Long Island, Bahamas is a very simple place; there are not any spas, casinos, or resorts (at least not like you find on most Caribbean islands). You certainly would never have found Anna Nicole hanging out around here. It is one of the Bahamian Family Islands inhabited primarily by long time residents with a few “tourists” who don’t mind things not being very touristy. It is peaceful and calm with one main road, The Queen’s Highway, connecting the far north end to the south of this roughly 80 mile long piece of corral. There are a few small cottage style rentals, but the absence of a mega resort has helped this little island keep its native charm.
Our jeep has survived the salty air and is on the road again, just needed to zap the battery for a day and she is back to her rattly, but smooth running self. I tell her she is good and dependable and pat her on the dash when we start off in hopes that the ole’ girl will continue to run.
Shooting off the Queen’s Highway is a spider’s web of gravel, dirt roads and trails. The southern end of the island is less developed than the north, so that is where we have chosen to stay. Eighty miles long just does not seem like much, especially when you live in Texas, but on this island a journey from South to North and back will take almost your whole day. The roads are narrow and wind their way through the island’s settlements. The goats and sheep have the right of way and without street signs you get directions that are based on landmarks. One of those landmarks is the bakery.
A road trip would not be a road trip without finding a tasty new eatery, so our first morning on the island had us in search of breakfast. Having seen a sign for a bakery when we drove in from the airport we headed out to find donuts and coffee. Upon closer inspection we noticed the hand painted sign had actually said “Oasis Bakery & Bar.” This small pastel building with a patio and two picnic tables was actually the spot to come for your morning beer. So much for the donuts, but gee “when in Rome. . .”
The small local restaurants are really nothing like we are used to in America. They are called “Take-aways” because there is typically just a counter to order your food and a box to take it home in. Like the homes, restaurants rarely have air conditioning. Many do not have menus and you just ask what is being served that day. The choice varies depending on what the grocery boat brought that week and what the local fishermen caught. It is almost like going to your grandmother’s house for Sunday dinner, and the flavors on this small spot in the Caribbean are amazing.
Well, we learned quickly that a Bahamian breakfast is a far cry from pastries. Typically a soup stock with chicken, conch, or fish mixed with potatoes, “Souse” makes a hearty start to a busy day. A local church is hosting a “Souse Out” on Saturday morning. It will be an opportunity to try many different types, even mutton. It is a little like our BBQ Cook Offs in Texas.
While it would be easy to settle into the local pace and just chill – there is a lot to explore! Columbus landed on the northern tip of Long Island before he made it to America. There is a natural blue hole just a few feet from shore that is over 600 feet deep, the deepest blue hole anywhere. There is a ghost town that used to be a Diamond Salt Company location. And a fascinating inland network of waterways called Salinas that are tidal and allow the ocean to snake its way through low lying areas. Most amazing are the Long Island people, from farmers to fishermen they have strong values and have made a comfortable life in a remote setting. Guess we should get going . . . well maybe after just a little more souse . . . and possibly a beer.
Wishing you miles of happy driving,
Lynn Beckwith, That Car Lady
Read the previous Long Island Road Trip posts here:
Coming soon . . . Cliff diving at the Blue Hole.