Archive for May, 2010
Here is my list of the top 8 natural wonders of the Bahamas, in no particular order.
The wild horses of Abaco
One of Abaco’s secret treasures are the exotic wild horses that have roamed the island for centuries. These beautiful horses, strong and sturdy with long flowing manes, are known as Abaco barbs. Once a herd of hundreds, they are now considered one of the most endangered species in the world, with only seven remaining.
The Glass Window Bridge
Located near Gregory Town in North Eleuthera the glass window bridge was originally an extraordinary natural rock arch. Due to repeated damage from hurricanes it has in recent years been replaced by a man-made bridge. It is a magical place where the deep dark Atlantic ocean meets the shallow aquamarine Caribbean Sea at the thinnest part of the Eleuthera.
The Great Barrier Reef
Andros is home to the third largest great barrier reef in the world. It is over 120 miles long and plunges more than 6,000 feet down into the tongue of the ocean.
Many researchers and scientists believe that a unique formation of rocks under the waters of Bimini may lead to the ancient lost city of Atlantis.
Pink Sand Beaches
The soft pink sand beaches of Eleuthera are another natural wonder of the Bahamas. The 3-mile beach in Harbour Island is considered to be one of the very best beaches in the Bahamas… maybe the world.
Dean’s Blue Hole
The Bahamas has countless blue holes throughout the islands but Dean’s Blue Hole in Long island is the deepest in the world, and one of the most intriguing.
The Lucayan National Park in Grand Bahama is where you will find the world’s largest underwater cave system, with over six miles of caverns, caves and tunnels.
The Pink Flamingos
The flamingo is the national bird of the Bahamas and the Inagua National Park is home to the largest colony of flamingos in the western hemisphere. The park consists of about 2,000 acres of protected wetlands where about 70,000 flamingos live.
Summer is considered the slow tourist season in the Bahamas. Peak tourist season is typically winter… and winters are wonderful in the Bahamas. But the balmy summers of the Bahamas have their charms as well. The temperature only varies about twenty degrees Fahrenheit between summer to winter so a tropical vacation can be enjoyed year-round but summer brings on a schedule chock-full of regattas and fun family-oriented festivals. In fact, you can find festivals and regattas occurring all throughout the islands of the Bahamas.
Regattas are an annual activity and an eagerly anticipated aspect of summer in the Bahamas. Amateur captains from all over the world make their way to the islands to participate in the sloop races. But for those more comfortable on the shore there’s an abundance of land-based festivities going on before, during and after the regattas.
Here is a list of just a few of the many festivals and regattas coming up:
Pineapple Festival in Eleuthera
June 01 – 05, 2011
43rd Annual Long Island Regatta
June 02 – 04, 2011
Cat Island Rake & Scrape Festival
May 25- 30, 2011
South Andros Regatta
June 3 – 5, 2011
Grand Bahama Regatta
June 17 – 19, 2011
Junkanoo Summer Festival in Marsh Harbour
To Be Announced
Bay Fest in Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera
To Be Announced
Black Point Regatta in Exuma
July 30 – August 2, 2011
All Andros Regatta
June 03 – 11, 2011
Cat Island Regatta
July 30 – August 2, 2011
All Abaco Regatta
July 01 – 09, 2011
No Bahamian breakfast is complete without a good-sized hunk of johnny cake. The course bread has been likened to cornbread but isn’t really the same thing. Everyone makes it a little differently, sometimes it is sweeter, sometimes courser, but always delicious. Historically, it was a crude mix of flour, water and salt, though it is often made now with shortening, eggs, even a little sugar.
It partners up well with other Bahamian favorites such as grits or souse, which is a broth with chunks of meat and vegetables. Speaking of souse, Bahamians will serve up several kinds from fish, to chicken, to sheep’s tongue, to pig’s feet souse.
But back to johnny cake – while it pairs delightfully well with many dishes it is almost required eating with boiled fish, yes, I said “boiled” fish, and for breakfast at that! Honestly, it’s one of the best meals I have ever had.
I really wanted to get a true taste of Bahamian cuisine so I was eager to taste this authentically Bahamian breakfast. My new island friends took me to a little home-style restaurant just off the main road in Andros. It looked to me more like someone’s house. I was greeted by a friendly, rubenesque woman who assured me I was about to have the best meal I had ever tasted.
She was not wrong!
She served it a huge bowl and I could smell a piquant buttery aroma wafting up. In the clear broth I could see grits, large slices of onion and huge chunks of meaty fish. It was spicy, having been seasoned with lime juice and goat pepper. It was buttery. It was delicious. And of course, I had a good-sized hunk of johnny cake to go with it. Now that’s an authentic Bahamian breakfast.
We couldn’t have been more excited to embark on the adventure that lay before us. We got up early that morning and made our way to the mailboat at Potter’s Cay under the Paradise Island bridge.
We were going to Long Island.
The captain pulled the boat in closer and held out his hand to assist me on board. His huge friendly grin revealed a rough set of teeth, one of which was encased in gold. I didn’t understand what he was saying but I somehow knew he was welcoming us.
The mailboat was a rugged tank of a boat that looked like it could withstand anything and probably had. In his heavily broken English the captain told us that mailboats were used to transport mail, livestock, produce and other cargo throughout the many islands of the Bahamas. Today it was also transporting us to Clarence Town at the south end of Long Island.
The trip was approximately 12 hours and we had calm seas the whole way. I had never before been out in the middle of the ocean and it was amazing to me to be able to look around and not see land in any direction. I breathed the fresh ocean air deeply and sank into a sense of freedom and relaxation.
Phase I of our adventure came to an end as we got off the mailboat and set foot on dry land again. Phase II would include a hiking trip and a visit to Dean’s Blue Hole. I could hardly wait.
I have lived in Nassau for just over a year and rarely travel to the other islands, though I know a few things about them. Mostly the facts, the history, the details written in books and on websites.
For example, when I recently got a chance to visit Cat Island I already knew that it was where you could find the highest point in all of the Bahamas – Mount Alvernia – reaching a humble 206 feet. And that at the top of Mount Alvernia you could find one of the island’s best known landmarks, The Hermitage.
I knew that the island was once home to actor Sidney Poitier. I knew that it had got it’s name from Arthur Catt, a pirate who frequented the island, though many also say it was named for its once large population of feral cats. I had heard intriguing stories of obeah, a form of ritualistic African witchcraft, believed to be heavily practiced on Cat Island.
Yes, I knew a few things about Cat Island, what I didn’t know was that I would fall in love with the island and its charms. We flew in and as I stepped off the small plane I immediately felt an air of relaxation settling over me.
We stayed at an unpretentious little boutique hotel that fulfilled all the ideals of an island getaway while meeting all our needs. As I lay stretched out in a hammock looking over the beach with a book in my lap I forgot about everything I knew and learned something else… how to relax in paradise.
I know this is a place to which I hope to soon return.