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Bahamas - Refreshing Spanish Wells


It is said that Spanish sailors refreshed their water casks at this tiny island just north of Eleuthera in the Bahamas, hence the name, Spanish Wells.

Spanish Wells may not be the easiest place to reach, but it is certainly worth the effort. The first time I visited back in the 1980ís required a flight to the Bahamas, then another short hop by plane to the North Eleuthera air strip where a shuttle van drove you over about 15 miles of connected pot holes to reach the water taxi station that would take you to Spanish Wells. Once on the island it was a short vintage taxi ride to the villa we had rented for a week. Did I say to the villa? I should have said to a delightful little corner of paradise.

We had found our two bedroom villa through a house swap magazine. Our hideaway came complete with a fully-furnished house, bicycles for getting around the island, a small boat and even a car left over from the 1960ís. We drove it once, but it made such a racket that it frightened wildlife for miles around. The house itself was set back from a private beach by a small berm.

Spanish Wells is a lobstering island. This is the primary business of the inhabitants. And although most of the catch is destined to be served up at a Red Lobster, you can walk to the dock when the boats return and buy yourself some very fresh rock lobsters for your own dinner.

The dock area and the town are small, and a little reminiscent of a New England town. Even if you donít get to know the inhabitants very well, you will quickly discover that they know about you.

You can walk or bicycle around the entire island in about 45 minutes. There are plenty of beaches to find, a few complete with some antique DC-3 aircraft that crash landed and have never been taken away.

Go shopping in the town for your local groceries, but go early, as supplies, particularly the wonderful bread, sell out early in the day. If you arrive too late for that dayís baking, not to worry, they will make sure to save a loaf or two for you the next day.

Aside from the fresh lobsters be sure and try the conch chowder. Conch is rather like an oversized clam in taste, a little chewy but tasty.

What is there to do in Spanish Wells? Not too much. Which is exactly why you want to go. Bring a stack of books, a few cdís, lots of sunscreen and an urge to simply kick back.

If you must shop, try wandering around the island in search of handmade quilts, which are usually displayed on railings surrounding the verandas of the houses, or simply thrown over a window sill. These handmade gems are not cheap, but they are beautiful.

There is one hotel on the island, the Adventurer, with very basic facilities. This establishment primarily caters to those coming to dive Ė lots of men who donít really care if the curtains match. Most units include kitchenettes and coffeemakers, but no phone. Itís definitely worth the effort to try and find your own villa for your stay.

Spanish Wells will definitely refresh you.

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