- Katharine Hesmer
DAY 65 | February 16, 2022
Long Island, Bahamas
KORKZcrew is the blue dot on the map.
We're at the halfway point of our trip, and I am flying home tomorrow to visit my mom and youngest daughter for a few weeks. For our last hoorah on Long Island, we decided to follow the advice we'd gotten from fellow cruisers, rent a car for the day, and explore the island from top to bottom. It worked out perfectly because the car is due back just after Ron, Skeet, and Steve will be dropping me off at the airport in the morning.
The rental car company delivered the car to a parking lot near the same dinghy dock we'd used for yesterday's trip to the grocery store, so that made the process really simple. Ron already had the keys, so we loaded everyone up and reminded ourselves that these folks drive on the wrong side of the road. Just kidding . . . but it definitely plays with your brain. Or at least with Ron's brain. I was just fine. 😜 It didn't seem to bother Steve either, but we were glad the rental company had a very large reminder printed on the windshield.
Since our anchorage is at about the center of the island, we randomly decided to go south first. The cute waitress at Letta's who is a local had told us that we should be sure to see the beaches at both the south AND north ends, so that's exactly what we planned to do.
Well, let me first start by saying this place lives up to its name. 😂 It is LONG. We drove for what felt like forever at 35 mph on a 2-lane road toward Gordon's Settlement, with the hope of eating lunch at Gordon's Beach Bar & Grill. The waitress told us that the locals gather there every Sunday and spend the day on the beach.
Ron: "Alright, so are we just going and going until we see something?" 😂
The drive south was mostly a tree-lined highway with the occasional glimpse of the water, which obviously never disappoints. Along the way, we saw an inviting looking shop called Under the Sun located in McKenzie Settlement, and decided to pop in and take a look around. Another appropriately named spot! They had an AMAZING selection of everything you can think of, from hardware supplies to souvenirs to a small restaurant, all of it well-organized and well-stocked. Let's just say we didn't make it out of there empty handed.
Finally made it to Gordon's Settlement, and it was more than worth the drive to get there.
We walked out to this gorgeous beach and charming, colorful setting, anchored by Gordon's Beach Bar & Grill. One of the first things I saw were these precious children playing in the shallows. I worried I looked like a complete kook to their moms for photographing them, but couldn't help myself. They were giggling with every ripple that came their way, and it was like breathing in pure joy.
The Bahamas have been pretty consistent with their insistence on wearing masks inside enclosed spaces like shops and restaurants. I've seen countless signs that say "no mask; no entry". It hasn't felt "militant" necessarily, but they expect you to comply and we do so without hesitation. To me, it just feels like it should be about common courtesy and mutual respect, but I'm naive that way. I don't know if the Bahamas have politicized the whole thing like the U.S. has been so successful at doing, but I'm glad I don't know. I'm just disappointed that in the U.S., a demonstrably dangerous disease and public health crisis didn't make everyone come together and cooperate to defeat it. How is taking care of ourselves and of those around us political? Please don't answer that. But I'll never understand it.
The open-air Beach Bar was just as charming as it looks, with one side accommodating about 4 tables, and the other sporting a very popular L-shaped bar area. Skeet and I had cheeseburgers that we promptly devoured, Ron had wings, and Steve waited patiently (?!?) in the car (with the windows down, of course).
One thing to note if you go to Gordon's: they don't accept credit cards, and don't have anything like PayPal or Venmo. Ron didn't have enough cash, and while we didn't fall short by much, we still felt horrible and told the owner we'd get the money to him somehow. (PS: Bahamian and U.S. dollars are interchangeable). He was so kind and not the least bit worried, waving us off and imploring us not to even bother, but that's not the way we roll, so we left determined to brainstorm a way to get the cash and get it back to him. It's not like there are banks on every corner in Long Island, so this was a bit of a challenge, but it didn't dissuade us from trying. We had hit it off the other day with the owners at Letta's AND with the cute British woman who owned Long Island Trading, and had learned that she occasionally let people get cash advances if you give her your debit card number. Plus, I remembered the conversation with the waitress saying locals made their way to Gordon's weekly, so we figured the chances were pretty good that someone could be our courier.
As we set out from Gordon's Settlement and headed north again, Steve had some friends who decided they'd congregate in the road and block our passage. He must think he's a goat or at least a kindred spirit as he would've been extremely happy to have jumped out the window and joined them.
Made it back to Letta's and Long Island Trading where we explained our predicament, and of COURSE these exceptionally nice people helped us out. The owner at Long Island gave us the cash we needed, and told us her husband was driving down to Gordon's later that day, so we took care of our tab from a distance and felt much better for it.
Now it was time to backtrack a bit and then explore the northern part of the island. It's 80 miles long so it takes awhile at 35 mph. But I'd still do it again. You might get a different answer from Ron – I'm honestly not sure 🤔😜 — but if we'd had more time, it would've been smarter to see one half of the island one day, and the other half on the second day.
Side note: in addition to The Shrimp Hole I mentioned the other day, another stop to put on your list is Dean's Blue Hole. We ran out of time to visit it on this trip, but it is the world’s deepest salt water blue hole, and is widely considered to be one of the world’s best diving and snorkeling sites.
More info on Dean's from Wikipedia:
"Vertical Blue is a freediving competition which has been held annually in The Bahamas at Dean's Blue Hole since April 2008 by freediving world record holder William Trubridge. It is an AIDA International judged competition and has been the venue for multiple world and national records for athletes coming from countries all over the world."
Check out the Vertical Blue website here. We made it to the northernmost point of the island, where you'll find the Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort and Villas, which is situated on the other beach our friends at Letta's had recommended. The weather had deteriorated a bit by now so we didn't spend a lot of time here, but the reception area of the hotel and the beach were both lovely.
It was a full and very fun day, and I think Steve speaks for all of us when he says, "I'm done!"