Phillip and I had no plans to stop in Andros on our last voyage through the Bahamas. Although we do have a good friend who told us (when we were planning our first trip to the Bahamas in 2017) that it is a great spot for kitesurfing, we got caught up like most do in our excitement to see the Exuuumas! When most people write and post about the remote, untouched beauty of the Bahamas, they’re usually referring to the Exumas and surrounding islands. Places like Cat Island:
Staniel Cay with its famous James Bond Thunderball Grotto:
Or Little Exuma with its Tropic of Cancer Beach:
Many Bahamas cruisers told us while the Abacos are fun and stunning in their own right, there is just something pristinely breathtaking about the Exumas. So, when we left Bimini headed toward New Providence Channel all headings were pointing east, to the Exumas. But, as you know from our last blog and my scariest moment of the trip, the weather forced us on a slight detour. And, as is usually the case, Phillip and I were thrilled we took the detour because it revealed to us yet another new, exciting destination in the Bahamas: Andros.
Although our mere single-night stay this last time proved to us Andros is a rare gem, with experiences and stories all its own, after researching further we have since learned Andros is one of the most cost-effective and well-stocked islands in the Bahamas. Because it is so large, produce and water are often in much greater supply than the smaller islands. As many of you may know, water can cost as much as $1.00/gallon in certain areas of the Bahamas. With as much water as Phillip and I need to drink while sweating and dehydrating daily in the Bahamas and use for showering and rinsing the boat, the price for water in the Bahamas can start to creep into the budget.
We also learned Andros is home to one of the best and largest barrier reefs in the Bahamas, the Andros Barrier Reef, which Phillip and I plan to dive and snorkel in the future.
The spearfishing would also be good on the east shore of Andros as it drops right into the Tongue of the Ocean. Catching fresh fish to cook on the boat every night is not only delicious, it’s also not bad on the wallet either. All told, Phillip and I are planning to check out Fresh Water Creek and spend more time in Andros the next time we sail by. We know it’s worth another stop for more discovery because we got a personal, local peek into the island this last time when Phillip scored three-hour driving tour guided by a long-time Andros local and the Harbor Master, a wonderful woman named Kenedra (whose name I can only hope I’m spelling correctly) and her bubbly daughter, Diamond!
We dropped the hook in Morgan’s Bluff rather early in the morning, hours before dinner time (and you remember what was for dinner that night! : ).
With the whole afternoon on our hands, Phillip and I decided to venture ashore to take a poke around and see what life is like at Morgan’s Bluff.
I’ll admit it is just a beautiful little beach with a tiny little rum bar, but that sounds like heaven to me! And, it was. The beach there on the north end of Andros was nothing short of stunning.
And, an ice cold Kalik and rum drink after the beat-down and fish battle we’d just been through was quite the reward.
After talking with a local at the bar, we inquired about a potential tour of the island and he personally set us up with the Harbour Master, Kenedra, who offered to take us around the island herself personally that afternoon by car. This was such a surprise and wonderful treat.
Kenedra first took us to the huge rocky bluff on the northern tip of Andros. It really is a steep ways up with a harsh rocky shore below.
Legend has it, the cruel and infamous buccaneer Henry Morgan (you guessed it … THE Captain Morgan) had a hideout in a cave at this most northwestern tip of Andros. He and his crew allegedly hid their booty, both gold and rum (that’s worth hiding!), in the cave because the bluff the cave is located under was a notoriously dangerous spot for ships. Since most other sailors and pirates avoided this area because of its treacherous shore, Captain Morgan thought it was the best place in the world for his treasure.
Kenendra snapped mine and Phillip’s photo in front of the sign commemorating the Captain Morgan legend on Andros.
She told us, though, by the end of his career, legend says Captain Morgan was known not for his keen pirating abilities, but for his excessive drinking and weight gain. Blame it on the rum …
Kenedra drove us all over the island, stopping frequently to catch up with fellow Andros residents. (This is very common in the Bahamas.) Locals usually do not pass each other on the roads without honking and waving, at the very least, and often not without stopping and talking for a bit. It never ceases to amaze me how connected they are, compared to people in the States who can go for days, weeks (months even!), without talking to any people in their neighborhood. The sense of community there is truly heart-warming. After the Bluff and Captain Morgan’s famous cave (and specifically in response to her daughter, Diamond’s, insistent urging) Kenedra also took us to a quirky little hotel, the Pineville Motel, where the owner has a petting zoo with an eclectic mix of animals, ranging from goats, to peacocks, to rabbits.
I wanted to pet (keep) them all! Thankfully, Phillip put the kibosh on it (or that would make for quite an interesting sail on Plaintiff’s Rest the next day! Phillip and I also posed for another cameo photo on the Pineville Motel’s Disco Stage.
[Strike your own John Travolta disco move now! That’s a HaveWind order!]
Kenedra also took us to an exquisite little bungalow resort on the island, the Andros Island Beach Resort, and introduced us to the owner who runs the rental units (adorable little cottages right on the beach) and the restaurant.
Phillip and I were really surprised to see such amazing accomodations here, that would cost upwards of $500/night on the east coast of Florida going for a mere $200/night in the Bahamas. Another reason it pays to travel.
Diamond was cracking me up at this point. Over the course of the three hours she went from shy and unengaged to bubbly and inquisitive. Diamond and I became good little buddies by the end of it. She wanted to braid my hair. I should have let her!
Our last stop on the tour was the “Blue Hole.” While we have since learned there are many of these in the Bahamas, the one in Andros carries all the way out to the ocean.
The hole formed when a portion of the limestone island caved in, leaving a stunning blue water hole in the middle of the island fauna that is filled with cold, rainwater. But, if you dive the hole, you will start to lower down into water with more salinity and you can eventually cave dive your way out of the hole into the Tongue of the Ocean on the east coast of Andros.
How cool is that? It was cool enough for Phillip to jump in!
I only hesitated (as you all know I love to jump from cliffs) knowing if I got soaked I’d have to drench Kenedra’s car with my wet soppy clothes and wild pile of hair. Stinking hair … there are so many times I wish I was bald and more “quick-dry” like Phillip.
The highlight of the Andros tour, however, was not a destination, but it was a big deal. It was a dilly! While we were chatting and driving around in the car, Diamond, happily jumping into our conversation the further we drove, suddenly blurted out “Have you guys tried a dilly yet?” I wasn’t sure how to answer that. I didn’t even know what a dilly was. Is it a food? Is it a dance? A local handshake? I could confidently say to Diamond, “No, I have not tried a dilly yet.” With a gleam in her eye, her mom Kenedra (without saying a word) drove several roads leaning forward and looking up and out the windshield to the left and right, finally pulled off near a particular tree. No sooner than she put it in park, Diamond busted out of the car and started sprinting toward a very tall, bushy tree and began whacking at the upper branches with a long stick. Phillip and I exchanged a fun “What’s the dilly-yo?”glance as Kenedra followed her daughter and started whacking too.
Unfortunately, just as soon as it became clear to us they were trying to knock some type of fruit off of the tree for us to try, Kenedra said: “I tink dey all been picked ooh-vuh.” But Diamond would not give up. She kept scrambling, kept whacking, until we finally heard a muffled voice from within the cavern of the fauna. “I got one!” Diamond cried as she came running out, her spoils in hand: a perfectly ripe dilly fruit. Kenedra and Diamond eyed us as we eyed the fruit. Diamond cracked it in half with her hands (a dilly is roughly the consistently of a firm kiwi on the outside, an almost ripe peach on the inside). The two halves were a bright, blazing orange.
Definitely a fruit I had never seen before. The word guava came to mind, but then I remembered those are green on the outside, pink on the inside. This dilly was totally different. But, the taste was very similar.
Mmmm guava … I thought as the super sweet interior slipped down my throat. Phillip and I ate both of our halves right there on the side of the road in Andros, getting all sticky-fingered without even caring, and we still note it as one our favorite “bites” of the entire trip.
I think it was the combination of the surprise and newness Andros offered, the generosity of our hosts, and Diamond’s enthusiasm to share something of her local community with new friends. All of it came together to culminate in the perfect sweet treat. As we said goodbye to Kenedra and Diamond and dinghied back to our boat, Phillip and I agreed that’s what Andros felt like to us: the perfect sweet treat. New, unexpected, and rewarding.
Andros, we will definitely be back. Next up, we’ll weigh anchor from (Captain) Morgan’s Bluff and make our way to our first island in the Exumas! Man, so much work and effort has gone into bringing the boat to this point. I still get thrills now just remembering and writing about it. Stay tuned!