Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Spanish Wells

We ended up spending almost a week here and had a lovely time. This is an unusual place in many ways. First it's dry - no alcohol sold or served. This has a number of ramifications. The restaurants are very simple and there aren't many of them. There appeared to be only 1 or 2 small hotels on the island, both not busy. Since this is a beautiful spot with lots of lovely beaches and the neatest, cleanest community we've seen so far, I believe commercial tourist development needs bars.
It is however a popular spot for vacation rentals. Many of the charming small traditional cottages are for rent and real estate brokers are all over, so many are now second homes. The nearby Russell Island, connected to Spanish Wells by a bridge, has many beautiful homes along the water that look like second homes for sure.
We rented a 6 person golf cart for a day to explore the island. As you can see from the pictures, it's a comfortable and jaunty way to travel.

My fascination with textures extends to trees
as well as walls. This forest was at the far
west end of Russell Island.
Spanish Wells is the fishing capital of the Bahamas. Their catch is mostly lobster (or crawfish)  nowadays but they catch a lot of it. Big fishing vessels on docks line the harbor which is really the channel between Spanish Wells and Russell Island. The north end of Eleuthera is very close by on the eastern side. To the north reefs protect both islands. Only a narrow channel leads out to the sea going north. The island is 2 miles long and a half mile wide with about 1,500 residents.
Unlike most of the Bahamas most of the residents are white. At one time black Bahamians were not allowed to live on the island. The first settlers were part of the Eleutheran Adventurers who were wrecked on the Devil's Backbone in the 1600's. Later Loyalists from the U.S. during the Revolution came. It's a traditional, religious, and conservative community.

Most of the boats look like the shrimp boats in the southern U.S. but now they serve as mother ships to smaller craft that bring the divers out to catch lobster. This picture to the left shows Scott Free and Anything Goes side by side on the far left of the dock.
The Marina is small but very friendly. It was a much fancier facility at one time with a restaurant and pool, but was destroyed by Hurricanes Andrew and Floyd in 1992 and 1999. It does have a washer and dryer and showers. There is a nearby supermarket that was well supplied and actually slightly better than Rock Sound.
We walked all over the island admiring the homes and gardens. The beach was white and long, mostly shallow water and protected - little waves. I particularly liked the swimming at the western end of the channel near the bridge to Russell Island where the water was deep and clear (see the large picture above).

We ate out only once, for breakfast, at the Eagles's Landing cafe next to the Spanish Wells Food Fair, 18th St. and Main. It was a basic reasonably charged breakfast but a strange little place. It looked like a small warehouse from the front - no windows. Inside a long corridor past the counter where you ordered (most of the food must be take out) there were 4 or 5 tables in a room without windows - not very appealing right!

Julie, Peter, Kathy and Nigel ate out the first night at the Anchor Snack Bar which has inside dining despite it's name, but no ambiance for sure. The food was plentiful, cheap, mostly fried and not great.
We recommend coming here for sure but suggest you plan to eat on your boat or in your house. Fresh seafood is available at Ronald's Fish Store. As we mentioned in a previous entry, we went to Harbor Island from here and there one can eat really well.

Nigel and Kathy had changed their departure flight from the Abacos to northern Eleuthera, leaving Sunday. It was sad to say good-bye as they were a lot of fun.
We left just a few days later, spending one night in Royal Harbor again. This has been a huge development in the making for some time. Plans are enormous, headed by Roger Staubach with a signature Jack Nicklaus golf course, huge marina, private homes, hotel etc. It is no longer possible to land on the island, but so far we can still anchor there. The next morning we sailed up to the Abacos, 60 miles north.

This cute little place, Norma's Seaside Take-away, looked
interesting but we didn't have a chance to try it. It wasn't
open when we went by. That's it's menu on the right here.

Small parks, lovely gardens and thoughtful benches are
scattered throughout the island
On the right, we weren't the only one enjoying the beach.

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