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Big Love For Small Hope

Where: Andros, Bahamas
November 17, 2008 at 10:15 AM | by | ()

Lost Girl Jennifer Baggett just got back from diving in The Bahamas, and this week, she'll have a full report on the shark-seeing, rum and mythical creatures that make the islands worth visiting.

Every time I see one of those Corona commercials with the bare feet and beer bottles chillin’ out on a stretch of palm-fringed, powdery white sand, I always think "If I could be anywhere in the whole world right now, it’d be there." Sitting by the ocean, a frosty cocktail in hand, completely sans shoes... Ahh! As luck would have it, I discovered just such a place during an impromptu vacation to Andros Island.

Desperate to escape the chill and gloom that had settled over Manhattan, I accepted a spontaneous invite from my friend Mark for a week of beach bumming, bungalow-side boozing and world-class scuba diving in the Bahamas. In less than a New York minute, I’d stuffed my passport, PADI card and a few bikinis in a bag and was ready to head south in pursuit of the much hotter sun. Although it's the largest island in the Bahamas, Andros is far less inhabited and touristy than its Nassau neighbor yet just 15 minutes by plane from the US, making it an ideal destination for a quick trip.

The day was just beginning its slow transformation to twilight when Mark and I arrived at the Small Hope Bay Lodge, an über-laid-back, all-inclusive resort we’d reserved for the week. We were greeted by office manager extraordinaire, Anastasia, who quickly got down to the most important order of business--ensuring we were happy and relaxed with an ice-cold Kalik, a popular Bahamian brew. OK, how could I work it so that I never had to leave this island?

Fortunately for us, Small Hope is a self-contained sliver of paradise, so everything from the guest cottages and main house to the ocean-front hot tub and outdoor patio bar are just a few (shoes optional) paces down the beach. Since Mark and I were on the scuba diving package, which includes two dives in the morning and a third in the afternoon, our schedule was a bit more "rigorous" than it might've been--but still allowed for ample hammock time. All-in-all, our days went something like this:

8:30 am: Leisurely breakfast and chat with the dive masters about the morning scuba trip.

9:30 am-11:30 am: Walk a grueling 100 feet from our cabin to the dive shop to grab our gear and board the lodge-owned dive boat. Experience two out of more than 60 spectacular recreational dives on Small Hope's regularly scheduled menu, including shallow reefs, coral gardens, wreck dives, blue holes and wall dives. Strip off our wet suits and bask in the sun during the return ride.

12 pm-1:30 pm: Beach-side lunch followed by a dip in the hot tub.

2 pm-3:30 pm: Another amazing exploration of the Andros Barrier Reef.

4 pm-6 pm: Relax in a hammock and watch the Caribbean waves roll in. Force myself to find another, shadier, hammock setting if the hot Bahamian sun starts burning my pasty white Yankee complexion. If feeling extra motivated, indulge in other activities like nature walks or a bike ride to an inland blue hole for a fresh water swim.

6:30 pm till whenever: Take up residence at the beach bar for happy hour with my new Small Hope friends. Dine on a delightfully fresh dinner with many sinful desserts. (Scuba diving burns tons of calories so it's my duty to make up for it somewhere). Join the impromptu group jam sessions with lodge-owned guitars, bass, make-shift tambourines and harmonica. (Note to future guests: I was shocked to discover that I, in fact, have an uncanny gift for the harmonic arts--particularly with Bob Marley’s No Woman, No Cry--so you'll have a lot to live up to.) Retire early for a peaceful night's rest in one of only 21 rooms. Wake up and repeat it all again the next day.

With no telephones, clocks or televisions to be found, it's easy to slip off the technology radar completely, which provided a must-needed break for this overly plugged-in New Yorker. But rest assured all you Type A and Crackberry addicts: There's free WiFi in the lobby and a computer in the main office if you start to experience withdrawal shakes. Although in my opinion, that's nothing a stiff dose of island rum can't cure.

And since Small Hope Bay Lodge is featured in "1,000 Places To See Before You Die," that only leaves you 999 other travel journeys to plan. And with any luck, they'll also come with a flip flop free guarantee!

Related Stories:
· Bahamas Travel coverage [Jaunted]

Archived Comments:

I love this place!

I have been to SHB over 20 times, although I have to admit the last time was 3 years ago. I'm due for a "fix", and economy permitting, I'll be there in April. Enjoyed your blog very much.

Hello SHB friend!

Glad to be able to take you down SHB memory lane. I had such an amazing time there and will definitely need a "fix" again too. Hope you get yours soon!


>OK, how could I work it so that I never had to leave this island?

You could get a job at AUTEC (Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center) in Fresh Creek (not too far from Small Hope Bay). I worked there for a few years in the 90's. Thanks for bringing back good memories.