On Long Island there are a few “must-see” places we hadn’t visited yet so a couple weeks ago we rented a car for another day-long adventure. We started at ruins of a Spanish Church in The Bight, about 10 miles south of our anchorage at Thompson Bay. Thought to be built in the 1600’s, it’s the oldest known church in The Bahamas. The roof had long been missing and the interior was definitely showing the impacts of weather. There were some building supplies laying around, so it looked like someone was either thinking about, or had thought about, renovating this interesting little church.
Another reason for stopping at the Spanish Church was to visit a local “not-so-secret” attraction known as the Shrimp Hole. The hairdresser Marcie had recently told us about this place. Wandering behind the church, we looked for signs of the path and sure enough we found it. Interesting however that no signs are visible anywhere from the road nor the front of the church, so you can only find the path by wandering around to the back. A short 5 min walk along the well-marked path, we arrived at an inland cavern, filled with water where shrimp thrive. You can just make out one of the little red critters in the last picture. It’s very unusual. Also thriving along the path are tons of spiders and mosquitoes, and of course we forgot to take bug spray even though our friends from Sea Shifter told us to!
After the Shrimp Hole, we visited the local airport at Deadmans Cay. As a pilot, John’s always interested in checking out the local flying infrastructure. They had a well-kept little terminal building and staff onsite with flights arriving from Nassau 3 times per week.
There was even a car rental business, which (incredibly) you accessed by walking or driving right across the runway! No signs indicating to stop and call via phone or radio, just “head this way.”
John decided he would try this out, although he parked the car to do so. He looked left and right, and walked right out into the middle of the runway and stood there to see how long it took someone to come say something. He got bored and hot so he walked back to where I was in the terminal building. We both smiled knowingly when the nice lady stopped him from leaving the building on the ramp side and going out beyond the fence, for “security reasons.”
If you taxi (or walk) from the runway, on the left side are the remnants of a prominent bar/restaurant, now hiding behind a fence. Back in the day, perhaps this was your first stop after disembarking from a “sporty” flight from the mainland(?)
The main attraction for the day was Deans Blue Hole, and it didn’t disappoint! This famous blue hole is known as the deepest, (or the second deepest depending on who you ask) at 663′ deep and free diving competitions are regularly held here. The deep blue colours were spectacular on the sunny morning we visited. Along the left edge, 3 small angels adorned a memorial plaque, but in the sunlight and angle, we couldn’t make out what it said.
Unfortunately there was plastic debris floating in the water which appeared to have drifted in from the adjacent bay, but that didn’t deter these guys from jumping in for a swim from the 30′ cliff. Another guy swam out to the dock in the middle and fished for a bit but couldn’t keep anything on his line.
We continued south toward Clarence Town and stopped at another historic church, St Pauls Anglican, established by Father Jerome who was well-known for building several churches on the islands. We wandered the grounds and when I tried the doors, a friendly fellow next door yelled over in typical Bahamian style, “give it a good pull and it’ll open”. So we also got a few pics of the inside.
There isn’t much soil covering the limestone rock which forms the island, so graves sites are at ground level.
In Clarence Town we checked out the local Flying Fish Marina. It’s an impressive new facility that has a couple restaurants, a pool and a small convenience store in their marina office. The strong wind blowing through the marina created an annoying whistle from the fishing pole holders of the large fishing boats.
We decided to try a nearby restaurant for lunch, Rowdy Boys. My fish burger was delicious and very filling with a side of rice and beans. John tried to enjoyed their free WiFi to update our apps, but it was so slow he eventually gave up. They had a great location for the restaurant, right on the rugged ocean front.
Overall, the marina and restaurant seem to be great facilities, but perhaps under-utilized or neglected. There are hints of a more glamorous past like this banner/burgee from Dennis Conner’s Stars and Stripes 88, which won the 1988 America’s Cup.
After lunch we headed north and stopped at Max’s Conch Bar for a quick drink, where some of the paraphernalia includes a lobster box from Sobeys in Atlantic Canada!
We watched Max chop up some fresh conch for his famous conch salad. He even offered John a taste of a of special delicacy which is supposed to enhance libido. The Bahamian Viagra, if you will. Unfortunately for everyone’s entertainment, John politely declined the raw conch “pistol.”
Reaching the northern end of the island, we stopped at Stella Maris marina with infrastructure which appeared to be quite past its prime. It is really the only marina on the north end of the island, but doesn’t appear to have recovered from the last series of storms. You do get access to the nearby Stella Maris Resort if you stay here.
As we continued north on Queens Highway, I saw a sign for a former plantation. We attempted to visit but unfortunately the road was just too overgrown to continue driving, and since it was now dusk, the no-see-ums were coming out in full force which eliminated the possibility of walking. This picture was the good end of the road. When we finally gave up, the middle section was up to the grill.
Our next stop was the beautiful Cape Santa Maria Resort which surprisingly, was built by a Canadian from Alberta. The grounds were everything you would expect from a 5-star resort and we were wishing the mosquitoes hadn’t found us so we could enjoy the views a little longer.
It now was time to head back south to our boat. We made a couple of quick last stops along the way to capture an unusual war memorial on the side of Queens Highway. There was no inscription, nor anyone around to ask about it.
The final stop was to capture our official passage (back) into the tropics at a nondescript sign along the highway which marks the current coordinates for the Tropic of Cancer. You can officially be in the tropics and out of the tropics on the same island here. We apologize for the quality of the pictures, but now it was quite dark and we had difficulty getting enough light from the headlights.
Another full day exploring one of the 700 islands in the beautiful Bahamas.