A collection of information that answers most of the questions (I have been asked about Spanish Wells and Howard Beach House):
AIR CONDITIONING: HBH is fully air conditioned. There are 3 super high efficiency units that take care of the 4 bedrooms, bathrooms, hallway and foyer. They are powered by the solar panels on the roof during the day and switch over to regular power at night (everything is automatic, you don’t have to do anything). There is a regular split unit that takes care of the living room and kitchen. Please note that electricity is very expensive on Spanish Wells and while we certainly want you to be comfortable, we encourage you to be responsible with your use of the A/C. Each room has a high efficiency fan as well. The fan in the living room, master and other front bedroom have sensors that know when you enter the room and will automatically come on when you enter the room and turn off when you leave. When you click the ‘sleep’ button on the remote, the fan will stay on for about 8 hours while you sleep. You can override the automation with the little white remotes or the wall control. Note that any of the fans will work with any of the remotes but please try to keep the remotes in the same room as the fans so they don’t get lost. The ‘home’ for the remotes is in the nightside tables in the bedrooms and on the side of the upper cupboard as you enter the kitchen from the foyer. In my opinion, the best way to keep cool is to simply open the large sliding doors. There is almost always a breeze and even on the hottest days of the summer, that breeze will keep things pretty comfortable.
BAKERY: Located across from the Food Fair plaza; run by Kathy. Don’t wait too late to visit Kathy because she usually sells out. There is also a section near the entrance of the Food Fair where homemade baked goods are sold. Pricey but well worth it!
BARBEQUE: We have a fancy WEBER Performance 22″ Charcoal Grill Charcoal is available at FOOD FAIR. It has a neat propane ignition system that will light the charcoal without lighter fluid but if the propane is empty, you can get a refill at the Service Centre (by the harbour) or just use lighter fluid.
BEACH: The beach is a public space and anyone can hang out anywhere on the beach. However, there are normally only a few people on the beach at any one time.
BLUE: Blue was always my favourite colour (favorite color) but until I visited Howard Beach House and observed the different shades of blue visible in the water and the sky, I never really appreciated how many blues there actually are. The shades of blues seen from Howard Beach House are amazing! You can usually see about 5-7 different shades throughout the day (or even the hour). It all depends on the tide (depth of the water), the amount of sunlight and sometimes what you are currently feeling.
BONEFISH: They are known as the ‘Grey Ghost of the Flats’. They are silver, translucent fish that are look like ghosts in the water. They grow as big as 20 lbs and live in and around the shallow flat water of the Bahamas and south Florida. Anglers consider them one of the most challenging fish to catch. You will quite often see small ones off the beach (a few inches long) and occasionally someone will catch one in the grassy areas more towards the right of where we are. Spanish Wells is right in the heart of some of the best bonefishing in the world. There are a number of guides that can take you bonefishing (or any kind of fishing for that matter). My favourite guide is Shaw Underwood of Bullseye Bonefishing.
BUGS (biting): Spanish Wells is relatively ‘bug free’ mostly. However, there can be some annoying mosquitoes and ‘no-seeums’ at dusk and dawn; especially if there is no breeze (which isn’t often). The biters can be pesky around the ankles at some of the outdoor restaurants (I guess they like to ‘dine out’ as well too). The simplest solution is to apply a bit of insect repellent to your lower legs and if you do get bitten, use some ‘After Bite’ or similar product to soothe the itching.
BUGS (non biting): This is a warm place and there are lots of bugs but nothing too creepy or annoying. There are some large spiders called ‘house spiders’. On rare occasions we have had a ‘biblical’ swam of flies descend on the house. Nobody quite understands the phenomenon fully but it usually has to do with cooking something smelly like fish or bacon. If it does happen, just open the doors and have your spouse take the offending ‘smelly’ outside about 20′ from the house. Tell them they are doing a ‘good job’ and to keep their mouth closed and then takes lots of pictures for Instagram, Facebook, your blog, etc.. It will be a ‘story to tell their grandchildren’. NB. HBH is takes no responsibility for the subsequent retaliations your spouse may or may not inflict upon you.
CANADIAN: Sometimes my ‘Canadian’ shows and I use words an phrases that confound Americans and a few Bahamians. Here is a brief compendium:
- Muskoka: Adirondack
- cheque: check
- theatre: theater (there is not that much theatre in Spanish Wells so no biggy)
- colour: color
- Oot and aboot: out and about, seeing the sights
- Poutine: a tasty snack of french fries topped with cheese curds and usually gravy
- Loonie: a Canadian dollar coin
- Twoonie: a Canadian two dollar coin
- Tim Horton’s: The Canadian Dunkin Donuts (only way better)
- The Montreal Canadians: a mediocre ice hockey team…how they won all those Stanley Cups is a mystery!
- Favourite: Favorite
- Neighbour: Neighbor (somebody you might go ‘out and about’ with)
CAR RENTAL: There is nowhere to rent a car on Spanish Wells (and no need to either). See ‘Golf Cart’. If you want to rent a car to explore Eleuthera, there are a number of local car rental services in and around the North Eleuthera airport. However, please note that there is no Hertz, Avis, etc. and the cars available are typically not all that new. I can’t vouch for any of the services because I have never used any of them but if you search online for ‘North Eleuthera Car Rentals’ you will find a number of services. The easiest thing to do would be to take the water taxi across and pick the car up at Gene’s Bay (also spelled Jean’s Bay sometimes).
CATAMARAN: The ‘fleet’ of Howard Beach House includes a Hobie Bravo It is a 12′ single sail, twin hull sailboat that is simple and easy to sail. If you have some sailing experience, you are welcome to take her out. Note that the wind can get quite strong and the water is pretty shallow especially when the tide is out.
CELL/MOBILE SERVICE: Most restaurants have WiFi but if you absolutely have to know the most recent Kardashian update no matter where you are, you can get a sim card (for your unlocked device) at the BTC store just down the street. They have a number of very reasonable data plans. A second mobile company called ALIVE has opened up as well.
CIGALEAN: Before Eleuthera (Greek for freedom) was named as such by the early settlers, it was known as Cigaleo (Herrera’s Description). However, some of the literature refers to Cigateo as the original name. As well, there is an area of land at the north end of Eleuthera, across from Spanish Wells called Cigatoo Ridge and a hotel and a real estate development near Governors Harbour that use the Cigatoo name. Is it possible that ‘Cigatoo’ is a version of ‘Cigateo’ which in turn came for ‘Cigaleo’? Maybe the confusion is simply the result of an early ‘typo’ or maybe a fly spec? The natives of Spanish Wells are sometimes referred to as ‘Seagillian’s’. Is it also possible that Seagillian is just an interpretation of Cigalean?
CHURCHES: There are a number of places of worship on Spanish Wells including The Peoples Church, Gospel Chapel, Methodist Church and the Haitian Baptist Church. There are Anglican and Catholic churches on Harbour Island.
COCONUTS: There are plenty of coconuts (usually) in the palm trees at the front of the house. Please be careful about sitting directly under the trees. If you get hit by a falling coconut it will do serious, if not fatal, damage to you. Apart from the nasty effects of too many pina colada’s, people have given themselves nasty cuts trying to open them as well. It is strongly suggested that you ask one of the locals for some assistance in opening a coconut than attempting yourself. They would be glad to help.
CORROSION: Because we are so close to the sea and the humidity is high, everything metal corrodes; absolutely everything. That is why we have designed most of the structure using non-metallic materials (like concrete) wherever possible. Where we have to use metal, we try to use stainless steel or aluminum. All the door hinges, for example are stainless steel. Most of the nails and screws are stainless steel. So if you find something that is broken (because of corrosion) please be patient. That’s life on the beach!
CRIME RATE: There are no official numbers published (that I can find) but the Spanish Wells crime is basically non-existent. There is a local police officer who travels around in a golf cart (it has a ‘cherry’…not sure about a siren). Most people leave the keys in their vehicles and their doors unlocked. There are very few vacation destinations in the world (maybe none) that are as safe and as beautiful as Spanish Wells.
DINOSAURS: At last check there were no Tryanasaurus Rexes active on the island (at last check!). However, we have quite a few of distant, distant relatives (geckos) running about. If you are lucky, you might see one of the rarer ‘blue’ lizards that live next door. All the lizards and geckos on Spanish Wells are completely harmless. Their main preoccupation is eating bugs (woo hoo!). As well, I find the geckos are great listeners and will take in whatever you want to tell them. However, If they start talking back, please slow down on the gin and tonics and take very good notes!
ELECTRICITY: The power system on Spanish Wells is of the ‘North American’ style; 110 volts, 60 hertz. All of the power for the house (with the exception of the solar panels that supply the AC units during the sunny hours) comes from the local power company. They are a private entity located on Russell Island. They are a nice, friendly bunch and if you are into big diesel generators, I am sure they would give you a tour if you ask nicely.
EMERGENCY NUMBERS: 919 is the number to call for an emergency (equivalent to 911 in USA/Canada). I have never called it so I am not exactly sure where it goes. Other numbers are as below; all are with 242 area code (but you don’t need to dial that from a local phone)
- EMERGENCY – 919
- POLICE – 333-4030
- 24 HR NURSE (EMERGENCY ONLY) – 554-5911
- SPANISH WELLS CLINIC (18th St, Across from Food Fair plaza) – 333-4064 (open M-F, 9-5)
FERRY: The Bo Hengy is a large ferry that runs between the various Bahamian islands. It carries up to 400 people. Not to be confused with the water taxis that run back and forth between Gene’s Bay and Spanish Wells; these are small boats that hold a maximum of about 10 people. The Bo Hengy leaves the Nassau harbour at 8 am on most days and arrives in Spanish Wells at about 10, where it then heads over to Harbour Island. It makes the return trip leaving Harbour Island around 3:30, back to Spanish Wells and then leaves for Nassau around 4pm. The cost of the Bo Hengy from Nassau is about the same as one of the little flights and is a very nice trip. The only problem is that you have to spend a night in Nassau and then get up in time to make an 8am departure. They have a regular and a Voyager class (for a few dollars more). The Voyager class has some nicer seats but most people head to the outside deck to fully enjoy the view and the sun. Check the Bahamas Ferries pages for specific fares and schedules.
GARBAGE: I have never quite been able to figure out the garbage schedule but there is regular garbage pickup a couple of times a week. There is a trash can in the kitchen. Whenever it gets full, please take the bag out to one of the bins at the end of the laneway. Note that there is no recycling on Spanish Wells (unfortunately) and everything goes into the same stream; no sorting necessary. UPDATE – see PLASTICS BAN
GROCERY STORE: Spanish Wells has probably the best grocery store in all of the out islands; and conveniently, it is a 10 minute walk away. It is not a Kroger or Albertson’s or Loblaw’s but it is a pretty decent store. They are open from 8 until 5 most days and on Saturday until 6. They are also closed sometimes for an extra day during Holidays (Christmas, Easter, New Years, etc.). There is also a pharmacy in the store. The food boat normally comes in on Tuesday and so the shelves can get pretty bare by Tuesday; especially during a busy time. Most things are more expensive than in mainland stores but it is not really worth it to bring your own food other than some specialty items like special spices or coffee. Some things are just not available (ie greek yogurt) and there is much more frozen meat than fresh but don’t worry, as far as I know, nobody has died from starvation on Spanish Wells (at least not in the last several centuries). As well, there are a number of smaller grocery stores around the island. They are more like 7-11’s (or Mac’s Milk for Canadians). If you are vegan or on a gluten free diet, you might want to get some food brought in or ordered. As well, at last check, Food Fair takes credit cards. Pinder’s Groceries at the dock is small but has just about all the staples you need. If for some reason, your flights have been delayed and you are arriving after the Food Fair has closed, just ask Calvin or Gurney (who run the water taxi) and they can ask Greta to stay a bit later so you can pick up some essentials.
GOLF: There are lots of golf carts but no golf courses on Spanish Wells or Russell Island. There is a famous course about 100 miles away near Rock Sound called the Cotton Club (other end of Eleuthera) that, according to some reports, is in the process of opening up again. Truthfully, if you really want to golf, you are probably better off finding somewhere else to travel to for your vacation. Sorry.
GOLF CARTS & DRIVING: While there are a number of cars on the island, the most common form or transportation is the golf cart (a.k.a ‘buggy’ is the local lingo). There are several spots to rent from but in my experience, the easiest is from Spanish Wells Rentals. Please remember, they drive on the left here and the buggies are usually left hand drive. Keep your ‘SHOULDER TO THE SHOULDER’ and you will avoid any traffic troubles.
HAMMOCK: HBH does have a hammock that sometimes hangs between two palm trees on the beach. It is a great place to have an afternoon snooze but we have taken down for the time being due to concerns over falling coconuts. If you are sitting or snoozing out there, please make sure you position yourself away from any potential falling coconuts. A direct hit from a coconut dropping from high up in the tree (about 20′) could easily break a limb or much worse. As of fall, 2018, the hammock was taken down due to concerns over falling coconuts.
HARBOUR ISLAND: ‘Briland’ as the locals call it, is the ‘ritzy’, ‘glitzy’ cousin of Spanish Wells. There are some beautiful homes and hotels over there as well as some great restaurants and an incredible beach. However, it is very expensive. By my estimate, the same meal that would cost $100 at the Shipyard or Wreckers would cost $250 over there (and I think the Spanish Wells experience is much nicer). My suggestion is to take the ferry over for a day, have lunch at one of the nice restaurants and/or a drink or two in one of the hotel bars, hang out on the beach, look for some celebrities, buy an overpriced t-shirt and then take the ferry back later in the afternoon.
HOBIE BRAVO: see ‘Catamaran’
HURRICANES: Spanish Wells is right in the ‘heart’ of the hurricane belt that includes much of the Caribbean and the eastern cost of the USA. According to 2017 data from HurricaneCity.com, Eleuthera (and Spanish Wells) has been affected by a ‘named’ storm (that means hurricanes and tropical storms) 70 times in the last 145 years (since they started recording this information in 1871). That’s a ‘hit’ every 2.07 years on average. Note that only 34 of those ‘hits’ were actual hurricanes. That is slightly more hits than Hilton Head and Mobile (2.46) but fewer than Cape Hatteras, NC (1.36) and about the same as Miami and Tampa. While the weather channels report that hurricane season starts in June and goes until December (I think because they run out of things to talk about), it really is only September and October. Of course, you don’t want to be in a hurricane but the weather during the so-called ‘hurricane season’ in Spanish Wells is mostly very nice (except when there is a hurricane). There is slightly more rainfall in September and October than on average but the temperature is in the mid 80’s and the water is warm and there is usually plenty of sunshine. The memories of Andrew in 1992 and Floyd in 1999 are well entrenched in the residents of Spanish Wells and so they know how to deal with hurricanes. Most structures are very solidly built with extra reinforcement to tie down roofs, special hurricane resistant windows and a rubbery coating on the roofs to prevent shingles from dislocating. It was really weak pre-fab materials that led to the destruction of the Spanish Wells Beach Resort structure (that is now Howard Beach House) during Andrew in ’92. When a hurricane is forecast, people in Spanish Wells batten down the hatches by installing hurricane shutters on the doors and picking up items in the yard that could become projectiles during hurricane winds. The local power company ensures that branches above power lines are trimmed so that won’t cause a problem. For anyone that wants to visit HBH during ‘the season’, HBH offers a 100% refund if you can’t make it because of the weather (and the rate is lower). The ‘bottom line’ is that it is still okay to visit Spanish Wells during the so-called ‘hurricane’ season.
ICE CREAM: Papa Scoops located at 15th st and main (just around the corner); incredible homemade ice cream with a new flavour almost every evening; a definite ‘must’!
JELLYFISH: The only ‘nasty’ thing I have ever encountered in the water was a tiny jellyfish in the summertime when I went for a dip after dark (no, I was not skinny dipping…but thank you for thinking that way). A jellyfish sting is like a burn or a cut and is painful and lasts a long time. It is made worse when your spouse laughs at you and does not offer any sympathy. If you ever encounter a sting, ignore the wive’s tales about dosing the area with urine or gasoline and just wash off with water (fresh water is best, like from the outside shower but salt water works okay too). Remove the tentacles and/or the stingers if there are any by brushing them gently away. Avoid squeezing the stingers as you will just inject more toxin (resulting in more pain). Treat the area with something like Afterbite (contains ammonia). Take some painkillers (Tylenol, Advil) and/or a few stiff drinks to deal with the pain. If things to not go away by the next day, get medical attention.
KAYAK: There are a couple of single kayaks on the beach. The paddles are either by the kayaks or in the outdoor shower. Please try to store the paddles by the shower so that they don’t get lost. The kayaks will fill up with water relatively easily but there is a simple solution. Just pop out the rubber stopper at the front point and stand the kayak on its end. It should take a minute or two for the water to drain out. Beyond paddling up and down the beach, there are a couple of ‘Kayak Challenges’ as follows (in order of difficulty)
- out to the sandbar and back (really easy)
- ‘shoot the rapids’ as the tide comes in over the sandbar (easy and fun)
- around to the Shipyard restaurant and back (easy)
- around to the bridge (left of the house) and back (medium)
- out to Pier Rock (island to the left) and back (medium)
- around the island (hard)
- over to Miami and back (really, really, really hard…and not very intelligent)
Please remember to not leave the paddles or the kayak on the beach and to tie up the kayak. The tide is very unforgiving.
KITCHEN: The kitchen at HBH is pretty well stocked with everything you are going to need (plus a number of things you won’t likely need) including a blender, crock pot, kettle, pots, frying pans, mixing bowls, measuring spoons/cups, colander. If there is something that you see that is missing, please let me know and we will add to the ‘arsenal’.
LIQUOR STORE: Contrary to some outdated information, Spanish Wells is not ‘dry’ and has not been so for a number of years. Most of the restaurants serve alcohol and several make some fantastic cocktails (Bahama Mama, Shipwreck to name a few). There are two liquor stores on the island; Budda’s (about half way up 12th St.) and Value Liquor (at 12th and Main). Their prices are similar to what is in the airport. The selections are basic but adequate so if you crave that 18 year old single malt or vintage Amarone, you might want to bring some with you.
LOUNGE CHAIRS: HBH has a number of Muskoka chairs (these are just cheap, but comfortable plastic chairs you can easily move anywhere including the beach), a pair of Ebel Chaise Lounges (these are really comfortable) on the sun deck and a pair of Chillbo Baggins inflatable loungers (that can go in the water) Click here for a video on how to inflate the Chillbo’s. The water and the salt and the wind and the tide do a ‘number’ on the chairs so we are always replacing chairs as they wear out. If one of them breaks or is broken, we apologize. Just move it to the side of the house and we will throw it away and replace it. We are experimenting with a couple of Amish made chairs from Pennsylvania. They are relatively heavy (about 20 kg / 45 lb) are are supposed to be very durable (we will see!).
LUCAYAN SEA: The waters we are located in are technically the Atlantic Ocean and we are on the Caribbean (western) side of Eleuthera. The Caribbean side is generally much calmer while the Atlantic side gets bigger waves. There is a movement to name the area all around the Bahamas from Florida in the north down to (and including) the Turks and Caicos in the South the Lucayan Sea after the original inhabitants of the islands, the Lucayans.
MAGIC COUNTER LIGHTS: There are magic lights under the cupboards in the kitchen. Wave your hand under the upper cabinets near the middle of the dishwasher and they will come on. Wave again and they will go off. Don’t ask how it works; it is magic!
MARINA: A new marina opened up in 2016 called Yacht Haven. They handle boats up to 165′ long and have most of the services boaters require. As well, because Spanish Wells has an active fishing fleet there are all sorts of other services including R&B Boatyard, a full service boatyard and all sorts of supplies from Spanish Wells Marine Hardware. Yacht Haven is at the south end of 14th street and HBH is at the north end of 13th street with about 1/3 of a mile between the two (easy 10-15 minute walk). Note that Yacht Haven does have some nice places to rent but to me, staying there is a bit like going to Florida and staying at a motel on the interstate (yes, it is nicer than the place with the snow and ice you probably came from but the beach is much, much nicer).
MONEY: The Bahamian dollar is equal to the US dollar and everyone will take either currency on a 1 for 1 basis. If you make an exchange at the bank (not sure why you would bother) or if you get a withdrawal from the local ATMs (the ATM dispenses Bahamanian only), you will get charged a few percentage points for currency conversion. Most vendors will try to give you back US $ when they give you change so that you won’t get ‘stuck’ with Bahamian currency that you cannot use back home. Most places take credit cards (ie the restaurants) but a few noteables (such as the liquor stores) only accept cash. A number of places will charge and extra 2% of so for using a credit card (because they get charged from the bank). The ATM’s seem to be problematic of late and have had difficulty accepting foreign cards. There is one ATM in the Commonwealth Bank (beside Food Fair) and another one in the convenience store opposite the cemetary. I suggest bringing some extra cash so you don’t run into difficulties.
MUSKOKA CHAIRS: Whoops, my ‘Canadian’ is showing…’Muskoka’ = ‘Adirondack’.
PHARMACY: There is a pharmacy located inside the Food Fair.
PLASTICS BAN: In January 2020, the Bahamian government implemented a ban on the import of single use plastics shopping bags, styrofoam containers and cups, plastic straws and plastic utensils. Garbage bags and other plastics are not banned (and are not likely to be banned. The government is also planning to ban the release of balloons. See https://www.plasticfree242.com/ for more details.
PIGS: There is a famous spot in the Exumas where a colony of feral pigs live called Pig Beach. It is very famous and people come from all over to check that off on their bucket list. Pig Beach is a long, long boat ride or a couple of connecting flights away and, well, they are just pigs. However, if you really want to see some swimming pigs, there is a spot much closer by (about 20 minutes by boat) that you can get your full fill of piggy cuteness. It is on one of the islands less than a mile from Spanish Wells. One of the local guides can take you there.
PHONE SERVICE: The cell phone service on Spanish Wells is excellent. However, unless you have some sort of long distance/roaming plan, it will likely be easier to pay the devil with your soul than to pay your cell phone bill. Skype, What’s App, BBM, etc. are much better options to call back to the US or Canada or Europe.
POOL: HBH does not have a pool (nor a pool table for that matter). There are very few pools on the island mainly because there is really no need. We say we have a million square foot, salt water infinity pool in the front yard because the water/beach is just like a pool but much more pleasant. There is no chlorine or concrete, just calm, clear, clean beautiful water with a soft sandy (no rocks or grass) bottom.
RESTAURANTS: There are lots of great places to eat on the island. I categorize them 1) Tourist Restaurants – there are great places to eat with great views and excellent service; 2) Local Restaurants – great food as well but typically indoor with more local clientele; 3) Snack Bars – also great food and friendly service but more ‘fast food/take out’ 4) Pop Ups – usually at the grocery store plaza by a group raising some money for a certain cause – usually some really tasty home cooking. My favourites are as follows:
- THE SHIPYARD – located at the eastern point of the island (turn left on main street); about a 5 minute buggy ride or a 20 minute walk from the house; very tasty reasonably priced food, excellent cocktails, great service, beautiful view.
- BUDDA’S – located 1/2 way up 12th st; about a 1 minute buggy ride or a 5 minute walk from the house; no view but an outdoor patio/bar or get the food to go, also is one of the local liquor stores; tasty food, fun spot. The Slurger Fish Burger is my favourite.
- SANDBAR – located towards the end of Russel Island; about a 20 minute buggy ride; incredible cocktails, amazing view and very tasty reasonably priced food; well worth the trip over
- WRECKERS – located at 15th st on the other side (harbour side) of the island; about a 5 minute buggy ride or a 10 minute walk from the house; probably the most expensive spot on the island, caters to the ‘boating crowd; nice outdoor seating with great view of the harbour; tasty food with a greek influence; their sangria is excellent!
- THE GAP – located at 13th and main (just across the street), indoor seating, very popular lunch spot, great local food, no alcohol
- THE ANCHOR SNACK BAR – located at the harbour just past 5th st.; about a 5 minute buggy ride or a 20 minute walk from the house, great local food/home cooking, always seem to have lots of specials, indoor seating, no alcohol
- SALT AND PEPPA (formerly NORMA’S TAKEAWAY) – sorry, now closed
- EAGLES LANDING – located at the Food Fair plaza; about a 2 minute buggy ride or a 10 minute walk from the house; great local/home cooked meals; always interesting specials, indoor seating
ROBOTS: Okay, ‘robot’, singular. HBH has a robot. Her name is Mabel (yes, she is a ‘she’) and she is very cool. She is a vacuuming robot and can keep small children and middle aged men occupied for hours. She lives at the end of the hall by the Master and Queen bedrooms. There should be a remote control nearby that you steer her around with but if you just press the start button, she will start randomly cleaning and won’t stop until she senses her battery is running down and she will return home. Note that Mabel likes to escape so please watch that she doesn’t start vacuuming the beach or the back yard.
SEAFOOD: Surprisingly, it is a bit difficult to find fresh fish (on an island of fishermen). You can always catch your own but the easiest way is to go to Ronald’s Seafood at the harbour where they have a nice selection of flash frozen fish and lobster. Really easy to cook and tastes great.
SEAWALL: There is a concrete seawall that runs from 13th Street to 14th Street along the front of HBH and the neighbouring properties. There are additional seawalls that go further up the beach. The wall is about 1′ thick and goes about 8′ down into the sand/ground creating a ‘terraced effect’ so that we have an ‘upper beach’ and a ‘lower beach’. The purpose of the seawall is to stop erosion of the area in front of the houses. At the time of writing there is almost no ‘step’ from the upper to the lower beach. That step has been as much as 3′; it all depends on the sea and the storms that normally happen in September/October. Occasionally, during a storm or when it is very windy, we will get waves above the seawall but usually not. Please remember to put beach toys, kayaks, chairs, etc. on the ‘upper beach’ (house side of the seawall) so that the tide does not take them away.
SEAGILLIAN: see Cigalean.
SEPTIC SYSTEM: HBH (and all of the homes and business on Spanish Wells) has a septic system. There is no sewer plant on the island. We rely and some nice bugs to digest whatever flushes down the drain. Please don’t put anything down that they can’t eat (like plastic, metal, children’s toys, pills, certain hygiene products, etc.). As well, it is okay to use some bleach if you need to in the laundry or for cleaning but please keep it to a minimum because the bleach kills the nice bacteria that do such a good job for us.
SHADE: HBH has lots of shade. There are 4 large palm trees in the front that provide great shade at various times throughout the day (depending where the sun is at…and watch out for falling coconuts). The house has a large overhang at the front (about 6′) that also provides plenty of shade. In 2017 we added 2 decks to the front of the house. One is mostly in the sun but the other has a retactable ShadeFX canopy. That deck is about 16′ X 12′. Also, for that ‘outside-inside’ feel and complete shade, all the rooms on the beachside of the house (master bedroom, master bathroom, king bedroom, living room) all have full width sliding glass doors that can be opened up to let the breeze blow through. All the comforts of being inside but still being on the beach; that is what this beach house is all about!
SNORKELING: HBH has a large collection of snorkel equipment of varying shapes and sizes (but probably nothing for small children). You are welcome to use any of the equipment. Unfortunately, there is not too much to see under the water in front of the house (because it is just sand). For ‘full on’ snorkeling, the best place to go is out to the reef (about a mile in front of the house). You can rent a boat and go out yourself but I would suggest hiring a guide for 1/2 a day.
SUNSCREEN: Sunscreen is important is Spanish Wells because we get a lot of sunshine. However, it really ‘does a number’ on the sheets, pillows, cushions, etc. by leaving a dark stain. We would appreciate it you could try to wash it off with a quick shower or wash cloth before you get into bed so that we can extend the life our of sheets a bit.
TELEVISION: We installed a nice new 49″ Roku wall mounted TV in 2017. It has Netflix and a number of standard offerings like weather and children’s shows. We have a ‘basic’ cable package that gets some local networks as well. If you want to watch a certain sports event or something else, we can arrange to get that added to the cable package.
TIDES: The tides in Spanish Wells are just over 6 hours apart (time between low and high tides) so that the time of each tide moves forward about 1 hour each day (ie if high tide is at 10 o’clock today, it will be at about 11 o’clock tomorrow). The difference between low and high tide varies during the year but is typically around 2′. At high tide, the sea will come close to the HBH seawall but there will still be room to walk along the beach without getting your feet wet. Further west, the water is right up to the seawall at high tide. At low tide, there is about 30-40′ of beach to play on. At low tide, you can easily walk out to the sandbar that is about 1/3 or a mile in front of the house. At high tide, it will be easier to swim part of the way. Tide tables can be found at this link.
WATER: Spanish Wells got its name as a place where the Spanish stopped (in their galleons, laden with gold) to fill up with water before heading back across the Atlantic to Spain. In many places still, if you dig down, not too far, you will hit fresh water. We installed a well in the back yard that delivers wonderful fresh water. In 2018, we installed several filters in series (30 micron, 10 micron, UV). The 30 micron filter does most of the work and basically removes any sand that comes through. The 10 micron filter just cleans things up a bit more and the UV filter zaps any bacterial. The initial test of the untreated water showed some bacteria (the locals say it is fine but we installed the filters anyway) The water is tested regularly (every 4-6 months) and has never shown bacteria. I personally have been drinking the water with no detrimental effects (my wonderful wife says that all my detriments are the results of other things!). Bottled water is still available. It is supplied by some large water bottles beside the washer/dryer. That system also supplies the ice maker in the refrigerator. If you do run out of water, you can buy 1 gallon bottles at the Food Fair or you can get the bottles refilled on 3rd street just beside Ronald’s Seafood (there is a small doorway with a sign that says ‘Chilly Gilly’ and someone will come out and fill you up). It costs under $3 to fill up one of the big bottles. There is also a house at 22nd and main street that will fill up water bottles and will also deliver/exchange water bottles called ‘Spanish Wells Choice’ They can be reached at 242.333.4704.
WEATHER: See the Weather & Water Temperature page. Note that some are worried when they look at the forecast that they see lots of rainy days but that is not really the case. The Bahamas gets something like 340 days a year of sunshine a year. Rarely, you can get a day or two of cloudy, rainy weather but typically when it does rain it only lasts for a very short time (ie a few minutes) so you really don’t notice it at all. Short story, the weather in the Bahamas is great!
WEDDINGS: People do get married on the beach and in front of the house. There are plenty of other spots that would be great for wedding photos as well. There is a gentleman on the island that can perform weddings. As I understand things, there is some paperwork required and depending on the timing, that paperwork can be done in Spanish Wells but the official that authorizes the paperwork only comes to town once a week so you might have to travel to Governor’s Harbour. There are several people on the island that do photography as well.
WHAT TO PACK: HBH has most of the things you are going to need to do the basics of life (and quite a few of the comforts as well) like dishes, pots, pans, towels, beach towels, bedding, pillows, blankets, snorkeling equipment, shampoo, hair dryer, first aid kit (basic), fresh water. What you need to bring with you includes:
- personal toiletries
- sun protection (sunscreen, hat, UV protective clothing)
- bathing suit
- specialty food (but only if it is something unique that you really need/want, like a unique spice or coffee; otherwise, not really worth it)
- easy to pack, non-perishable, high value food items (ie coffee, tea, trail mix) (these things are usually available, they are just more expensive)
- t-shirts & shorts (everything is pretty casual here)
- a light jacket if you are here during the coldest months (Dec, Jan, Feb). The temperature can drop to the low 70’s (20’s) in the evening and if there is a breeze, some find it cool eating outside
- desire to relax
That’s about it…you don’t really need much to survive nicely in Spanish Wells.
WIFI: HBH has wifi. The password is ‘onthebeach’. The 2.4mhz band is usually the best. You should be able to get wifi throughout the house and at the front but not on the beach (if you really need wifi on the beach, you probably have other issues that you need to deal with).
ZIKA: At the beginning of 2018, the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) and the WHO (World Health Organization) declared that the ‘The Islands Of The Bahamas do not pose a known risk to travelers of contracting the Zika virus. There were a couple of cases identified in 2016 (mostly in New Providence (Nassau) but no new cases since then. The chances of contracting Zika in Spanish Wells are extremely slim (your drive from home from the airport probably puts you at significantly more risk). However, there is much we don’t know about Zika so if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant in the next 6 months or so, you might consider waiting a bit before you visit us (the beach is great for toddlers).