Why Long Island?
When I say Long Island, I’m not talking about the one in New York, even though most Google searches and blogs tend to want to steer me in that direction. Long Island is a beautiful untouched paradise full of remote beaches, underwater discovery, and true Bahamian culture. Its population is roughly 2000 and it hasn’t really hit the tourism market yet, so the people that go there are truly looking for some R&R.
I have fortunately been able to see a few of the Bahamian islands and they each have their own flavour. Here is a list of the top 10 Bahamian islands by population. In the past I have been to New Providence, Eleuthera, Abaco, and Exuma, and have made it a goal to see all of them! We came up with Long Island because we did not have flexible dates and were luckily able to get a flight there, and it was an island that we had never been to before.
- New Providence
- Grand Bahama
- Long Island
- Cat Island
- Spanish Wells
Day 1 – A week off!
I took this vacation with my mom as we are both teachers and have the same March Break. The Friday that school was finished, we drove from work to Detroit to stay overnight before our flight the next morning. We stopped at Meijer on the way to stock up on some food to take with us since food in the Bahamas can be really expensive (and sometimes scarce).
We stayed at Springhill Suites Marriott, which was so nice and clean and it included Park and Fly. We ordered pizza from my favourite restaurant near the airport – Leonardo’s, and then went to sleep by 10 since we had to wake up really early the next day.
Day 2 – The smallest airport ever
We woke up at 3 am to get to the airport on time. We flew American Airlines from Detroit to Washington, then Washington to Nassau, then Nassau to Long Island. I was nervous about making all of the connections so we were really playing it safe all day. The first two flights were uneventful and we arrived in Nassau at 3:45 pm with lots of extra time. The views coming into the Bahamas were incredible so it’s important to grab a window seat!
We boarded our last flight of the day to Deadman’s Cay, Long Island on Bahamas Air. Bahamas Air is the most popular airline and I thought it was the only option when I booked. When I got to the island I found out about Southern Air, which had better times for departing the island.
I could see Deadman’s Cay airport from the sky and it was by far the smallest airport I had ever seen (literally a shack with one airstrip). At the airport we met Mr. T, who was in charge of our rental car. He charged us $50/day (cash only). It’s absolutely essential to have a car on the island as it is obviously very desolate.
We drove about 40 mins north to our accommodation in Salt Pond. There is one road that goes up and down the island called Queen’s Highway and then to get anywhere else you have to go on rough dirt roads. Our resort was called Grotto Bay. The owners lived on the second level and they had two units they rented out on the lower level. The unit had everything we needed and was right on a small beach with gorgeous sunsets.
Day 3 – Recharge
After a full 12+ hour day of travel from the previous day, we needed a day to rest and figure out a plan. Our hosts showed us around their property and let us pick some of their oranges and tomatoes. The tomatoes were so good – they were mini ones that I had never seen before and I munched on them all week. We spent the day at our small and quiet beach and I started the trip off with a cute farmer’s tan (not). We also got to know our neighbours, Sheldon and Cathy from Calgary. They had already been on the island a week and had lots of advice to give us.
Day 4 – Tour of the north
After a day of sitting around we were anxious to get going and see something other than where we were staying. Our place was pretty much in the centre of the island so the plan was to spend one day driving ‘down north’ (as the locals call it) and one day up south. Going north seemed more manageable since it looked like there were less things to do. Our host was wonderful and gave us a list of all of the points to see on the island.
Our first stop was the Tropic of Cancer Beach in Wemyss. We went down our first of many long dirt roads to reach a huge beach on the Caribbean side. The beach was ok but it was rough so we didn’t spend much time there.
In one of the next settlements called Millerton’s, I saw a sign for a bakery called Pelican’s Landing Bakery. We decided to stop in and were greeted by the extremely chatty owner, Albert, who was half Bahamian and half Greek. I got a really good piece of lemon cake for only a few dollars.
We decided to drive all the way to the end of the island to the last settlement called Seymour’s. At the end of the road there was a place called Busted Bridge Bar and if you crossed the busted bridge (carefully), and went down a short path, you reached a beautiful protected beach called Newton’s Cay. We looked around the beach and contemplated staying but decided to move on since we had a lot of ground to cover.
We began back-tracking and stopped at the Columbus Monument – where Christopher Columbus first landed on Long Island. It is one of the most touristy things to do on the island and the views were highly recommended by our neighbours.
This was the worst road of the trip. It was 25 long minutes of going slowly over rock, not knowing when it would end. Another family decided to park and walk in after 10 minutes since they thought they were almost there, which they regretted. We drove all the way in to the parking lot and then there’s a little hike up to the monument. There were beautiful views at the monument as it is one of the highest points on the island.
Next we stopped at Cape Santa Maria, which is the most exclusive part of the island. It is home to a very fancy resort and a gorgeous beach. We decided not to stay since it was really windy. As we were leaving, the family that we saw regretting their long walk at the Columbus Monument caught up to us. They told us about the coolest pool in the world at Stella Maris and upon their recommendation we decided to head there next.
And they were right. We drove to the Stella Maris resort and went to the back of it and asked if we could go to the natural pool. A staff member showed us where it was and we saw the crystal clear pool that is filled by the ocean. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring at Stella Maris and had some drinks at the pool bar.
Then we made the trip back to Salt Pond with a few stops for pictures along the way and made some dinner. There wasn’t much to do at night so we ended up watching Netflix most nights and going to bed early.
Day 5 – Up south & pigs
Sheldon told us so much about what there was to do in the south, we were ready to keep exploring. We drove all the way to the end of the road, which was a lot further than going north. It took us 1.5 hours with no stops, and for most of the drive there is nothing. This part of the island was hit badly (and all of the island) by Hurricane Joaquin in 2015 and almost every local we met had tales to tell of the terrible storm.
At the end of the road up south, there is a beautiful beach called Gordon’s Beach but we didn’t spend too much time since the weather was taking a turn. We headed back north and stopped at the marina in Clarencetown (probably the biggest settlement on the island) and admired the yachts.
We wanted to have lunch there but it was closed, so we continued north to try to find a restaurant. We checked a few places and ended up stopping at the Seaside Grill, which is near the airport and it is owned by a guy named Kenny who takes a lot of pride in his conch salad. We were chatting with some people and Kenny’s cousin, Locksley, ended up inviting us on an eco tour that he was already giving to two other tourists.
Locksley took us 11 miles out on his little boat to a small island where he had put 9 pigs. If you don’t know about the Bahamian pigs, here’s the story : on a different island called Exuma, pigs live on their own deserted island and were apparently dropped there by pirates. In the past few years, it has gained a lot of attention and a lot of tours are going there (too many in my opinion). We were there in 2016 and the tour was really overwhelming because of the amount of people.
Locksley decided to appeal to the tourists on Long Island and set up a pig island of his own. He goes to the island at least every other day and feeds the pigs and takes 4 tourists there at a time. The pigs are extremely happy, social, and well-treated and I liked the tour so much more than in Exuma.
We started by going to the pig island and feeding the pigs. They were so excited and could not focus on anything except for food. We left them to eat and Locksley showed us a few other things. First, he took us to a sand bar where you could find big orange starfish and then he took us to a different sandbar to find more sand dollars than I had ever seen in my life.
After a while, he took us back so we could play with the pigs after they had finished eating. He gave them some sweet potatoes, which they loved, and they came right out to the boat to meet us. Other than eating, they loved attention and would completely fall over when you rubbed their bellies. I was so happy that the pigs were well-treated and it was so fun having an interactive experience. The whole tour took about 3 hours and was well worth it.
Day 6 – Exploring the grotto
The weather wasn’t the greatest and after two days of driving we decided to explore our own backyard. We started by taking a tandem kayak to a nearby uninhabited island to explore. It took about 20 minutes each way and we didn’t see anything on the island but I was on the look out for sharks as we paddled. Later I tried out a paddle board and snorkelled but still didn’t see anything.
In the afternoon our host took us on a tour of the Salt Pond caves, which were right on our property. She said they were the biggest caves in the Bahamas and that they host geologists that come to do research. There were three different chambers. The first chamber still had light coming through holes in the ceiling but when I moved around my flashlight I could see hundreds of little bats crawling in the dark spots. We moved into the second chamber which was completely dark and I looked at the stalactites and said hi to the cockroaches. We didn’t go in the third chamber since it required more equipment and we had a good enough taste of the cave from the first and second.
Day 7 – Dean’s Blue Hole
Today we drove up south to cover some of the places we missed the first time we went south. Our first stop was Dean’s Blue Hole. It’s probably the most popular thing to do on the island as it is the second deepest blue hole in the world (663 ft). The deepest one is in China.
We drove down a long dirt road and made the typical mistake of parking too early on the side of the road because we thought our car wouldn’t be able to make it through a puddle and ended up walking about 15 minutes into the beach. When we got there, we saw the most tourists we had seen anywhere else on the island (about 6) and some of them were finishing up a diving class.
I watched the diving class and thought about going in the hole. I had this irrational fear that something was going to grab me in the hole and pull me into its depths! After the class finished up, I put on my gear and swam around the hole, and then right into its centre. The drop off from the beach to the hole is the scariest part because it’s really dramatic but really, it was very beautiful. They have an anchor set up in the centre where you can try to pull yourself down into the hole and where they do diving classes. After we were finished swimming, we hiked up a small trail for the perfect photo op from above of the hole.
After Dean’s, we returned to the Flying Fish Marina in Clarence Town and this time it was open and we had lunch. We had yuca fries, coleslaw, cheesecake, and a gorgeous view. This was my favourite restaurant of the trip. After lunch, we went to Galloway Beach near Clarence Town upon recommendation from Sheldon and it was so pristine and beautiful. It had perfectly calm and clear waters and it was basically empty. We only saw 4 other people all afternoon and two of them were Sheldon and Cathy.
We went to Tiny’s for dinner in Salt Pond, which was a boater’s paradise. The boaters parked their dingys in the shallow water and walked up barefoot to the little restaurant. We had some great rum punch and pizza.
Day 8 – I’m at a mutton festival????
We decided to try Bonacorde Beach today, also recommended by Sheldon. His directions were “take the dirt road after Dean’s at the empty sign” and somehow that totally made sense. When we got to the end of this particularly bad dirt road, we parked and then had to walk along a nice beach to get to the nicer beach that was hidden beyond the dunes. We spent a few hours at this perfectly carved cove but eventually had to leave since there was zero shade. It was too bad because it was a perfectly shaped pool and I could have stayed all day.
At night we went to a mutton festival. If you know me, you will know that I’m an extremely devoted vegetarian / mostly vegan and I would never be seen at a mutton festival. Well, today I made an exception.
Where we stayed was just a 10 minute walk from the festival grounds. The festival had been advertised all week and they were blasting music all day. Nothing seems to really happen on the island so this was a big deal for the locals and we decided we had to check it out. We arrived in the evening for the opening ceremonies which began with the national anthem, a prayer, and school kids doing the may pole. There were several food vendors and there were options other than mutton (although I didn’t eat anything). They also had really cute games like conch racing that everyone got really into.
Day 9 – quick stop in Nassau
Today was the last day although our plane didn’t leave till 3:30 pm so we had lots of time to get ready. We went to the farmer’s market (on Saturdays) and got some bread and jam to take home. Bahamas Air typically does not run on time and when we got to the airport, they said our plane wouldn’t leave until 5:30 pm.
We went to Max’s Conch Bar that is near the airport to kill some time and I had some coleslaw and mac n cheese. Mr. T found us at the bar and gave me back the deposit and told us to leave the car at the airport when we were finished. While we were waiting at the airport for the plane in the hot sun, a local older guy named Maxwell started talking to us and told us that he just comes to the airport to watch the planes every day.
We finally got to Nassau and took the pricey $40 USD cab ride to downtown to our Marriott hotel. The hotel was nice but before it got dark we wanted to look around Nassau and find something to eat. We were near Junkanoo Beach, which wasn’t the nicest area but we found a really great sushi restaurant for dinner.
Day 10 – back to the cold
I took my time this morning and went for a swim and the gym, enjoying the last day of vacation. When it was time to go I asked some people if they wanted to share a cab with us and they said we could just come with them in their friend’s car, which was so nice of them.
Everything went really smoothly at the Nassau airport and we were able to go through US customs at the airport instead of when we arrived in the US, which was an added bonus. We flew American Airlines to Philadelphia and then to Detroit and took a huge step back into reality!
Thank you for reading if you made it this far. I wrote this post because I found very little information and blogs when I was researching Long Island before my trip. Please comment if you are going/have gone to Long Island because I would love to hear your story.