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!
· Bahamas Travel coverage [Jaunted]