Written by rschell on 25 Nov, 2005
We spent 14 days at the Regatta in early November, however, conditions and activities may be different during the peak season which begins around Thanksgiving. Our weather was variable with many days of sunshine and temperatures in the low to mid-80’s. And even though some…Read More
We spent 14 days at the Regatta in early November, however, conditions and activities may be different during the peak season which begins around Thanksgiving. Our weather was variable with many days of sunshine and temperatures in the low to mid-80’s. And even though some days were windy with some rain showers intermittently during the day or night, the weather didn’t hamper our plans or activities. While 14 days gave us plenty of time to relax and enjoy the island and cays, 7 days would make for a pretty tight schedule. Greater Abacos Island and the off-shore cays were a joy. If you are expecting great night life or a polished environment you have chosen the wrong location.
Greater Abacos is a little rugged and very laid back. You don’t need to exchange for Bahamian money as everyone accepts US currency at an even exchange rate. If you cash a Traveler’s Check at the bank, you will get Bahamian currency. The change you receive at a shop or restaurant can be a mix of US and Bahamian currency. Sunday is a very quiet day on the islands. Few businesses are open and those that are, such as the grocery stores on Greater Abacos close by 2 or 3pm On the Cays, even the grocery stores may be closed and sometimes only one restaurant is open on a particular Cay. Car rentals on Abacos are open until mid-day on Sunday, so you can rent a car and buy your groceries if you fly in on Saturday afternoon. Car rentals run from $300 per week and up. Ours was a Chevy Cavalier that ran quite well, while others we talked to had bad experiences with the cars they rented … loud and smelly. The food is great. You have to try the Conch Fritters and Cracked Conk. We enjoyed the food at Snappa’s, Sopadilly’s, Jamie’s Place, Mangoes, Wally’s and Mother Merles in Marsh Harbor. Anglers, right next door to Regatta has a wonderful Sunday Brunch. You need to eat at Pete’s in Little Harbor (very, very rustic), Coco Bar in Treasure Cay and the outdoor Bar and Grill at the Harbor Lodge in Hope Town (fantastic view). No one dresses up for dinner and the only rule is no swimwear.
Meals are expensive … lunch for two runs $30 or more with tip and dinner is around $70 for two with tip (dinner at Mother Merle’s ran only $35.00). If you are drinking beer or cocktails the price goes up. Don’t take a lot of "dress up" clothes either. You can wear slacks and a nice polo shirt or tropical shirt or just Levis or shorts and t-shirt. If you buy groceries I recommend the two major stores in Marsh Harbor; Solomon’s and Price Right. Each carries different brands and products. Everything is shipped in so it is expensive and the quality of produce may not be what you are used to at home. The "barge" from Nassau arrives on Tuesday so "fresh" foods hit the shelves on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning. By Monday and Tuesday morning the remaining produce looks sick! The people are friendly and full of information and advice. On numerous occasions, while shopping we engaged in conversation with locals for extended periods. When visiting Treasure Cay, you have to stop at Abacos Ceramics and check out the locally made ceramics. Karen McIntosh (from Green Turtle Cay) does all of the painting and is a great source of local information. We found the youths and children in the Abacos to be extremely well behaved and respectful! Our only negative experience with anyone was found in the far north in the area of Cedar Harbour and Fox Town where we experienced minor disrespect from several young adults.
This is the world of beautiful water and beaches. It looks like someone gets up early every morning and "paints" the water beautiful colors … azure, aquamarine, turquoise, etc. The beaches are also wonderful. The sand in some places is so fine it resembles sugar or even white flour. We enjoyed collecting sea shells at Treasure Cay and Casuarina Point. The North end of the island is pretty destitute and I wouldn’t take that drive again. The island vegetation is not the tropical vegetation found in Hawaii and is pretty much the same everywhere, dominated by stunted pine mangroves and palmettos. We also drove south to Sandy Point, stopping at Little Harbor and Cherokee Landing on our way. The beach at Sandy Point is very nice, but the community has little to offer in the way of interest to a tourist. If you are interested in seeing how the locals live outside of Marsh Harbor, visit Little Harbor, Cherokee Landing and the Cays. The out-islands (cays) were wonderful day trips. We didn’t visit Great Guana Cay as the only attraction there is Nippers restaurant, though they do cook a whole pig on Sundays. Hope Town (Elbow Cay) is a beautiful community with a number of shops and a beautiful harbor. Green Turtle Cay also offers a number of stores and a wide selection of restaurants. Man-a-War Cay is a friendly community. You must stop at the Albury’s Sail Shop where we met "Mother" Albury. We had a wonderful time chatting with her and hearing about the island and it’s history.
Written by Jose Kevo on 05 Nov, 2001
My IgoUgo passport information details how frequent travel became my escape to/for sanity from working full-time and "on call" in the inner-city. Whatever the reasons, for those of us who've caught the Travel Bug and got it bad, it's not about trying to be…Read More
My IgoUgo passport information details how frequent travel became my escape to/for sanity from working full-time and "on call" in the inner-city. Whatever the reasons, for those of us who've caught the Travel Bug and got it bad, it's not about trying to be part of the "jet set" - even for a ghetto boy transplant like myself who's given the term "Harlem Globetrotter" a whole new meaning! But I'll be the first one to admit - it's all but uppity and obnoxious to say you spent the day on a tropical beach in the middle of winter...no matter which circles of people you might associate with.
Over time, I've gotten less cocked eyebrows and loaded questions from my staff and students when disclosing I'd be gone...AGAIN for a few days. They've simply learned that travel is my thing; my passion and motivation as well as my greatest means of surviving the often day in - day out tense and hostile environment they accept as normal. Unfortunately though, travel has too long been associated as something ONLY for the rich and famous despite the obvious changes. For someone like myself living and working with the poor, and not really any better off financially, it's potentially caused a Grand Canyon-sized perception gap I've worked to educatively close.
The key word has been "BUDGET" plain and simple and I'm not just talking about what/how I spend money once I arrive somewhere. Financially budgeting of my meager income is the bottom line to ensure my priorities and love for travel are going to be met as often as possible. And it's been quite interesting to see how others have watched, questioned and began to learn how they, too can fulfill their desires of life whether travel or something different.
While most of my people wouldn't think twice about booking a highly inflated, last-minute ticket to go see family in the islands, they never would consider spending $137.50 to spend a day in Nassau just for the heck of it; one of life's rewards which we've all certainly earned.
Of course, they would and do regularly spend more for gold chains, new pairs of Timberland boots/sneakers, or other necessary ghetto gear known as "props"...not to mention lottery tickets and other addictive sources that drain cashflow. And for those youngsters illegally "working" on the street corners making more in a single weekend than I will in two or three weeks, don't you know I've a full arsenal of ammunition based on turning the tables when it comes to my travels vs. their excesses and extremes of poor investments.
Living in the inner-city is a trap only a small percentage will ever fully escape - something evident whether I'm returning from the day or a two week trip half-way around the world only to annoyingly find everyone exactly in the same spots I left them. It never ceases to amaze me how I'll round-up a group of these born-and-bred New Yorkers to take them out and about in the city...to places they've only seen and heard of despite just being a short subway ride away! And I'll never forget one 11-year old's astonishment standing on the corner and looking up for his first close-up glimpse of the Empire State building...something he'd only seen everyday of his life looking out the bedroom window of his upper-floor Projects apartment 78 blocks away. These children, teens, and even some adults can still find unexplored adventure and excitement right here that seems as far away as the stuff I've always got to get on a plane and go seeking. But when it comes to such lessons in life, I've got to believe they've been blessed with a well-practiced role model; a budget traveler at that!
Once they figured out I always came back from my many trips and wasn't trying to give them the slip in abandonment, their apprehensiveness turned to eagerness based on learning more about where I'd been, what I'd done and what things I might've brought as behavior incentive rewards. Some have even "dared" to venture out beyond the city with me for summer camp, day trips and weekend camping trips up and down the East Coast.
You'd likely be amazed as I how these adults and youngsters daily face in the 'hood assorted forms of crime and violence, cat-sized rats, humongous cockroaches and such to think nothing of it. But the "we bad" homeboy facades quickly melt into the innocent, scared people they really are with every spider, shadow and thing that goes bump in the night in other new, strange environments...like most of you would be terrified visiting where they/we come from!
With NYC's lacking public schools, I've also became the stand-in geography/history teacher through my travel stories and photos...something desperately needed since students can stand on the banks of the Hudson River and see the cliffs of New Jersey but couldn't find their neighboring state on a map - if they even knew it was Jersey to begin with! 'Home Field Advantage' is a curriculum I've developed teaching "boring" U.S. geography using what they already know about professional and college sports with the insignias and mascots that fill their clothing. Otherwise, don't talk sports unless you can find the city and state on a map and know if it's the capital or not!
I can't imagine life without traveling, but the double bonus is not only being able to see the world but also bringing it back to teach and inspire. There's a whole lot more out there than what we often settle for...regardless of WHERE we come from. So why would I write to tell you this? Consider - are you really any different than people from the inner-city when it comes to acknowledging and fulfilling your greatest desires of life? And for this audience, that would likely involve a long-list of "yet to see" or "ready to return" travel destinations. Whether extremely excessive or seldom; budget or first-class, it's only up to you. I'm a firm believer that regardless of backgrounds and circumstances, if there's something we want out of life but don't have it - we simply didn't want it bad enough! Now, about that winter day on a tropical beach...
Written by kiminhalifax on 26 Apr, 2002
Well, first of all, let me say that I was not in the best frame of mind when I visited this island. I had just gone through a nasty breakup and needed to get away. So I may not have the most optimistic…Read More
Well, first of all, let me say that I was not in the best frame of mind when I visited this island. I had just gone through a nasty breakup and needed to get away. So I may not have the most optimistic view of this location.
I did not like the Bahamas.
I found the downtown core dirty, poverty striken (more than I expected), and dangerous. I would not walk alone in this area after dark. Frankly, it reminded me of an area of my home-city that is the home of drug addiction centers and prostitutes. Not exactly what I'm looking for in a vacation spot.
I found the locals not very friendly or helpful. They couldn't tell me where to eat, how to get around, or where to find groceries unless there was something in it for them.
I did not find the beaches to be nice - public beaches were dirty, smelled like diesel fuel from all the jetski operators, and you were hounded by vendors from the time you sat down until the time you left. One exception - the beach belonging to Radisson at Cable Beach was great - and the hotel didn't mind that I wasn't staying there. Great set up!! Restaurant, bar, and lots of chairs. Wonderful, and wonderful staff!!
The scuba diving on Nassau is great - much better than I expected. There are reefs, walls, wrecks, blue holes, and sharks!! And it is priced very reasonably, compared to other vacation locations.
Most of my time was spent underwater. I dove 5 out of 7 days. That usually left afternoons open, where I tried to hit the beach, take a walking tour (unsuccessfully), or gawk around Paradise Island and Atlantis.
So, overall, would I go to Nassau again? Not likely!! But if I did, it would be to dive and I would stay at the South Ocean Resort so I didn't have to deal with the rest of Nassau.
You can see more photos at http://www.pbase.com/kiml/bahamas__underwater
Written by jlmadnick on 26 Aug, 2004
Snorkeling on your own!If you are not a big time snorkeler and are happy with a shallow reef and a few fish, here's a few places to try.We brought our own gear (mask, snorkel, pfd) with us. The snorkel and mask cost $19 at sports…Read More
Snorkeling on your own!
If you are not a big time snorkeler and are happy with a shallow reef and a few fish, here's a few places to try.
We brought our own gear (mask, snorkel, pfd) with us. The snorkel and mask cost $19 at sports authority and the pfd's were $20 at Namco. By bring our own, we could explore the beaches and snorkel at any spot that looked interesting.
Westwind II SnorkelingThere is some sea grass and a few fish in the area marked as the Westwind II swimming area. But a better place is to walk next door to the Radisson's beach. There are 3 small reefs a short distance from shore. The reefs appear to be manmade but there's enough to see. There were Sargent Majors, Jewel fish and Angel fish. Also some sea anemones. We were told that a barracuda and a small octopus were spotted the week before but we didn't see them.
Orange Hill BeachThis is a small beach off the side of the road past Sandyport and before the Love beach area. There was not much hard coral here. The water was shallow and calm. We stopped because we saw a few others snorkeling here. There were a few sea anemones and some small fish.
Honeymoon Cove at AtlantisWe walked here from the public beach access next door to the old Sheraton. The Atlantis beach is private but nobody bothered us. Walk all the way down the beach and then across the bridge to honeymoon cove. About 3/4 around the cove is a good sized coral reef with a deep cut. There were a few large fish and some smaller ones around the reef. The main Atlantis beaches are clean but crowded. This one is a bit of a walk and was nearly empty.
We had fun at these smaller reefs but they didn't compare to the Sea Island Adventures Rose Island trip we took. These are fine for an hour or two and for some practice before you head out on a snorkeling tour. They are also great if you want to hit the beach for a couple of hours either before or after some other exploring of the island.
Written by Blackhat72 on 08 Jul, 2007
I've been to Freeport twice in the last 45 days on business. Because of this, I've had the opportunity to see more than the average tourist and have had the chance to meet "regular" people. So far, I've found very few who weren't…Read More
I've been to Freeport twice in the last 45 days on business. Because of this, I've had the opportunity to see more than the average tourist and have had the chance to meet "regular" people. So far, I've found very few who weren't helpful and accommodating.GBI is one of the more industrialized islands in the Bahamas. The area west of Freeport near the main harbor is home to a major oil terminal and several chemical plants. The harbor itself is very busy with incoming shipping and transloads from around the world. East of town is a major oil terminal that can be seen on the south side of the road as you travel east.On both trips I've stayed at the Pelican Bay hotel. It's a delightful location within easy walking distance of the Lucayan Marketplace. This provides innumerable restaurant choices, but at resort prices. The Sabor at the Pelican Bay is a great little restaurant. When word gets out, it'll be hard to get a seat. I'm partial to Sweet Pea's for lunch. It appears to be a favorite of the locals with both dine-in and carry-out. Near the government Port Authority offices, it seems to be frequented by the local business men. I also like the Seaman's Rest Sports Bar at the Harbor as a spot for a cool ginger beer on a warm afternoon. We found it a comfortable place to work. The restaurant at the harbor has a huge cracked conch lunch for about $8.Freedom of movement is important to me and, as such, I rent a car. No problem getting anywhere on the island and traffic is light. Driving on the left takes a little concentration for the first day or so, but soon becomes second nature.I haven't had much chance to enjoy the beach as I'm normally working from early morning until late evening. I did enjoy a morning snorkeling trip one day. The trip left from the Westin beach and we were out about two hours total. It was enjoyable but, at $35, you couldn't afford to do it too often.I've made several new friends on the island in the last two months and have enjoyed my visits enough to make it a vacation destination this year. I'll be leaving in a week with my family to see if they enjoy it as much as do. As always, I'll have a car and intend to check out more places "off the beaten path."Close
Written by CHIBulldog09 on 02 Jun, 2007
Some brief information on traveling into the Grand Bahama Island, largely specific to US citizens visiting.- The airport you'll by flying into for Freeport or the Grand Bahama Island is the Grand Bahama International Airport, which has a airport code of FPO.- They speak English…Read More
Some brief information on traveling into the Grand Bahama Island, largely specific to US citizens visiting.- The airport you'll by flying into for Freeport or the Grand Bahama Island is the Grand Bahama International Airport, which has a airport code of FPO.- They speak English in the Bahamas, so don't worry there.- A lot of the flights into Freeport, if not all of them, are on regional jets. On my trip, we flew in on American Eagle from Miami on a prop plan.- This is not some Chicago O'Hare of JFK; there are no gateways. When your plane lands, it will taxi very close to the terminal, which isn't that big. You'll walk down your plane's stairs, and then walk over to the ramp to walk into the terminal. It's a very simple affair.Customs Entering Freeport:- The airline will likely present you a card before boarding that you can fill out. You'll need to give this to the agent when entering the Bahamas.- They'll give you part of the form back with an entry stamp. Don't lose this form, as they'll want it when you leave.- There really isn't anything in the way of bag searches. Simple and to the point.- Once you clear customs and immigration, you walk out two double doors and are confronted with a stand for the Our Lucaya resort, some rental centers, and a taxi stand. It' all pretty simple.Returning to the US:- Freeport is actually one of the few places in the world with a US Customs and Immigration pre-clearance facility. Basically, you clear customs and "re-enter" the United States in Freeport, and so when you arrive in Miami (or wherever), you're able to go straight to the terminal rather than go through that customs zoo.- This can be done because Freeport has a "terminal" dedicated just to US-bound flights. - Because you clear customs in the Bahamas, it's important to remember that even though it's a small airport, you need to give yourself time to do customs. The absolute cut-off for my American Eagle flight was 50 minutes before departure.- Finally, just a comment on American Airlines / American Eagle in The Bahamas - no one would pick up the phone. It was terribly frustrating, especially since I couldn't get through to the US desk.Anyway, hopefully this information can be useful to those who might be wondering how the process of entering and exiting Freeport will work.Close
Written by Cantin2 on 28 Mar, 2007
The rooms are basically 172 sq. ft. with twins converting to a Queen. Lots of balcony rooms on the Spirit and many connecting rooms making it attractive for families. All rooms are similar except for the few more spacious mini-suites.We felt very comfortable in our…Read More
The rooms are basically 172 sq. ft. with twins converting to a Queen. Lots of balcony rooms on the Spirit and many connecting rooms making it attractive for families. All rooms are similar except for the few more spacious mini-suites.We felt very comfortable in our balcony room on Deck 11. Although the deck was small with two plastic chairs and a small cocktail table, it made the room seem much larger because of the large sliding glass doors allowing us a panoramic oceanview.The decor on deck 11 is a deep rose and yellow. These hues are used in the striped spreads, checkered coordinating fabric on the small sofa and desk chair, and in a print on the room darkening curtains. Other floors were done in shades of green and blue. Storage was adequate for two, but would be cramped for three. The drawers are small, a few corner shelves in the closet and a hanging bar. The pull out sofa seems adequate only for a child because of it's small size.We did like the tiled bathroom. Different than any we've seen at sea, possibly because this ship was originally designed for the Asian market. Straight ahead as you enter is the sink area with a large mirror and small corner shelves. To the left is a separate toilet stall with a glass door and behind a glass door on the right is the shower stall. The hairdryer is powerful - nice shower head with controls, good water pressure, and a temperature control that allows you to dial the temperature that you personally prefer. These rooms are very comfortable for the amount of time spent there and the length of the one week cruises that the Spirit travels.The room stewards are efficient and pleasant and service the room at least twice daily, leaving you candy at night and many times animals in the form of towel art.Close
Written by nukegirl on 12 Mar, 2007
If you're interested in making the most of your Atlantis vacation, I highly recommend a trip to Mandara Spa. I go every year when I come, and it's always helped relax me. I'd say it's not the best spa I've ever been to (that honor…Read More
If you're interested in making the most of your Atlantis vacation, I highly recommend a trip to Mandara Spa. I go every year when I come, and it's always helped relax me. I'd say it's not the best spa I've ever been to (that honor goes to the Four Seasons in Dallas), but it's way up there on the list. Mandara Spa offers a variety of treatments, including facials, manicures, massages, wraps, hair extensions, makeup application, and combination packages. You can get a nail polish change for as little as $20, and a shampoo and blow dry for $35, but it's worth it to splurge and try one of the higher-end treatments. For one thing, you get to experience a special "ritual" - and if you spend over $99 you get free access to the sports center for a day and to the full spa, which includes an open-air thalassotherapy pool, sauna, steam rooms, and showers. My first trip here in 2000 I got highlights in my hair. The technique they used was old-fashioned and not particularly painless, involving putting a plastic cap over your head and drawing hair through tiny holes in it, but the result was very natural. Still, thicker highlights are more fashionable now and I've seen them using the more popular foil method lately. Since that first time I've opted for more soothing treatments, and I haven't been disappointed so far. A regular Swedish massage is fantastic, of course, but you should definitely get more creative if you can afford it. I highly recommend the Caribbean Coffee Body Scrub for either men or women; a massage is included in the price, and if you love coffee the aroma alone relaxes you. The most expensive treatment at Atlantis costs $350: Cleito's Tropical Tryst includes a facial, coconut scrub, massage, milk wrap, manicure and pedicure, and lasts 270 minutes. But if that's a bit out of your range (it certainly is out of mine!) you can also choose from a variety of packages or single treatments. Mandara Spa offers four types of massages for men, women, and even pregnant women, and some very tempting rituals for every part of your body. A list of services complete with times and costs is available at Atlantis' Web site, www.atlantis.com.The service here has always been masterful, although for some reason the last time I made an appointment it took them some time to deal with that while I was standing at the reception desk. I always take the opportunity to converse with the locals who provide the services, but they're also good at being quiet if you prefer not to talk. The staff uses high-quality Elemis products and will probably try to sell them to you upon completion of your treatment. Make a reservation when you arrive at the resort, then arrive 20 minutes in advance of your appointment. Close
Written by Cantin2 on 05 Mar, 2007
The first thing you think of in the morning is breakfast. If you have a balcony room, breakfast on the deck sounds great.... But on the Spirit we found it disappointing. Room service has only cold choices on the menu for breakfast - fruit, bakery…Read More
The first thing you think of in the morning is breakfast. If you have a balcony room, breakfast on the deck sounds great.... But on the Spirit we found it disappointing. Room service has only cold choices on the menu for breakfast - fruit, bakery products, and cold cereal. It is served on time but there is a $2 charge for cappuccino.A full service menu in the dining room features a different specialty egg dish cooked to order daily. If you are in a hurry to leave the ship or attend a class opt for the buffet since service here is leisurely ... AKA ... SLLLOOOWWW. The atmosphere is lovely - you can choose to sit alone or share a table with others. If you share with others and they order each course, you will have to wait for your main course until everyone finishes with their fruit, bakery products, and cereal. There is even a roaming bartender with a cart making Bloody Mary's and Mimosas - for a charge of course. Order cappuccino in the dining room. It is not on the menu and this is the only place that it is complimentary.The pool deck buffet is very popular... there is an omelet station with usually long lines. There are enough choices here to please everyone including smoked salmon. The bacon is delicious - not greasy or overdone as found on many buffets. The problem that I found here was that there were no trays... so if you wanted juice and coffee plus your plate, it meant a couple of trips.There is a lovely veranda on two levels aft - overlooking the kiddie pool called Raffles Court. Tables were always available there. That was our favorite spot if we chose the buffet.Make sure that you check the daily information sheet delivered to your room - dining room hours changed daily according to the port visited.Close
Written by lashr1999 on 16 Sep, 2006
The water tower, which also serves as a lighthouse, is shaped like a white saltshaker. It stands 126 feet high and it 216 feet above sea level. From it you may see a 360 degree view of Nassau and Paradise Island. It cost 50 cents…Read More
The water tower, which also serves as a lighthouse, is shaped like a white saltshaker. It stands 126 feet high and it 216 feet above sea level. From it you may see a 360 degree view of Nassau and Paradise Island. It cost 50 cents to take the elevator up or you could climb a circular staircase. I unfortunately could not go up the water tower since it was closed the day I went. I walked down to the fort which is near the base of the water tower.
Fort Fincastle was built in 1793 by Lord Dunmore. He named the castle after his second title Viscount Fincastle. It has several cannons which were built to protect all the ways the enemy could have made a landing. It had cannons to cover Hog Island (the now Paradise Island) as well as the town and the road to the east. These cannons never had to be fired. The fort provides a good lookout spot, since it was built on Bennet Hill and overlooks the town. The front of the fort is shaped like the bow of a ship and is made to look like a paddle-wheel steamer, which you can see on the Mississippi. The fort has not been carefully preserved and you have to watch out for broken glass on the sidewalks. The cannon are nicely intact. Truthfully, the fort is not much to look at but it is in the middle of the water tower and queen’s staircase so you may as well check it out while you are here since it is free. If the water tower is closed you can get some good shots of Nassau from here. Lots of cruise ship tours come here, you can listen in if you want to learn more on the history.
The fort and tower are located on Elizabeth Avenue, you can reach this fort by way of the Queen’s Staircase a few blocks up from the harbor on E Fort Fincastle. You can walk here from the harbor or the Hilton. I would suggest to take a cab up since you might not know your way around, then if it is still sunny out walk back down towards the harbor walk along the harbor to get to the straw market, Senor Frog’s and the Hilton.