We made our journey from Bimini to Great Harbour Cay, which was at one time a remote hideaway for the privileged. In the day, Hollywood celebrities came to this idyllic environment to dance the night away, and play on the beautiful beaches and golf courses. On the island of the sun, Cary Grant, Brigitte Bardot, Jack Nicklaus are just a few of the famous that entered into the world of make believe when the weather turned cold. Jack Nicklaus still comes to the island, and he was here while we enjoyed this retreat of tranquility in his boat, “Sea Bear”.
The Bahamas is made up of seven hundred islands and cays. This tiny section is called the Berry Islands. Great Harbour Cay is the largest. Unlike some of the islands, Harbour Cay does not have to depend on rainwater collected to survive. It has an ample supply of fresh water. The golf courses and clubs are now rundown and dilapidated, but the pristine beaches still remain, although empty. The 18 hole championship golf course is covered in weeds, but this is still very much a paradise in the sun to find tranquility and experience the mystical energy of the Bahamas
The clubhouse once offered sweeping panoramic views of the island to dance the night away.
Beach Treasures – Shelling Beach
We headed out on our bikes to Shelling Beach. We wanted to make sure we were there for low tide to catch the shallow sand flats to cross to Hawks Nest Cay. We rode up hills in the hot sun until we reached a dirt road. We rode this sandy path to solitude. The locals call this beach, “Sand Dollar Beach”, and that it was. It was really amazing destination where I collected many fabulous treasures. We waded through the clear, pristine waters collecting sand dollars on our way to Hawks Nest. Hawks Nest was an island completely untouched waiting to be explored. We found many conchs, sand dollars and sea biscuits along our journey as we explored one of the most prettiest places, I have seen in a long time. We were careful to take only the dead creatures. Live sand dollars do not look like perfectly white shells. They are much darker almost brown. The white sand dollars are their skeletons, called tests. If you pluck a live one out of the surf look at your fingers. If they are yellow put him back. He is still alive.
We explored the numerous sandy coves as we strolled the beach, and climbed up the rocks to enjoy the spectacular view.
We stumbled on a grotto, which was absolutely breathtaking. The journey was a playground for those that want to see what the wonders of this earth can still render.
Along with this natural cave that would have been flooded during high tide, we found sea biscuits, which have similar five-way symmetry to their cousin, the sand dollar. They are very similar, but larger and more oblong and rounded than their cousins, the sand dollar.
We took the WaveRunner through Shark Creek during high tide. It is a tidal flow running through the mangroves south of Great Harbour Cay. As it connects the ocean to the banks, it is a magnet for the juvenile fish and other species like rays, sea turtles and sharks. We spotted several rays and small aquatic fish as we travelled through this narrow passage, but no sharks. 🙂
We stopped and did some snorkeling. After enjoying the clear blue waters, we continue on our journey seeing a fishing trawler that rests on a slight starboard tilt. The vessel is still completely intact. Further along our journey, we observed a drug plane wreck from the 70’s. I guess at one time there was a pretty sophisticated drug operation on the island. The history of the island is filled with stories of drug runners. We stopped to look at the corroding reminder of paradise’s brief sinister past. The sunken plane was supposedly shot down by by the DEA near Cistern Cay.
The manatees came to the marina on a regular basis to drink water from a hose. They either used their two front flippers to grasp onto the pier while they drank the water, or floated on their back with their mouth hanging open to catch the lovely fresh water. I guess they can survive for long periods of time without fresh water, but seek out fresh water, which they need to survive. The manatees that we had observed had many battle wounds from boat propellers. These notches and nicks are a sad thing to observe on these gentle, but curious majestic creatures.
We enjoyed a beautiful sunset on our last night as a local Bahamian prepared for us a delicious meal for $10.00. Chuck was brave enough to try the Peas and Rice, which is a staple for the Bahamians. This dish has been on all of the restaurant menus in the Bahamas. Until now, we had not been brave enough to try it. The peas were brown in appearance, so naturally I thought that this is not a pea. This delicious nutty flavoured pea was actually a pigeon pea. You can eat the pea like a fresh green pea, or dry it. Drying it gives it a delicious nutty flavour just like a bean. Yum! It was good! The marina was a great place to stay. The locals made you feel very welcome, as we tried out many new dishes from fried fish to conch salad. It was a stunning island with its solitude and pristine aquamarine water. A great stop to escape from the tourist crowd.