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Trip Report Long Island trip report, 2/23-3/2

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Hello!
After a year of planning and waiting, we finally made it to Long Island, Bahamas and are back home. Thanks everyone for your help in planning this trip! Due to the huge amount of pictures we have I’m going to send this trip report in a few chunks over the course of this week. Here it goes...

Overall interesting info about Long Island:
-The island is about 80 miles long, and 5 miles wide at it’s widest point
-LI just got electricity in ‘92
-there are no street signs, only town signs
-we saw 2 paved roads on the entire island. The main road going north to south, and the road to Stella Maris airport
-it was hillier than I had thought it would be (more so than New Providence).
-there are currently about 5,000 people who live on the island (compared to 190,000 people who live on New Providence)
-everything (including gas stations) shuts down Sunday at 10am on the island (except for church services)
-there are no taxes on LI
-a dentist comes in once a month
-there is a clinic on the island, but if you’re having a baby they recommend you go to Nassau
-there are 4 banks on the island
-there’s 1 police station and no jail (there’s virtually no crime on the island)

Day 1: Monday, Feb 23 –getting there, Compass Point, Slipstream
We got up at 4am, loaded up the car and kids, and headed to PHL airport. Brooke (our 3 year old) was awake, excited, and incredibly good. Austin (our 7 month old) was also great-I carried him around the airport in our snuggly which he loves. We met up with my in-laws and our friends there. US Air flight was on time and we left at 7:45am and landed in Nassau at 10:30am.

Upon landing we checked our luggage in w/Southern Air and then headed to Compass Point for really good conch wraps and Kaliks to get our vaca started. Brooke enjoyed checking everything out and playing on the beach. Compass point was very cute and colorful-we really enjoyed it. It was literally about a 4 minute ride from the airport, so it was perfect to visit between flights. I highly recommend it. It also worked out well with loading up the car seats into the van-went very smoothly. We headed back to the airport then around 1 for our check-in. Southern Air was great, and everything went smoothly getting to Long Island on the 19 passenger puddle jumper.

We were met with a large taxi van which brought us to our villa rental, Slipstream. Www.escapetoslipstream.com. It was about 15 minutes from Stella Maris airport and we arrived around 4. We cracked open some Kaliks, unpacked and worked on unwinding with a nice sunset. Our villa reps met up with us and showed us around. We wanted to go to Chez Pierre for dinner, but it was closed due to Chez getting hurt. The guys went to the food store and stocked up with food for the week and dinner. They have pretty much everything we have back here at home-brand names too. I was really surprised. They had much more than Virgin Gorda had food wise, although milk was $10 a gallon and had a funky taste to it.

A cold front was coming through so it was very windy and chillier than we had anticipated (good news was it kept the bugs away-I didn’t get even 1 bite this trip! Although I had my first encounter with fire ants and 2 of the people we went with got sand fleas bites). Most of the week was chillier than anticipated, which was sort of a bummer. The water was still warm though. Still much warmer than back home! We enjoyed the first sunset, and Austin got to play in the sand for the first time-he loved it. It only took him about 1 minute to put a handful in his mouth! That night we were all pretty sure there was a hurricane or tornado outside it was so windy. That was probably the toughest thing -nights. We had Brooke in bed with us, and Austin in a pack’n’play next to us. The room was all concrete, including the floor (all the houses down there are concrete-I can see why with the strong winds) so when he woke up during the night his cries were really loud from the echoing. By the end of the trip we were up every other hour throughout the night with him, and he kept getting up earlier and earlier-he was up to getting up at 4:30am for the day by the end of the trip. Because of that we were ready to come home by the last day and get him back on schedule.

Day 2: Tues, Feb 24 –day at the villa
We spent the day unwinding at the villa. Our villa rep recommended Atlantic Fisheries to us to get fresh fish and lobster, so we headed there. It was a fisherman’s house and he had a bunch of coolers with fish he had caught, as well as fresh red snapper. It was pretty amazing. We got 8 lobster tails, a ton of grouper, a large bag of crab claws, and fresh filets of red snapper all for just $150. Needless to say we ate fish and lobster all week. Not bad! The beer and regular groceries evened it out though. Kalik was $47 a case (and we went through a lot of cases!).

The villa was nice and airy with large windows looking out to the ocean. It was very simple (aka not luxurious like the villas on Mahoe Bay in Virgin Gorda), but we were ready for that going in. Water is considered a luxury there so we had to be VERY careful with water usage. Also, they told us not to drink the water so we used bottled water all week. Maybe I can get my hubby to try Mexico now! That was always his concern about Mexico. We found a dead scorpion on the front porch which was a bit unsettling-I didn’t realize scorpions lived in those parts. Fortunately, we didn’t encounter any live ones during our stay. We did have a cute yellow bird that came in every morning and flew around the house. He was very smart and knew exactly how to get back out. We also had a frog that sat on our window every night. I guess they were checking out their visitors!

The beach we were on was about 2 miles long, with about 5 other villas on it very spread out. Ours included a 12’ whaler and minivan (which was our villa reps personal car), which was great. The beach out front was golden sand and a bit rocky, but once you walked out past the rocks it was sandy. We just wore our water shoes and it was no biggie. It was perfect for Brooke because it was shallow very far out so she could play. The 2 kayaks were great, and the house had sand toys, fishing rods and snorkel gear (although we brought our own down along w/floats). We only saw a few fish, but the guys fished all week anyway. The highlight of the day was seeing a stingray swim right off the waterline along the front of our villa-it was awesome! We also took the boat out for a short ride around out front. That night we had our first bonfire on the beach-they have a great little sitting area with fire pit out front. We did smores which Brooke loved, and no bugs was great.

Day 3: Wednesday, Cape Santa Maria
We were initially going to go out on a snorkel tour this day, but due to the wind (and us realizing we can do the same thing with our boat out front) we cancelled the trip. Instead we went to Cape Santa Maria for the day. It’s 1 of 2 “resorts” on the island. (there are a few others, but they’re very very small). It was about a 20 minute drive north from our villa, and is on a GORGEOUS powdery white sand beach with the clearest blue water you’ve ever seen. The staff was very friendly, and the food was great. We had lunch outside at the restaurant. The grouper fingers were amazing-one of the best foods out I had on this trip. The weather was perfect-it wasn’t as windy there as at our villa. I’m thinking that in general it’s not as windy there as where we stayed because we met 2 villa owners on the way home and they looked at us like we had 3 heads when we commented about all the wind during the week. We spent the afternoon swimming in the shallow water and playing in the sand. Unfortunately DH couldn’t go swimming since he got sun burn the day before. This was one of the nicest beaches I’ve ever been on. We also took a tour of two of the new villas. They were beautiful (and also are going for $1mil, up from $500k that they started at a few years ago). Very upscale and luxurious. Now if we could just hit the lottery. We headed back to another beautiful sunset at our villa and the guys made lobster for dinner. Mmm...

Link to the above day’s pictures (there are 188 pictures-it might take a minute to load):
http://www.kodakgallery.com/ShareLanding.action?c=xm6qozr.bngwatyn&x=0&y=uzgta0&localeid=en_US&cm_mmc=site_email-_-site_share-_-core-_-view_photos_button

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    Awesome! Thanks Kelly...I look forward to the remaining report. Sorry about the weather. It is pretty much hit and miss in Feb in the Bahamas. Your pictures are fantastic...thanks for sharing as you always do.

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    Thanks! Glad you’re enjoying the TR. Here’s the next installment.

    Day 4: Thursday, boat, Parrots of the Caribbean, Guana Cay
    We decided to make this our “boat” day. We spent a couple hours riding around, fishing, and we found a really cool deserted beach around the bend from our house. It had really interesting rock formations with lots of mollusks, neat vegetation, and a huge variety of coral and shells. We had fun checking everything out. The water out there was a beautiful turquoise.

    We then went for lunch down the road at Parrots of the Carribean beach bar. It was a very small, cute little bar with 2 bungalows. Oh, the way we knew which dirt road to turn onto to get to our villa was there were 2 doberman tied to a tire at the corner. They were guarding some trucks. I felt bad for them-they were tied to the tires everytime we drove by. They seemed to be well fed though and slept under the trucks during the day to keep out of the hot sun. I guess their sole duty in life was to guard those work trucks. We slowed down one day to get a better look at them and they started barking ferociously at us. Needless to say we kept on driving.

    Then we ventured to Guana Cay, which sounds good in theory. Online it says you can swim over to the cay and feed the iguanas. We asked for directions and were told to make the first left after one of the town signs. After driving down a couple wrong dirt roads, we finally found the right one. We went down a crazy dirt road to get there and then seeing how far of a swim and how choppy the water was, we decided there would be no way we would do that. The lady at the food store told us a story of how her brother swam out there a few years ago (he was in his 50’s) and couldn’t swim back. They found his truck and clothes on the beach and no signs of him. They searched for him and finally found him a week later. He lived off the land for that time. Crazy! We decided it was best just to look. We did a bonfire again on the beach that night and then had our villa reps over for dinner. I went to bed around 8/9pm every night as I was up a lot each night with Austin, and everyone else stayed up and played cards.

    Pictures from Thursday (115 pics)
    http://www.kodakgallery.com/ShareLanding.action?c=xm6qozr.2oyladv3&x=0&y=eu6f4w&localeid=en_US&cm_mmc=site_email-_-site_share-_-core-_-view_photos_button

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    Thanks for this wonderful trip report Kelly. We were in LI this last summer and stayed at the Cape. Needless to say it was wonderful and the beach at the Cape is the best I've seen anywhere in the Caribbean. We also visited the beach where Slipstream villa is located (think its called Wemyss bay/Sunset beach). We were just amazed by the color of the waters on LI. Did not know about Atlantic Fisheries so will have to remember that for the next time we get down there.

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    I'm jealous. I have no problem admitting it. :-)
    I love your pics. You just reinforced what I already knew. Whenever we get to Long Island, we will love it.
    The kids are CUTE!
    Looking forward to the rest.
    Thanks for sharing.

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    mnag: That’s great you got to stay at CSM! It is a beautiful beach! Did you make it anywhere else on the island? Deans blue hole was really cool, and the beaches on the southern tip are similar to CSM’s beach, but without a hotel. I would think it would be hard to see too much of the island staying at the cape as it’s so far from the southern end. We had a hard time seeing everything-it was all a long drive for anything you wanted to do. Slipstream is in Wemyss-good memory!

    caribtraveler: thanks! And thanks for the tip on Compass Point-we really enjoyed it both coming (lunch) and going (breakfast)!

    Day 5: Friday, church ruins, Max’s Conch bar, Deans blue hole, Clarence Town, salt flats beach
    Friday we decided to check out 2 things we had read online were must do’s-Max’s conch bar and Deans blue hole. I’m glad we did! We started off going south and passed old ruins of a church, so we got out and took pictures. Then we grabbed lunch at Max’s, which is right along the main road. It reminded me a lot of Foxy’s on Jost Van Dyke, with a lot of items collected from all over and very eclectic, yet simple. We ordered the other best food I had while out-the fresh conch salad, which Max makes right there for you. You can watch him crack the conch and chop everything up. It has a bunch of diced veggies and conch in it, along with a great kick of a spice and lime. It was delicious! We also had conch fritters, cracked conch and jerk chicken-all were good, but the salad was by far the best. It was interesting. The island had been in a drought for some time, and when we pulled up to Max’s it started pouring! I guess we brought the rain with us. It only rained about 10 minutes which was good. It was quite cold with the rain and wind! We took lots of pictures here of all the neat things. It looked like at one time there was an old putting green in the back. We also saw a cabin that looked identical to “Jacob’s cabin” in the tv show LOST, which we’re huge fans of so of course we had to get a picture of that!

    Then we headed to Deans blue hole. We were told to turn left at the phone booth (no sign for it). We found it after making 1 wrong turn which brought us out to the wrong beach. When we pulled up there were actually 2 other cars there-we couldn’t believe it! There were some people diving there already when we arrived. Deans blue hole is about 700 feet deep. It goes from about 2 feet to a 700 foot drop. It’s pretty wild. Sadly, last year they had 3 children drown (all related), when the youngest who was learning how to swim accidentally fell into the blue hole and she and her 2 siblings trying to save her all drown. Very sad. Needless to say, I made Brooke wear her lifejacket while in the water and still wouldn’t let her get near the hole-it kind of freaked me out a bit. When we arrived, it was cold, windy and spitting. We weren’t even going to go in, but then it cleared up, the sun came out, and it turned out to be a gorgeous afternoon. I’m so glad it did because it was beautiful there! I think I actually liked it better than cape santa maria because it was so remote and different, but those 2 places were definitely my favorites on the trip. It was so shallow all the way out to the breakers where the ocean came in. Also, the guys decided to find the path to the top of the cliff to jump off! They’re NUTS! That definitely goes under unnecessary risk in my book, especially since if you accidentally hit a rock on the way down you’re toast! So I watched with my stomach in my throat as DH climbed up the cliff and jumped. And then jumped again with our friend. They said it was a great rush and had a good time. I was happy they landed safely. My highlight was I walked out pretty far and noticed about 3 feet to my right a huge stingray! Fortunately I’ve done the stingray city tour in Grand Cayman before, so it didn’t freak me out too much. Turns out I was standing in the middle of about 20 sting rays! It was so cool! My snorkel equipment was back at shore so I didn’t have time to get it and come back to snorkel, but I could see them from the surface and got some pictures. They were beautiful.

    We then went to Clarence Town to take a look at the catholic church and see what time mass was. The church was empty when we arrived, but it was beautiful and we got some really nice pictures.

    Then we decided to go to a beach along the salt flats below Deadman’s Cay, which our villa rep recommended. The beaches on the southern part of the island are similar to Cape Santa Maria’s beach on the very north shore. It was seeing that beach or doing Hamilton’s caves (they have a huge cave system there), but it’s hard to justify being “inside” when it’s so nice out, so we went to the beach. It was very, very remote and for a minute I was wondering if it was such a good idea to drive there with 2 kids in tow. But when we pulled up, there was actually a group of young ladies there already (which the guys hated-not!). I’m sure they were thrilled to go there for solitude and have us pull up though-we were “those” people! We tried to keep our distance from them. The sand was like white powder, and there were beautiful rock formations around. The neatest thing was the pine trees all around the beach. There was also this very shallow stream of clear blue water with soft pines around it. I’ve never seen anything like it. This beach was everyone I was with favorite of the trip.

    Then we made our 45min-1hour treck back to the villa. They call it LONG island for a reason!

    That night I was totally freaked out. There was some sort of crazy animal outside that sounded like Austin crying/screaming. I awoke in the middle of the night thinking someone was making off with him. I jumped up and checked his pack’n’play, and thank God he was there. Turns out it was some animal that got into the trash outside as there were lobster shells all over in the morning. It definitely gave me a heart attack though!

    Day 6: Saturday, DH’s bday, relaxing at the villa on a perfect weather day!
    It was my hubby’s bday (we’ll technically he doesn’t get a bday this year-he’s a leap year baby, but we celebrate the 28th). He wanted to stay and relax at the villa for his bday, so that’s exactly what we did. We went through a whole lot of Kaliks, and had the best weather day of our trip. Sunny, not so windy, and a beautiful sunset. I had to include the picture of his bday gift from Brooke-it was one of the funniest parts of our trip. He was relaxing after dinner on the couch, and Brooke came running in and dumped a whole bucket of tiny shells she had collected on his lap and said Happy Birthday Daddy! It was so cute! Now that’s an island kind of gift!

    Day 7: Sunday, Mass at 10am, out of gas
    Believe it or not, we don’t have any pictures from this day! My camera crapped out on me on Friday-I think it got sand in it or something and the focus feature started being a hit or miss, so by Sunday I stopped taking pictures all together. Sunday was interesting. The plan was to do church at 10 and then go to Stella Maris for lunch. The mass was nice-everyone is so friendly there. They sang every verse to each song, and even sang Happy Birthday to everyone who had bdays that week-including my DH!

    However, after church (which was about 25 minutes away) we noticed that we had 1/4 tank left. We stopped at the gas station, but it was closed! Now keep in mind that gas stations there are far and few between, so we were getting pretty nervous putting back to our villa. Fortunately we made it, but we weren’t able to visit Stella Maris as intended, or go to the food store for more water or dinner. So the rest of our day was spent at the villa eating leftovers and being careful with how much water we drank (good thing we had beer!). Apparently everything on the island shuts down at 10am on Sundays-gas stations, food stores, etc. Keep this in mind in case you plan on visiting someday! Sunday night was the worst. Austin was up all night long, and it was so windy and wavy out front I swore the waves were coming up around the house. I just sat up nervous and waiting for it to be 6am so we could get going.

    Day 8: Monday, Compass Point and home
    We got up and packed up the van taxi that came to pick us up. This is when I stepped on a fire ant hill and they attacked my foot-”fire ant” is a very good name for them-my foot felt like it was on fire for about 10 minutes. We got to Stella Maris around 7 for our 8am flight. Southern Air had overbooked the flight by 2 people, but worked it out by asking 2 of the locals if they would mind catching the next flight which they agreed to. We landed in Nassau by 8:45 and headed to our new favorite place on Nassau, Compass Point, for coconut french toast for breakfast. This time we took a van taxi along with all of our luggage, as US Air couldn’t let us check it in that early. It was pretty overcast, windy and chilly in Nassau that day and we ate inside. We had the nicest cab driver and enjoyed sharing kid stories with her. She waited for us while we ate –it worked out better this way with all our luggage. Then we made a quick stop at the small straw marked across from the Sheraton, and then headed back to the airport. I was hoping our flight home would be cancelled as our trip insurance would have covered it as well as our extended stay, as the east coast was getting hit hard with snow that day, but somehow just about every flight got cancelled except ours! Oh, well. Our flight was only delayed 1/2 hour and we made it home smoothly. The guy next to us at the airport told us his flight to Newark, NJ had been cancelled and US Air told him to come back Friday! I picked up some nice souvenirs (and the always great rum cake) before leaving. Anyway, coming home in flip flops to snow wasn’t fun, but what can you do. DH really enjoyed shoveling our car out of the foot of snow in the parking lot. Until our next trip...

    Pics (155)
    http://www.kodakgallery.com/ShareLanding.action?c=xm6qozr.3vuee9yn&x=0&y=-x13r07&localeid=en_US&cm_mmc=site_email-_-site_share-_-core-_-view_photos_button

    Overall thoughts:
    I affectionately refer to this trip as “Survivor” Long Island. I was looking for a remote island, and found it. I’m glad we went-it was beautiful! However, I think I prefer an island that has some sort of small town to grab a bite to eat or do some light shopping, like Cruz Bay in St. John, or even Leverick Bay in Virgin Gorda. I’m still torn as to whether I like the flat scrubby islands like the Bahamas or the hillier islands like the USVI/BVIs/St.Lucia, etc. They each have their own plus and minuses. I think I lean a hair towards the more mountainous islands as there is more scenery when you look out over the water, however the water and sand on Long Island was amazing. DH and I agree that we prefer smaller islands. I like to see as much as possible of the island while there and it’s hard to do when you have to drive far to see everything. Of course, things on Long Island are worth the drive! We were in a good location being centrally located so that we could see both the north shore and south shore. For once, I’m at a loss on which island I’d like to see next. I had initially wanted to visit Eleu/Harbor island or Turks&Caicos next, but now I’m thinking maybe Grenada or St. Vincent or Grand Cayman even. I guess for now we’ll be visiting the Jersey shore!

    Thanks again for everyone’s help, and for taking the time to read my “book”. Good thing I’m a fast typer ;)

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    Great report. I am sorry you did not get to go to Stella Maris- I was curious what you would think. As to your "what next" thoughts, I do think you would find Eleuthera a lot like Long Island in that there is a lot of driving to really fully explore things and the island is similar in size and shape to LI but has some very beautiful beaches. Again, I enjoyed revisiting LI vicariously by reading your report and the photos were great! Ironically, the day you were hoping to be stuck in New Providence because of snow at home I was stuck in NYC trying to get home to the south- it was alot of snow for this Alabama girl! I bet it was a shock to go from one climate to the other.

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    I love your trip reports and pictures-you have a cute family!
    I'm considering going to Long Island this summer-staying at Cap Santa Maria-do you recommend it over Stella Maris?

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    Kelly, you are right, the Cape is at the northern most point of LI so its a real long drive to see the rest of the island. We made it as far south as Clarence Town. We looked for the Deans blue hole but ended up at some other beach. Your pics from the Deans blue hole beach look beautiful. We also visited Locabar beach and Galliot beach (I think). Loved Max's Conch Bar. The conch burger as well as the fritters were awesome. It was definately a lot of driving but we didn't mind.
    LI is more remote than Eleu in my opinion. You'll find more restaurants and villas etc to rent on Eleu. And if you stay around the Gov Harbour area then there are plenty of gorgeous beaches within a 10 min drive to explore. Surprisingly the beaches are better on the Atlantic side on Eleu (except ten bay; rainbow bay) but the opposite is true on LI. Generally we found that the beaches on the Caribbean side are prettier on LI. Eleu is definately just as long as LI but we had an easier time finding the different beaches. There is a wonderful website eleu.net that has a ton of information on Eleu (incase you change your mind).
    Thanks for posting and Happy travels

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    Ish, yeah, I was pretty bummed we didn’t get to see Stella Maris, but I guess it’s better than getting stranded on one of those roads without gas! We did see the sign for it when we were heading back to the airport if that counts;)

    Thanks for the info on Eleu! Maybe if we stayed somewhere there closer to Harbor Island for day trips or even stayed in Harbor Island that would work better for us? That’s funny (well maybe not!) about getting getting stuck in the snow. Ugh. Gotta love the cold, eh? How long were you stuck in NYC?

    Blamona, thanks! I always love reading your reports and seeing your pics on T&C. I’m seriously considering getting your camera and polarizing filter now since our camera just died on us. The colors in your pictures are amazing! On another note, do you know of any villas on a secluded beach with sunset views, but that are near a town in T&C? I think that would be a good mix of what we’re looking for down the road. We’re definitely more of “villa renters” than “hotel” people for trips. It works better for us with kids and traveling with groups. Not to mention DH is an amazing cook and enjoys staying in and cooking every night! We like having a relatively private beach, but then a town nearby that we can drive to to grab a drink and do some light shopping, similar to Cruz Bay, St. John if you’ve been. Oh, I thought of your video with your daughter in T&C with all the potcake pups when we met “Buddy”, the fisherman’s dog on LI who looked just like all of them! Too cute.

    Oh, unfortunately we didn’t get to see Stella Maris (ran out of gas) but we did visit CSM and let me tell you, it’s GORGEOUS! I would definitely recommend it. If you can swing it, rent one of the villas. They’re top notch luxury IMO. The bungalows didn’t look bad either, but from pics I’ve seen on trip advisor they’re very simple and don’t have a kitchen. The villas were like the ritz. Impeccable decorating, full kitchen, 2 large bedrooms, screened in porch-just gorgeous. The beach was out of this world. I think summer would be a better time to go as you should have better luck w/weather than we had. Ask for Starlene and tell her Kelly referred you to her –she was our villa rep at slipstream, but her full time job is as one of the managers at the Cape. She’s very friendly and helpful.

    Mnag, you probably ended up at the same beach we ended up at first trying to find Dean’s blue hole! We took the road straight and ended up at some random beach, so we backed up and then tried turning right which ended up being the right road. They all look the same and with no signs, it’s hard to find things! Thanks for sending me the link to eleu. I’ll definitely check it out!

    Oh, I forgot one thing in my report (if you can believe it). The night of DH’s bday, we sat out on the beach and watched the moon reflecting on the still water and the stars were so clear and beautiful. There was this one crazy star (I think it was a star) that was changing colors, from red, to blue, to yellow. I’ve never seen anything like it. I keep meaning to look into it online to find out what it was exactly. It was wild!

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    Kellybeaches- I understand the gas issue. We got into Eleuthera on a Saturday afternoon and realized the jeep we rented had very little gas in it but we were excited to get to our rental house and see the house, beach and area and did not want to deal with practical things right away. The next morning we woke up and I thought about it being Sunday in the Bahamas out islands and was afraid we would be out of luck. Fortunately, the gas station in Palmetto Point was open all day that day so that is a tidbit of information for you about that island. We never got below 1/2 tank again since we wandered far off the beaten path every day.
    We were in NYC for 6 days and the weather was gorgeous until the day before we were to leave (and it started snowing in Alabama and Mississippi that day-very rare- so we knew we were in trouble!!). We were only stuck for one extra night before we were able to get home but it was a major snowstorm (they had a snow day in the schools there for the first time in 5 years the news said). It was gorgeous.
    I have a Long Island question for you. A lady from Canada that I have been talking to on the TA asked if there is any off the beach snorkeling in the Clarence Town area because she found a cute rental there and the beach looks very pretty in the pictures I looked at. I did not know the answer. Do you know or did you hear from your reps about the snorkeling in that part of LI?
    Again, I love reading about your trip- it makes me want to go back to LI!

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    kellybeaches: I always enjoy your trip reports, and your pictures are always fun. I do highly recommend a digital canon rebel with a polarizing filter for you though, since your camera broke, your pictures will be fantastic with it.

    http://www.amazon.com/Canon-10-1MP-Digital-18-55mm-3-5-5-6/dp/B001CBMD6A/ref=pd_bbs_10?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1236867037&sr=8-10

    If you can handle the price, you'll love the results. Plus for future, you can buy different lenses and filters for it. You already have an "eye" for it which is the hardest part.

    I gather from your posts, that you like the scenic hilly type islands. You're already willing to go off the beaten path, so for you I highly recommend the Grenadines. Similar to Virgin Islands, but more rustic and off the beaten path. The views from Palm Island looking at Union Island are like a mini Bora Bora (which I've actually been too) There is a tiny sand spit off of Petit St. Vincent called Mopion, with 1 palm umbrella on it--actually makes people giddy.

    I have been to tons of places-my purpose in life is to find the world's most perfect beach (at least my perfect) ;-) so I can try to help you with anywhere you may want to go. I have been to all the places you are considering.

    T&C has no town to walk to. It has a gorgeous beach, and is extremely kid friendly, but basically a row of small resorts each with a restaurants looking into the water. It's flat and dry and scrubby, really just about the beach--but ahhh what a beach it is.

    I'd be happy to give you opinions of anywhere you want to go! 8-)

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    Ish, so is the Sunday close-down a universal out island thing in the Bahamas? I’ll have to keep that in mind if we go again! Regarding your snorkeling question, the only thing we saw were the sting rays, and a few small fish (I believe they might have been bonefish perhaps?) swimming near us in front of our villa. We did try snorkeling out front, but there wasn’t anything out there that we could see. Same with Deans blue hole, and I asked the divers if they saw anything down there and they said no, just blue. We didn’t venture into the harbor of Clarence town so I can’t speak to that in particular. I did see on Stella Maris’s site this info on snorkeling, but it’s all more on the northern end of the island: http://www.stellamarisresort.com/snorkeling.asp. There are plenty of other things she could check out though, like the salt flat beaches that are near clarence town, and deans blue hole which is also near there. Hope that helps some.

    Blamona, thanks again for the link to your camera! We’re looking into it. Thank you too on your info on the Grenadines. Actually, Palm island was one of the very first places we looked to go when we first started traveling to the caribbean. Although it looks gorgeous, it’s out of our price range. Especially now with having to buy 4 seats airfare from PHL. Do you know of any villa rentals on Grenada or in that area that you would recommend? What about St. Vincent? Another thought is maybe Belize. A friend of mine just returned and said it was great, but I really don’t know anything about it. Sorry-I’m all over the board! Anyway, I’ll just have to live vicariously through people on this forum for awhile until we figure it out. We’ll probably take a year or two off for now anyway-unless we win that trip to T&C! ;)

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    In Grenada, I stayed at The Flamboyant. With small children I really don't recommend it, it was a hike up a hill and many stairs to the beach each time. the views were nice though.

    I stayed in Tamarand Resort in Canouan, don't know the prices now, but it's a good base point for hoping around the islands. St. Vincent doesn't have much for beaches, and it's actually tough to get around the Grenandines, which is where you really want to be. From St. Vincent you can easily go to Bequia, but my opinion, do not miss the Tobago Cays, Palm Island, a little Mopion-which are actually kinda hard to reach from St. Vincent. Believe it or not, it's easier to get to from Barbados or Grenada!

    Belize has great snorkeling, beaches are just okay. Totally rustic, and it's pretty flat too. Again, with 2 kids, I would try other places first. I didn't like Belize City at all, but Ambergris Cay has a vibe. The little cays that you can do on day trips are really cool, like little castaway type islands great for snorkeling.

    It's okay to be all over the place, sometimes I get like that-I don't know where to go next, or repeat a favorite.

    Also, to put my tastes in perspective so you can judge my opinions: I do love the Virgin Islands, especially Virgin Gorda, but I do lean towards the flat dry scrubby islands-as I mostly all about the beach.

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    Hi blamona,
    I did some research into Grenada, but I think it’s just too far for us right now with the little ones.

    I think we’ve decided (for now anyway) on our next trip (which will probably be in 2-3 years from now). We’re thinking of one of the Peter Bay villas in St. John (if we can round up some other people to go!). You can walk to the private Peter Bay beach from them, and we love Cruz bay and Mongoose Junction, and those villas are really, really nice! Plus it’s so easy to get to. And we’ll definitely do another trip to Jost while there. I miss those painkillers too! Can’t get them at home.

    Here’s the one I have my eye on-have you checked out Peter Bay villas while in St. John by any chance? We looked at them across the way while on Cinnamon bay for the day and they looked gorgeous.
    http://www.peterbayestate.com/#rates

    Our friends are looking to get married in Mexico probably next year, so that will be a “no kids” quick trip, which will be fun.

    So those are our travel plans for now! Until then I’ll keep reading and enjoying everyone’s trip reports on here :)

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    kellybeaches: I stayed at the Westin in St. John, and then went a couple of times on daytrips, but have never checked out other places to stay there. I did take my then 2 year old there, and she loved it.

    As for painkillers--if you're anywhere near Annapolis MD--there is actually a Pussers on a dock overlooking all the boats go by!

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    Hey there! Thanks for the pics from your fave villa in Mahoe Bay you sent today to my thread of Favorite Villa.
    Like you guys, we have done several of the islands including St. John and often compare the others to the convenience of the town. Nevis was where we chose last year including St. Barts. We loved the fact that Nevis was much more remote which made for great exploration- it is also hilly like St. John which we have discovered is our fave terrain- however the beaches weren't as immaculate as those we have see on other islands. St. Barths was a different take on the Carib, but also don't let the glam-factor fool you...it is still the Carib and was not as high fashion as I expected, though I usually skip the high season as I did then.
    You guys really need to try Harbour Island in the future- one of our most faves and easy for a quick trip as well. Golf-carts only on the island, very wide and gorgeous beach, great restaurants.
    We have been looking at T&C for this year...or VGorda. Thanks again for the help and the trip report for LI!
    L

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    Thanks for the great report kellybeaches. I had a feeling that you would post it while we were on St. John. Long Island is high on my list of Bahama Out Islands and I've been looking at a cottage near Clarencetown. I definitely need a conch salad fix.

    Question: You describe the groceries as having a good selection. How did it compare to say Starfish Market in Cruz Bay and what town was the store located in?

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    RobertoB- I loved Long Island but if there is any store there as upscale as Starfish Market on St. John then we certainly did not see it when we were there. The grocery stores we found on LI were small and adequately stocked with canned goods and frozen foods so that you could get by- in the out islands finding fresh items(fruits and vegetables)usually depend on what day of the week you shop. I look forward to hearing from KellyBeaches as maybe there are new stores since we were there. Long Island is very beautiful but fairly primitive compared to some other places like the USVI.

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    Blamona-get out! Painkillers in Annapolis? I am so there!

    Lura-I just posted our other favorite villa to your thread. Are you looking for ideas for your next trip? I highly recommend VG. We really loved it there. Thanks for the tip on HI. Hopefully someday we’ll get there! Do you know if you can rent villas directly on HI, or do you have to rent on Eleu and ferry over? We just prefer villas over hotels.

    RobertoB-How was your trip to St. John? Any trip reports we should look for? Where did you stay there? Regarding the food stores on LI, I would say the one we went to had almost as much as the Starfish Market (minus the excellent Sushi restaurant above starfish, Happy fish!). Not sure if you have any babies, but they had Gerber baby food and Huggies diapers. They had everything canned you can think of, plus frozen meats and fish galore (although if you want very fresh, inexpensive and delicious fish or lobster, to to Atlantic Fisheries –it’s about a 20 minute drive north of Clarence Town). They also had fresh fruit and veggies, and a section with toiletries, medicines, etc. I believe both the food store and Atlantic fisheries are around Millers (map at the link below). They were only about a 10 minute drive from our villa in Wemyss. If you’re driving up Queen’s Highway from Clarence Town, the food store would be on your right. The next road you would make a right on to go to Atlantic Fisheries-aka his house. The guy’s name is Daniel. There was also a larger food store I believe in Hamilton that we stopped at that also had a hardware department in the back. There are numerous liquor stores around as well, although the wine selection is very limited. The best food store we’ve been to in the islands was in St. Maarten, second best was Starfish in St. John, and the third best was probably this food store in LI. The most limited were the food stores in Virgin Gorda. We lived off of canned food for the week. Hope that helps!

    http://www.the-bahama-islands.com/islandmaps/longmap.html

    Ps-if you’re staying in Clarence Town, definitely check out Dean’s blue hole-it’s not far from there-see Scrub Hill on the map-this is where it is-it’s about 5-10 minutes from there. Also, Cape Santa Maria will be a hike for you (probably about an hour drive). It’s worth it if you don’t mind the driving, but supposedly the southern most beach on the island (and all the salt flat beaches along the south) are just as nice with the white powdery sand but no hotels. Enjoy!

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    You can rent villas/houses on Harbour Island. Everyone has to fly into Eleuthera (north Eleuthera airport -- ELH) and take a short boat ride (approx. 5 minutes to the dock. Very easy. (I'm sorry, I'm not sure what you meant by rent on Eleuthera and ferry over.)

    Here are websites for rentals:
    www.harbourislandguide.com

    www.vrbo.com

    www.homeaway.com

    And

    www.myharbourisland.com for lots of information on the island.

    These will have some of the same ones but you may get different pictures of the property by looking at all of them. I would guess the rentals ON the pink sand beach would be prime rentals. It wouldn't bother me to have a rental that wasn't on the beach as the island is so charming and lovely (and I'm one that loves being at the water).

    If you can't get a vacation rental, Runaway Hill, Coral Sands and Pink Sands are on the beach. Those are my favorites (only stayed at Runaway Hill and would again).

    Harbour Island is such a charming, colorful island where we felt we had really stopped the clock and were most definitely on vacation.

    BeachGirl
    ((h))

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    Thanks for the feedback kellybeaches. Any foodstore in the Out Islands close to Starfish is O.K. with me.

    Trip to St. John was great. I'll get a trip report out when I catch a break from work. Stayed at Creolla on Ajax Peak. Great views and a relatively easy access road.

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