Want to get swept away on a trip to the Bahamas? It’s never been easier or more accessible to do just that. In fact, I recently had the pleasure of escaping on a whirlwind trip to the Abacos with the private airline, Air Unlimited. Think private airfare is out of your budget? Think again. Air Unlimited showed me that private luxury travel on a budget is possible. Our 48 hour whirlwind trip to the Abacos was nothing short of a dream. Read on to find out where we stayed, what we ate, and how we played.
Our trip was sponsored by Air Unlimited in return for my review, however all opinions written here are 100% my own.
Getting There | Air Unlimited
I’m going to be honest. Private air travel has always been a bucket list item for me. A dream, but on our current income, maybe not a reality, or so I thought. I’m so grateful for the opportunity Air Unlimited brought before me to experience what they do. From parking to boarding your flight, everything is so easy. Upon arrival we were welcomed with warmth and immediate attention to detail. The service my husband David and I experienced was exemplary. Our bags were immediately taken off our hands, our keys turned over for private (free) parking of our car, and we were escorted to a refreshment room to pre-fill out all our customs info. Shortly after we boarded the plane and off we went on our tropical vacation aboard a luxurious King Air 200.
This has to be outrageously expensive you might be thinking? Would it shock you to learn that you could be headed to the Bahamas this spring for the same or less than you would pay with a major commercial airline? All this without the hassle of a crowded airports, layovers, and dealing with huge lines at customs. It’s easy on, easy off and the expert staff is there to guide you through the entire process. Instead of spending all day getting to your destination, you arrive sooner and play longer all while feeling like a rock star. Plus there are no crazy baggage fees, and they are pet friendly! This is a major game changer my friends. Currently from my home town in Jacksonville Beach you have to drive to the Sanford Airport in Orlando, but rumor has it these flights will soon be available from Jacksonville as well. The drive to Sanford airport was a breeze though, and only served to help us unwind from our work/home stressors as we set off on our adventure. Upon our return, we spent minutes in customs with practically a private appointment that had us in and out. No lines, no drama. Does it get any easier or more convenient than that? I think not.
Where to Stay | Bluff House Beach Resort
Described as “One of the most special pieces of property in the Abacos”, Bluff House Beach Resort on Green Turtle Cay is indeed a magical resort in the Bahamas. We were thrilled to be housed in a private suite overlooking the Sea of Abaco’s famous turquoise waters and pastel sunsets. Previously my only experience in the Bahamas had been during a winter cruise on an excursion to Nassau. Friends, I had no idea the water in the Bahamas could be so blue! The staff at Bluff House made us feel right at home. It was clear the Green Turtle Cay community is a family. Everyone knew everyone and we were made to feel part of the crew from arrival to departure. We especially loved taking breakfast at The Tranquil Turtle beach bar, and then relaxing in a hammock under the coconut trees on Bluff House’s private beach. When adventure struck our fancy, we set off on a golf cart (the preferred method of transport on the island) to explore the island and see what treasures it held. Our efforts were rewarded with more breathtaking views, and even sightings of sea turtles in the waters nearby.
Where to Eat | Green Turtle Club Resort & Marina
Our first night on Green Turtle Cay was spent wining and dining at the Green Turtle Club restaurant. We began the evening in style with their signature Tipsy Turtle Rum Punch followed by a gander at the wall to wall dollar bills stapled throughout the aptly named “Dollar Bar”. Per tradition, each visitor who arrives at the bar is welcome to leave their mark. This tradition dates back to post World War II when fighter pilots would leave signed dollars for their friends to find on their next visit and have “a drink on them”. I couldn’t resist stealing a spot for my own dollar bill. When you visit, you’ll find it nestled amongst thousands of others including major celebrities and politicians like President Jimmy Carter. Dinner was a delightful blend of elevated island cuisine full of fresh caught seafood, and some delectable desserts to finish off the evening.
Where to Eat | Leeward Yacht Club
Leeward Yacht Club has big plans for Green Turtle Cay. This popular destination was the perfect setting for a light lunch before we embarked on our marine adventures the second day of our visit. After a quick dip in the fresh water pool we noshed on fresh fare including hearty salads, sweet potato fries, sandwiches and more. A stroll on their dock provided us with sweeping views of Leeward’s marina on the protected sound. I was delighted to hear the Yacht Club is also a resort housing several vacation rentals and luxury amenities for visitors. Another great spot to stay on the island.
Where to Play | Brendal’s Dive Center
I had no idea what a treat I was in for when we arrived at Brendal’s Dive Center. Brendal is a world famous platinum pro Dive Instructor. If you have visited the Abacos before, chances are, you know Brendal. Brendal and his wife Mary have been welcoming visitors since the 80s and no one knows the area as well as he does. Whether you’re looking to dive, fish, pleasure cruise, or swim with wildlife, Brendal is your man. We boarded our boat for the day and as soon as Brendal joined, it was a party. Stocking us up with ample quantities of Rum Punch we headed off for a day of fun in the sun, safe in the the most knowledgable hands on the island.
Tip: Brendal’s has your hook up for golf carts too! Reserve them well in advance, this is the main method of transport on the island and they go fast in the busy season.
Swim With the Pigs in Piggyville
You may have heard of the Exuma Swimming Pigs who have achieved viral status on social media. Now, the Abacos have their own Piggy celebrities. These four legged cuties enjoy their own protected island on “Piggyville” where they bask in their new found status and live out their days in leisure. Upon arrival Brendal and his crew invite you to join the pigs for a swim and feed them bread they’ve brought for the hungry mommas. These gals were pretty hangry so it’s advised you let them get their bellies full before doing too much interacting. Once they are satiated though, you can pet them, grab a selfie with the stars, and tour their little haven.
Tip: During our visit there were the most adorable piglets roaming around as well. Beware however, the mommas are pretty protective and have been known to bite.
Note: Piggy lovers can help support their happy home with this Go Fund Me page.
Pet and Feed the Stingrays
Another “must-do” excursion in the Abacos is feeding the stingrays. I’d heard of these type of excursions before but had always been a little reserved. Having pet them at aquariums in the past, I decided to pull my confidence together and stepped out into the shallows with a handful of fish to feed these otherworldly creatures. The experience was simply breathtaking. The rays floated up angelically with their winglike fins and to my awe they bumped up against our legs, not unlike a cat rubbing against you. They ranged in size from a few feet wide to close to five feet, still relatively small for a ray. We were instructed to hold the food under them and let go. They vacuumed the small bites of cut up fish into their mouths with much enthusiasm. I’ve never been this close to wild marine life in person and it was almost a spiritual experience. Their silky fins were a delight to caress. It was a bucket list experience I wont soon forget.
Tip: The rays don’t “bite” per se but they can give you a really nice hicky with their mandibles which do not have ridges. I got a nice one on my knee as they can’t exactly see where the food is and my skin just happened to get in the way. Additionally, there were some sharks in the area that were curious about the food we had. Brendal and his crew thankfully kept them at a safe distance however.
Feed the Turtles
On our last morning on Green Turtle Cay we were invited by the Bluff House management to steal away to a quiet beach and feed sea turtles who were known to frequent the area. Armed with a bag of conch we climbed in the water and were greeted by two or three loggerheads enjoying their morning swim. Again, I had never been this close to these sentient creatures in the wild before and the feeling of swimming along side them and petting their fins and shells was almost indescribable. They gently plucked the food from our hands and we gleefully snapped photos of the experience. The most incredible thing was that this was not an “excursion”. There were no lines, no tourist traps. We were just a couple of folks visiting with the locals, swimming with the neighborhood turtles. I’m pretty sure my mind was a little blown. It was an incredibly joyful experience and once we were ran out of food they took their leave of our company. Make sure to ask the Bluff House staff about this little treasure! You will be so happy you did.
It’s amazing you can pack so much fun into such a short visit. We made the best memories on this trip, and we will certainly be returning again soon!
Have you visited the Bahamas? What’s your favorite spot? I love hearing your travel stories in the comments below.
Enjoy the Journey!
xo- Amy West
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