The Bahamas | life is better here.
I had been to the Bahamas when I was very young, but don’t remember much. So, when we got the invite to our friends’ wedding in the Bahamas, I was ecstatic to be going back. I never realized or appreciated that a place so close to the mainland could be so beautiful. My husband and I decided to make Peter and Tara’s wedding the perfect excuse to plan a big, proper holiday; our first since moving back to the USA from Singapore.
Our first stop, the Exumas. I have never heard much about them, but wow, they looked amazing. I had high expectations ever since our trip to the Maldives. The Exumas did not disappoint. I could leave it at that, but I want to relive this trip, so, you will have to put up with pictures and details.
We arrived in the Exumas via Nassau on a small plane, naturally, to met greeted by dozens of drivers holding signs. My very best friend met us there with her wife, Michelle. This would be our first vacation together since summer of 2000. The airport was merely a landing strip, accompanied by a 1-person bathroom and a tiny check-in counter. Very charming. We met Linton, our house manager, who picked us up and drove us 40 minutes to our house on Little Exuma. The sun was setting, so we could still see our surroundings, or lack thereof. Yes, Exuma is an island, but a rather big one, and very green; exceptionally green. Looking out both sides of us in the car all you saw was dense jungle. I was so anxious to see the sea. After 30 minutes, three stores, and glimpses of the sea, we turned onto a gravel road. A long, bumpy road. Then, after 10 minutes, in the distance, we saw it. Our house. The Sugar Beach Villa, standing high and reflecting the sunset in the massive windows. I could not believe we were staying there; the whole house was ours.
The Sugar Beach Villa was not just a house, but a small resort, all to yourself. It sits on its own property, with no other house for at least 1/2 a mile. A little trail through tiny palms and lizards led to the beach deck, perched on the rocks, with sun-bleached stairs leading down to the gentle sea. The water was so clear and turquoise, with nothing but white sand below as far as the eye could see. With only a tiny reef 100 yards offshore, there was no snorkeling to speak of, but definitely the perfect swimming and playing. The water had a bit of a current, so it kept your time in the water fun, but beware, it may not be the best for small children. There is also not much of an actual beach right in front of the house, so don’t expect to build any sandcastles. You literally walk down the stairs and walk a few steps and jump in. But fear not, proper, sugary, white sand beaches are just a hundred yards away.
Prior to arrival, we arranged for 2 paddle boards from Paddle Exuma to be dropped off at the house, and picked up right before we left. They were actually more like a hybrid; a cross between a kayak and a paddle board. In theory that sounds great, but a plain-Jane paddle board would’ve been better. Hauling them up and down the deck stairs to the water was no easy feat. However, once they were in the water they were a blast. My favorite was when we decided it was a good idea to swim and paddle to the beach 100 yards away. Getting there was no problem, but then we had to go back, against the current. My poor husband not only had to paddle me back, but then he had to help Jess and Michelle. Champagne problems; taking it a bit longer to swim and paddle through gorgeous, crystal clear, warm water in the sunshine in the Bahamas. I loved watching this all happen from the deck up above.
Every day was more or less the same on Little Exuma. We woke up to the sun rising, had coffee on one of the many wrap-around decks looking out to the sea, and then made breakfast, while looking out at the different shades of blue. It never got old. After breakfast, we sunscreened up, put the swim suits on and headed out to the beach decks. We read endlessly; I read more in this week than in the past year. We jumped in the water, played in the waves, swam, paddle boarded, read, reapplied sunscreen and, you got it, read some more. Lunch, back in the water, swim, read, reapply sunscreen, read, one more jump in, read to dry off, and then cocktail hour. Cap it all off with outdoor showers, the warm sun on your skin – there are few things that are better than a good outdoor shower.
Cocktail hour was glorious, minus our strict rationing of our very little supply of rum and wine. Unfortunately we did not appropriately prepare for cocktail hour. Come prepared, as there is no store for miles and miles. We did, however, have a fully stocked kitchen. Thank you Linton! We sent our house manager a list of groceries before we arrived, so we had plenty of food! With a cocktail in hand, a charcuterie board, and a perfect sunset over the Caribbean Sea, every day at Sugar Beach Villa ended with huge amounts of gratitude and excitement to do it all over again. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect 4 days.
After 4 days in heaven, we said goodbye to Jess and Michelle, and continued on to Tara and Peter’s wedding back on New Providence Island at the Lyford Cay Club. Much more developed, the Lyford Cay Club was on the complete opposite end of the holiday spectrum. A posh, elegantly understated affair, we checked-in at the grand clubhouse before meeting our adorable cottage. Dinner at the yacht club, teeming with some of the most amazing boats I have ever seen, and frequently by the most perfectly dressed families imaginable, was the perfect introduction to life at Lyford. We met Tara and Peter’s friends and family, all lovely, sipped on Rum Dums, the official Lyford Cay cocktail, and rode off in golf carts to the next cocktail hour, dinner, and the most fabulous first dance in wedding history. The best part of this half of the trip was definitely spending time, even a small dose, with Tara and Peter, our dearest friends from Singapore.
Sugar Beach Villa | $$$ Renting a house can either be pretty cheap or not at all. We travelled with another couple, so it wasn’t much more than a nice hotel. The biggest difference was the level of privacy and the amount of space afforded by a 6,000 square foot house and grounds. The villa was actually 3 buildings. The main house had the master bedroom with a king sized bed, another bedroom with 2 full sized beds, and then 2 smaller bedrooms with twin sized beds. All bedrooms had their own bathrooms and direct access outside. The main house also had the main kitchen, dining and living room with a 360 degree wrap around porch. The second building was simply a kitchen and eating area. This is a great idea if you want to keep the chef handy – highly recommend it. And lastly a guest suite, with a giant king sized bed, bar, living area and private deck. There were numerous sunning decks all around the property, so even when traveling with a big group, you still feel like you have incredible privacy. Gloria, the villa housekeeper, lives on site in her own house, and is often found around the property; sometimes when you least expect it. She’s Jamaican, and we hear she makes a roasts a mean goat! Linton, the house manager, is available for car service, grocery shopping and he even cooks! Do keep in mind you are on a tropical island, so there are bugs, spiders and yes, even scorpions. We were greeted by a dead one on our first night, but never saw any others. It is also very quiet, so not ideal for those party goers. We will definitely be going back.
Lyford Cay Club | $$$$ This place had everything perfect; down to the placement of the seashells on the bedside table in your adorable cottage. We stayed in a one bedroom cottage, just a few steps from the beach. It took all of 5 minutes for my husband and I to agree that we need to replicate this cottage in our future home. It was absolutely perfect. The patio was a great place to enjoy a rum dum, or maybe enjoy a game of croquet on the grass. There was a little kitchenette to make coffee or store some of your own food or create your own cocktails. The bathroom was stocked with Frette towels and the most delicious smelling bath products. The whites, light greens and coral pinks and plantation shutters completed the cottage look. The beach at the Lyford Cay Club had all the toys you could ask for, at a charge, to keep you occupied all day. The best feature were the cabana/beach umbrellas that shaded you when you needed it most. The food at the Yacht Club for dinner was good, not great. It was your typically country club meal, complete with golf ball butter balls. I did enjoy our lunches at the beach restaurant; awesome chicken salad sandwich. Pay attention to the dress code! This place means business, which I laughed at at first, but I will be the first to admit, I enjoyed it. Everyone always looks great, and I love putting on a good pair of summer espadrilles. The downside, and upside, to the Lyford Cay Club is that it is a members only club, so you need a referral from a member to stay here. Also, it’s cashless, so you simply settle your bill at the end of your stay. KA-CHING!!! $$$$$$. Those rum dums add up fast.