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Home is where the Anchor Is…Sailing the Exumas Day 1

Relaxing, self-indulgent, easy….those are typically the last 3 words I think of when planning a vacation. Those words are for vacationers. Not me.

Vacationers come home with big smiles, clean clothes, and shiny trinkets purchased at junk stores that still have the “Made in China” stickers affixed. Vacationers come home with good hair and pedicures that are still as fresh as the day they left the spa a week before. Vacationers bounce back into work with a photo album full of glossy pictures, ready for their 8:00 a.m. meeting without missing a beat.

But vacationers come home with nothing they didn’t have before they left, except maybe a tan and a good night’s sleep.

Travelers come home completely exhausted, with their last pair of underwear inside out because they ran out of clean ones the day their flight home was cancelled due to hurricane force winds. Travelers come home with no money, dirty shoes, and the closest thing to a souvenir is the paper wrist band still attached to their arm from the all night beach party they left to run to the airport. Travelers come home with sunbleached hair, chipped toenails, blisters, and a slight case of food poisoning from eating that fish the local guy grilled on the sidewalk.

Travelers come home with a renewed sense of who they are, a feeling of accomplishment, and an awareness of the world they didn’t have a week before.

I rarely vacation.

I travel.


Day One: Flying into Great Exuma – The Necklace of the Bahamas

I have heard the Exuma island chain, made up of some 365 cays stretching for 100 miles, referred to as a necklace of sparking jewels. It appears like glittering emeralds and pearls scattered across a turquoise sea filled with forgotten hideaways, protected harbors, and deserted beaches.

Viewed from the air, it was dazzling.





We made an uneventful landing and were in a taxi within minutes, headed to Augusta Bay to spend a night while waiting for our Canadian friends, Keith and Sydney, to arrive.







Augusta Bay is a small boutique hotel that sits on a private beach just steps from shallow turquoise water. It was clean and quiet, and, with the exception of the shiny black comforter in my room which had a slightly 1970s-porn quality about it, we loved it.


We had loads of sunshine and nothing to do but kill time, so Matt and I walked down the beach, which was dotted with small hotels. When we reached the end of the hotels, we found a pretty little beach on the other side of a small rise.




If we had stopped there, we would have been happy. It had beautiful water, swaying palm trees, and what gets my vote for "most interesting snack bar."






But we kept walking to see what was farther down the beach.

That’s when we found Jolly Hall Beach. We were greeted with a fine curve of soft, white sand shaded by casuarina trees and bordered by clear, shallow water of the most brilliant turquoise.




It was, without a doubt, one of the finest beaches I have ever been to.

And we were alone.

THIS is why I love the Bahamas.










That afternoon, we decided to head into George Town. I’m not sure what I expected, but considering it was the capital on one of the larger islands in the Bahamas, the largest city in a 100-mile island chain, and home to an international airport…… I expected more.

The guys decided to stop for a beer while Teresa and I strolled through the shops.


Teresa and I were finished in approximately 8 minutes.

Don’t get me wrong, it was sweet. It was quaint. It was friendly……But it was so SMALL.







More a village than a city, George Town is a smattering of shops and eateries on one street that circles a small lake. It takes longer to walk through the average Super Target than it does to walk around George Town. I’m pretty sure my first apartment was bigger than George Town. And the widely touted "straw market" reminded me more of the Bean Station Flea Market than a craft market, well.....minus the boiled peanuts, discount cigarettes, and bootleg copies of Hank Williams, Sr.




Unfortunately, we had expected ……more….so we had asked our taxi not to pick us up for 2 hours. Sure, we could have just called another taxi. Except that we had just purchased all the liquor for the trip and put it in that taxi’s trunk.

Oh dear.

We did the only thing we could do with 2 hours to kill.

We headed for the bar.

We found a waterfront view and cold goombay smashes at the Club Peace & Plenty. There are harder ways to spend a couple of hours.


We were pretty sure that with $300 worth of free liquor in his trunk, we’d never really see Vencil again, but he showed up, exactly 2 hours later.

We had him drop us off at Catch a Fire, a restaurant that has the best sunset view on Great Exuma.

And yes, we left all that liquor in his trunk again. We are a very trusting bunch.

Catch a Fire was fantastic. All Balinese teak furniture, tiki torches, and bougainvillea….right at the edge of the water, with a sunset view.









Although, they seemed to run out of signs when it came to the men's room. This either means "Men's Room," or it means "Women who do not wear skirts are men." I'm still not 100% sure.


They also had Bahama Obama. At least that’s what he told us his name was. I think he was a little more Bahama Flavor Flav. He was the self-proclaimed Fun Meister of Catch a Fire and he tried to make dancers out of me and Teresa.

He failed.




30 minutes past the time we told Vencil to pick us up he still hadn’t shown. We were sure he had decided the $300 worth of liquor in his trunk was worth more than the $30 cab fare we owed him and was probably hosting a party somewhere on the other side of the island waiting for Bahama Obama to show up. Just as we were about to give up, he came rushing into the parking lot, apologizing because he’d started watching the basketball game and forgot about us.


What he lacked in punctuality he made up for in honesty.

We bid good-night to Catch a Fire, Bahama Obama, and the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree and called it a night.


Posted by vicki_h 12:26 Archived in Bahamas Tagged island tropical bahamas exumas george_town staniel_cay great_exuma Comments (0)

Do You Have Time for a Quickie?

Another mini-cation on Guana Cay


I don't have to tell you that Matt and I can’t go very long without the itch to get out of town. Unfortunately, our lives and jobs are demanding and don’t often allow us the luxury of a full week off, so we make do with lots of mini-cations.

Who says a 3 day jaunt can’t be a full-blown vacation? A mini-cation can recharge your batteries and provide some much needed downtime.

It was March and the world was just starting to thaw, but it still wasn’t warm enough to get outside. I want to speak to the person that decided that spring begins on March 20, because that person is just a LIAR. There was no spring outside my door.

I was pretty sure that if I had to spend one more weekend cooped up inside with Matt watching “Game of Thrones” in a marathon frenzy, my head would explode.

It was time for a getaway, and there is only one place I can go when I need to getaway but haven’t spent my requisite 9 months obsessively planning my vacation in such precise detail that I know exactly what time I will be brushing my teeth on Day Four.

Hello, Guana Cay!





Guana welcomed us with open arms, a beautiful sunset, and some darn good ribs.



Day One: Abaco is for Lovers Lubbers



We wanted to try something new. We had contacted Austin & Amy of Lubbers Landing about spending the night. I mean, if their tuna burger is that good, how awesome must the cabins be?

As we boated over to Lubbers Quarters, the water astonished us with light and color. It doesn’t matter how many times I see this water…it still amazes and delights me.






We made a pit stop in the small bay at the narrow point of Man-O-War Cay. The sand is soft, the water is shallow, and the beach is a gentle crescent. It’s one of the most perfects spots in the world.









If you walk onto the beach, you’ll see that all that separates the sea from the ocean is a road. Cross the road, and the raging Atlantic rushes at you in a mist of salty water. It’s simply a breathtaking spot with a 360 degree view to die for.







Getting pretty hungry, we decided it was time to move on.







we stopped at Firefly for lunch. The Firefly Sunset Resort is located near White Bay on the Sea of Abaco side of Elbow Cay. This upscale resort has some of the best dining in the Abacos.




We discovered they also have some of the best drinks!




Most restaurants in the Abacos have a menu that looks like this: Fish (fried, grilled); Ribs; Hamburger; Cheeseburger; Cracked Conch; Conch Fritters; all entrees served with french fries, baked mac n’cheese, and potato salad (aka, how to have a heart attack in 3 days).

Firefly had a menu so delightful that I literally became giddy and lightheaded. Or maybe that was the drink.



I had a hard time deciding between the Panko Crusted Fish Cakes with Fruit Salsa or the Stone Crab Quesadilla with Mango Pineapple Salsa and Chipotle Sour Cream. Wait, maybe I should get the Curry Lobster Salad tossed w/ Garam Marsala & Citrus Juices?

Too many choices. Too little stomach space.

At the very last minute, much like a squirrel that can’t decide which side of the road it wants to run to, I went for the Fish Taco. It came out with crispy romaine, sweet-hot Vidalia onions, & savory heirloom tomatoes wrapped in a chili dusted tortilla. It came with crispy sweet potato fries. We also tried the bacon wrapped lobster skewers with lemon garlic aioli.



Don’t worry. I still got my mac n’cheese. I’m not crazy, after all.


We made a quick hop over to Tahiti Beach on Elbow Cay after lunch. It was low tide and I never get tired of seeing the sandbars that make their daily appearance in the shallow water.





We saw Austin from Lubbers Landing on his kiteboard. He was whizzing through the water and flipping through the air.


That’s when I remembered we hadn’t made a reservation for dinner.

Like many restaurants you find on the smaller cays in the Bahamas, you have to let Lubbers know you are coming to eat dinner by 3:00 p.m. and you have to order your food at that time. Otherwise, you won’t be eating. They don’t get enough foot traffic to simply have food out ready to prepare “in case” someone happens to come by.

It was 3:05.

I started to have heart palpitations.

There’s a saying around my house, “If Vicki’s hungry, ain’t nobody happy.”

No dinner?

My mind quickly went to the bag of chips we had leftover on the boat from earlier in the day. I thought about running back to the boat so that I could hide it in case I needed it later for emergency provisions. Maybe I could find an old granola bar stuffed in the bottom of my bag.

It was every man for himself.

Just before I made a mad watery dash back to the boat in an attempt to hide any food that was left in my tote bag, Austin came over.

“I have exactly 4 lobsters left,” he said. “You guys want them for dinner?”

God bless Austin.

We left the beach and headed in to the dock at Lubbers Landing. We were greeted by Austin & Amy, sunshine, and one gigantic saltwater margarita.






After drinks, Amy showed us our cabins.

Lubbers Landing has only 3 cabins, all nestled privately in the woods and connected by a maze of raised wooden walkways with rope railings. It is like the world’s best grown-up summer camp.



Each cabin is unique and is furnished beautifully with Amy’s eclectic and artistic touch.

They were rustic, yet luxurious, with soft bedding, air-conditioning, and high end furnishings. Special touches like seashells, handmade pillows, or Amy’s handpainted signs gave it a personal touch.

I was in heaven.












Our room even came with a Chihuahua.


I was trying to figure out how I could live here forever without Austin & Amy noticing, when Matt reminded me it was time for dinner.

Ecclectic stemware and soft lights greeted us as we sat down at a thatched umbrella table looking out at the Sea of Abaco.




The lobster was grilled and served with a fresh salad, house made dressing, and their signature home-cut fries.


Just when we thought adult summer camp couldn’t get any better, Austin built us a bonfire on the beach where we sat and sipped our wine, ate chocolate cookies, and listened to Bob Marley tunes.




Day Two: Time to DEVOUR!

Sunrise is beautiful on Lubbers Quarters. I thanked God for the beautiful sunrise and I thanked Austin & Amy for the most perfect place to watch it.






After some much needed coffee, which Amy makes early every morning and leaves out for guests, we decided to walk along the path behind the cabins. Austin said it would take us to a beach.



It took us to a pretty little beach with a swing and a makeshift bar. I can only imagine what that water would have looked like if the sun had been out.








Breakfast is a casual affair at Lubbers. When we were ready, Amy asked us what we wanted and cooked it up. Breakfast was a fried egg sandwich with peppers. Oh yum!


We lounged around all morning, but eventually, we had to get a move on. We hated to leave, but gave Austin & Amy a hug “goodbye” (Where else do you get a hug when you leave a hotel? I mean, really?), and headed for Green Turtle Cay.

We docked in New Plymouth, grabbed us a golf cart, and made a quick stop at Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar for a Goombay Smash. Then it was off to the Green Turtle Club.




We had afternoon tickets to the Coco Beach Party that was part of the Devour Food and Film Festival that was taking place on Green Turtle Cay. Devour is an international festival celebrating cinema, food and wine culture that takes place in Nova Scotia and is in its fourth year.


This was their first year having a festival in the Bahamas. Called “Devour! The Beach,” the event included several days of food & wine events and film screenings. Our tickets were for the all-afternoon-rum-infused party at the Green Turtle Club where chefs would take turns grilling lobster, making fresh conch salad, and roasting wild boar.

Wait a minute. Abaco? Wild Boars? Whaaaaaaa? Was someone trying to say that there were wild boars on Abaco???? Don’t ask me why, but I had an irrational fear of wild boars as a child. It’s not like I lived in an area with wild boars. Nor had I ever actually seen a wild boar. It’s more likely that my older brother showed me a picture and told me that they were in the woods waiting to gore me to death, leaving me terrified every time I tried to walk through the woods alone, certain that a wild boar was hiding behind every tree. Do wild boars even live in Georgia?

It's just like the irrational fear I have now of snakes coming through the bathtub drain. It doesn't have to be possible in the real world to be scary. I mean, just think about MONSTERS. Okay?

My mind was now filled with images of me laying on the beach and being gored to death by a wild pig. Were there really wild boars on my beloved Abaco?

Apparently, yes. Like most things in the Bahamas, it all started with the settlers. They didn’t just show up with a bottle of rum and a desire to tame an island. They brought household goods, seeds and plants, and, you guessed it, livestock. That would include pigs. Combine that with the occasional shipwreck where it was every man, woman, and pig for himself, and you ended up with some loose pigs that eventually became the wild pigs that live on Abaco today. Thanks to a plentiful supply of fruit, sugarcane, and thick forests in which to hide, they continued to roam, forage, and have lots of babies.

I guess I was going to have to start carrying my pepper spray in my bikini.

When we arrived, we made straight for the rum punch table, because we are classy like that.





The first station had Abaco wild boar with Bahamian potato salad and cole slaw. I did not expect to like it. I’m not sure how I thought wild board would differ from farm pig. I guess I thought it would taste like something that had been eating tough coconut shells all it's life and running from dogs, but pig is pig. That was some fine pork.


There was fresh conch salad, grilled lobster tail with roasted garlic, tacos with goat cheese and charred poblano guacamole…oh, so much food.









I had a bit of a conundrum when I had been standing in the taco line for a good 20 minutes. It's important to note that I don't believe in waiting in line for food. The line was short and I was close by, AND I LOVE TACOS, and I was all jacked up on rum punch and goombay smashes, so I hopped in it. I reached that point, a good 15 minutes later, where I started to wrestle with the, "Do I get out of line?" question. You know, when you've already invested so much time that you can't make yourself quit, but you know that the longer you have to wait, the stupider you are going to feel. But I reasoned with myself (the way we do in these situations), "These must be AMAZING tacos if they take so long to make and so many people are waiting for them, right?" So I kept waiting. Like a dipshit. Another 10 minutes passed.

That's when I discovered I was in the LAMB taco line.

I don't eat lamb.

I generally try to avoid eating anything in its infancy.

Pisser. I had invested 25 minutes in this line. What was I supposed to do now?

So I ate them. And, yeah. They were good. But I'll never be able to listen to "Mary Had a Little Lamb" the same way again.





Drinks were flowing, music was playing, and a good time was had by all.

Well, except for those conch. I don’t think they were having a good day.


We ended the day back on Guana at Grabbers.




We had conch fritters, frozen grabbers, and a thick slice of mango cheesecake because there is no such thing as calories when you are on vacation.

Everyone knows that.

Day Three: How NOT to End Nippers Sunday Vomiting Off a Dock

Sunday morning greeted us with a beautiful sunrise.







It was much sunnier than the previous day, but it was SO WINDY. We decided to leave the boat docked and waste the morning in the sunshine at Grabbers.

There are worse ways to waste a day.








Around lunchtime, we wandered over to Nippers. It was a quiet day We ordered up lunch, and, since I had my fill of pig the day before, I declined the buffet (yes, hell just froze over) and got a cracked lobster sandwich.



And some fried buffalo lobster bites, because one fried lobster is never enough.


It just wasn’t a day for dancing, so we chose to walk down to High Rocks instead. This is the most beautiful stretch of beach that you can reach by land on Guana Cay.

















We wrapped it up with a quite dinner and a beautiful sunset at Grabbers.
















See….I can do a quiet, relaxing, respectable trip. I just don’t like to make a habit of it. ;-)


Next up: 6 adults on a sailboat for 7 days in the Exumas. We’ll either kill each other before it’s over or we’ll have the adventure of our lives! Stay tuned……

Posted by vicki_h 11:16 Archived in Bahamas Tagged island caribbean tropical bahamas nippers abaco elbow_cay guana_cay grabbers lubbers green_turtle_cay Comments (4)

Beating the Winter Blues

Take that you stupid groundhog.

I thought the whole point of living in the south was to make fun of northerners in the winter.

We southerners are not equipped to deal with extreme cold and we panic at the very idea of snow. Actual snow is not necessary. All we need to see is a forecast predicting flurries or temperatures below 40 degrees and we declare a State of Emergency. We run to the nearest grocery store and buy it out of bread, milk, and eggs. We clean the hardware stores out of salt and we prepare to burn our furniture.

It was January and it was cold. It wasn’t just cold outside. It was cold inside. I live in a historic home. By “historic,” I mean “drafty and probably insulated with newspapers.”

My old Victorian house found it impossible to cope with the single digit temperatures and my thermostat showed me that, despite the fact that it was set on 71, it was, in fact, only 55 degrees in my house.


To add insult to injury, my most recent utility bill had been for $658….to keep my house at that balmy 55 degrees. There was ice on my windows. ON THE INSIDE.


My Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) was kicking into high gear.

I needed to go to the Bahamas.

We threw the dogs in the plane, shook the snow off our boots, and headed south for a long weekend.


So, for all of you who are suffering through you own 9 months of winter, here is proof that warm places still exist. That the sun is still somewhere in the sky. That the world has not, in fact, been swallowed up by cold and snow, thrusting the universe into some eternal night like some end-of-the-world Bruce Willis movie.





































So, here is my parting message to Old Man Winter. We've had enough. You can move along now, and take that stupid groundhog with you.


Posted by vicki_h 06:28 Archived in Bahamas Tagged beach island tropical bahamas abaco elbow_cay guana_cay Comments (4)

20 Things I Learned on Guana Cay….Redux.

I started this blog 5 years ago after an ill-fated trip to Guana Cay with our good friends John and Teresa. Two black eyes, a busted boat propeller, a slide down a boat ramp, sunburned lips, power outages……..Everything that could go wrong on that trip did and it inspired me to start writing about my travels.

Well, we’ve made a lot of trips to Guana Cay since then, but it took 5 long years for our friends John and Teresa to decide to return. We made the trip in August, exactly 5 years after the first trip.

A lot can change in 5 years.

So, let’s try this again. Here are 20 NEW things I learned on Guana Cay.

#1. There is no sunrise more beautiful than the first morning you wake up on Guana Cay.



#2. There’s no such thing as “too much mac n’ cheese.”




#3. The Nippers Sunday Buffet is so much more enjoyable when it’s not in your lap.


#4. There is no greater joy on earth than the first time you make it on the hook and ring game at Grabbers.


Unless it’s the first time you make it on the “around the pole hook and ring game” at Lubber’s Landing.


#5. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with eating 3 burgers in 3 days.




#6. The best days are the ones where you do nothing at all.


#7. You might as well JUMP.


#8. Dreams can come in the shape of a dirty bobber hanging on a tree.




#9. There are more shades of blue than you can count.







#10. You can watch the same sunset from the same spot every night and it never gets old.





#11. There is nothing cuter than a dog jumping with happiness across the beach, even if the sand does end up in your bed.



#12. Don't drink and Jenga.




#13. Three rainbows in 3 days is almost as good as 3 burgers in 3 days.




#14. No matter where you go in Abaco, there is a deserted beach with your name on it.





#15. Sometimes it’s okay to break the rules.


#16. There is absolute joy and wonder to be had in the simplest of moments.





#17. If you don’t like where you are….just get in the boat.



#18. The best walks don’t take you anywhere.


#19. When you are happy, time doesn’t matter.






#20. Spending your birthday with good friends on Guana Cay can be the best weekend ever.




Now repeat after me: There’s no place like Guana. There’s no place like Guana. There’s no place like Guana…..

Posted by vicki_h 12:48 Archived in Bahamas Tagged island caribbean tropical bahamas abaco guana_cay Comments (2)

Stranded Naked in Abaco


We should have known better than to plan a trip to the Abacos during a week when there were three, yes….THREE….big beach parties. I can barely keep myself in check when there is just the one Sunday Pig Roast at Nippers. However, the first week in July we found ourselves faced with the Sunday Pig Roast, the Stranded Naked Cheeseburger Party, and the 4th of July Celebration at Nippers.

Oh dear.

I have to apologize in advance to my mom and dad. And to my Granny. All of them will be reading this, trying to figure out what they did wrong all those years ago when they tried to teach me how to behave in public.

I’m sorry.

I did not behave like a lady. I did not use my inside voice. I did not eat my vegetables. I did not wait an hour after eating to get in the pool. I did not wash my hands before I ate. I did not act my age. I took candy from strangers. I talked with food in my mouth. I stayed up after midnight. I ate dessert for breakfast and ran through the house with scissors. I put my feet on the table. I jumped in the ocean without a life jacket. I wore that skirt that was too short.

An no, my face did not freeze that way. I did not catch my death of cold. I did not go blind. I did not fall and crack my head open.

I had the time of my life.

Day One:

The flight down to Abaco never disappoints me. The views from above are nothing short of a miracle of nature.


I have to start by showing you photos of the trip down. I can’t help it. It’s a compulsion. I always take photos of the flight, the ferry, the plane. I can’t help it. I want you to know how I got there. Otherwise, I can just imagine you, dear reader, sitting in front of your computer screaming, “BUT HOW DID YOU GET FROM THE AIRPORT TO THE FERRY DOCK???? HOW???!!!! Did you take a bus? Did you ride a donkey? Did you hire a pedi-cab? For God’s sakes, I have to know!”

I just can’t do that to you.


After an easy landing and a quick taxi ride, we found ourselves at Curly Tails with about an hour to spare before the Guana Cay ferry. That should have been enough time for drinks and lunch. Should have.

We had just ordered up some Bahama Mamas to kick off the trip when the 4 horses of the apocalypse came bearing down on us at breakneck speed.

The sky went from this:


to this:


in about 10 seconds. In case you don't see it, that is a wall of storm coming right at us.

We were soaked by the time we ran down to the ferry dock and grabbed our luggage. I think I ripped a shoulder muscle as I dragged my too heavy bag up the staircase. Then the power went out. And stayed out. We ran onto the ferry an hour later soaked and starving.

When we got to Guana, we didn’t even unpack or get cleaned up. We just headed straight to Grabbers for some dinner. That’s one of the many things I love about Guana Cay. No one cares if your hair looks like a wet dog and your clothes are a mess. Heck, you don’t even need shoes. Just come as you are.

A chicken-in-da-bag can cure a lot of ills.


As can meeting a new friend.


We called it an early night. We were tired and disheveled.

What we didn’t know was that “tired and disheveled” was pretty much going to describe us for the rest of the trip.


Day two:

Good morning, Guana Cay!


There is nothing I love more than a long, slow walk on the beach to watch the Guana sunrise.


It was Sunday, so we made our way to Nippers. Of course we did.


On every trip to Nippers on a Sunday I swear this will be the Sunday that I behave. It will be the Sunday that I don’t give in when the frozen Nippers start flowing and the young girls start dancing. The Sunday that I don’t have that extra frozen Nipper and find myself front and center, dancing badly, the oldest person in a bikini, singing loudly to the Village People.

That Sunday never seems to come. Before I know it, the Cupid Shuffle is playing and I have that extra Nipper. I pull out all my bad dance moves. I step on people’s feet. I frighten their children. By the end of the afternoon, I feel a need to throw an apology to the universe.


Things always start off well. I am incredibly well intentioned. We found a table, enjoyed the view and sampled the buffet. We laughed with friends. We made new friends. It was all very civilized.


But then these guys showed up and all hell broke loose:


You know it's going to be a memorable afternoon when the patriotic thongs come out.

I know some people find the behavior at Nippers over-the-top. I remember reading one trip report where someone made fun of people dancing that thought they could dance but couldn’t. The way I see it, there is nothing better than a place where a person who dances badly can feel comfortable doing it.

Hello. My name is Vicki. And I am a bad dancer.


Nippers is a place where those of us who are fairly uptight in our normal lives can let our hair down in a safe setting.

We had fun that day. Fun that I know I am technically too old for, but when those days come along, I find it’s best to just jump in and grab them. One day, they’ll stop coming.


Somehow, we all made it out the other side intact.

The best end to a day at Nippers is a pizza at Grabbers. So, with the final rays of the setting sun, we ended the night. Sure, we were tired and disheveled, but we had made memories that we wouldn’t forget.


Day Three:


Looking forward to a quieter day, we decided to take the boat to north Guana. It was very windy and this seemed like a good way to test the boating conditions before we got overzealous.


I agree that Bakers Bay is the root of all that is evil on Guana Cay. I would prefer that they had never developed the pristine end of this beautiful island. When I see those beautiful beaches now covered with mega-mansions, it makes my heart hurt. I remember when it was nothing but a blinding stretch of perfect white sand, fringed with palms that waved ever so slightly in the breeze, with the bluest waters of the island lapping gently at the shore.

But Bakers Bay is there now. There’s no stopping it. And I have to admit that I do like the restaurants. They provide a much needed break from bouncing back and forth between Nippers and Grabbers, which we tend to do like a giant, over-carbed volleyball.

On the way to the beach, we stopped at the Conch Shack for lunch.


This drink was not only delicious, it was gorgeous. Like a little tie-dye cup of happy.


The shrimp salad was to-die-for good. Giant, plump grilled shrimp on a bed of lettuce drizzled in creamy balsamic goodness and topped with fried onions.


We wandered around the grounds a bit. After eyeing a dress in their clothing boutique that turned out to be $1050, I started wondering if I was in the Hamptons again and decided it was time to get back on the boat before I started getting an inferiority complex.


It was too windy to make it all the way around the point so we stopped a bit short and couldn’t have been happier.

It was a slice of heaven.


This is my favorite thing to do on Guana. Nothing compares to an afternoon spent on a long, deserted stretch of perfect beach, when the water is calm and clear, the colors changing from bright turquoise to cool blue to indigo as the ocean stretches toward the horizon. The boat rocks gently in the water and the soft sounds of the radio fill your head as you do nothing more than float on an endless sea.

It is my perfect moment.


That evening, we had a potluck of sorts. We met up on the deck and several households brought what they had. We had been given a ridiculous amount of fresh caught fish the day before by some guys that were flying home and didn't want to carry it with them.


There was grilled fish, peas n’rice, salad, tuna sashimi, and a chocolate concoction that I had managed make with the weird ingredients I had mish-mashed together from the grocery store.

It was so much better than those potluck dinners we used to have at work sometimes, where we always ended up with some overcooked sausage balls, four dishes of baked beans, and weird tuna salad.


Good-night, Guana.

Day Four:


The boating had been good the day before, despite the wind and choppy water, so we decided to make it an Elbow Cay kind of day.


We hit Tahiti Beach right at low tide. Tahiti amazes me because it never looks the same twice. This time it was more blue than green and the sandbar had made an impressive entrance.


We caught Austin from Lubbers Landing doing his thing. He was amazing on that kite board.


The guys anchored the boat.

Or so we thought.


Everyone was wandering about in the shallow water, spread from here to there, when a stranger started waving frantically at me. I was halfway to Tilloo, wading through the shallow water so I couldn't hear what he was saying. He was shouting and jumping up and down.

Because I couldn’t hear what he was saying, and because he looked positively frantic, I jumped to the only logical conclusion: there must be a great white shark behind me.

Holy Crap! I started running toward the sandbar, certain that death was upon me. I was in knee deep water, so this was not a graceful run. I was high stepping it like a drunken drum major. I was going so slow that I might have been going backwards.

I was nearing a panic attack. Not a butterflies in the stomach panic attack. Not a going down a roller coaster panic attack. Not a nervous first date panic attack. No. I felt like I was about to jump into a pit of rattlesnakes while being chased by clowns.

Not funny clowns. The scary kind.

My heart was racing. My breath was pounding. That little vein in my temple even started to throb. I couldn’t move fast enough. I would have simply curled up in the fetal position if it hadn’t been for the fact that I would have drowned. And then gotten eaten by that shark.

Dammit. I KNEW this would eventually happen if I came to the Bahamas enough times.

He was still jumping and waving. I knew the end was near.

That’s when I got close enough to hear him.

He was not shouting, “There’s a big freakin’ shark behind you,” as I was certain he was. No. He was saying, “Is that your boat?”

I was so confused that at first my brain couldn’t process the question.

Shark? Boat? Shark? What?

That’s when I saw a tiny speck on the horizon that I recognized as our boat.

Oh dear God. The panic attack was back. But this time the clowns had machine guns.

Matt and John were REALLY, REALLY far away and I had no idea where Kelley was. Holy hell. I was already exhausted from the shark run. Now I had to run to the other side of the universe to tell them the boat anchor hadn't held and the boat was well on its way to Africa. So now, I was running toward them, still high stepping it through the water, but this time I was the one waving my arms and shouting.

I was like Tattoo from Fantasy Island. “Da boat! Da boat!” I screamed as I flailed and ran. I knew they figured out what was going on when I saw the “Oh shit” look on their faces.

That’s when they started running.

So now, all three of us are running, knees to chin, through the water, screaming. I’m not sure if we thought we could run to the boat, which was now at Lubbers Quarters, but we kept running because we didn’t know what else to do.

By the time we reached the sandbar, we realized a stranger had taken his boat from Tahiti to retrieve our runaway. He was towing it back to us. I have said it before and I will say it again: you won’t find kinder people on any island anywhere than you will in the Abacos.

To the stranger that saved our boat that day: Thank You.

And I am sorry if I scared your little boy when I was running and screaming about sharks and clowns.

The guys got the boat PROPERLY anchored and we resumed our beach day.


As though giving us a little gift to make up for the Great Boat Chase of July 2013, God provided the Tahiti Beach Hot Tub.


We found this perfect little spot after wading through the shallow water toward Tilloo. There it was, a perfect circle of white sand in the midst of an endless bed of sea grass. It was about 2 feet deeper in this one spot than the seagrass bed around it.

How unbelievably cool. We made it ours and dropped in to relax with some cold drinks until our fingers pruned.


All the running and screaming had left me famished, so we loaded up in the boat, which was blessedly still nearby, and motored over to Lubbers Quarters.


Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better than the saltwater margarita, they had to go and dazzle me with the caipiroska. The recipe says: two muddled limes, organic cane sugar, & 3 oz of Stoli vodka. What it doesn’t say is that she oozes this amazing sugar syrup on the top.


As we waited for our food, the guys became obsessed with the “around the pole hook and ring game.” I think men just like anything that involves a floor to ceiling pole.


Or maybe they were just enticed by the free shot of Patron for a successful ring.


I decided to have the island burger – a ground tuna patty filled with some kind of mysterious spices, so delicious that it makes my mouth water just to think about it. I think they are putting a narcotic in there. Because I’m pretty sure I’d be willing to knock over an old lady or a small child to get at one of those burgers.


After lunch, we all agreed that the dockside sofa at Lubbers Quarters is the single most perfect spot in all of the Abacos. Maybe in the entire world.


Back on the boat, which we kissed every time we saw it, thankful it wasn’t in Cuba by now, we motored over to Hopetown to grab a drink at the Reef Bar.


We were excited to see that Gary was back! The last time we visited, he had moved across the harbor, but it was great to see him back where he belonged.

The Reef Bar just isn’t the Reef Bar without Gary.


We had enjoyed our lunch at Bakers Bay the day before enough that we decided to try it out for dinner. Okay, we really went because I had packed a maxi dress and where else are you going to wear a maxi dress on Guana????


The guys were still all jacked up from that free Patron and it was all we could do to keep them in the cart long enough to get to the other side of the island. Random bouts of erratic street dancing kept delaying us.


We finally made it. I hate to admit how pretty Bakers Bay is, but yeah, it’s pretty. Even at night.


We grabbed a table outside the Market Restaurant. Only on Guana Cay will you find that the restaurant that comes the closest to “fine dining” is a combo grocery market-deli-restaurant with a table of souvenirs thrown in for good measure. Reminds me of the Video-Tanning-Gas Stations we have back home in TN.

The setting was lovely, the drinks were tasty, and the food was delicious.


After dinner, we wandered down to the waterside bar. That’s when John spotted the bell.

You know how you can’t help but pop bubble wrap when you see it? That was John with that bell. He was mesmerized. He just couldn’t help but ….…..ring it.

As soon as he did, the bartender said, “All right everybody! This man’s buying a round!” Everyone clapped and she proceeded to go around the bar and take everyone’s order.

$120 worth of drinks later, we knew what the bell was for.

Thank goodness there were only 12 other people at the bar. Dear lord, what if there was a bell at Nipper’s??? You could end up with a second mortgage on your house.

It was worth every penny to see the look of disbelief on John’s face. Every. Penny.


We managed to make it through the night without Johnny ringing another bell. Actually, he’ll probably never ring another bell. Ever.

Day Five:


For an island chain that hosts one of the biggest beach parties in the universe EVERY SUNDAY, you’d think there couldn’t be anything too special about simply moving that beach party to a different location and calling it by a different name, right? No, this wasn’t the Nippers Sunday Pig Roast. Today was July 3rd. This was the Stranded Naked Cheeseburger Party.

A small, uninhabited cay just off of Green Turtle has become the host to one of Abacos biggest parties of the year. What began as a few friends grilling up some burgers on the beach has become hundreds of boats, 1200 cheeseburgers, 100 turkey burgers, 450 hot dogs, 450 pounds of french fries, 100 gallons of margaritas, and 100 gallons of rum punch. Throw in some temporary tattoos, hula hoops, a limbo contest, and top it off with some Jimmy Buffet music and you have the annual Stranded Naked Cheeseburger Party on Fiddle Cay.

Did I mention that it is all FREE?

No one is actually naked.

At least I didn’t see them.

It’s just a big beach party and everyone who has a boat is invited.


We had never been, but we always wanted to go. Just to see what it was all about. We had timed our trip to coincide with the event this time. We were finally going to get stranded naked. The ride over was filled with the beautiful sights we have come to expect from the Sea of Abaco.

When we arrived at Fiddle Cay, I knew quickly that this was no Sunday Pig Roast.


Crewed yachts were tying up to dingys. Luxury power boats with triple 250s were saddled up beside rental Whalers with 75 hp engines that were jimmied up with duct tape. Hundreds of boats were carefully placing themselves around a deserted island as what looked to be about a thousand people drifted in the shallow water toward the shore.

Pool floats were blown up and set adrift. Tables and chairs were erected in the water and tied down with cement blocks and rope in a manner that would have made McGuyver proud. The smell of grilled beef and boat fuel filled the air as Jimmy Buffet music pumped out of the speakers, competing with a hundred different boat radios. Depending on which way your turned your head, you could listen to Margaritaville, Zac Brown, or Daft Punk. Girls in bikinis strolled through the water with coolers full of beer tied to their waists, men carried gallons of rum punch on boogie boards, beer bongs flowed off the backs of cruisers.

For a people watcher like me, I’d hit the mother lode.


As we wandered up toward shore to find the cheeseburger line, a guy in a bandana and sunglasses approached me.

"Are you our photographer?" he asked, eyeing my giant camera.

"Um....no," I replied.

"Do you want to be? Meet me at that sign in 9 minutes. I have to go round up some girls in bikinis."

And that, my friends, is how I got commandeered to take the sponsor photos for the Stranded Naked Cheeseburger Party.


My compensation was excellent: a temporary tattoo, a free tank top, and....the best part....I got to get in the front of the cheeseburger line.


Walk softly and carry a big camera, I always say.

It was a crazy afternoon, as more and more people arrived. I think I heard one person say that they waited in line for 4 hours for a burger. Drinks flowed. Music pounded. Frisbees and footballs flew through the air. Girls danced on the backs of boats. Kids did backflips in the shallow water. Dogs rolled in the sand.


I have never seen anything like it.

Oh, dear sweet Jesus, my hair – I was tapping my inner Chewbacca.


We stayed until late in the afternoon, and as the sun began to drop low in the sky, we saw how much the wind had picked up and realized it was going to be rough going back to Guana. The seas were choppy and rolling. The waves were big. We had an hour long ride.

As we unhitched ourselves from the safety of the giant motor yacht next to us and began rocking to and fro as we motored out of the protected shallow waters, I began to regret eating that hot dog and fries after I finished my hamburger and knew I never should have had those last couple of drinks that stranger was pouring out of a gallon jug. I wondered just how long it would be before I threw up on myself.

Matt gave us all some really good boat advice before we hit it: "Hold on. Don't fall out. And if you have to puke, do it with the wind, not into it. Hang on!"

And away we went. As we hit against the first wave with a smack, raising my butt about 6 inches off the seat as the boat started bouncing violently against the water, I instantly knew this boat ride was going to be awful. It's all fun and games until someone loses a bikini top. Or their last meal.


Thankfully, we all made it back without anyone getting sick, although I'm pretty sure I had chipped a couple of pieces off of my tailbone.

We had a quiet evening at Pirate's, wolfed down some ribs and lobster, and went to bed thanking the sea for not capsizing our boat.


Day Six:


It was July 4th, and although Bahamian Independence Day is celebrated on July 10th, Guana Cay was celebrating Uncle Sam all day long. We knew that Nippers was having a big party later in the afternoon, and we were all still a little rubber legged from the previous day's boating, so we decided to chill at the house for the morning and have a good, old fashioned cook-out for lunch.

First, we made a morning run to see the dream tree. People hang their dreams on this tree.


Apparently, most peoples' dreams look a lot like dirty mooring balls and bobbers.

We grilled up the rest of the fish for lunch and paired it with a key lime pie we'd found at the Grocery that morning.


We also found Harrison.


Typically, I would describe a little boy as noise with some dirt on it. But Harrison might have been the coolest kid I ever met. And the cutest. We thought about making his parents an offer, but we were pretty sure they wouldn't sell him.

After lunch, we stopped at Dive Guana to take a look at a boat that had run up on the rocks earlier in the week. This is called "How to ruin a vacation in 10 seconds flat:"



Then it was time to head back to Nippers, the scene of Sunday's madness.

You know that old saying about learning from your mistakes? Yeah, well, that doesn’t apply to me so much. I make a lot of mistakes. Like, a lot of them. And every time I do something stupid, I say to myself afterwards, “Self, we are not going to do THAT again.” A couple of days later I do that again. I don't know. Maybe I’m just a really slow learner, and one day I will eventually learn not to repeat my mistakes – like when I’m a hundred.

Or when I’m dead.

I think a better saying for 2 Nippers parties in one week is "Like a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly."

Sigh. Here we go again.


As it always does, it started off nice enough.


But then these guys showed up again.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to Nippers.............. the thongs come out again.


Let's just say there was a lot of patriotic enthusiasm that day.


Things really took a turn when this huge group of guys showed up with a bunch of scantily clad girls and started buying TRAYS of Nippers and passing them out to everyone. TRAYS, people. TRAYS OF FREE NIPPERS.


Sweet funky moses.

Apparently, Lindsay Lohan is not the only person spending her fortune on booze and hot pants.

When the 3rd tray of drinks showed up, we knew it was time to get out of there before someone needed a stomach pump. We headed to Grabbers to bring things down a notch.

Steel Daddy was playing and the sun was putting on a dazzling display.

Matt and John did a little paddle boarding and we snacked on some ribs and pizza.


We headed back to Nippers to catch the fireworks with Harrison.


Day Seven:

The guys got up really early the next morning to go fishing. The sky was exceptionally gorgeous that morning.


The sea had been rough all week. And Matt and John had more than their share of those free Nippers the day before. Even a Grabbers pizza couldn't cure a free Nipper hangover.

They looked a little green.

Rough seas, the smell of bait, and a slight hangover did not sound like a good combination to me. They were just asking to get sick. They were both a little worried. "Should we take some Dramamine?" I heard John ask Matt as they headed out.

The feeling of seasickness starts as a distressful lurching in the stomach. Then there is that slight dizziness that comes when you get a nose full of boat fumes wafting through the air. You then find yourself making a heroic effort to force your stomach contents to remain in their rightful place, only to end up leaning over the railing, hoping no one will notice, as you hurl to the sea.

It happens to the best of us and I was pretty sure it was going to happen to one of them before the morning was over.

Poor John. Apparently, he was the one that the vomit fairy paid a visit to that day.

There is no good way to vomit politely on a fishing boat when you are a guest. I am guessing that he first went through a stage of denial. If you've ever been there, you know. That's when you start to feel a little green, but you look at your fishing companions and say, "Wow. I feel really good. Don't you? It's refreshing out here. I love the smell of that bait."

Denial is a bad idea when you are a guest on a boat and you know you are getting seasick. Why? Because what you should be doing is immediately moving into position. The only thing worse than vomiting in front of the other guys on a deep sea fishing trip is vomiting on the other guys on a deep sea fishing trip.

Hopefully, he was smart enough to vomit with, not into, the wind. Releasing your breakfast is bad enough. You don't want it to blow back on you so that you not only get to experience it a second time, but a third.

Despite the fact that he was probably gray and was no doubt wobbling around the boat in a manner that made the other guys wonder if he was about to die, John did what any man would do when seasick on a deep sea fishing trip.

He stopped. He barfed. Then he fished.

A little vomit never stopped a man from fishing. It takes a real man to haul in two giant tuna while tossing his cookies over the side of the boat.

While the guys fished (and vomited), Kelley and I slept in. Then we took a run into town to visit Bear, the dog king of Guana, and to do some shopping at Gone Conchin', a great place to lighten your wallet if it's too heavy for the trip home.


When the boys returned, we packed up the boat and headed to Man-O-War.


We pulled the boat into the shallow beach that sits at the narrowest point on the island.

It was amazing. The island is barely the width of the road, with the sea on one side and the ocean on the other.


Since it was our last day, we had made a picnic lunch of all the food we had leftover. It reminded me of Sunday nights when I was a kid. We ate all the leftovers from the week and called it "FFY Night." This meant "fend for yourself." There was never enough of any one thing to make a meal, so you ended up with a little bit of this and a little bit of that until you had enough to call it a meal.

A bbq rib, half a sandwich, a bite of potato salad, a handful of Doritos, an orange slice, and three Fig Newtons.

With that view, it could have been chateaubriand and creme brulee and it couldn't have tasted any better.

After lunch, we headed into the harbor to visit the sail shop.


We hadn't gotten 3 steps from the boat when a little golf cart pulled up with a white haired lady and a box full of still warm cinnamon rolls.

Miss Lola!

I greedily handed over my $7 and clutched my still warm rolls like a prize. I think at one point I was stroking the bag and whispering, "my precious...." but I can't be sure.

I can tell you that the rolls got eaten before I remembered to take a picture of them.

Yes. They are that good.


We enjoyed picturesque Man-O-War before calling it a day and heading back to Guana.


For our final dinner, we decided to try the reopened restaurant at Orchid Bay. The first thing we noticed was that it had a spectacular sunset view.


The Greek salad was fresh and the lobster was incredibly tender.


We wrapped it up with a final Grabber as the lights of the sailboats bobbled about in the harbor.


Day Eight:


It had been a full week of overdo. I had eaten enough sugar to put a diabetic into a coma and had more fried food than can be found at the Texas State Fair. I hadn't gotten enough sleep, my rear end had boat sores, and my calves were sore from one too many bad dance moves. I was dehydrated, exhausted, and my pedicure was badly chipped. I probably needed a liver transplant.

Don't worry. I promise to run five miles as soon as I finish typing this paragraph and eat nothing but fruits and vegetables for the next 10 days.

After all, I'm headed back to Abaco in a few weeks.

I gotta' get ready.



Posted by vicki_h 07:41 Archived in Bahamas Tagged beach island tropical bahamas abaco guana_cay Comments (7)

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