Bahamas Bliss—Through the Viewfinder–April 2013

Covering the people, places and t’ings of the “Family”– Bahamas Out Islands.

A bit of “sip sip” for April…

First off this month, I want to send along my many thanks to all of you who have sent along such nice compliments after reading “Sip-Sip’–the full column, in the CAM March digital edition. I’m doing my happy dance. The column is a blast to write!

Because of this column, I was inspired to dust off my well-worn, quite weathered, 1986 copy of Wind From the Carolina’s, Robert Wilders’ fantastic novel set in the Exumas’ but applicable to all of the Out Islands–now in its umpteenth printing with a new cover and available at Presented as a generational saga, the book is wrapped around the fascinating, historical event of the settlement of the Bahamas Out Islands by British Loyalist, southern cotton plantation owners, who found their lives after the War for Independence insufferable. The story is first-rate. The struggle to recreate plantation life on the Outer Islands is brought to life. I (Sandra) think its required reading for all who venture forth out here, a classic page turner.



Hummingbird Cottage Art Centre. PHOTO CREDIT: Hummingbird Cottage Art Centre.

Newly opened in early January, after exhaustive work to a historically-significant building, Hummingbird Cottage Art Centre, located in the center of town behind the post office, is one of the most charming, historic, Loyalist cottages in the Hope Town settlement. Throughout the year, Hummingbird Cottage Art Centre exhibits works by both instructors and “Spotlight Artists.” Instruction for beginning and advanced adult artists is on offer by popular ‘artists-in-residence.’ The centre now has a children’s art workshop program as well, given throughout the year. Check their website for event schedules and workshop programs.

Vernon’s Grocery& Upper Crust Bakery–Expect a line at the front door as Vernon is famous for his fresh-daily, baked breads and delicious homemade pies; his homemade key lime pie is still the number one best seller. Those in the know–boaters and residents call in reservations for Vernon’s numerous baked good offerings. If you have a mind to be married at one of the many beauteous settings in Hopetown; Vernon, is also a minister at the Methodist Church, officiating at many nuptials. (242) 366-0037— VHF: #16.

Hopetown Coffee House, (the first Bahamian Out Island Roastery)– Located on the corner of Front St. & Lovers Lane, just up from the lower public dock, overlooks gorgeous Hope Town Harbour and the famous candy striped lighthouse. This upscale coffee house, bakery, boutique & hotspot cafe, features custom blended coffees roasted in the Elbow Cay settlement.

Lubber’s Quarters

Marlee Mason, esteemed sea glass artist, and long time resident of Lubber’s Quarters Cay has a Facebook page,  which shows in splendid color, her most recent, one-of-a-kind, genuine, Abaconian-antique sea glass jewelry. All pieces are remarkable, set in fine silver. Her work may be seen in person at the Hopetown Harbour Lodge Boutique, Hopetown; Native Creations in Green Turtle Cay, Fernandez Bay, Cat Island, and from her studio by appointment in Marsh Harbour. Contact e-mail address Marlee’s eco-cottage, “Moonrise,” (built by Marlee and her family) situated just so, on six acres from sea to sea, is renting well–to lovers of seclusion and nature, it’s truly evocative of a dreamy, clandestine island getaway. For a full description, and how “Moonrise” came to be, visit the property’s page on

Cracker P's Bar & Grill. PHOTO CREDIT: Crackers P's Bar & Grill.

Cracker P’s Bar & Grill, Lubbers Quarters Cay, is now offering weekly, Thursday night cruise parties; round trip from Hope Town Post Office Dock, or prearranged stop on Elbow Cay, including a cocktail, call to reserve at 242-577-3139. Lest you forget, Cracker’s has amazing full moon parties every month, complete with all-you-can-eat-buffet…consult your almanac, so you won’t miss out. Dinghy, or water taxi on over. Dinner is by reservation only.

Marsh Harbour

Fly your personal airplane, caravan-style from SUN ‘n FUN in Lakeland, Florida (KLAL) to the Bahamas (dates May 23-27) where you will enjoy a 5 day-4 night stay on Abaco and Grand Bahama. SUN ‘n FUN has partnered with the Bahamas Tourism Office and Abaco Beach Resort & Boat Harbour Marina, Marsh Harbour, and the Grand Lucayan Resort in Grand Bahama to guarantee you the best rates and amenities. 
Other Bahamas initiatives in the general aviation market include their Preferred Gateway FBO program and Bahamas Flying Ambassadors (pilots with extensive experience in flying the Islands of The Bahamas).


Small Hope Bay Lodge, Fresh Creek, Andros. PHOTO CREDIT: Small Hope Bay Lodge.

Small Hope Bay Lodge, Fresh Creek, Andros, the grand daddy of dive resorts on the Bahamas’ largest island; one of the archipelago’s least explored – a well-known destination for diving, snorkeling, blue holes, bird-watching (over a 100 species,) and bonefishing. Opening in 1960— the handsome eco lodge was hand built by Dick Birch and his family and friends out of coral rock and Andros’s famous hardy pine. The historic, family friendly lodge (which was the first dive resort in Andros during the early days of scuba diving), has twenty-one beach front cottages each hand-built with locally made furniture, decorated in beautiful Androsia fabric, shaded by palms and located on the bay just a few steps from the water. The resort is offering all inclusive rates year ‘round: Beachfront cottage accommodations, hotel taxes, all meals, all beverages and bar drinks, nightly conch fritter hors d’oeuvres, free Discover Scuba or refresher lessons for scuba diving and snorkeling, self-guided nature walks, windsurfers, sailboat, kayaks, bicycles, and hot tub on the beach. Diving, (with the world’s third largest barrier reef just a short boat ride away, the diving is sensational,) fishing, (world class bonefishing in one of the quietest places on the planet, deep sea, and reef fishing,) personalized videos, guided island eco tours, batik factory tours, and boutique purchases are always available and optional.

While on Andros, a MUST do, is a visit to the Androsia Handmade Batik Factory. PHOTO CREDIT: Small Hope Bay/Androsia.

While on Andros, a MUST do, is a visit to the Androsia Handmade Batik Factory— the creation of Small Hope Bay Lodge— where you may design your own batik garments-a colorful signature look seen around the Bahamas. Androsia began in 1973, as a means to showcase the natural beauty of the Bahamas, which was then a newly independent nation; and to provide employment to the local community. The artist-in-residence, Merton Thompson, started in ’73 as well, and is the recipient of the 2013, Bahamas’ Cacique Creative Arts national award; interestingly, many of the employees are long term, having worked with Androsia 10 to 20 years. Every image you see on Androsia is a stamp that was hand carved by Merton and then hand waxed by one of the employees, meaning every yard is virtually a piece of art, in brilliant jewel-like colors that stay bright for decades. (I have been a collector since the 80’s.) Moving into the digital age and the eco future, Androsia keeps their footprint as small as possible by using coldwater dyes, recycling the wax, and using only the sun and wind to dry the fabrics. Androsia has a complete line of women’s, men’s, and children’s batik clothing: resort wear, and cruise wear, as well as accessories, home goods and dolls. There is a new website, and online shop, where the range of items on offer is seemingly endless, and where fabric is sold by the yard, and fabric fat quarters for quilting. Because of the flexibility of Androsia, change of designs happens quite a bit, so an online newsletter has been established, where customers can sign up to be notified.  Androsia, also offers a Create Your Own Androsia service, whereby customers can have a hand carved stamp (personal logo) of their choosing to make a one of a kind fabric. Custom work is done for their many customers world-wide, who want a special design for their homes, special functions, and weddings. Resorts, the Bahamian government, and Royal Bank of Canada, are just a few commercial entities who have had custom designs hand printed. Fabric and garments are carried at the Small Hope Bay Lodge boutique and outlet store, and on almost all the major islands of the Bahamas.

The C-6 Wet on the beach at Tiamo Eco Resort. PHOTO CREDIT: Safari Seaplane.

Pull up on a beach by seaplane to your Out Island resort… Paul Harding/Safari Seaplanes, based out of Odyssey Aviation, Nassau, has been flying passengers to the Out Islands for over 20 years—aboard his five year old-four passenger, Maule float plane with the coolest ‘name’ yet: C-6 Wet. You’ll find C-6 Wet in the remotest, (can you say exquisite?) far-flung cays, totally devoid of other humans; in locations that are inaccessible by local airports. Perfect for surprise proposals-engagements in the sky; a picnic for two on a deserted beach (C-6 drops you off/picks you up later); while discovering low-tide pools filled with delicate sea creatures; snorkeling, (bring your own gear & towels), swimming…you’ll feel like a movie star. Exuma, Andros, Harbour Island and Eleuthera flights delight and amaze; the jade/turquoise shades of water in these Out Islands feels like your flying in a picture perfect postcard. (242)-357-9876 or e-mail

Relax poolside or beachside. PHOTO CREDIT: Tiamo Eco Resort.

Whisper this to your honey…private plunge pool. Tiamo Eco Resort, on South Andros, is accessible only by boat or seaplane; with a private beach, just 10 cottages (five with private plunge pools) and one villa, which blend tastefully into their natural surroundings, taking advantage of the indigenous tropical vegetation, and providing each cottage with a very private setting. The cottages are all built from sustainable pine wood, and are elevated on stilts to benefit from natural cooling and ventilation. You will want to indulge yourself in the tropical surroundings: pristine white-sand beaches, lush green palm groves, and the clearest turquoise waters. With a stay in one of the beachside cottages, each one, the epitome of elegance, you will bask in the best of the Bahamas, right at your doorstep. DINING–the Michelin-trained chef will ensure you savor the flavors of carefully crafted Caribbean and fusion cuisine, using the freshest local and organic ingredients, and complemented by an excellent selection of wines from some of the world’s best vineyards. Then you’re off to, sail, fish, snorkel, kayak, scuba dive, or simply relax in private on one of the Caribbean’s best beaches; this luxury eco-resort is an idyllic place for a truly amazing escape…a slice of style among the swaying coconut palms.


Cariearl Boutique Hotel. PHOTO CREDIT: CariEarl Boutique Hotel.

Here’s a small charmer, the Cariearl Boutique Hotelthe former, winter holiday home of famous busybody-gossip columnist-best-dressed celebrity list, Mr. Earl Blackwell, also BFF of the rich and famous of his time: Brigitte Bardot, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr, Cary Grant— who frequented the then pricey, by invitation only–membership only—glamorous Great Harbour Cay, Golf Club & Marina (Timboo Restaurant & Club). With just four bedrooms, all with facilities en-suite: ceiling fans, A/C throughout; satellite TV/ DVD player; free Wi-F. Then there’s the terrific, gourmet dining prepared by Chef Marty; a lovely freshwater pool with pure aquifer, all just steps from a pristine beaches where yours are the only footprints within miles. Yum.

Little Whale Cay. PHOTO CREDIT: Little Whale Cay.

Need a tiny island all your own–just for you and up to 12 of your besties? This beauty, on Little Whale Cay was once the privately owned island estate of Wallace Groves, founder of Freeport, Grand Bahama, now owned by a family out of England. It is available for rental by the week. The property, with majestic great house, and outlying cottages overlooks exquisite vistas of emerald seas. There is a staff of 12, including chef, service staff, masseuse, housekeepers, a sea-view infinity pool, tennis courts, and a flotilla of water sports toys.

For some interesting reading on Whale Cay, Berry’s, here’s an unusual book: Queen of Whale CayThe Extraordinary Story of “Joe” Carstairs, Fastest Woman on Water (find it on The true story of an eccentric (doesn’t cover it) Standard Oil heiress, who took over the island, built roads, a medical clinic, home, and instituted her own army, along with her favored companion–a leather doll. I’ll leave it to you to figure out where that went.


North Island

Put the Bimini Bull Run on your bucket list. PHOTO CREDIT: Bimini Big Game Club / Bimini Bull Run.

Major buzz is happening with the opening of Bimini Bull Run at the docks of the Bimini Big Game Club. Designed to increase awareness of the shark population away from the ‘mindless killer’ concept—the operation offers guaranteed, up-close-and-personal encounters with Bull Sharks via a dive cage concept; for both SCUBA divers and non-divers (SNUBA)–via a compressor on top of the cage feeding air through tubes. Put this one on your bucket list.

South Island

“Bonefish Ebbie” David, who has been taking anglers out on the Bimini flats for more than 30 years recently said…”saltwater fly-fishing has been getting more and more popular.” Bimini Sands Resort & Marina, recently announced affordable, new, all-inclusive Bonefishing & Fly-Fishing Vacation Packages combining two or more full days of fishing with a professional Bimini bonefish guide, including equipment, fully equipped condo-marina accommodations with full kitchen and dining area, and all meals and beverages at Bimini Sands’ resort restaurants, and Mackey’s Sand Bar, including alcoholic beverages for adults with valid ID.

Harbor entry to Bimini Sands Resort & Marina. PHOTO CREDIT: Bimini Sands.

Rates for the three-night/two-day package (per person based on double occupancy), are subject to availability of accommodations and bonefishing guides. This all-inclusive package is not valid from 05/23/13 – 09/02/13. Booking is available through the new U.S. reservation service: Toll-free 1-800-737-1007; local 954-615-1011, or, email:; the packages may also be booked through Bimini Sands’ front desk at 242-347-3500 and by email


Epic happenings out of North Eleuthera. Fifty miles east of Nassau-in Gregory Town, The Cove-Eleuthera, has re-opened as an amazing, one-of-a-kind, top-of-the line, mellow, vacay experience. 500 + folks were in attendance at the opening night festivities on March first: Prime Minister, Perry Christie, Minister of Tourism, Obie Wilcombe, Lenny Kravitz, Martha Stewart, and the amazing Aaron Neville, and Dirty Dozen Brass Band, who performed. What a party!

The Cove-Eleuthera. PHOTO CREDIT: The Cove-Eleuthera.

A mainstay property on the island, and much beloved by families who returned year after year—built in the 1960s–damaged by Hurricane Irene — it was well past its prime, when Sidney Torres, of New Orleans, bought it in July 2012 for $1.8 million. Sidney, who has been vacationing in Eleuthera for the last 20 years; bought and sold a home there, then purchased The Cove. Originally slated to be his private residence, instead, the 40 acre property became the ‘re-born’ Cove-Eleuthera–his labor of love. Struck by its beauty, Sidney felt strongly that others should be able to enjoy the quiet, secluded paradise as he has for so long.

The Cove - Eleuthera
PHOTO CREDIT: The Cove-Eleuthera.

With Sidney at the helm as the architect, designer, and the general contractor–including moving earth with tractors himself; what could have become a 10 year, on-going project, was nearly completed in 10 months. With 120 accommodations in the works, at present there are 62 in full operation. There is a nice mix between studios, cottages with one-bedrooms, and 3-bedroom villa, complete with full staff and private pool. All are decorated in white Zen-like interiors, and include, imported Italian Travertine marble, spa-like bathrooms, 50-inch flat screen TVs, 500+ thread count bedding, Ipod docking stations, in-room wireless internet access, in room safes, Nespresso coffee makers, and luxury brand bath amenities. Every room has lots of glass, all have water views, and every room is steps away from the beach…leave your shoes in your room, going barefoot here is an absolute pleasure, even to the tender footed…cashmere Zoysia grass (over 250,000 sq. ft.) has been planted throughout the main grounds, it’s like walking on velvet.

PHOTO CREDIT: The Cove-Eleuthera.

The resort also offers three restaurants, including one built on a jetty extending into the Caribbean; 110’ infinity edge pool, a library, private beaches, hammocks—everywhere— strung between over 700 newly planted coconut palms. For the more active visitor, there is kayaking, snorkeling, fishing, touring, bike trails, an organic farm where guests can pick their own vegetables; make your own salad or, fruit punch, with what’s currently growing. What you won’t find here is the bustle of resorts that offer jet-skiing, parasailing and other more frenzied activities. Nope, it’s all about being mellow.

PHOTO CREDIT: The Cove-Eleuthera.

The Cove is offering a signature transportation option out of Fort Lauderdale’s’ FXE (Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport) via The Cove’s private plane, a Hawker 800XP, with pick up by Range Rover at North Eleuthera airport (ELH) as part of an amenities convenience package.

Sidney, on The Cove-Eleuthera… “Whenever I get into something, I have to do something I’m passionate about; that I love and that I really care about, and this is a place I care about.”

 Ministry of Tourism

While visiting the Out Islands, step out of your accommodation, and into a Bahamian home, for a genuine immersion into the Bahamian way of life. Make new friends, learn about the culture, eat some terrific Bahamian cuisine, all by joining the complimentary, People-to-People Program run by Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. You’ll be paired with a like-minded Bahamian ‘ambassador’ who will show you Bahamian traditions–a memorable, one-of-a-kind visitor experience. It’s a terrific way to really get to know the folks of the Out Islands. The program is available on: Abaco, Andros, Bimini, Cat Island, Eleuthera/Harbour Island, and Exuma.

‘Til next time and more islands…may all good things be your’s.

She reach…


Travel photojournalist Sandra Davis, is the author of Bahamas Bliss: Bimini (iTunes & Android app). Since her first visit to the out-out Bahamas islands in 1979, she became an enthusiastic advocate of all things related to these beautiful archipelago outposts.

Readers are welcome to send notes of tourism related news/hotel/restaurant employee promotions, awards to