This past week we traded out a Toronto winter in favour of the sunshine, palm tree laden Bahamas. Kept well entertained on board by our cheerful West Jet crew, the three hour flight south passed by in no time at all. Armed only with small backpacks we landed in Nassau on a balmy 26 degree January day. Shedding our winter clothes and shoes, a sun filled day out on the azure blue waters was a must.
A Perfect Day Trip: The Bahamas
Highly recommended by the locals, we booked ourselves onto the Power Boat Adventures day trip to the Exumas. A family run business, Power Boat Adventures appears to be the local staple. Everyone we spoke to shared their own fond memories of the trip. After years of experience they really have got it down pat, packing the day full of unique experiences.
Early to rise we met our shuttle transfer who drove us over to the marina on Paradise Island. After a quick checkin at Margaritaville we boarded our vessel. Our Bahamian crew were a friendly bunch, settling us all in immediately. While front row seats on the boat are coveted, taking a seat three rows deep means you won't take the full brunt of the wind. As we gained speed it was a comedy act of people struggling to drape themselves in towels and jumpers alike. My suggestion- pack something warm for the ride so that you can fully appreciate the panoramic views.
Somewhat sensitive to rough boat rides, I was impressed with how smooth the journey was. You really do cut through the glassy waters. There is a tangible excitement in the air as everyone keeps on the look out for wild dolphins who are known to follow the boat. Lined with narrow cays, out here it's just you and the odd fishing boat. Then, in a moment it happens. Nearing the outer islands it's as if the water transforms. Taking on a silky translucent quality, barely a breath of wind ripples the mirrored surface. I find myself thinking back to my trip in the Whitsundays but this really is something else. Welcome to the Exumas!
The boat slows and you catch your first glimpse of Allen Cay, home to the resident Iguanas. After the hour long boat journey it's a welcome opportunity to jump into the warm waters. The iguanas are a funny bunch, extremely inquisitive and very grateful for your grapes. I find myself laughing at their erratic behaviour and enjoy the experience much more than I had anticipated.
Our own private island?
Jumping back in the boat it's only a short ride to Ship Channel Cay. Here on your own private island is where you will spend the rest of the day. Grab a drink from the lovely Rebecca at the bar (it's all included) and a bite to eat. We were kept well hydrated with a variety of juices, spirits, local favourites and even Bahama Mamas on tap.
Stingrays & sharks, oh my.
Initially wary of the stingrays, I found myself mesmerised by their beauty. Standing waist high in the water as they took turns gliding past and brushing up against my legs was rather unnerving. Later they demonstrated their speed as we lined up in a row to hand feed them fish. While the crowd enjoyed the shark wrangling, I much prefer to watch them in their own element circling in the shallows peacefully.
Perfect day for a snorkel.
We never say no to the chance of a snorkel out on the reef. Don't let yourself be put off by the idea that this is a group activity, you have plenty of room to spread out. Distracted by the plethora of fish, we found ourselves drifting a fair way back from the group. It was great to see how the first time snorkelers and a weak swimmer were well looked after. With staff members present both in the water as well as following along by boat, everyone can feel at ease.
Conditions out on the water were fantastic. The combination of white sand, calm waters and perfect lighting all making for high visibility and a stunning backdrop for the fish. With such clarity we could see all the way to the bottom of the reef while afloat on the surface. Having previously done two dives on the Great Barrier Reef I now found myself introduced to a whole new world of sea fans. The medley of fish dancing before my eyes were lit up in colours all across the spectrum. By far my favourite part of the day, I will go back purely for this.
Time for lunch.
Lunch was enjoyed on the boat pier in front of a backdrop of gorgeous sea and reef sharks circling below. As a vegetarian I often find myself little catered for, so I took to the large variety of pastas, salads and fruit heartily. For a local delicacy watch as conch salad is prepared fresh in the shallows. Jason, a man of many talents can be found in the water shark wrangling, snorkelling and preparing the salad fresh. Onions, peppers and fresh citrus were diced and tossed with the conch. While I passed on the opportunity Dan downed his salad with a can of the local beer sands light. It doesn't get fresher than that and it was a great chance to see the island favourite prepared.
Back to Nassau.
Time to lie back and soak up some vitamin D before the boat ride home. It was a very content and tired bunch that made it back to shore in Nassau just in time for supper. A trip to the Bahamas is not complete without a trip out to the Exumas. Not for the faint hearted, Powerboat Adventures offers an action packed day with exclusive interactions with the local life. With a number of competing tours available, if you have one day to set aside this is the one I would do.
To find out more and book your own Powerboat Adventure click here