On the eve of our return back to the good old U S of A, we thought it fun to reflect on some of the things we've done with our time in the Bahamas. After two and a half months cruising the central and Northern Bahamas, the crew of s/v Wanderer has come up with our best of list. While we didn't get to see everything, we did see a lot, and hopefully can point some future cruisers to some cool places. Without further ado…
Best Beach: It's a toss up between Airport Beach in the Berries, and Treasure Cay beach in the Abacos. Both had great powdery white sand, clear turquoise water, and gentle waves. Treasure Cay has a more resort feel, while Airport Beach is a more remote feeling with little development. Notable runner up is the beach on Soldier Cay in the Berries for its complete isolation.
Best Anchorage: Airport Beach takes this one! It had great holding, lots to explore by dinghy and paddleboard, the aforementioned awesome beach, and calm conditions while we were there at least (it wouldn't be a good choice in a strong Northerly wind). We went there for a night and ended up staying five days! Runner up is again Soldier Cay with its close proximity to some good snorkeling, protection, and pretty water. Other mentionables include by Resorts World in North Bimini if only for the novelty of sea planes taking off next to your boat, and Mackie Shoal in the middle of the Great Bahama Bank for being 30 miles from the closest land.
Best Settlement: Hope Town on Elbow Cay was our unanimous choice in this category. It's charming, friendly, has lots going on, and is picture perfect with all of the small cottages and candy striped lighthouse. Other notables include Marsh Harbour, and Guana Cay settlement.
Best Natural Wonder: The Blue Hole on Hoffman's Cay takes top honors here. As you approach, it feels like looking into older, primordial times. Swimming in it's in unfathomable depths makes you feel a little smaller in the universe. Runners up include the coral reefs off Manjack Cay for being unspoiled and healthy, and the 360 breathtaking view from the bluff near Airport Beach.
Best Happy Hour: Sailors are a thirsty bunch, and usually pretty frugal. So, when you can find cheap drinks you take advantage. $3 draft beer (hard to find in the Bahamas!), and air conditioning give Wednesday evenings the win at Wine Down Sip Sip in Hope Town. 2 for 1 margaritas at Capt. Jacks, and $3 well drinks at Snappas (a/c in the bathrooms!? awesome!) in Marsh Harbour were pretty good as well!
Best Local Event: Bahamians are a fun loving, laid back, and friendly bunch so we tried to get as much local flavor as possible while visiting their beautiful island nation. By far our favorite event was the “Man in the Boat” sculling event we went to at Treasure Cay. A lively crowd, boats, 3 for $5 beers, and Trish getting to participate made for a great day! The runner up here is the summer Junkanoo festival at Marsh Harbour, where Trish took over the dance floor!
Best Thing to Have on a Cruising Sailboat: A Diesel engine! Seriously, we've used our good old Volvo more than we thought we would. There are days when there just isn't any wind like when we journeyed through the Bight of Abaco, and then there are days where the wind just comes from the wrong direction to sail and you want to move on. The diesel also helps keep our batteries charged up when the sun isn't cooperating and the solar panel can't keep up. Runners up include a good dinghy that can plane (our 10' RIB with 9.9hp engine is basically our pickup truck), great ground tackle (Rocna anchors are great), and a good galley stove (we cook a lot aboard and are so glad we changed from the alchohol stove that came with the boat).
Have you cruised in the Bahamas? If so, mention some of your favorites in the comments below. Or go check us out over on Facebook, lots of updates happen there too!