss on all day. Lip gloss WITHOUT SPF. Yep. That thing about the lip gloss? Way true.

By the end of the day, my lips were so puffy I looked like I had collagen injections.

Oh well. With my puffy lips and scraped up butt and Teresa's purple face, we were a sight. We looked like we'd been in a bar fight.


#17. A barracuda will chase dangly things hanging off your swimsuit, especially if they are shiny. Oh, and they like to hang out by boat ladders.

I hate barracuda's.

I hate their ugly little faces with that snarly underbite and those big sharp teeth. I hate the way they just appear out of nowhere and then just sit there, still, staring at you.

I am less afraid of sharks.

So, of course, while snorkeling, I ran into the biggest barracuda I have ever seen. He kept chasing after me and Teresa. We couldn't figure it out. Why did he keep following us????? We figured out later that we had silver dangly things on our suits and it was basically like hanging fish bait off our bodies.

I had turned myself into a giant, human fishing pole equipped with sparkly bait.

Dumb, dumb, dumb.


#18. Don’t unplug the a/c when the power goes out unless you want to be awakened at 2:00 a.m. by a yelling man. A really sweaty yelling man.

As though we hadn’t been through enough already, the power went out on our last night. We all fell asleep in our rooms in the sweltering heat. Matt went to the extra room downstairs, thinking it was “cooler.” I totally disagreed and stayed in the much more open room upstairs. The power came back on in the middle of the night and my a/c came back on. Apparently, Teresa, unbeknownst to Matt, had unplugged the a/c in the room he was in thinking you had to do that when the power went out lest the unit violtently explode when the power came back on. About 2 a.m., Matt woke the entire house up yelling about why everyone was sleeping in a nice a/c room and why everyone had left him in that hot room to die.


#19. It is possible to wash your hair using a small, dirty airport sink and a Styrofoam cup when desperate.

I hate to say it, but I was actually happy when it was time to go home. It had been a long 3 days.

Dreaming of just getting home and washing it all away, I nearly cried when we had to land in south FL because of thunderstorms and then spent 9 hours in a cramped FBO waiting to go home. By this point, we all hated each other. Teresa wasn't talking to John. I wasn't talking to John or Matt. Everyone was cranky. Then, to add insult to injury, I had to “bathe” using paper towels in a tiny sink. We finally got home at 1:00 am.

Hey, at least I was clean.....


#20. It's not over until the fat lady sings......

This trip just kept on giving. Even once we were home we discovered one of us had inadvertently picked up some strangers suitcase at the ferry, thinking it was ours, and we carried that damn thing all the way home. We thought it was theirs. They thought it was ours. We even took it through customs. Thank god it wasn't full of drugs or a human head. Anyway, once we got it home, we had to pay $50 to ship it back to its rightful owner.

Oh, and "someone" (insert J-O-H-N here....) had taken Matt's binoculars to Guana Cay and had....you guessed it......left them there. We had to pay to have them shipped back to us.

The party that never ends......

My final lesson? Spending your 38th birthday with 3 crazy people on Guana Cay can be hazardous to your health.


Now repeat after me: There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home......

Posted by vicki_h 05:05 Archived in Bahamas Comments (2)

I'll give this a whirl.

Well, everyone that knows me knows that I travel. A lot. I go on a "big" vacation (5+ days) about once every 3 months and do a long weekend trip at least every couple of months. What can I say? I love to go.

And I love to photograph and write about my travels. Sending emails to family and friends that want to hear about the trips is tiresome, so I am going to try keeping a travel blog. We'll see how it goes....

Stay tuned.

Posted by vicki_h 10:25 Comments (0)