At our first port, Freeport, we went on a “Caves and Beaches” excursion. Here is a prime example of an excursion that could easily be better done on your own. While the idea of experiencing caves and beaches on an island sounds intriguing, in actuality, the cave part was anticlimactic, crowded, and…just a little…skeevy.
After nearly an hour bus ride, stopping only a brief moment for our bus driver to point out ‘Bahamian love vines’ and to warn us of ‘poison wood’ (not ivy), we reached Lucayan National Park where we were set loose into part of the 40-acre park where two caves are open to the public*. After walking down a windy metal staircase, of which only three people could walk down at a time, a line of around forty people gathered behind us as we stepped onto the viewing area. I’m pretty sure the amount of people squeezed into the small viewing space would have set any fire marshal’s head spinning.
*It was here we saw a sign noting the $5 entrance fee. Even with our bus ride factored in, our excursion now seemed a steep price. Realizing that we were only going to see two tiny caves without any tour guide explanation, this was our aha! moment of deciding to no longer give in to the appeal of overpriced excursions.
Yes, friends, those are bats. And you can’t see it, but though most appear to be hanging there, not caring that humans are in their home staring at them, a few chose to fly around overhead as we stood with pretty much no where to go.
There are actually fish hiding beneath that scum covered water. I later learned that Lucayan National Park has one of the largest underwater cave systems in the world. However, a special permit is needed for diving.*
*And when I learned that people actually dive into that stuff, I was further skeeved.
Perhaps if we had been exploring the caves on our own, it may have impacted my opinion a little differently. But because our bus and another had shown up at the same time, there were people everywhere, all wanting to explore the same area at the same time, and limited space to fit them all in.
However, one positive was that we never got lost. Had we been there alone, I could have easily gotten lost. Outside of the caves, though the paths were clear, they were seemingly endless and surrounded by what appeared to be miles of plant life.
By the second cave, I was ready for the beach. As was a man and his wife who had come via a private tour guide. We latched onto the direction they had taken when we realized they had an actual tour guide explaining things about the park to them. But by the second cave, like me, after standing in the humidity and squishing into tiny caves to stare at skeevy water and scary bats, tour guide or not, this man was done.
We were told the beach was across the street from the cave section of the park. In my mind that meant, cross the street, walk over a sand dune, and there is the beach.
It was a hike.
Fortunately, there was a lot to see along the way.
Also fortunately, I wore my sneakers that day.*
*I am usually adverse to wearing sneakers. It’s a personal problem.
White Swamp Flower
Gold Rock Creek
Though this red-winged blackbird wasn’t the exotic island bird I was hoping to cross paths with, he provided us a some amusement by hanging out quite boldly with the humans for a little while.
We visited two beaches during this excursion. Both shorelines were thick with seaweed, which made me tiptoe my way into the water.
I call this piece: Driftwood hanger
While most people crave the sun while in the islands, most of our days were slightly overcast, a blessing in disguise. The cloud cover kept it a little cooler than normal*, but still warm enough that the ocean was inviting after a few hours outside.
*Cooler, as in, 90 degrees instead of 98.
The ‘who-we-are’ pose
I stared at these puppies for a few minutes trying to figure out just how I could make this happen in my backyard.
From Beach #1, we were taken to another beach area beside an island restaurant serving up jerk chicken, conch fritters, and crab cakes*.
*They were the best we have ever eaten!
I soaked in the surprise blast of sun that the heavens decided to bless us with, while Lance went in the water again. I tried to catch a bit of a nap but was too intrigued by what was happening in the ocean. It took a little research, but from what I can tell, I was getting a front row view of what is known as foil boarding–something I can guarantee that I will never do in my life.
In addition to the brave foil boarders, were these two dogs who at first I thought belonged to the above pictured girl in pink.
Who decided to stay standing in that same spot the entire time I took pictures.
I call this one: Lance and the Water Dogs
It was watching the foil boarders when they were finished that confirmed that I would never foil board. The skill and body strength needed in order to stop the motion of the ocean was something I would never want to summon.*
*I’m not even sure I could.
Only after the foil boarders started packing up their things did I realize that the two dogs belonged to one of them.
One of my favorite parts of the islands: wildlife; which is, coincidentally, my least favorite part of Jersey
Even though the excursion was a little pricey and not so thrilling, it still was a nice way to spend our day in Freeport. Before boarding our ship again, we shopped the ‘no thank you’ shops (the ones when you step right off the ship) so that we could get me a Bahama Mama hat*.
*At least, that’s what the sales lady said I was when I put it on. I know she was just trying to make a sale, but from now on, that’s what it is.