Marsh Harbour is the third largest city in the Bahamas and it has only stoplight: It is the perfect place to perch in The Abacos, with restaurants and hotels sprinkled close to the marina, along with shops selling food, alcohol and other necessities.
Imagine that you awake early in the morning in your Marsh Harbour hotel and you are anticipating a day trip. It could be one of these marvelous excursions:
1. The Hope Town Day Trip
Have an early breakfast – maybe at Ju’novia’s, where the pancakes are fluffy and the pig feet souse an acquired taste – because you are to have a day that requires a robust energy.
Hop on the 20-minute ferry to Hope Town on Elbow Cay, an extraordinarily pretty 5-mile island where you’ll see a collection of tiny cottages, painted white or pastel, with gorgeous small gardens – and a kind of peace will wash over you.
Why not rent a golf cart and explore the area, lingering at spaces that intrigue you? Then it’s lunch, perhaps at Cap’n Jack’s or Harbour’s Edge, before heading out the reefs for some memorable snorkling, to float above lively schools of colorful fish as they pass under you.
After snorkeling, you might want to chill out on one of the magnificent local beaches before… well, you might be up for kayaking or perhaps it will be time to head back to Marsh Harbour for dinner at Wally’s.
2. The Great Guana Cay Day Trip
Cay hopping is easily done from Marsh Harbour where you’ll find cruises to all other cays, and Great Guana Cay is a fabulous place to spend the day – and perhaps you should make it a Sunday, as that is when Nipper’s Beach Bar and Grill roasts a pig, and it is a feast. (And a party.)
If you have children with you, you might float about the pool and then have some lunch – the kid’s menu offers chicken fingers, but know that there is also sesame-seared ahi, cracked conch and homemade key lime pie.
However, If you are adults in the mood to party, this is your spot: The music will spill into you until you start dance, as will the strong drinks that just might make you smack your lips. Dance, dance, dance.
3. The Abaco National Park Day Trip
As National Parks go, The Abaco National Park is young, just 23 years old, were it a human being, it would just be leaving college. At 20,500 acres, it is a significant park, and it just might protect the endangered – and exquisite – Abacos parrot.
A dirt road, or trail, which is 15 miles long and takes about 1.5 hours to drive, cuts through the park: The tourist office offers walking or driving tours, which allow you to learn about the ecosystem and which animals are likely strolling about in the forest. If you would like to see the Abaco parrot, your best chance to get up very early and join a eager group of birdwatchers who want to do the same thing.
4. The Man-O-War Cay Day Trip
There is no alcohol served or sold on this cay, so if you are in the mood to linger over some Chablis at lunch, head elsewhere. But if you are in the mood to spend some time with hardworking folks who build boats, this is your cay of the day.
There is a harbour road, naturally, and at its north end you’ll find a unique shop known as The Sail Shop and officially named The Albury’s Canvas Shop – everyone who visits Man-O-War visits this shop, so why not check it out: You’ll probably buy a cool bag or hat made out of canvas that is usually used to make sails.
Also, don’t miss Joe’s Studio, where you’ll find arty jewelry made out of local sea glass and fabulous miniatures of the boats that float all around The Abacos. And there’s a heritage museum because learning is fun.
5. The Elbow Cay Day Trip
Rent a cottage on a cay, Elbow Cay is a great place to do this, and really chill. Bring along a book that you have yet to begin, pour yourself, and your partner or comrades, some chilled wine, head out to your private patio and read. Then have a nap. Maybe you’ll feel like floating around in the ocean before dinner. Maybe not.
Or you can rent a golf cart and lazily explore your environment, or walk on a long beach that takes your breath away or celebrate your inner child by renting paddleboats. It’s all good.
Scuba diving is like opening a door to a new world; when you are finally out of the pool and floating over a reef bursting with colour and a fantastically odd-looking fish nonchalantly swims within inches of your mask, a new kind of exhilaration will flow through your veins.
And The Abacos are a divine spot to take the plunge for the first time:
I want to dive so badly, but I want to be safe
The Abacos have highly professional dive masters with extensive experience in teaching beginners how to be safe while exploring the ocean with an oxygen tank strapped their backs. And they’ve got your back. To learn about what to expect during your certification, read the great guide put out by The Adventure Junkies.
I am so excited and a little bit terrified
Anticipating your first dive is truly exciting, and it should be; you are about to enter a new world. But it can also be a tad terrifying, with what-if-I-panic-when-I-see-a-huge-fish-swimming-toward-me thoughts punctuating your glee.
Many of the diving spots in The Abacos are 60 feet deep – or less. President George Washington’s head, on Mount Rushmore, is 60 feet tall: It is a reasonable depth for your first dive. And if you choose The Pelican Cays National Park for your first dive, you will be in about 25 feet of water, with prehistoric-looking sea turtles and magnificent eagle rays.
I didn’t really see anything cool
These are words that you will not be uttering after your first diving experience in The Abacos. Green Turtle Cay is home to a thrilling variety of fish like rainbow parrotfish, the common yellowtail snapper and chilled-out stingrays.
The islands proximity to the North Atlantic ocean has meant that the tides have formed lots of caves and holes in reefs that you can swim through, which will leave you in awe of their ethereal beauty.
That was so amazing. I want to go again. And again. And …
The likelihood that you will finish your first dive with a joyous desire to go again is extremely high, and The Abacos offer diverse diving for beginners so that you can go again. And again. From Walker’s Cay, with its alluring caverns, to Green Turtle Cay with its incredible fish life, to the resting place of the American Civil War gunship, the San Jacinto.
But what if I am not certified?
You might be the kind of person who stands enthralled in the aquarium section of your local pet store, losing yourself in the ballet of tropical fish, but you aren’t a great swimmer. (And this is an understatement.) Be prepared: You will have to swim, using any stroke, for 200 metres and also be able to tread water or float for 10 minutes. If you doubt your ability to these two things, head to your local pool for some individual swimming lessons before you land in The Abacos. Again, you can download a terrific scuba primer from The Adventure Junkies.
And on a more serious note
You obviously need a health insurance policy so that you can travel worry-free beyond the boundaries of your home country. If you are headed to The Abacos, or any place where you will be trekking, diving or motorcycling, read the fine print as some insurance companies will not cover any injuries that occur while you are engaging in what they have determined to be a “dangerous activity.”
Brendals Dive Center
Froggies Out Island Adventures
“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.” F. Scott Fitzgerald was on to something when he wrote these words in 1925. While those of us with bank accounts of ordinary sizes are drawn to the Abaco for its sparkling white sand beaches, its chilled-out vibe, the far-out snorkeling and its bluer-than-blue waters, the uber rich and famous have their own reasons for hanging out in these glorious cays:
The seduction of seclusion
“I have a place that I go to in The Bahamas. It’s the only place that guarantees total anonymity and freedom.” Johnny Depp. To be famous, Johnny-Depp famous, is to be recogized wherever you go. It is to walk down a street in Happy Adventure, Newfoundland, with its population of 219 human beings, and be recognized.
But Johnny Depp purchased a small cay in Abaco that he can call his own; where he can treat into freedom. And Mr. Depp is not alone. The Abacos are not Nassau: They offer seclusion for the rich and famous, whether in the gated community of The Abacos Club where the uber-rich play or in stand-alone homes that serve as the ultimate private resorts.
And you don’t have to own your cay to find seclusion
You can awake to the rhythmic sound of waves rolling to shore in a king-sized bed of divine comfort, and then have your personal chef bring you breakfast on a private balcony overlooking the blue sea and a secluded beach for 2,799 USD per night, in Winding Bay – and its all just 19 minutes from the Marsh Island airport.
There are places of exhilarating natural beauty on our planet that require you to rough it a little when it comes to accommodations: Not The Abacos, where it is not necessary to live in a style you don’t want to get accustomed to: posh villas await those who desire them, and when the rich and famous are off playing in another part of the world, their homes are offered to, well, other rich and famous people.
And you can arrive by sea, on a yacht that dwarfs regular yachts
Should you possess a yacht that is the size of a small cay, perhaps with a winding staircase, a movie theatre and a bowling alley, you will find a welcoming berth in The Abacos. Why? Because these cays have been catering to tourists and boating residents for a long time, and being a collection of islands, the people of The Abacos expect you to arrive by boat, if you have one, and they don’t mind if it is of an extraordinary size.
The vibe is chill in The Abacos
The Abacos is a place for laidback relaxation, for everyone. The rich and famous can stroll along a beach at sunset before heading for dinner in a local restaurant just like everyone else; there are no small crowds of the curious in their wake, snapping photos and calling for autographs – though it is fun to have your head turned now and then by a celebrity sighting.
But in the end, it is not possible to point to one feature of The Abacos that attract the rich and famous among us; it is a combination of alluring factors. The government is stable and friendly, there is a reliable communications grid, there is the possibility of privacy and the warmth of the local people – and there is a beauty in The Abacos that draws you in, that inhabits your dreams after you leave, eventually assuring your return.
Did you know that ice diving is a thing? That brave, adventurous human beings plunge into –the 2°C/28°F waters of Baffin Island in Canada, and float in front of other-worldly icebergs? Or head to the Magdalen Islands of that same country in late February, to watch baby seals swim for the first time?
You are probably thinking that while these ice divers see some unforgettable things –you’d rather dive in waters without icebergs, even in waters that are pleasingly warm. You don’t want to know if it is possible to dive in The Abacos in February, but if you will want to.
Well, it is never too cold to dive in The Abacos. Here’s why:
When it gets cold, it’s not that cold
January is historically the coldest month of the year in The Abacos – But the diving is cool, as in groovy, not as in shivering. Seatemperature.org is a reliable online source for water temperatures in oceans and seas on our planet, so let’s look at the water temperatures for January for The Abacos:
As you can see, the average temperature in Abacos water in 23.3 °C or 73.9°F: At Scuba Diving, they officially recommend a 5 mm to 3 mm full suit for diving in water that is 22.2°C or 72.0°F, and that, folks is the coldest it gets. For the average temperature of 73.9°F, the same magazine recommends a 3 mm to full suit to a 2 mm shorty. Have a look at the chart below, which we created from data found at Seatemperature.org, with January dates running across the bottom and temperatures on the vertical left side, and you’ll see that there are no significant dips in temperatures in January, the water temperature is predicable.
The sun shines a lot
Historically speaking, and yes, we are including very recent history; the sun shines about 340 days a year in The Abacos. The sun heats up the shallow waters of the Abacos Sea, which sits between Great Abaco and Little Abaco and the remainder of the Out Islands. If you want to dive in the Abacos Sea in, say, March, you will be embraced by waters averaging temperatures of 27.4 °C or 81.3 °F.
The tropical climate does its part
Tropical climates are not into drama, the trees don’t shed leaves in fall and shiver in the winds that will soon cover them in the whitest of white snow: A tropical climate is all about being predictable, about it being sunny and warm when you wake up on Monday morning, and low and behold, when you walk out your front door on Tuesday, it is more of the same. Divers like predictable weather, and they love The Abacos.
But you know what you like
Diving in The Abacos, at any time of the year, is comfortable: The climate is tropical, the sun is usually shining and the dives shallow. But you might be a diver who digs the absence of a wet suit, or perhaps you are willing to squeeze into one that is 1 mm but no thicker. And so you show in The Abacos in June. Or July.
But know that if you feel secure in your ability to handle the relatively warm winter water in The Abacos, that you will be diving in some of the clearest water you’ve ever been in – yes, it has been compared to gin. And January and February are perfect months to swim with the sharks.
Dive Time Abacos
My Out Islands
Travel, at its best, offers us an environment that wildly contrasts with the physical spaces we usually move in; spaces like our homes, where we find comfort, and crowded streets, where we get jostled around, and offices, where everything can feel just a little sterile. Shrugging off the clothes of earth-walking and slipping on the equipment of underwater breathing can be outrageously liberating.
And The Abacos offer us exceptional diving spaces, some of the best in the world, with shallow waters, fish of extraordinary colors and flourishing reefs – and, amazingly, it is all only about 180 miles, or 290 kilometers, east of south Florida.
We have selected three tried-and-true underwater adventures in The Abacos that will bring you bliss.
The First is all about caves
Diving in a cave is an almost magical experience: It is dramatic, to slowly enter an underwater cavern, where light dances and retreats, the water temperature cools and the art of nature, in its wild formations, surrounds you. You will be struck by the absence of gorgeous colorful fish and awed by calcite crystals, speleothems and halocine.
You might be thinking that diving in caverns that lie underwater is an activity best left to subscribers of Scuba Diving magazine with hundreds of dives under their belts but a novice can dive into an underwater cave – after some required training – and with a certified diver at their side.
The National Association for Cave Diving offer a course titled The Cavern Diver, which is the introductory course to the world of cave diving. You can use the Professional Association of Diving Instructor’s (PADI) tool to locate a dive shop close to you or to your resort.
A helpful note: You should book ahead, as far ahead as possible, if you wish to dive the caves of The Abacos, as only one or two divers can accompany a team leader, and the entire process takes longer than slipping into the open ocean from a boat.
Learn to dive in caves in The Abacos: Bahamas Underground
Get inspired by the experts: Read about diving the blue holes of Abaco
Watch a specular short video of a Bahamas Underground cave dive
The Second is all about Fowl Cays National Park
In 2009, the Bahaman government created Fowl Cays National Park – it is 1920 acres– so as to preserve its natural beauty for all to enjoy, and create a space for fish, birds, sponges and other wildlife to flourish, including the endangered staghorn and elkhorn coral.
Fowl Cays National Park has earned a reputation as a do-not-miss snorkeling and diving spot: You are likely to see blue tangs, lionfish, angel fish, batfish, grouper and snapper. And there are sea turtles slowly swimming around and looking wise.
There is an astounding reef that houses all of these fish, turtles and other sea creatures, and it is made up of strange rock formations, towers that rise up from the ocean floor, entrancing swim-throughs and, yes, caverns and caves. Underwater flowers abound, as do great sponges and corals.
Learn more about Fowl Cays National Park here.
Watch a short video on how Fowl Cays National Park became a park here.
Check out some photos at the Fowl Cays National Park Facebook page here.
The Third is all about a shipwreck
Shipwrecks fascinate us; the idea of a once mighty vessel that smashed through fierce, wild waves sitting on an ocean floor is a dramatic one. And every ship that rests on an ocean floor has its story, as does the U.S.S. Adirondack, which can be found on the reef off of Man-O-War Cay in The Abacos.
The U.S.S. Adirondack was blocking ports used by the Confederates in the American Civil War, and went down in 1862, only six months after being launched. In the 155 years that this wooden ship has lain on the ocean floor, much of it has been eaten or naturally disintegrated. But you will see its cannons and various remnants that were not made of wood – and, importantly, you will sense the ships history – and ours – as you survey the site.
There is a worthy reef that surrounds the shipwreck site, and so you will be treated to sights of its fish, plants and coral.
Read a blog post about diving the U.S.S. Adirondack site.
Read about the U.S.S. Adirondack here.
Read this article about diving the Abacos here.
So, why not immerse yourself in a new world on your next holiday, in a place where the diving experts have your back and the visual joys amaze.
A great hotel can help make your Abacos getaway truly memorable. Sure, you might want to spend a day hiking through the pine barrens of southeast Abacos, on a quest to see the rare – and colourful – Abacos parrot, but this does not mean that you don’t want to be pampered upon your return to your hotel. Or perhaps it is seclusion you seek?
These 10 Abacos hotels make vacationers regularly beam with pleasure, and they are in random order.
- The Treasure Cay Beach, Marina and Golf Resort
The 3.5-mile-long crescent-shaped beach is the pièce de résistance at this resort that vibrates with authentic, laid-back Bahaman hospitality. The 18-hole golf course stands waiting for you on those mornings you want to rise early, as the tennis courts do, and should you have a hankering to swim with a school of blue tang, the resort will set up a diving excursion for you.
- The Abaco Club at Winding Bay
Winding Bay is a place of striking visual beauty, you may spend a surprising amount of time attempting to invent a new word for the colour of the water that rolls on to the white sand beach, while waves splash spectacularly into the craggy shore on the opposite side of the resort. If you are into luxury, when outstanding amenities, accommodations and services meet ethereal nature, consider The Abaco Club.
- Delphi Club
The Delphi Club is a self-described micro hotel and fishing lodge in south Abaco: Its guests experience a relaxed luxury; the food is exquisite, the wine cellar diverse and the forests that surround three sides of the lodge unharmed. When you are not fishing for bonefish, kayaking or photographing wading birds, you might finally read that book – the one that has been sitting unopened on your bedside table for months – on the secluded beach.
- The Lofty Fig
Aside from its winsome name, this resort opens its fun-loving arms to embrace families that include children, offering a small freshwater pool for frolicking, an BBQ for grilling simple dinners, and a big screen TV for when its time to snuggle up as a family and watch a movie at the end of a outdoorsy day.
- Hope Town Harbour Lodge
The Hope Town Harbour Lodge invites you to let your hair down, to make your way into a hammock in the morning with no particular plan for surfacing, to paint in watercolours at the side of artist Malcolm Rae and to fall into bed a wee bit tipsy after a few glasses of top-drawer wine, or local beer. And should you want to lunch in your bathing suit, and why wouldn’t you, this resort is with you.
- Guana Seaside Village
Some of us prefer smallness, it is just in our natures to expand and relax in small resorts while we shrink inwardly as an expansive resort overwhelms us. If you are not into largeness in resorts, try the Guana Seaside Village, an inn with 8 rooms that sits on the edge of the sea. Oh, there is a courtyard bar, a fresh water pool and delicious food to complement the intimate feel of this special place.
- Firefly Sunset Resort
Are you a romantic? Does the idea of sleeping in a bedroom with wooden walls that have been painted a pale yellow, in a bed that is smartly made up with the whitest of white linens, with the sounds of the Sea of Abaco seeping into your dreams, make you sublimely relaxed? If do, this resort, with its attention to visual details and the clever creation of private spaces is for you.
- The Black Fly Lodge
Yes, this is a fishing lodge. But it is a fishing lodge where non-fishing human beings are heartily welcomed, and there is a wonderful reason to choose the Black Fly Lodge for at least part of your Abacos getaway – the food. Imagine gathering around a rustic table in the evening, at around 7:30, and there is a sense of anticipation in the air. You see, the chef at this lodge prepares local food – yes, fish – in ways that have guests booking their next stay as they walk out of the front door.
- The Bahama Beach Club
Ah. You have arrived at The Bahama Beach Club. And the beach looks like an impressionist painting that has somehow come to life – and there is an island beach bar serving Bahama Mamas, and you don’t have to leave the sand to enjoy a fish taco that leaves you wanting more. The Bahama Beach Club is a resort that caters to the part of us that wants to leave reality far behind us for a little while.
- Pelican Beach Villas
Are you a relaxed person? Do you seek a lack of fuss and formality in your accommodations? Well, Pelican Beach Villas sit on a peninsula on Great Abacos Island, and is conveniently close to lots of places that you might want to check out – like the Mermaid Snorkeling Reef or to your new favourite restaurant. Chill out, just as you like.
Off The Beaten Track in The Abacos
Ah, The Abacos. Blue-green waves gently caressing white sands while you lay on a beach chair, then float around in the sea, then lay on a beach chair, and so on, until you feel moved to head to the beach bar for a cold pale ale. Should you wish to spend your entire visit to The Abacos on an outstanding beach in this way, you’ll have a Zen time.
Or you could mix it up, walk off the beaten track and absorb some local culture.
The Abacos are made up of over 150 cays, or sandy low islands that have formed on bases of coral reefs, each with its own character. Naturally, cay hopping has become kind of a thing. Why not rent a boat and spend a day – or two, or three – hopping among the cays? You could sample as many beaches as possible, repeatedly discovering the luxury of privacy. And bring a picnic.
Go Where the Bonefish Are
And where are the bonefish? On The Marls, a flat filled with creeks where the mangrove trees seem to sit above the water – you can easily hire a guide to shepherd you through the white-sand cays and secluded bays, and to show you how to catch your very own bonefish. (You should know that bonefish are so named because, well, they have so many bones – so this is not a fish you will be enjoying grilled with a chilled white pinot noir.)
Follow the Gully Roosters
A reggae-calypso band, the Gully Roosters play on Wednesday nights at the Green Turtle Club on the Green Turtle cay. Sip on a Tipsy Turtle Rum Punch, or two, and dance under the stars, grooving to the sounds that you can hear here. The Roosters, as they are known locally, will leave you feeling like there was a little bit of magic in the night air.
Everyone loves a parade
Junkanoo is not only a fun word to say, but a celebration of colour and music and children and, yes, there is a parade. Nassau may host the most famous of the street carnivals known as Junkanoo, but The Abacos starts the New Year right too, with a smashing parade that winds through the historic streets of New Plymouth, Green Turtle Cay. Put on your brightest clothes and join in the fun.
Take in the Island Roots Festival on Green Turtle Cay
On the first weekend in May, Green Turtle Cay celebrates Bahamian culture – and parties outdoors. Children dig this festival, and why wouldn’t they? There is a tug of war championship with lots of grimacing and laughing, a grill out in a local basketball court in the center of New Plymouth – with grilled jerk chicken and mac n’ cheese, and even maypole plaiting.
Buy some local art
The fundraiser Arts for the Parks in held, in late January, at the Abaco Beach Resort Grand Marquee: You will find striking local art for sale – there is usually a silent auction, as well as the offerings of the Bahamian Heritage lecture series. This is a great way to give back to the Bahamas, as the profits go to support The Bahamas Natural Trust, the non-profit organization responsible for the care of the nations important parks, like the 40-acre Lucayan Park, pictured above, which includes one the largest charted underwater cave systems on the planet.
The Abacos are known for sublime beaches, quiet cays and mesmerizing snorkelling but some of your most cherished memories may come from letting your hair down while the reggae vibrates through your feet.
Air Unlimited has had the privilege of flying scuba divers – from novices to advanced – to The Abacos, and we’ve borne witness to the beaming grins they all wear at the end of their scuba diving holiday. If you’d like to grin like that, to discover what lies beneath the surface of the glistening blue-green seas of The Abacos, we’d be thrilled to be part of your adventure.
The Abacos offer outstanding scuba diving only 180 miles (20 kilometers) east of south Florida: Air Unlimited offers regular flights to Marsh Harbour and Treasure Cay on Great Abaco Island. The Abacos include the big islands, Great Abaco and Little Abaco, as well as small limestone cays like Walker’s Cay in the north and Spanish Cay and Green Turtle Cay in the south.
It is the striking coral towers, the Bahamas porcupine fish and the parrotfish that will linger longest in your memory after you depart The Abacos, but we know that you want accommodations that perfectly complement your experiences undersea, and you have several desirable options: Here are a sampling of the best:
- At The Abacos Beach Resort, you can awake in a private cottage to the calming sound of blue-green waves rolling toward white sand, and perhaps take in an early morning yoga class. Breakfast could be a healthful egg white omelette or an exquisite lobster eggs Benedict, with a rich coffee or an herbal tea – and when you return after a day of diving, you could treat yourself to an luxurious massage.
- Should you desire the comfort of a private house within a friendly community of mostly renters, Schooner Bay offers lovely homes of various sizes. You can visit the community farm to find local produce or have supplies brought to you, and the stargazing is said to be truly exceptional.
- Firefly Sunset Resort blends the amenities of an elegant resort with the exclusivity of space – its cottages are situated so that the offer privacy and striking ocean views. Oh, and one of the best restaurants in The Abacos is but a few footsteps away.
But it is undersea mysteries that define a scuba holiday. Here are 5 diving experiences that you won’t want to miss:
The Towers : Imagine floating in front of two intricate coral structures that are 60 feet tall, set in about 75 feet of water, when you see an intriguing tunnel that you are drawn to explore when a colourful stingray starts to head your way.
- Do you want to swim among big fish, fish that leave an impression, like the grouper? Head to Grouper Alley , where schools of grouper swim 90 feet below the surface.
- The Cathedral is a special cavern where divers chill out as sunlight flickers on its floors, you will feel as if time has been suspended, and, if the season is right, you will see the famed glass minnows that congregate in windows in the coral.
- Revered sea turtles, looking pre-historically wise, can be easily seen at The Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park, where fishing is controlled and sea life thrives.
- A gunboat from the Civil War – The USS Adirondack – lies in The Abacos waters, just off the north end of the Man-O-War Cay. If the idea of happening upon a cannon lying in a shipwreck appeals to you, this is your dive. History buffs will take special pleasure in exploring this gunboat, which was launched on February 22nd of 1862 and sank on August 23rd of that same year.
At Air Unlimited, our motto reflects our commitment to the simplicity that we bring to air travel: “Fly. Enjoy. Return.” But let us make a change, just this once, “Fly. Dive. Return. “
We tell our children fairy tales, like Cinderella and Little Red Riding, and there is always an obstacle in the plot – like Cinderella’s rather desperate need to return home before midnight, and Little Red Riding Hood’s confrontation with a remarkably toothy grandmother.
There is usually a moral involved in fairy tales, too.
And so we’d like to tell you a short fairy tale. The We-Are-So-Busy-and-Tired family decided that they wanted to go a special holiday to a place where they could run on white sand beaches and frolic in blue-green waters. Their friends, the We-Travel-A-Lot family, recommended that they go to the magical Abacos.
And so it was that the We-Are-So-Busy-and-Tired family counted each day on their kitchen calendar until it was finally time to go to The Abacos. They wheeled their carefully packed bags to the airport, and their mom carried their passports and their one-way tickets – to the Bahamas.
But when the immigration official looked at the We-Are-So-Busy-and-Tired family’s tickets, she shook her head: “You need to show the Bahaman officials your return ticket when you enter their country. You have only one-way tickets.”
The We-Are-So-Busy-and-Tired family had decided to buy their return ticket from the Bahamas, so that they could choose which day was best to leave, but now they had to hurriedly buy their return tickets at the airport.
The good news is that the We-Are-So-Busy-and-Tired family were able to catch a later flight and run and play in the sand and the sun. (The end.)
At Air Unlimited, we like happy endings. We also want you to be able to “Fly. Enjoy. Return.” and so we present the entry requirements, for American citizens, going to The Abacos.
Do I need a passport to enter The Abacos?
Yes, if you fly into The Bahamas, you are required to present an American passport to Bahaman officials.
You may have read the last sentence and thought something like this: But I did not need a passport when I travelled to The Abacos by cruise ship last May.
And, you would be correct. If you travel into The Bahamas by boat or by land, you can use any document that is compliant with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, as linked to above, dictates that the following forms of identification be acceptable:
- Valid U.S. passport
- Valid passport card
- Enhanced driver’s license
- A NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST trusted traveler program card
- A U.S. military identification card, if you are travelling under official government orders
- A U.S. merchant mariner document, if you are travelling on official maritime business
- A Form I-872 American Indian card, or enhanced tribal card
At Air Unlimited, we recommend that you use an American passport to travel to The Abacos, and other locations in the Bahamas. Why?
Should your cruise ship have an unhappy incident, say, a severe outbreak of influenza, it might be possible for you to leave the infected ship and fly home to America, but you would need your passport to re-enter America.
Similarly, if you are piloting your own boat, but are called back to America for an unforeseen emergency, you would need your passport to board a flight.
So, if you are flying into The Abacos, you require an American passport. Simple.
If you are entering The Abacos by boat (or somehow over land) you can use one the I.D.s permitted by the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, however, you should use the one I.D. that can gain you re-entry by flight into America, your passport.
One last thing …
If you are travelling with your child, who under the age of 18, and the other parent is not present, you should carry a letter of permission from that parent, simply stating that they are aware that their child is travelling with you.
Similarly, if you are travelling with any child who is under 18, you should have written permission from their parents.
Enjoy The Abacos.
Fly. Enjoy. Return.
At Air Unlimited, we do not believe that your holiday begins when you kick your sandals off and slowly push your feet into silky white sand, while awaiting the key lime martini you just ordered – we believe it begins the moment you enter our aircraft. Let us explain why.
We don’t do discomfort
Statista, a prolific gatherer of statistics, tells us that 77% of people who fly on airplanes feel uncomfortable in their seats, and are unable to stretch their legs because of a lack of space.
Even if you have a relatively short flight, we believe that you should not be physically confined for its duration, moving like a contortionist to avoid touching the stranger sitting inches from you.
At Air Unlimited, our aircraft, the Cessna 421, the Citation Mustang and the King Air 200, feature seats that wrap you in comfort as you sink into that good book, lose yourself in the view or catch up on your favourite podcast.
We don’t charge baggage fees
Our friends at Statista also tell us that 70% of human beings that fly on airplanes do not like paying baggage fees. And at Air Unlimited, we are totally with these 7 out of 10 fliers: We will not charge your bags, the inanimate containers for your belongings, a fee for accompanying you on your flight.
We are reliable, like your aunt who shows up to christmas dinner with a pineapple-glazed ham
About 67 percent of human beings who fly regularly worry that a cancellation or delay will affect their plans, and statistics lend credence to this anxiety: Flight Stats shows that on that day this sentence is being typed, on December 15, 2016, in America, 132 flights have been cancelled and 1,390 delayed – and it is not even lunch time on the east coast.
Sure, flights are cancelled and delayed for understandable reasons, but if you fly with Air Unlimited, you know that we are reliable. We take the drama out of flying.
you can charter an air unlimited flight to most destinations in eastern and central America, as well as in the caribbean
To charter an aircraft was once thought to be the purview of the super wealthy, of young pop stars, real estate moguls or reclusive software developers, but it is now a much more common way to travel.
IBIS World reports that there are currently about 21, 177 charter airlines on the planet, and that trends show that more of us will fly with charter airlines in the next five years. At Air Unlimited, we invite you to give us a call; we’ll tell you exactly what is involved to charter one of our planes to a destination of your choice.
Air Unlimited has distinguished itself among charter companies in florida, and america
As a customer, you know when you are being truly cared for, when you feel appreciated and relaxed, and Air Unlimited has its priorities straight, as this reviewer from Trip Advisor puts it:
This small, personable airline serving the Bahamas and the southeast provided a fantastic experience. The location was very accessible; the pilots are very friendly and professional. We flew round trip to Treasure Cay in the Bahamas and will definitely fly with Air Unlimited again.
Close your eyes. Imagine that you are sitting in a small seat in an airplane, with your legs bent up so that you are pushing into the seat in front you, when a cheerful but robotic voice flows from an unseen person, announcing that it will be at least 30 minutes before take-off – this after a three-hour wait for a security check.
We feel your pain. At Air Unlimited, we have a motto: Fly. Enjoy. Return. It really is that simple.
Flying private is not reserved for the rich and famous anymore. Thanks to a new concept in air travel, a seat on a private jet compared to a trip in coach could actually save you money.
My seat belt clicked effortlessly into its slot, and I could clearly hear the pilots’ conversation through my headset.
“Ready for take off,” said Mark Neubauer, pilot and cofounder of Air Unlimited.
I took a deep breath, and our Beechcraft King Air 200 headed for the sky.
There wasn’t unlimited Dom Perignon, but this level of luxury was a new high for me.
This was my first trip on a private plane. We just took it for a quick flight, but it was long enough to realize what I’ve been missing all my life.
“The flight is smooth,” said Charles “Chick” Gregg, pilot and cofounder of Air Unlimited.
Air Unlimited out of the Sanford International Airport is one of the first of its kind in air travel.
“Passengers buy individual seats. That’s how it’s so affordable,” said Neubauer.
The website, www.flyairunlimited.com, is similar to most commercial airlines.
“You get a ticket right online,” Neubauer said.
Unlike other air services, Air Unlimited flies its scheduled flights even if just one seat is booked.
The company owns several other aircrafts for different passenger needs including two Cessna 421s and a Citation Mustang.
The company only flies to two destinations currently — two airports in the Bahamas and two in Key West.
Tickets to Key West run about $199 per way. That includes 40 pounds of luggage, valet parking at the airport and light refreshments.
Other major airlines can run up to $500 for a round-trip ticket for the same flight and that’s without parking.
Oh, and the leg room would be comfortable for LeBron James.
Gregg and Neubauer say they are looking to add more locations as they grow their following.
Another big difference between flying private versus going through a major airport is the time between arrival and take off.
“You could be in the air in 20 to 30 minutes,” said Gregg.
Most major airports suggest you arrive two hours before any domestic flight and three hours before any flight heading out of the country.
Once you’re the air you can choose to wear a headset to hear the pilots communicate with each other, which adds another element to the experience.
“You get to know the pilots,” Gregg said.
If the idea of sharing your plane with “others” makes you cringe, you can charter a plane for you and your homies.
Quoted charters are based on an hourly rate, and flight availability differs depending on the season.
Other similar services, like JetSuite, set passengers up on private jet flights with empty seats at a lower cost.
Another new concept that could be a cheaper way to fly private if you fly often is a membership plan.
Air Unlimited is having a flash sale on Dec. 19. They’re offering guests $100 off of a round-trip flight from Orlando-Sanford International to the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas.
Tickets will be good for 6 months from the date of purchase.
Visit Air Unlimited for more information.
View the video here: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/kayla-obrien/92145967-132.html
Written by: Kayla O’Brien – Contact Reporter for the Orlando Sentinel
Wild boar roam the pine forests of Abacos, and the rare Abacos parrot can be found there too, sometimes nesting in limestone caves, far below it all. And in the green-blue waters that surround these cays really big fish move quietly under the surface, like Blue Marlins, White Marlins, Sailfish and Wahoo.
You can remember reading about the Blue Marlin as a child, how it can weigh up 2000 pounds and travel up to 60 mph, and, man, do you want to feel its force at the end of your line. Or it could be the feisty Wahoo or the majestic Broadbill Swordfish that has found its ways into your dreams.
At Air Unlimited, we know a little bit about game fishing off The Abacos. And we like to share.
I was in the right place at the right time
Be good to yourself. If you want to reel in one of the big fish that swim the seas of the Abacos, make sure that you arrive when you have the best chance of doing so. The blue marlin may put in an occasional appearance in February, but he is hanging out quite frequently in May. And the broadbill swordfish vanishes for the winter months. Poof.
Click on this link to find out when you have the best chance of catching the big fish you are after in the Abacos: The Game Fish Chart.
I could not have done it without ————
The Abacos calls fishers from all over this planet, and you will find some highly skilled guides who will stick with you, showing you hot spots, advising you on technique and doing all they can to set you up for a good catch.
We are giving a shout-out to three worthy establishments here, but just as a sampling of what is on offer in The Abacos.
The Blackfly Lodge is a fine lodge where you will feel at home – as the Mahi-Mahi, tuna, wahoo, marlin and sailfish do. And I quote directly from the official Blackfly Lodge website: “Some say it’s the best blue water fishing in the Bahamas right at the doorstep of Blackfly Lodge.” (And the word is that their fried lobster sandwiches are sublime.)
Fishers of bonefish are drawn to The Abaco Lodge like lemmings to a cliff, though they fare much better, languishing in the high comfort of this popular lodge in between bouts of fishing, chilled drink in hand.
It is possible to book experienced captains for one- or two-day trips; they will lead you offshore in your quest for marlin, wahoo, tuna, dorado and sailfish. Booking early is advised.
The prolific travel writers at Frommers give the nod to The Green Turtle Club as having some of the best guides in The Bahamas: “Green Turtle Cay also has some of the best fishing guides in The Bahamas, weather-beaten men who’ve spent a lifetime fishing the surrounding waters.”
Along with the weather-beaten guides, you’ll find the deep-sea fishing to be remarkable here, with the in-season big fish showing up in big numbers.
Now that you’ve read about when the different species of big game fish are in The Abacos, and about some of the excellent resorts that stand ready to support you as you head out on the high seas, you should, perhaps, read gripping book to inspire you as you eagerly await the day your flight leaves for The Bahamas. The Outdoor Life put together this list of books that capture the thrill of the hunt: Top 20 books for hunters and anglers.
The Florida Keys beckon the weary. You know who you are. Life has been frenetic as of late: You are beginning to see dark circles under your eyes in the bathroom mirror in the morning. You need to lie in a beach chair that is unseemly in its level of luxury and absorb the healing rays of the heavenly body we know as the sun.
But you may want to invite some excitement into your excursion to The Keys, to rise up from the sand and see what you can see. We have some ideas for you: 8, to be precise.
- Locally sourced fish tacos
Did anything happen when you read the four words before this sentence? Perhaps you started to wonder what kind of fish would be in these tacos? Or if there would be a homemade salsa of some kind, maybe even one with heat, at the place where these tacos would be eaten? If so, you need to explore The Keys by way of food.
Key West Food Tours are easy to book, there is link under this paragraph, and you will be part of a small group that spends about 3 hours together, wandering from a speakeasy where you might want to partake in a rum-runner cocktail to a family-owned taco joint to … you get the idea. Key lime pie will be involved at some point.
- Kayak where the mangroves live
We know mangroves by their roots, by those tangled, mesmerizing thick roots that, at first, seem out of place above the ground. But these tough trees and shrubs that live along waterways in tropical climes are anything but out of place, they have evolved so that they can survive in unfriendly conditions, even making use of salt water.
Most of us admire the mangroves from a polite distance, but why not settle into a light kayak and get to know these remarkable trees a little better? At The Kayak Shack you can rent a kayak for 2 for half a day and lose yourself in the midst of a mangrove forest. (That’s lose yourself in the best way, in wonder, not so that you can’t fine your way back.)
- Help out a turtle
You might think that a hospital, even one that cares for sea turtles, those captivating creatures that have only a 1 in a thousand chance of surviving into adulthood, is a poor choice for an exciting outing whilst on vacation. But you may be incorrect. The smart people at Berkley tell us that human beings become happy at the thought of doing good, like helping out ailing turtles.
Pushing aside the glow that will emanate from your heart as you exit this fine establishment, you be moved by the beauty of these ancient-seeming beings we share this planet with.
- John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
You have not lived until you’ve come face to face with a statue that stands not on the land but in the sea, with its arms reaching up as if toward the heavens. (This is only a slight overstatement.) An undersea park is a magical idea and the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park has been around since 1963, and has thrilled visitors from all over the planet.
Should you be travelling with children, they will be thrilled at a ride in the glass-bottomed boat aptly named The Spirit of Pennekamp.
- Honey, doesn’t that guy look like Hemingway?
Ernest Hemingway lived through 2 plane crashes, led French militia groups against the Nazis and had a six-toed cat – all this and a writer too. That such a man would inspire a festival named Hemingway Day’s Festivals, that draws his doppelgangers to Sloppy Joe’s Bar to compete for the prize of resembling the great man the most, is unsurprising.
But you can just sit back and watch the fun, and order a daiquiri, just like Hemingway did in this same bar in the ‘30s. (Well, he may have ordered more than one.)
- Haunted Happy Hour Saloon
Excitement comes in many forms, and some of its grislier forms do not appeal to all, but if you are the kind of person who likes to lift up rocks and look under them, if you do not mind knowing that a man was murdered in a rather unkind way in the bar that you are about to enter, well, then, this tour is for you.
There is much more on offer than the macabre, like a haunted B&B and a distillery that is said to have a spooky past. If you want to take a walk on the grim side, head over to Lagerheads Beach Bar and sign up. You must be 21 years ago to hang with these peeps.
- Mallory Square
The sunsets at Mallory Square have melted hearts, inspired poetry as well as the whirr whirr whirr of cameras, but there is more to this place. If you want to be pushed out of yourself just a little bit, spend some time watching the buskers at Mallory Square. You will see talented people do unexpected things in ways that amaze you. You might even see a dog walk a tightrope. (Let’s hope that this is something he loves to do.)
- Art is everything
Well, early morning walks on The Key’s sublime beaches are something too, but to know a place is to know its art, and you can see what the artists of Key West are up to at, well, The Studios at Key West. You might fall in love with a piece and take it away to your home, as a way of reminding you that The Keys are out there somewhere, even when your meeting is running 2 hours long.
At Air Unlimited, we are experts in providing you with a hassle-free, pleasurable flight to your destination, whether you have chartered one of our aircraft or have chosen one of our regular flights to the Bahamas or the Florida Keys. One of the most important things we do is select aircraft that that reflects our commitment to our customers.
Let us introduce you to our fleet.
THE CESSNA 421
The prototype of the Cessna 421 was first flown in October of 1965, the same year that the first TGI Fridays opened, in Manhattan, and when NBC’s Bonanza was the most popular TV show in the land, and it has become one of the most popular aircraft on the planet.
The Cessna 421 travels at 240 miles per hour, which means that it is only 90 minutes from central Florida to the most popular destinations in the Florida Keys or the Bahamas.
Business class seating
The spacious leather seats of this aircraft are comparable to business class seating in a large aircraft, and everyone gets a window.
Noise, or lack thereof
The Cessna 421 is a relatively quiet aircraft, so you can easily converse with your fellow travellers and there is no need to don special headsets (or mime).
THE CITATION MUSTANG
It was on April 26th, 2005, that Cessna issued a press release: The Citation Mustang had made its first flight. 11 years later, the Citation Mustang has earned a reputation as a desirable aircraft with a solid safety record – according to Top Speed, this aircraft has been flown for more than 20 million hours.
Very light class
The Citation Mustang is a very light class (VLC) aircraft with four passenger seats and two seats in the cockpit. You should know that this VLC has the ability to fly over weather at a speed of 380MPH, as a result of Cessna technology and experience in aerodynamics.
Seats that you sink into
The designers of the seats of this aircraft began with a commitment to creating an ergonomically sound seat that holds your body as it should, and then added luxurious leather and a sinking softness. Passengers are granted the convenience of a sound console, a worktable, a storage space and power outlets.
THE KING AIR 200
Flying Magazine reported, in 2008, that over 2000 King Air 200s had been delivered, which meant it was the “most popular turbine-powered business plane of all time.” And when a plane is that popular, it means that a lot of people like a lot of things about it.
You might not want to leave
The King Air 200 is an aircraft designed for passengers to spend quality time with: The cabin is shaped in a square oval that results in roominess, you will not feel confined but relaxed, and, yes, able to easily stretch your limbs.
Sideways, backwards and in a circle
The 10 luxurious seats of the King Air 200 (including crew) move sideways, swivel about and recline, just so that you can always find a position of comfort, whether working, reading or resting.
It’s quieter than I thought it would be
Turboprop aircraft have a reputation for making noise, but the King Air 200 is as quiet as it is possible for a plane traveling at 300MPH and propelled by a turbine engine to be. So, if noise is not your thing, this is the turboprop for you.
Air Unlimited is in the business of building relationships with customers, we want you to want to fly with us. We are proud that our choice of aircraft reflects our commitment to provide each of our customers with a pleasant, highly comfortable, safe experience.
Snorkeling Gear, New Bikini, Sunglasses… Passport? Yes, You Do Need a Passport to Fly into the Bahamas!
The Bahamas. You’ve been packed for days, it just makes it seem like you are leaving sooner if your shiny, silver suitcase is standing ready in your bedroom closet, waiting to be wheeled out of your house, carefully placed in a taxi’s trunk and then shepherded to the airport – at last.
You did have to unzip your suitcase sidekick last night – briefly – when Amazon delivered the book you’ve been dying to read, in the eleventh hour, but now you have everything you need for a week in sublime sun and turquoise water.
Including your passport, right? No? You do need your passport to fly from America into the Bahamas. Absolutely.
But I’ve entered the Bahamas without a passport
You may be shaking your head right now, visually remembering showing your driver’s license to a friendly guy at a port of entry in the Bahamas … and your memory is likely accurate.
Americans who are entering the Bahamas do not require a passport, just a government ID with a photo, but when you return to America via an airport, you need your passport to re-enter.
Naturally, because of the Bahama’s laws, many American travellers to this idyllic place believe that they can leave their passport tucked in a safe place in their home, but this is not the case.
Yes, we said “via an airport” for a reason
If you are entering the Bahamas by boat, and returning to America by boat, you need a passport, a passport card or another ID that complies with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative: You can find that list here.
What is a passport card?
As you can see, the passport card is nifty: wallet-sized and protected against water damage. It is also less expensive than a full passport.
The American passport and the American passport card are not equal: The passport card is valid for entry and exit from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Canada and Mexico – if you are not travelling by air.
Important fact: The Bahamas are considered as part of the Caribbean when it comes to passport regulations. (Whew.)
Where does the enhanced driver’s license come in?
There are currently 4 states that offer enhanced driver’s licenses with microchip technology: Washington, Vermont, New York, Michigan and Minnesota. You can only use enhanced driver’s licenses to enter and leave America by land or sea – not by air.
In the proverbial nutshell:
- If you are flying into the Bahamas and flying back to America, you require a passport.
- If you are entering the Bahamas by boat, and returning by boat, you can use a passport or a passport card. A passport card cannot be used for international air travel.
- If you are entering the Bahamas by boat, and returning by boat, you can use an enhanced driver’s license, which are currently available only to residents of Washington, Vermont, New York, Michigan and Minnesota.
- If you are entering the Bahamas by boat, and returning by boat, you can use identification approved by the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative: You can find that list
And one more thing…
America offers the Global Entry program to low-risk travellers. What are the advantages of being approved by this program?
- You can use a kiosk at airports to re-enter America, avoiding all lines and zooming to the luggage kiosk ahead of the crowd. (Nice!)
How do you become a pre-approved global traveller?
- You need to apply online, which includes an in-person interview.
- There is a one-time 100-dollar fee to become a global traveller.
You should know that not all airports have Global Entry kiosks: For a list of airports that currently have Global Entry kiosks visit this link.
You see your future when you look into your lover’s eyes, and you cannot wait to be married to this person that completes you, who helps you to be the best version of yourself.
Your wedding should reflect the love that you share in a way that is meaningful to you as unique beings with passions, loving families and devoted friends.
The Abaco Islands could have been conjured up by a fairy specializing in romantic weddings: You really can have the wedding you want on these cays that are green with mangroves and white with sand.
We have highlighted five smashing places to get married in the Abaco Islands, as a sampling of what delicious choices lie ahead for you.
The Turquoise Cay Hotel
The Turquoise Cay Hotel is on Exuma Island where truly turquoise water lazily laps the whitest of white sand beaches and, should you be thinking of convenience, is a short 55-minute flight from mainland Florida.
You may have heard that it is possible to swim with pigs – yes the farmyard animal – on Exuma Island – this is quirkily and wonderfully true – and , perhaps more importantly, the Turquoise Cay Hotel are experts in creating weddings of simple, luxurious elegance or of a bright, casual nature.
Offering a number of venues, including a private beach, a turquoise pavilion, and a standout chef, The Turquoise Cay Hotel stands ready to host you and however many of your family and friends will stand at your side.
The Abaco Club
The Abaco Club will wrap you in the simplicity of elegance and the indulgence of luxury. If you watch the video provided in the link below you will get a sense of the allure, almost magical, of this exclusive destination.
If you dream of a wedding day that begins with an appointment in a world-class spa, where during your massage you begin to think of the exquisite food that will be served to your beaming guests who are sitting before artfully designed table settings, you have found your venue.
Oh, and you can marry your love on what is almost certainly the loveliest beach you’ve walked barefoot on.
The Hope Town Inn and Marina
The Hope Town Inn and Marina vibrates with romance, from its peach-pink façade to its gorgeous table settings to its dreamy tropical garden.
Whether you are planning an intimate wedding with a few guests or inviting hundreds of your closest friends, the wonderfully accommodating and knowledgeable staff at this charming inn are able to create the wedding you have dreamed of.
The Abaco Beach Resort
The Abaco Beach Resort not only offers 40 acres of land that is, yes, on beaches, but it is also the kind of relaxed, iconic Bahamas that we all dream about sometimes – perhaps after a harried day or whilst watching yet another snowflake fall from the grey sky above.
This resorts blends the intimacy of private spaces with welcoming public spaces, you can be alone with your love or join your guests for a snorkeling party, a bride-against-groom volley ball game or a sea-kayaking outing. Or you could just gather at the poolside bar and sip Bahama Mamas.
The Treasure Cay Beach , Marina & Gold Resort
If you want tranquility to be a guest at your wedding, you should consider The Treasure Cay Beach, Marina & Golf Resort where the resort manager has over 35 years of experience as an event coordinator. Tranquility is best paired with some let-you-hair-down dancing at the Tipsy Seagull – where the lights go on as the sun goes down.
Vacations should be special: You should return to the rythym of your daily life, be it as a Cirque du Soleil performer or the COO of a civil engineering firm, feeling renewed and invigorated. At Air Unlimited we take your leisure seriously, we want to be your new best friend. (You know, the kind of best friend that flies you safely, and in luxurious comfort, to places like Treasure Cay in the Abaco Islands or Marathon in the Florida Keys.)
WE ARE PASSIONATE
Have you ever walked into a workplace where joy hangs in the air, like a shop where a 3rd generation luthier creates violins? If so, you will recognize Air Unlimited as one of those workplaces where human beings – in this case, Charles “Chick” Gregg and Mark Neubauer, and their carefully selected staff, are doing just what they should be doing.
Chick and Mark came into flying naturally, both of their fathers being pilots and instilling a love for flying into the young boys who would grow up to found Air Unlimited, answering a demand for outstanding service between central Florida and Florida Keys and the Bahamas.
WE HAVE COOL AIRPLANES
If you are unused to air travel on a small scale, you should know that the 7 spacious leather seats of the Cessna 421 will bring you a level of comfort comparable to that of your favourite chair at home, the one you sink into just before the game starts. And you always have a window seat.
Our clients often express pleasant surprise at the level of noise in our Cessna 421s as they zoom toward The Bahamas or Florida Keys at 240 miles per hour: Who wants to reach for headphones to filter out engine noise when you really want to talk about how excited you are that you are finally going to try wall diving?
Of course, if you’ve chartered our Citation Mustang for a flight to that spot in The Bahamas that has not yet been discovered by most, you can fully recline in one of four well-appointed seats and have a nap – we’ll wake you when we get there. Or if you need to wrap up a few last things from the office (sigh) you can make use of your convenient work table.
WE KNOW WHERE WE ARE GOING
At Air Unlimited, our passion for flying extends to the destinations where we fly. If you are flying into Marathon, Florida Keys, chasing the dream of snagging a broadbill swordfish, we’ve got a few tall fish tales for you. Or if you want to lie on a white sand beach in The Bahamas with only the pelicans to keep you company, we have the lowdown on where you find the closest thing to a deserted beach in this paradise.
WE ARE SO RELIABLE WE COULD BE ACCUSED OF BEING BORING
Air travel: It is the best of times; it is the worst of times. More human beings are flying to more places than ever before in our history. But commercial airlines have lots of work to do in satisfying their customers: The U.S. Department of Transportation has reported that consumer complaints about commercial airlines were up 30% in 2015, from 15,539 in 2014 to 20,170 in 2015, and the most frequent complaint was that airlines are unreliable. We are refreshingly reliable.
HEY, EVEN PILOTS CHOOSE US!
We like to eat at restaurants where chefs eat, to read the novels that our favourite writers read and to watch the films that the directors we respect recommend – so why not fly with the Florida chartered airline that pilots choose? (Why, yes, it is us.)
You are lost in the pages of a Camilla Läckberg mystery, feeling relaxed and happily anticipating the moment when the Florida Keys vibes stir up your inner wildness, when your voice of your pilot cuts into your bubble of joy, announcing that you are about to experience some turbulence … and your heart starts to beat a little faster, a physical flutter of anxiety starts to build in your stomach and you close your eyes.
If you dread turbulence, if you become authentically frightened when the airplane you are sitting on begins to jolt in unpredictable ways, you should know that you can conquer this fear, or at least wrestle it into submission.
Turbulence is almost never dangerous
Fear is a useful emotion or feeling: If you are standing at the edge of a cliff that plummets to the cold North Atlantic Ocean in February, and you feel the wind rising, it is fear that will prompt you to walk away to a safe place. Fear can be our best friend.
But sometimes we fear something that we don’t have to fear, like turbulence. You may be thinking that is absolutely rational to experience fear when sitting in a airplane that is being tossed around the sky at 10,000 feet about the security of the ground. (And you make a compelling point.)
But, turbulence is common and almost always harmless.
Only about 20 people out of the 800 million or so who fly in America every year are injured as a result of turbulence. Hint: This is a great mantra to repeat to yourself the next time your airplane flies through a rough patch of air.
So why is the airplane jostling around?
High winds, being near to a mountain, the jet stream and other factors cause predictable turbulence: Pilots are trained to deal with turbulence and aircrafts are built to withstand it. Turbulence is no more than a rough patch in the air; pilots expect it and know how to deal with it.
I know it is irrational but I still fear turbulence
You are a human being, and we sometimes fear things that we don’t have to. But knowing that we do not have to fear turbulence can really help us deal with our fear and how it makes us feel.
Remember, turbulence is nothing more than air currents: That’s all. And pilots understand how to fly in air currents and airplanes are built to do so.
Try these proven techniques the next time that your pilot informs you that there is some turbulence in your immediate future:
- Bring a special treat with you when you fly, like a Black Praline Goldbar from Switzerland (seriously delicious). If turbulence is announced, slowly unwrap your treat and lose yourself in its sinfulness; when you look up, it will all be over.
- The human body reacts immediately to fear; we begin to breath more quickly. Fool your body by closing your eyes and inhaling deeply through your nose, filling up your lower lungs and then your upper lungs. You should then hold while counting to 3 before exhaling through your lips, while consciously relaxing your facial muscles. Repeat.
To learn more about breathing techniques, visit The Tiny Buddha.
- Tell yourself what you know to be true: Turbulence is safe; your plane is just flying through some wind currents.
- Bring along a stress ball to calmly squeeze during the flight, expelling excess nervous energy from your body as you do so.
Air travel has shrunk the earth, meaning that many of us have become explorers, waking up in magical places far from our homes. Don’t let a fear a turbulence keep you grounded.
You know that you want to go to the iconic Florida Keys, where the sun is shining, the water is that impossible color of blue and the sand perfect for sifting between your tanning toes – but where should you stay? Air Unlimited knows a thing or two about resorts in Florida Keys, having flown in thousands of holiday-makers to this enchanting place, and we like to share.
Here are 6 outstanding resorts in Florida Keys that are waiting for you:
- Island Bay Resort
Consistent excellence: Island Bay Resort in Key Largo has placed in Trip Advisor’s top 25 small hotels for five consecutive years and Trip Advisor’s top 25 hotels for romance for 2 consecutive years. But this is a resort that is much more than its accolades from the largest travel website on the planet.
Island Bay resort knows just how sublime true relaxation can be: Come-hither hammocks line the exquisite private beach; lush tropical gardens line pretty walking paths, radiating natural perfume; and private cottages feature spacious decks, patios and, naturally, BBQ grills. You will feel at home at Island Bay Resort.
- Little Palm Island Resort and Spa
Exclusive Exclusivity: Little Palm Island Resort and Spa is accessible only by boat or sea plane, offering you an unplugged kind of privacy. You will only one TV in this remote 5-acre resort, and it will not be in your luxurious suite, but you will find a Japanese soaking tub graced with floating flower petals at the SpaTerre, truly secluded white sand beaches and freshly shucked cold water oysters offered as appetizers at The Dining Room.
Staying at Little Palm Island Resort has been described as living alone in a natural luxury that exceeds your expectations. If you seek a blissful space where you can relax in a new way, this is your resort.
- The Marker Waterfront Resort
Seclusion within historic vibrancy: The Marker Waterfront offers new-fashioned amenities wrapped up in the historical atmosphere of Old Town Key West. Guests bask in the elegant comfort of this 2-acre tropical resort, cleverly landscaped as a private oasis, knowing that the temptations of Duval Street – like the beer pancakes at the Blue Heaven Restaurant, where roosters roam freely – are waiting just outside the front door.
If you want to experience the iconic culture of Key West, to join your fellow human beings in letting your hair down, this is your resort.
- Tranquillity Bay Beach House Resort
For the family: Tranquillity Bay Beach Resort is a visually uplifting space where original art hangs on walls and sculptures light up public spaces. It is also a space where children are celebrated, with Turtle Island Water Sports offering lessons in scuba diving for 5-7 year-olds, letting them experience the world underwater easily and safely. And there is more, for all age groups, like the kids club, where parents are persona non grata.
If you want to see the beaming faces of your children as they tell you all about how they learned to snorkel, Tranquillity Bay Resort is for you.
- Santa Maria Suites
Elegance everywhere: Trip Advisor brims with positive comments about Santa Maria Suites: A British woman writes of being so impressed by the gourmet kitchen in her suite that she wanted to replicate its simple elegance in her own home. And you can buy fresh tuna, scallops, shrimp and grouper at places like the Fishbusterz Retail Seafood Market.
Santa Maria Suites embraces its history and that of Key West, offering luxurious suites in a charming space: Retreat to a simple elegance after exploring the beguiling streets of this neighborhood, or after catching your own grouper to grill in your gourmet kitchen.
- Jule’s Undersea Lodge in Key Largo
Adventure: Have you ever considered sleeping with the fishes? (Not in that way.) Once Jules Verne’s research laboratory, Jule’s Undersea Lodge offers the adventurous travel looking for unusual experiences just that. Guests must be able to scuba dive, the lodge is 21 feet beneath the ocean’s surface, but can learn how at the Key Largo Undersea Park.
If you are claustrophobic, perhaps you should give this experience a pass. But if you want to shake yourself up, to experience our planet in a new way, spending a night in deep ocean waters is just the thing. Oh, and there’s pizza for dinner.
The surface of the water is the kind of calm that draws you toward it, inviting you to slice into its perfection with a dive, but you want it to be a Wahoo that disrupts the glassiness of the morning ocean, or an elusive Marlin: You are gone fishing.
Air Unlimited knows where to fish in The Bahamas, we have flown eager novices who dream of landing a white marlin and passionate devotees who regale us with tales of the ones who got away to the places where they want to be. Here are six fishing spots in The Bahamas that we think you shouldn’t miss.
Fish Rum Cay
Do you seek unspoiled fishing waters, the kind that people like to keep quiet about? Well, yellow-fin tuna, wahoo and blue and white marlin powerfully glide unseen through the deep waters of Fish Rum Cay – until a well-chosen lure catches their attention. (Like yours.)
And it is not all about the sweet drama of a big catch, the bonefish and tarpon in the Salt Pond offer hours and hours of old-school fishing: You will forget what it feels like to move within the confines of your navy wool suit.
Link: Rum Cay.
You could come to Berry Islands for serenity, for the seductive miles of alluring white sand beaches that border these largely inhabited cays. But you should come for the big game: blue-fin tuna, blue marlin and sailfish are plentiful in these exquisite waters, and the local guides offer you the kind of support that results in memorable end-of-day photos.
Should you wish to take a break from the drama that is deep-sea fishing, the local reefs are populated with strawberry groupers, lean snappers and grunts while feisty bonefish awaits your inner angler.
Link: Berry Islands.
Locals call Andros “The Big Yard”; it has expansive mangrove swamps where all manner of reptiles flourish and dark forests where wild boar run free. Divers from far-flung places gather here to explore its blue holes, stunning vertical underwater caves.
But you will come for the bonefish: It has a real name, like all fish do: the Latin Albula Vulpes, which translates to “white fox.” The white fox, or grey ghost, as it is known locally, does not come quietly but fiercely fights the strain of the line as you bring it in. Seasoned trainers at places like The Mangrove Cay Club will guide you through a bout with a brilliant bonefish.
Bimini is Ernest Hemingway country: If you yearn for the big game, to experience the physical thrill that travels down your spine when you first see the wahoo on your line, this is your space.
Bimini is the closest The Bahamas gets to America, a mere 50 miles away, which made it a natural spot to buy liquor during the long, dry days of the prohibition. And it is just the spot to wrangle yourself a trophy; Bimini is home to the Lion Fish Bash, the All Women’s Tournament and Wahoo Challenge.
Exuma Sound knows fishing: Children shout with abandon as they land the bottom fish that await colourful lures in shallow reefs, and their parents know just how they feel as they float above unknowably deep waters where glorious red snappers, gleeful dolphins and tuna soundlessly roam.
As in Andros, the grey ghost inhabits Exuma Sound, the west side of Great Exuma is known locally for its superb bonefish fishing.
Link: Exuma Sound