Our current time zone: GMT +8 (We're home in Singapore!)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Destination: Freedom

So here we are on the island of Eleuthera, self-toted as Destination Freedom. As we all know, freedom comes at a price. Namely:

Return ferry ticket to Harbour Island: US$125 x 2 pax = US$250

Golf cart rental: US$40

Return water taxi from Harbour Island to Eleuthera: US$5 x 2 trips x 2 pax = US$20

Return taxi from Eleuthera dock to inn: US$90

4 nights accommodation: US$429 (and this is already after a 'stay 3 nights, get 1 night free' deal)

Bahamian (Conch) Pizza: US$16

Steak (best in the Caribbean!): US$35

Chicken wings: US$10

This side trip was turning out to be an extremely expensive affair. Thankfully, there's no sales tax in the Bahamas. Although there's still a 10% room tax and restaurants automatically add a 15% gratuity to the bill. Thank goodness also for the 12 packets of instant noodles thoughtfully purchased from Walmart in Florida before we came over, at 16 cents per packet.

At least hot breakfast is included in the room rate. Daily choice of pancakes (9 on a plate in this photo!), french toast and omelets.

Needless to say, renting a car on this island (averaging US$50-60 a day, plus gas) is out of the question. We didn't really mind however, as our inn was located on a narrow strip of land right smack in between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic coast. The Caribbean coast is all rock and knobs, so we went in search of Hidden Beach on the Atlantic side, which was said to be within easy reach. Easy - if you don't mind a 500m hike in the sweltering heat over a small hill (aptly named Overhill Drive.) Well beggars can't be choosers.

Overhill Drive offers a sea-to-sea view of the Caribbean Sea on one side...

... and the Atlantic Ocean on the other (no, I'm not doing the YMCA dance.)

Hidden Beach was seriously not easy to find (as can be gleaned from its obviously literal moniker), which made it even more of a pleasant surprise when we finally found a small opening in the thick vegetation lining the beach, squeezed through a narrow gap in the rocks and found ourselves in a small cave - with the beach and Atlantic right before us!

Ta-da! Look what he created from a rock wall!

A perfect lounging spot - until the tide started coming in really quickly. We ended up perching on the rocks when the beach went under.

Except for another couple who was hurrying back to get their snorkels, the beach was perfectly empty. And all ours. Until the couple (and Ellie their red-haired retriever) came back with their gear.

Pink sands have found their way here too

A lovely flat beach with gentle waves that come swishing up your sides. And depositing loads of fine sand in bodily regions where no grain of sand should be given access to. (This picture was snuck into this entry by the photographer himself. Guess he likes it alot.)

The water was amazing. So clear that you can see the sunlight dancing on the sandy bottom. The sand was soft and totally clear of sea grass, stony pebbles, broken coral and other not-so-nice-to-step-on debris. (Ever since I suffered the childhood trauma of accidentally stepping barefoot on a miserable sea urchin at East Coast Park, I've been paranoid about either wearing booties or slippers into the sea or treading water and avoiding touching the unseen bottom altogether.) We saw plenty of fish, who were not shy about lurking around us, surreptitiously checking us out. There were threadfins, little sergeant majors, needle-noses, bottom-feeders (as in sea bottom, not human bottoms), wrasses, etc. At least I don't feel so bad about having to give those snorkeling trips at Nassau a miss now.

Gazing into my crystal fishbowl

It's hard to believe, but we spent 5 hours just whiling away at the beach! Thank goodness for Forever Aloe Gelly which was sitting pretty in the fridge back at the inn, just waiting to soothe and cool our hot skin.

The only way to fully enjoy the waters - kindly lent to us by another couple on the beach

So that wraps up our expensive side trip to Freedom. All in all, the Bahamas is a highly expensive destination to visit, even more so than the US itself. But that's life on these islands. Our Bahamian taxi driver was genuinely surprised that we found his country pricey to visit. The locals pay at much as the tourists do for transport around the islands and we spotted many dining at the hotel restaurant too. I guess with foreigners pumping their assets into the many offshore banks around the Bahamas, many of the locals make a good livelihood in banking and legal services. Our taxi driver announced that he was going to be the proud owner of a new hotel on Eleuthera soon, with a projected income of US$1,000 per week.

Bahamians are also as well-dressed as they are well-to-do. The ladies are a stylish lot, dressed in colourful, fitting outfits, large shiny jewelery, and with never EVER a hair out of place. Their hair is ALWAYS neatly gelled and combed away from their faces, and clasped in a neat bun or in tightly-braided corn rows, with colourful beads dangling from each row of hair.
That's Caribbean style for you! I wonder what they thought of us Asians flopping around in our S$5 slippers with our long uncut tresses flying amok in the seabreeze. We must have looked real messy!


Yusuf Hamid said...

Hi Guys,

I'm a reporter with Straits Times Life! and i'm doing a piece on Singaporean's who keep travel blogs. Do you mind writing back to me ASAP if you're interested? my email is yhamid@sph.com.sg

Do let me know soon!


Independent Queen said...


hope 1 day i can go where u guys been to..

Dannie said...

Hi I.Q,

Thanks. Part of the reason why we are traveling is also to prove that where there's a will, there's a way to travel! :)

Yi Lin said...

Hi Independent Queen,

With a nick like that, I'm sure you can make it anywhere you want to go!

Yeah, it took a bit of time and planning to get here. Namely cos we had to save hard for a couple of years. But take heart, you'll get there. And you've gotta go even further and to more places than we have been to yah? :)

Thanks for reading!

Yeepster said...

Wa.. $90 cab...No pickup service from inn? and still charge so much for room. Yes, must always bring groceries for resorts...

Yi Lin said...

No, no pick-up service. Cos most visitors to the island rent a car from the airport to get around the island during their stay.

Yeah, we first went crazy with chips and chocolates when we first hit the US. Cos then we had a car to stash it all. Now we can only buy un-meltable and easy-to-carry basic foods - instant noodles (not even the cup type, just packets and packets!)

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