Thursday, June 19, 2008

First Trip To The Abacos, Bahamas (Day 5-6)

Snorkeling at The Mermaids

Thursday, getting close to the end of the vacation! So what could we do that we hadn't already done? We headed towards Marsh Harbor and the Abaco Beach Resort and Boat Harbor in search of a great snorkeling place we had heard about - the Mermaids. We docked at the resort and strolled around then shopped a little. Couldn't forget that bottle of Kahlua for my mom, at home watching my cats, and some trinkets for the step-kids and niece. This would be the place to go to be a little closer to civilization than we were on Lubber's, close to the other Marsh Harbor shops but far enough away to feel slightly secluded. Nice place.

According to our map, the Mermaids was just around the corner, off the shore of Marsh Harbor. We cruised around to the other side of a few small islands and searched the shore for the mooring bouys we were told would mark the spot. We anchored at one spot and checked out what was beneath us. Turned out to be an underwater garden of sorts, long grass growing up to the surface with small fish racing around between the stalks. Then we cruised a little farther up the shoreline and spotted the markers, tied up and got in the water. What a different world! Hundreds of large boulders were encrusted with coral and sea whips and other living things, with millions (well it seemed like millions) of fish everywhere you looked.

The bally-hoo (1st picture) were circling above us, the parrot fish (2nd picture) cruising below and the silly looking "monkey" fish came right up in our faces and said "Howdy" (3rd picture - not sure of the real name but they had a baboon looking face). A swarm of fish were congregated at the end of one of the boulders (below left) and it wasn't until I got close enough to it that I realized they weren't part of the rock! They looked just like an extension of the rock but they scattered as I got closer, swam off (below right) in a group.

We stayed for quite awhile in that underwater paradise then cruised back to Lubber's to decide what to do with the rest of the daylight. Since all boats must be back to their docks before sunset (can't navigate these waters at night) we couldn't go far. Elbow Cay was just around the corner, so we decided to go to the Abaco Inn at the southern end of that island and have a pina colada (for me) and a beer (or two) for the hubby. My husband, Darrell, who grew up in Florida and was a surfer dude in his time, said these were the best waves he had ever seen, crashing onto the beach from the Atlantic. They have tiki huts where you can sit and admire the view and a nice bar and dining area. We hung out there for an hour or so then went back to our dock, watched another great sunset, and called it a night.

Tilloo Cay & Marsh Harbor

On the last full day of vacation, we wanted to just relax and make the day go as slow as possible since we'd be returning to the hectic world soon enough! We hadn't collected enough shells yet so we set off towards the south, to Tilloo Cay and the Tilloo bank, a long sandy stretch of land covered most of the time by water about 2 - 4 feet deep. This is the area where the starfish live, all along the inner shore of Tilloo Cay. We anchored near the shore and set off to find a few conch and urchin shells that had washed up on shore. Our collection grew by the minute, there were so many shells to be found there. We ate some sandwiches on the boat then did some more exploring.

After leaving Tilloo, we cruised the closer islands one more time and then motored thru the marinas at Marsh Harbor. On the way there I found my dream house, between the Abaco Inn and Hopetown on the inside edge of Elbow Cay. It's a pretty yellow two story house that I swear one day I'll buy. Darrell, on the other hand, likes the floating variety of homes. He found his dream "house" too, actually several of them, he's not picky as long and they're big and expensive and float on the water!!

Back at the dock, while waiting for another gorgeous sunset, we fed the island cat one last time. This cat hung out around our cottage all week, proving that not only are the residents in the Abacos very friendly, so are the felines! Since he was quite thin and scraggly looking, we called him Scrunge, and fed him whenever we saw him.

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