Kayaking in the mangroves of Exuma in the Bahamas

DAY TWO — The phone—the special phone our butler Logesh gave us when we checked in to Sandals Emerald Bay—rings at 7:30 a.m. Logesh knows we are leaving to go kayaking at 8:30.  Would we like coffee, he wants to know. Anything else? 

Boy, it is tough to have your every need anticipated!  And that is exactly the butlers’ jobs. We head off to kayak through the mangroves on the Southeastern part of this small island—just 70 miles long. Our cab driver and our kayak guide are both named Rolle. So are at least 2,500 of the 7,000 people who live here on Exuma in the Bahamas, we learn. Our cab driver Alston Rolle explains that when slavery was abolished here in the 1860s, Lord Rolle not only freed his slaves, but gave them his name but also his land.  

The kayaking excursion is arranged through the resort with Island Routes Caribbean Adventure Tours (www.islandroutes.com). Our Kayak guide Gully Rolle (www.rolleseakayaking.com) meets us just in front of the bridge that connects Great Exuma to Little Exuma We head out on a blue-sky day on crystal-clear water. We see a sea turtle, a Manta Ray, lemon shark but mostly we just see beautiful pristine coast. 

We kayak through Mangroves where the path is so narrow we must go single file. The Mangroves, Rolle tell us, “always” have been there. We stop at a small windswept beach called Mariah Cay. There are some 365 Cays that make up Great Exuma and if you want to feel like a Castaway, Rolle says, a boat captain can drop you off with chairs and lunch and pick you up several hours later.  Just don’t forget the sunscreen!  

He spots and picks up a conch that is about full grown (some nine years old) and shows us how he would get out the fresh conch meat and then we set the conch back under the water to live another day. 

It is so peaceful…so serene.  We’ve only gone about 2 ½ miles but we are light years away from the cold and snow and pressures of life at home. That’s the idea, of course. 

On the way back to the hotel, we pass “Fish Fry” an area of small sports bars and restaurants that our cab driver tells us is where the locals hang out—especially on Super Bowl Sunday which this happens to be.  A semi-heated argument can be heard from one bar – “they are just warming up,” the driver jokes. 

When we get back to Sandals, Superbowl partying is already in full swing at the main pool. If there is one thing I wish this resort did better, it would be the food. “Cruise ship “food my husband said, and he didn’t really mean it as a compliment. 

But there are so many things the resort does well—friendly, attentive service, our always congenial butler just a phone call away (yes, he even pressed my pants!) and the spectacular location with a mile-long beach. 

When we got back from dinner last night, there was a bubble bath drawn for us, complete with candles and flower petals. Love was spelled out in flowers on the bath mat. OK a little hokey but it made us smile. And isn’t that what vacation is about. 

My biggest decision this afternoon is which tropical drink I want—Purple Rain (yes it is purple with blue curacoe),  Bahama Mama, Chocolate Monkey, Dirty Banana, Mud Slide, Pina Colada, the list goes on and on. And that’s just the way I want it this weekend. 

We meet a couple from Canada who have just arrived—Joann and Don Gnatiuk—who are even more  happy to escape the cold as we are – that’s because they live in northern Alberta Province, where temperatures have been dipping 35 degrees below zero this winter. This is their first time at an adult-only resort, they said. “It’s sure has a good opening feeling,”said Don Gnatuik. 

“We’re here to relax,” added his wife.  They’ve come to the right place. 

NEXT: A candlelight dinner for two