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Our Crazy Bahamas Out Island Adventure and Inspired Recipes

If you follow me on Instagram you know that my husband and I have embarked on an adventure in the Bahamas. We became partners in a power catamaran (meaning no sails) that we keep in Great Exuma, one of the remote, largely untouched Out Islands. We head over there every chance we get to explore the beautiful  blue Bahamian waters and far-afield islands. This is definitely our empty-nester, nearing-retirement, better-now-or-never adventure. It is totally crazy and out of character for us. And it is so much fun!
 

This is a very big deal for us. We both have some boating experience, but captaining, provisioning, cooking in the galley, maintaining and fixing the numerous problems that inevitably come up when we are out in remote waters has been an enormous learning experience. Thank goodness my husband JP is a quick study. Fortunately we have wonderful partners who found and outfitted the boat and had several years experience before we joined the team. Thank you George and Barbara for showing us the way and including us on this great adventure!

Where Are the Bahamian Out Islands?

The extraordinary beach at Cape Santa Maria

 

The Bahamas are made up of over 700 islands; the closest sits less than 100 miles off the coast of Florida. The Out Islands are basically all the islands except New Providence (where Nassau is located) and Grand Bahama Island. 85% of the Bahamian population reside on these two tourist-centric islands, the remaining 15% reside in the Out Islands. Locals often refer to the Out Islands as the Family Islands, because while they may have moved to Nassau to find work, they have family on the Out Islands.

The Out Islands are the least populated, least developed and in my opinion, the most beautiful islands. Great Exuma, where we keep our boat, has a population of about 3500. Most islands are uninhabited, and some of the smaller islands, like our favorite Little Farmer's Cay, has a population of about 50 people. This is particularly remarkable when you consider there are four restaurants and an airstrip on this tiny island!

Click to download our free e-cookbook: 15 Recipes To Make You Look Like A Star

The Friendliest People

Lavaughn, the queen of Queen Conch restaurant on Harbour Island, makes world-renowned conch salad
 
 
I have traveled quite a bit and without a doubt, the Bahamian people are the friendliest to outsiders I have encountered. They will come out of their homes as you walk down the street to say hello or insist on giving you a ride in their golf carts, the preferred means of travel on the smaller islands. I have had a wonderful conversation with a restaurant owner on a remote island who gave me an hour of his time discussing his life's philosophy, world history and the unique ways of Bahamian life. The Harbor Master at our marina, Ericka, has helped us solve problems big and small, always with a smile. Bahamians are always ready to give boaters a helping hand. In short, Bahamians have made us very welcome in our new home away from home.

What Do We Do There?

Staniel Cay

People frequently ask me "what do you do there?" I guess the answer is a lot of things and a lot of nothing. We swim, fish, snorkel, scuba, stand-up-paddle, hike and explore uninhabited islands and blue holes.

 

 

Exploring Warderick Wells by stand up paddle board

 

 

Diving Thunderball Grotto

 

 

Beach hike on Spanish Wells

 

 

Time for the 4th swim of the day

 

 Dean's Blue Hole on Long Island, the day before their world-famous free diving competition where divers dive over 300 feet on a single breath



We anchor out in the middle of nowhere, cook meals on board and head to favorite restaurants and beach bars when we are ready for a little civilization.
 
 
 
 
Anchored off an uninhabited island where we went ashore for happy hour
 
 
 
 
Easy Fish Gratin recipe coming soon to SNFD
 
 
 
 
Dress up night at Staniel Cay Yacht Club
 
 
Ocean Cabin Restaurant Bar, owned by Earnastine & Terry Bain
is a great stop for a cold Goombay Smash on a hot day
 

We set up cocktail and game hour (we travel with corn hole and bottle bash games) on remote beaches, we play lots of Rummikub at night and have the occasional dance party on deck.
 
 
 
 
Happy hour on a beach in Spanish Wells
 
 
 
 Bottle Bash in front of Ty's Sunset Bar & Grill on Little Farmer's Cay
 

We feed the swimming pigs and the pink iguanas, check out the sharks and recently had the good fortune to meet Bob, a very sociable manatee. 
 
 
 
Most people feed the swimming pigs,
but we find they really appreciate a drink of fresh water
 
 
 
 
The baby pigs are the cutest
 
 
 
 
Who is happier? The pig or Eric?
 
 
 
 
The pink iguanas of Leaf Cay love their lettuce
 
 
 
 
There are a lot of sharks in the Bahamas, but as Brendal the dive master at Green Turtle Cay told me, "they are just another kind of fish."
 
 
 
 
Bob, the friendly and very smart manatee of Stela Maris Marina in Long Island is my new soul mate
 
 
We also fix problems, deal with inclement weather, veer into too shallow water, and learn to take things as they come. 
 
  
 

Fixing the engine -- again!

Click to download our free e-cookbook: 15 Recipes To Make You Look Like A Star

Bahamian Inspired Recipes


We cook most of our meals onboard. This means purchasing most everything we need for the trip before we go. There are markets in the Out Islands, but they are far and few between. Most of the food in the Bahamas is shipped in from the states, although many Bahamians grow their own and sell their produce in Farmer's markets.
 

The bottom line is cooking on a boat in the Bahamas takes planning and we try to keep things simple. I've found I enjoy these recipes at home almost as much as I enjoy them in the Bahamas. I hope you do too!

Ceviche

Fresh Ceviche | Something New For Dinner

 

Occasionally we have the good fortune to catch a fish and we get to make fresh ceviche. Here is my go-to ceviche recipe.


A word of caution if you fish in the Bahamas. We never eat reef fish because they can be contaminated with ciguatera, a toxin that collects in fish flesh and that is invisible to the naked eye. Little fish consume dinoflagellates, which adhere to the coral. The little fish are eaten by bigger fish so that the biggest fish at the top of the food chain have the greatest contamination.


Ciguatera is nothing to mess with. It starts with gastrointestinal symptoms and progresses to neurological disorders and can result in permanent disability and even death.


So...we limit our fish consumption to fish that we catch in the deep waters of the Atlantic and not on the shallow Bahamian shelf.

 

Zoodles with Shrimp, Mushrooms and Tomatoes

Shrimp & Mushroom Zoodles | Something New For Dinner

 

On the last night of one of our trips we had gone through most of our provisions and had to get creative if we wanted dinner. What we found in the galley was this: 1 box of cherry tomatoes, 1 package of frozen precooked shrimp, 1 box of angel hair pasta, one package of mushrooms, butter, garlic and a scrap of parmesan cheese. Bingo! I knew we had a meal.


This recipe is based on the dinner I made on the boat. When I came home I recreated it using fresh shrimp and substituting zoodles (zucchini noodles) for the angel hair pasta. This is a great, quick weeknight meal. The zoodle variation is loaded with vegetables and is a healthy alternative to pasta. I like to use shiitake mushrooms because they are the most nutrient-dense mushrooms, but regular brown mushrooms are also nice. 

 

Bahama Conch Rum Cocktail

Bahama Conch Rum Cocktail | Something New For Dinner

 

When you spend time in the Bahamas you become very familiar with Rum Punch. Every bar has their own secret recipe. After consuming quite a few of these delicious cocktails, I came home and developed my own version of Rum Punch using pineapple juice, guava juice, passion fruit juice and three kinds of rum.


I named this drink the Bahama Conch Rum Cocktail because the color of the drink reminds me of the gorgeous conch shells you can literally pick up on many beaches in the Bahamas. Check out the beauty Lauren found.


 

 

How to Create Your Own Bahama Adventure


Our boat partnership allows us the freedom of an extended Bahama adventure. But you don't have to own a boat to have the experience. There are few bare boats available for rent in the Bahamas, due to the tricky shallow waters. However, I have been following Tina Dreffin on instagram and am impressed with her knowledge of the area. Tina charters three sail cats in the Exumas and provides both a captain and a cook on their charters. Check out her Instagram feed at tdreffin.


If you are interested in a more land-based trip, send me a note and I can provide suggestions for some great hotels and activities.

Enjoy!

 

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