IFR: I fly roads – low and slow


Our original plan was to fly to Cat Island or Crooked Island for that $500  ham (vege) burger, walk on the beach, then loop over the southern islands of the Bahamas on day 3. Although there are 29 islands, and a total of 57 airports in the Bahamas, very few of them are monitored or have a cafe on the field.

It had rained a little the night before. The day dawned a little cloudy but there was no doubt it would clear up and it was going to be another gorgeous day in paradise.  This was going to be the only day, we would have time to explore the islands from the ground.

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During breakfast, Linda and I changed our plans yet again and opted to rent a car instead of flying. Just as we were finishing the transaction and getting all the details on where to stop and what to see from Alissa at the front desk, the others came over and asked if we wanted to fly out to Staniel Cay to watch swimming pigs!

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Linda and I set-off on the wrong side of the road, armed with charts and plenty of water. Long island spans about 130 km lengthwise and is 6km wide. There is one main road that runs end to end. Should be easy right? We set off, looping once, twice trying to locate this main road.  Allisa had told us to drive slowly, aware of potholes, goats and other natural inhabitants.   She clearly told us us it was not necessary to bring back dinner. After 30 minutes of rickety roads, avoiding pot holes, rocks, and seeing not a soul, we finally spied the Watering Hole a small store in the middle of  no where. Seeing us, the girl at the desk smiled brightly, “You are lost, yes?”

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Back on track, Linda and I finally located the main road and drove to the Santa Maria Cay and Resort just 7 km south from the Stella Maris Resort. White sandy beach and turquoise blue waters bathe the cape of Santa Maria. Tranquil and pristine, it was a getaway to die for. Santa Maria resort does boast a dirt strip if you do want to fly-in. Walking on the deserted beach, picking shells, it felt heavenly. We almost felt tempted to take a dip in the turquoise waters. Instead, opted for some lunch on the patio facing the beach and sipped the most refreshing Mango Margarita’s.

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Although Columbus is known to have made landfall at San Salvador Island of the Bahamas, he is said to have stopped at Long Island. There is a Columbus Monument and lighthouse, just a short distance, south of the Santa Maria Resort. With firm directions from the front desk, we set off. Let me tell you we never made it. Directions and signs here are awful or scant. The girl had told us it was an unpaved road and that we might need a truck to travel on it. Linda was game and we thought we would give it a go. After driving at snails pace on a rocky road leading to no where and afraid the tires were going to burst any minute now, Linda and I finally abandoned the idea and retraced our steps. we doubted, if it was the right rocky road anyway!

We headed north this time. There was Deal Beach, Hamilton Caves, the Long Island Museum, Blue Hole, and many more key tourist spots that Allisa had pointed out to us. Did I mention the signs here are awful? We skipped Deal Beach, crossed the Museum since we assumed it was not the one we wanted and almost missed the caves. Pulling over, at the Hamilton Caves, we saw a dilapidated building with a sign with an old well used truck and school bus parked. The tour would last about 45 min. We decided to skip it since it was already 4pm and there was barely two hours of daylight left. We wanted to catch a glimpse of Dean’s blue hole.

We almost missed the blue hole. After circling the area twice and almost ready to give up, we decided to venture past the two white pillar driveway and almost by accident saw the sign. The Dean’s Blue Hole is the world’s deepest sinkhole and dips 220ft or 660 m.  We hiked up the ridge to get a good view of the blue hole. You can take a dip in the waters there if you dare!

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The plan was to make it to Deal Beach to catch the sunset. We raced back south. Doing 25km was not really racing, but flying low and slow, as I called it. Cloud cover prevented any exotic views of the setting sun. We arrived back at Stella Maris, just as darkness descended.

All in all an exhausting day filled with all kinds of adventures. Okay I admit maybe going with the others to Staniel Cay to see swimming pigs might have just had an edge over this 🙂

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