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Trip Report Long Island Trip Report (long!)

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Ok, so I promised a trip report after returning from the Bahamas Out Islands. So, I’m a couple of months late. Sorry about that, but hopefully I can redeem myself. This one is a little long,..

The Trip to the Long Island

My wife, M, and I catch the red eye to Charlotte. Wheels up at SFO right on time, wheels down in Charlotte, uh, one hour early?! Unfortunately for us, daylight savings time hit us in the middle of the flight. That means we have a 4 ½ hour layover, not 3 ½. And the US Airways lounge doesn’t open until 5:30 am. 45 minutes to wait. Who the heck planned this trip anyway! Oh, right, never mind. However, Charlotte does have some very nice rocking chairs in the terminal! Anyway, no problem to Nassau and Southern Air is only 15 minutes late.

We touch down at the Stella Maris airport, er, landing strip, and are taken forthwith to Cape Santa Maria Resort, henceforth known as CSM. We ride with another couple, Bob and Liza from NYC. It’s their first trip to CSM as it is ours. I guess they are regulars in St. Martin and wanted to try something different.

CSM

We are the first people to check into CSM. It’s November 1; the first day of the season. Check-in is quick and easy. So, dump the gear into the bungalow, which is right on the beach. And let’s be clear, ALL the bungalows and villas are right on the beach. We change and jump in the water. The sand is Bora Bora soft, or for this venue, Anguilla soft. The water is so warm and so shallow, I can walk a hundred yards from the shore. It’s gorgeous.

Off for drinks, and Cindy makes us rum punches. A little too sweet for us (which is saying a lot!) and I switch to Kalik and M has wine.

I’m not going to bore everybody with food and wine stories, so let’s just say the food at CSM is excellent. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. All good. I will say the grouper, prepared any which way, is outstanding. So fresh and tasty. The fruit in the morning is always fresh. Some of the wait staff are in training, but always friendly and always putting in the effort. That’s not something you see everywhere in the islands, or in the states, or in Europe, etc, etc.

FYI, we are on the MAP plan – breakfast and dinner. Not our usual gig, but CSM looked to be very far from anything else on the island…and it is. I would highly recommend the MAP for anyone visiting.

Rooms

Our room, #3, has a wall-in air conditioner and it was loud. Unusually, startling loud. We were thinking that it was probably because it hadn’t been used for a couple of months. So, we figure we’d give it the day to sort itself out. It did not. So we talked to Ewa, one of the managers about the room and she immediately checked us into room #19. A/C was quiet (thermostat with an outside unit) – and we can hear the waves.

The rooms are nice and clean. At night, they’re a little dark, but I’d rather have that than blazing neon!

One night, during our sunset drinks, three dolphins decide to pay us a visit! One “surfed” his way in on a small wave no more than 30 feet from shore. What a highlight!

CSM Staff

The room switch is just one example of the incredible service and thoughtfulness we experienced at CSM. The staff, from Ewa and her husband, Brook, to Sherline at the front desk and Maxine in the restaurant and everyone else, were so friendly and helpful, I would return just for that type of service. Although, Maxine promised me a guava duff, but sadly, it was not to be. Sigh.

I "taught" one of the bartenders how to make a painkiller, and he did an awesome job. He actually came in the next night with a bartender’s guide to study how to make other drinks!

Day Trips

We rent a car to explore the island – a Nissan Sentra for $82. Oh, this poor car. It’s missing a rearview mirror, which it turns out, I don’t really need as there is no traffic. But, it will not go above 50. Uh uh, no way. And when we get to Salt Pond, the transmission slips and now won’t go above 20. M, thinking she’s in the Amazing Race, flags a car going the other way; she thinks it’s a taxi. He stops (you gotta love the islands!), backs up 50 yards and its not a taxi, but instead a pastor with the Church of Christ and an “I Love Jesus” hat. We have a little chat and he tells us to follow him to the nearest mechanic. We do and he drives off with a little wave. Wow. I go in, a mechanic comes out, checks everything he can check and tells us the transmission is probably shot and there’s nothing he can do. I understand that, offer him some cash for his time, but he too waves me off. He says when, not if, it happens again, pull over, turn off the engine and restart it. So, over the course of the day, we do this a half dozen times. Ya gotta love Caribbean rental cars!

Anyway, we make it to the end of the island, 80 miles to Gordons beach, and it is lovely. But, someone really needs to put a bar on this beach! I would have gladly forked over what money I had for a cold Kalik and a cheesburger, or grouper burger, or conch burger...you get my drift. It reminded me of Savannah’s on Virgin Gorda.

We stop for lunch at Rowdy Boys at Winter Haven for lunch for a couple of sandwiches and diet cokes ($28). The food is just ok, but we have a great view of the Atlantic. We snorkel at Dean’s Blue Hole which, for me, is a must see and must do. The snorkeling is just ok, but the thought that you’re swimming over a hole that 2000 feet deep is kinda cool. We stop briefly at Stella Maris; CSM looks to be much nicer and not as worn down.
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We decide to walk the entire CSM beach. We are told it would take 2 to 3 hours and to bring water. It does and we do. The house at the end of the beach sits on a point and has three cannons; one of which points directly at CSM. I tell Ewa this later that night and she promises not to tick them off.
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Up one morning for a snorkeling trip. There are five of us, not including Captain Bert. Bert tries to take us around the northern tip of the island, but the surf is up (foreshadowing). So, we turn around and head to Coral Gardens. There is coral (duh), barracudas and the usual suspects: angelfish, parrotfish, etc. Then, into Joe’s sound to see stingrays and ospreys (or osprey nests) and then back to a reef for more snorkeling. Clear water and more fish, including a way too curious barracuda(!), make for a great time. Bert tells us all kinds of island stories on the way back where he detours south for a bit. It is a three hour tour and we all had a wonderful outing.
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M and I decide to walk to the Columbus Monument. We pack water and snacks and off we go. Don’t let anyone tell you differently, this is a long walk! And there really is not a lot to see until you get there. It's all inland. Once you do, you’re standing on the northernmost tip of the island and it’s very pretty. But, now you’ve got to walk back. Let’s just say that towards the end, when I ask M what she is thinking, she replies “banana daiquiri”.

A Word about Mosquitoes/Noseeums

Ok, what is with these bugs? These guys are tenacious. I almost never get bit…by the second day I have a half dozen bites. M is tastier, she’s up to a dozen. We always bring Cutter with 30% DEET; I’m also using the Deep Woods Off (25%) that CSM provides. You know it’s bad when the natives are complaining. Maxine told us that the entire island had been “fogged” during the summer. And, yes, I understand, it’s the tropics…there are bugs…trust me, after travelling to the Caribbean for 20 years, I get it…but, dang me!

Off to Great Exuma.. to be continued…

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