Editor's note: This is the second of a two-part series.
If you missed part I, my convenient trip started from Melbourne Airport early on Saturday morning, arriving at the Baer Air facility and 30 minutes later we were in the air on our way to Marsh Harbour and the Abaco Beach Resort and Boat Harbor.
We arrived in Marsh Harbour an hour and 20 minutes later (just 165 miles from the Florida coast). Our arrival on the island was just as quick and easy. We were on our way to the resort in less than 25 minutes from arrival and included all seven of us checking through the Bahamian immigration.
I would have to say the resort would be considered a three-star property due to the constraints of the classifications scale, however this property although not huge, has a relaxed sophistication that for me would rate a higher grade.
You will not find the vast pools with slides that wrap around the property that you might find at other large Caribbean-style resorts. But it really is not necessary, as you have the entire Sea of Abaco and all the Out Islands to explore to take its place, with many activities to go along with it.
We toured the property starting with its new three-storied building that houses one-bedroom suites, two-bedroom villas and one-, two- and three- bedroom condos, all with private verandahs that overlook the marina and fully-equipped kitchens.
The décor was contemporary in light-woods with dark Ikea-styled furniture with light cushions and area rugs on dark wood floors. The bedding was all white with a splash of island accent colors.
We walked along the red-bricked walkway to just beyond the marina. Just past the resort office you will find the raised pool area with attached tiki bar (with swim-up access). It's small, but nicely kept. In front of the pool is the tree-lined beach with soft white sand that speaks of serenity.
The Angler Restaurant and Bar sits nearby with its outdoor veranda and floor- to-roof glass surround. Next to the restaurant sits a huge tent that can house up to 300 if necessary (there is also a function room on the property that will hold about 100).
Funny thing, you really do not notice this enormous tent until you are literally on top of it. It sits between the restaurant and the grassy knoll that sits behind the beach. I can picture hanging out on the grass listing to the island music.
Up the grassy hill is a row of cottage style two-bedroom buildings, each with a full kitchen and two baths which is great for families. Following along the tree-lined path are the other three-storied building that houses the standard, superior and deluxe rooms, all with private terraces or balconies overlooking the beach.
Each room is decorated with local furniture, brightly colored bedding and much of the amenities you would find in any other resort including Internet access (the entire resort has wi-fi). The view is absolutely spectacular.
Complimentary activities include kayaks, sun fishing and giant water trampolines, a children's playground and a full-stocked game room. In addition to lighted tennis courts (with artificial turf), volleyball, bocce ball, horseshoes and croquet can also be played.
A getaway with the kids will never be more memorable with the engaging "Bahamas Buddies." This unique program allows kids to learn about the Out Island life from Bahamian kids. They will experience authentic island activities, such as catching, cleaning and cooking fish and learning how to crack conch.
They may also learn about local sea life through snorkeling excursions. This is much more than just a kids program, it is a life lesson.
You can rent a boat on property or close by however, some packages include the boat rental (you would have to pay for fuel and insurance).
Our boat ride on one of the property's 17-foot boats was so much fun. It took less than 20 minutes to go from the resort to Hope Town on the nearby island of Elbow Cay. Our trip included a trek up the 178 (I counted) steps of the lighthouse. We had a great view of the island and its' tucked away harbor lined with cozy cottages.
On our way back to the resort we stopped when we were in about 8- to 10-feet of water and our host jumped out and snorkeled around for conch. He came up with three and proceeded to make a conch salad on the boat.
It was not only delicious, it was interesting to watch him get the meat out of the shell and prepare.
Later, he jumped out in about 8-feet of water to bring up a couple of starfish, which were different in color and size. We cruised along more barren islands and the edge of a natural reserve along the way. There is a lot of history in the area, as this was where British loyalists hid out after the Revolutionary War.
There are other great properties in the Bahamas that may offer similar options, but what impressed me most are the possibilities at this resort.
I would not hesitate to promote this resort for a wedding, reunion or medium- to large-size event. Even better is that you can fly conveniently on Baer Air from Melbourne Airport. Packages are available now for three- and four-night stays. Check it out!
Patty Toppa is a travel consultant with Gadabout Travel. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.cruisetraveltours.com.