WEST END, Bahamas -- I’m sitting in the shade of a coconut palm on Old Bahama Bay’s white sand beach. I have a lot on my mind. Like when will the tide force me to move my chair? And when will hunger finally compel me to walk 100 feet to get that hamburger in paradise?
All in good time.
A yacht cruises into view. I can see the bow and then slowly the rest of the behemoth as it turns. I wonder who’s on this big girl. The hamburger can wait.
Tiger Woods has dropped by Old Bahama Bay resort several times on his 155-foot yacht Privacy, so maybe it’s him. Katerina Graham of The Vampire Diaries stayed here recently. And Kesha filmed her TV show here in July. . . Could be interesting.
Only about 80 nautical miles across the Gulf Stream from Miami and 55 from Palm Beach, this elegant compound including an inn and villas is strung along a beach on the western tip of Grand Bahama Island near the fishing village of West End.
Most people arrive by boat — yachts, fishing boats and sailboats. The 72-slip marina is a port of entry and many boaters pass through, some just stopping for a dinner of cracked conch or lobster at Old Bahama Bay Dockside Bar & Grill. Or a cheeseburger and conch fritters at the beachside Teaser’s Tiki Bar.
The inn’s 67 luxury junior suites and six spacious two-bedroom suits are in two-story Bahamian-style buildings with terraces and balconies overlooking a gorgeous white-sand beach. My room is sophisticated Caribbean-style with dark wood furnishings, wicker on the terrace, and plantation shutters thrown open to ocean breezes.
The inn has a new dive shop, but bonefishing and offshore fishing trips remain the top attractions. And there are enough beach toys to keep me busy for a week — sailfish, Hobie Cats, kayaks, bicycles, and snorkeling gear.
But Old Bahama Bay isn’t the only resort in the Bahamas where you and your boat are welcome.
Two other Bahamian resorts that lure fishermen and boaters are personal favorites: Resorts World Bimini on Bimini and Valentine’s Resort and Marina on Harbour Island.
Just 48 nautical miles east of Miami, Bimini is a fishhook-shaped sliver of sparkling white sand. Resorts World Bimini (formerly Bimini Bay Resort and Marina) attracts serious anglers, yachties, beach lovers — and now gamblers with the addition of a casino. And those without their own boats can take the new Resorts World Bimini ferry from Miami to the island.
The resort’s low-rise buildings in Caribbean colors hug one of the island’s prettiest beaches and offer a variety of places to stay from studios to 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom condos to 3- and 4-bedroom oceanfront homes. There are also 30 homes on private islands accessible by boat or bridge.
The large marina has slips that can accommodate boats up to 200 feet. The resort feels like a small community with a shopping center, grocery store, golf cart rental, three restaurants, water sports, fishing trips, tennis, kids’ programs, infinity pool, beaches, business center, and a fitness center.
Farther north in the Bahamas island chain, Valentines Resort and Marina, a lively condo-hotel, is the heart of the boating community at Harbour Island. The Bahamian-style three-story buildings with balconies and dormers reflect the architecture of Dunmore Town, perhaps the country’s loveliest with its 18th- and 19-century gingerbread houses.
I can drive my golf cart to the island’s famed pink sand beaches, only 10 minutes away, and it’s a short stroll to upscale shops and restaurants. The full-service 50-slip marina accommodates boats up to 160 feet.
During stays here, I always make sure I have a table at the resort’s harbor-view restaurant and dockside bar in time to watch the sun set. It can get raucous when fishing tournaments draw big crowds.
The resort has a dive shop, and offers boat charters and rentals, deep-sea fishing, bonefishing, kayaking, water-skiing, windsurfing, and sailing.
Back at Old Bahama Bay, my attention turns to a kid walking 100 feet out in waist-deep water. He bends down, face in the water, and picks up two queen conchs, and two more on his way back.
Lunch. Maybe I should ride a bike up the road to West End and buy some conch salad at the open-air beach shack, the one with a 5-foot high pile of conch shells within tossing distance of the conch lady.
All in good time.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Resorts World Bimini by its former name.