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Itinerary for Hopping the Out Islands?

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Apr 8th, 2012, 12:13 PM
  #1
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Itinerary for Hopping the Out Islands?

Hello! Calling on the Out Island experts and lovers...please!
I (we) would like to go Cat Island, and the original plan to stay for a week or more has changed, since the accomodations I want are not available. I have about 5 nights on Cat and would like to combine it with another Out Island. My first consideration (I think), is the ease of travel...between which islands will I most easily find air travel? The next consideration is an island which is complimentary to Cat island. Which islands are the most diverse from each other, or the best compliment to each other? I think I may be open to 2 other islands, but kind of have my heart set on Cat. We have traveled extensively throughout the caribbean, staying in mainly low-key, private, self-catering places. We have never been to the Bahamas nor the Out Islands. Any guidance is appreciated!
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Apr 8th, 2012, 06:39 PM
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It's actually harder than you think to combine Out Islands.

I can't find it right now, maybe someone else could chime in, but I think Dept of Tourism can combine trips for you such as Cat Island and Long Island.

Most of the time you'll have to back track to Nassau, and then you can combine with any you like. You can check out Bahamas Air.

Of course, you could easily combine Cat with Nassau/Paradise Island.
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Apr 8th, 2012, 07:30 PM
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Thank you for your response! Yes, I am finding it is difficult and that you have to go back through Nassau to connect to other islands. I did see island hopping packages here: http://www.myoutislands.com/bahamas-...g-packages.cfm but the itineraries are not customized.
I am getting a little obsessed with these islands!
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Apr 9th, 2012, 04:27 AM
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Here's a few thoughts....

First of all, consider combining Andros and Staniel Cay in the Exumas. Talk about different (from each other, and in general). Watermakers Air combines these two islands in a package that includes a stay at Staniel Cay Yacht Club (which includes meals as well as use of a Boston Whaler, which lets you island hop among the various Exuma Cays within range of Staniel Cay) and a stay at Small Hope Bay Lodge (including meals), plus flights to and from Ft. Lauderdale and interisland.

Another way, as you've discovered, is using Nassau as a hub. Not as bad as you might think, since those interisland flights don't require the 2-hour check-in and long lines (at least outside of Nassau). Some of those Out Island air strips are almost pleasant -- thinking about Stella Maris, and its open air waiting area.

Finally, think about hiring a charter pilot. I've not used Island Wings, but Marty Fox is very well-regarded (I had booked him, but had to cancel). The prices are more expensive than scheduled air, but not exorbitant, and it couldn't be more convenient. This does take a bit of fortitude. The last charter I booked was with a pilot whose name a friend got for me from the bartender at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, and we made a "reservation" by cell phone. But, he was right at the Staniel Cay landing strip when we arrived by water taxi from Sampson Cay, and gave us a spectacular flight to Georgetown. I think it was $400 for the two of us, for on-demand service, and the price was for the entire plane.
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Apr 9th, 2012, 07:55 AM
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Thank you Callaloo! I will look into all of your suggestions. I do know I couldn't make use of the Boston Whaler, or I'd end up in Cuba. The private charter idea is perfect. I have enjoyed reading your wonderful trip reports in the past! One thing that stuck with me is your right to feel indignant when you see another on the beach, or something like that...I want to feel that! Dare I ask if there is a favorite island in the out Islands... that is, if you don't dive, don't love boats, but were born on the beach, swim all day, worship the sun safely, love to peek beneath the surface with some snorkel gear, love a room on the sand, want a place with a restaurant, something geared more towards couples than families, is private but can have company if I want it (as in not a resort)? In other words the "out island vibe" you describe. I guess it's possible to get the island right but not the place to stay...
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Apr 9th, 2012, 10:35 AM
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Islandpearls, I couldn't pick which of the Out Islands is my personal favorite, because I love them for different reasons, and at different times. Right now, I'd say the Exumas are at the top, but they are largely (at least for me) a sailing and boating destination. While the Exumas can certainly be appreciated from a landlubber's standpoint, part of the attraction for me is the sheer multitude of islets and cays and the associated beaches (and opportunities for solitude) to explore. I'm sure you could find what you're looking for there, but I've either stayed at Staniel Cay (and taken advantage of the Whaler) or on a boat.

You have the right idea with Cat Island. Fernandez Bay Village might be just the place for you, especially one of the stand-alone villas or cottages. While it is a "resort," it's not an Atlantis-type place. There's an honor bar and a dining room/restaurant, and you can be as social or anti-social as you'd like. The beach in front of FBV is one of the loveliest in the Bahamas, but if it gets too "crowded" for you, you can kayak into the mangrove creek which will lead you to others, or take a bike to an ocean-side beach, or rent a car.

Physically, Long Island has many similarities to Cat Island, but I can't say I fell in love with it the way I did Cat. Lots of intangibles at work. I liked the beaches, but I didn't love Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort, where we stayed (though the beach was an absolute stunner). Your mileage may vary.

You might also look at the Abacos. While there is an island-hopping aspect to the Abacos that the Exumas also have, there are ferries that run between the cays, so you can explore without testing your own personal navigational skills. The Abacos are a bit busier than any of the other Out Islands, which is a plus (more choices) and a minus (more people). I think the best of the Abacos are found through your own boating efforts, but the tiny cays (Elbow, Great Guana and Green Turtle, in particular) are self-contained little paradises.
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Apr 9th, 2012, 06:54 PM
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Thank you Calaloo! We booked beachfront on Cat and beachfront on one of the Exuma Cays.
We are spending 5 days in Exuma and then a week on Cat.
We are flying between islands and the only glitch at the moment is a 6 hour lay over in Nassau on the way home. So we may find a place to stay for a night in Nassau.
Maybe I'll find myself on a boat...
I can't wait!
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Apr 10th, 2012, 03:44 AM
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Hi Islandpearls,
Which of the Exumas are you staying on and in a house or "resort" (the term means something different in the out islands than what one conjures up when considering that term here)? How are you flying between the islands- charter or commercial small airline? We also love the out islands- we are headed to Great Exuma (renting a house) in 4 weeks and can't wait. I am interested in combining Cat Island and another at some time in the future so thanks for sharing any logistics.
I think you will love the out islands!
Happy travels!
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Apr 10th, 2012, 04:15 AM
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Islandpearls, that layover in Nassau will pass more quickly than you think. So 6 hours in an airport, while not my favorite way to while away an afternoon, is not as bad as you might think.

If you do decide to stay overnight and are seeking a reasonably priced, non-resort, try the Orange Hill Beach Inn. Basic, but well-located, with a great breakfast thrown in. It's across the street from a good walking (but not swimming) beach.
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Apr 10th, 2012, 02:42 PM
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Hello all!
We are staying on Stocking Island, Great Exuma...Is it possible there is only one "resort" there? If so, that's we'll will be! We are flying between the islands with SkyBahamas Airlines. With an early flight into Nassau and a good connecting flight to GGT (Exuma International), we should be there early afternoon. As for Cat, we need to go back to Nassau to connect for a flight. But I'm down with that...the beaches there look insane! As for the 6 hour layover, I could tolerate it on the way down, with all the excitement and such, but I don't think I could keep my cool on the way home...I would go nuts or at the very least drive my better half absolutely bonkers, and I don't want to undo all the rest and relaxation of 12 days in paradise. So....we will spend the night in Nassau a stone's throw away from the airport... literally and figuratively, that's the name of the place. We also considered Orange Hill Beach Inn. A villa sounds sublime...love villa vacationing...this trip is something totally and completely new for us. I feel like I did back in the day when I first started travelling to the islands, but then you find your favorites, and get comfy, and settle in and become a pro at some islands or places and you come to know the pathways like the back of your hand. This trip has me guessing...and ready to explore. I'm excited!
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Apr 10th, 2012, 05:20 PM
  #11
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"that's we'll will be" huh? Who typed that? That's WHERE we'll be.
Ay ay ay...

How did you find your villa ishkribbl?
Where is it?
Where will you buy food and drink?
Do you have a pool?
Housekeeping?
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Apr 10th, 2012, 06:26 PM
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As I understand it, St. Francis or Higgins Landing are the "resorts" on SI so I think you will have a great time regardless of which you chose. I do so understand the airport waiting thing as well and feel the same.
We are going on a simple and no-frills trip this year since our daughter got married in December ( around the time I was planing) and weddings are EXPENSIVE (!!*$!) so it scared me but we are happy still with what we selected. I found the house on vrbo.com. No pool but waterfront with a nice view. (www.seastarbahamas.com). If you are looking for a more upscale place then I understand that February Point or Grand Isle (if I got the names right) are more so. We have been going to the out islands for 25 years and really prefer more authentic and local type accommodations.
As i understand it, the Exuma Market is pretty good by out island standards but we have taken a small soft cooler many times (Abacos, Exumas, Culebra, St. John, Eleuthera, Long Island, etc) so we will take a few things with us (mainly a few meats)and shop there for all the other things we need. Usually you can find just fabulous homemade breads in the out islands so we will look for that also. We usually cook in a few dinners and some breakfasts and eat out otherwise. There seem to be quite a few places we want to find to eat out.
It is just the two of us and we love our privacy so we do not want or need mid-week housekeeping unless we are somewhere like SCYC that is a "resort" that provides it daily- in a house, we are fine on our own.
I look forward to hearing about your trip!
The out islands have become my very favorite location!!
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Apr 10th, 2012, 06:28 PM
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Oops- may have missed it, but are you staying at FB on Cat Island? It is still on my bucket list so I am gathering info!
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Apr 10th, 2012, 06:44 PM
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PS It sounds like you have your flights already booked- if not, AA and Delta (maybe more) fly direct flights into GGT without going to Nassau. Just so you know- you probably do. We are flying MIA to GGT on AA. I know Delta has a ATT-GGT direct daily as well.
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Apr 11th, 2012, 08:03 PM
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Thanks for the info ishkribbl...sounds wonderful!
I love the privacy of a villa, and having only to rely on ourselves to make a beautiful experience. We always get 5 stars We are not staying at FB, but will definitely visit the beach, as I know it's one of the best on the island. But I always like a "sleeper" place. I like to do the discovering...no expectations to live up to...no pressure. Second place is underrated! We live in NYC, so there is a 6am flight on JetBlue non-stop to Nassau. I like your vacation style and if you've been repeating the out islands, I know I will love them. Heaven knows you need the trip after paying for, planning and surviving a wedding for your daughter! Wow.
Now other questions ... about surviving no seeums...I am always bitten up pretty good by mosquitos, so I'm a bit worried.
And what to pack?! I'm guessing I don't need the heels...but...you know what I mean...
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Apr 13th, 2012, 09:44 PM
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You are going to two of my favorite places. When we visited Great Exuma we stayed at St. Francis on Stocking Island. Great beach on the back side of the property with steps down to the beach. Front side you have a small covered deck that looks out over the water with Chat-n-Chill just a moment away by boat. You will find it a favorite spot for the area and it is only accessible by boat. Lucky you!

We rented a boat to visit deserted beaches and it was a highlight of our trip. We also rented a car on Great Exuma and drove south to several beaches including one of the most beautiful, Tropic of Cancer beach. It was breathtaking.

Cat Island was such a fun place taking the car to different beaches. It seemed we had the island to ourselves as most of the beaches had no one else on them. And, such diverse beaches - Smith's beach had rolling waves crashing on the rocky shore (Atlantic side) while a favorite was North beach which was so quiet and still with soft, white sand. It was hard to believe nothing had been developed on that glorious beach. Fernandez Bay has a beautiful horseshoe beach with calm waters that you will enjoy. We visited the resort for a day and found it the "busiest" place on the island. I think there were 5 couples we saw the entire day.

We rented a house by Pigeon Cay Resort and loved it there. Yes, another beautiful beach.

A note about mosquitos, they were the worst at St. Francis walking from the main building to the rooms. They do try to get rid of them but it is the tropics. Lovely hosts at St. Francis, btw.

What to pack? Very casual clothes, no heels. A sundress for dinner but other than that it was shorts and flip flops!

Have a great trip!
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Apr 14th, 2012, 07:04 AM
  #17
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Thank you Beach Girl...so helpful! I wondered where Chat-n-Chill was in relation to St. Francis. And the beaches you mention sound perfect, will seek them out. And I'll bring the repellent and the flip flops...
Thanks again...I have a feeling these islands will become 2 of my favorite places too
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