Long Island – Bahamas
Long island is exactly that – a long island.
After Christmas at San Salvador we moved on to Long Island, because we had heard of a ‘blue hole’ on the island which my dad really wanted to dive in. “Dean’s blue hole” had until recently held the status of ‘deepest blue hole’, but now I think they found a deeper one somewhere.
In the end, the dive itself wasn’t all that exciting, since the visibility wasn’t what we had hoped, but I think the expedition was worth it, because to do it, we had to rent a car. ^_^
When we arrived at Long Island with Shang Du, we had to do some careful steering. The anchorage is located between a little island and Long Island and there are some pretty shallow spots. When we were safely anchored and had, had time to rest, we launched Andy and went to investigate ashore.
We found a little bay that had a Cat moored in it, but it was waaaay too shallow for us to get in there with Shang Du. We tied Andy up to a wooden jetty which had only one or two power-boats tied to it. Didn’t look like there was a lot going on.
A sign told us that we were now at the ‘Flying Fish Marina’, but everything looked really deserted. We walked around the bright yellow buildings, looking for someone to tell us a little about the island.
Everything had a really ‘the builders just left yesterday’ feeling. The building was so new, you could still see construction dust lying around. One of the functions of a new building, of course, it that it still has all those little kinks to work out – like making sure the signs you put up actually directs people to the office instead of causing confusion.
The office, (once found), proved to be a combination office and shop. Everything had a really un-inhabited feel. Nothing was moved in properly yet, not enough clutter to fill in the corners.
We got the information we needed; Nearest grocery store was a bit too far away to walk, Dean’s blue hole was not really accessible from the sea and yes, my Dad could recharge his sim card right there.
We arranged to hire a car for a day, starting 1 o’clock on the following day. The plan was to check out Dean’s blue hole with our snorkelling gear, to see if it was worth hauling out all the diving equipment. If we decided it was, then we could go diving the following morning.
We had a lot of fun swimming in the blue hole and picnicking next to it. After lunch we decided that yes, we would come back the following day to do some diving. Because we were planning to come back anyway, we decided to leave Dean’s hole and use the rest of the day exploring more of the island.
We did some googling on the go and found out that there are caves on the island. Since they weren’t too far, (it’s an island), we headed over to find out if it was possible to still get a tour that day.
I’m not sure what I was expecting, but the little house next to the road definitely wasn’t it. I mean, what do you normally get when going to see caves? A ticket-window and a time-table at least. Usually, there is a whole business built around the fact that you want to see the caves. But there in Long Island, the little building didn’t seem to have any connection to caves whatsoever, no matter what the sign said.
After closer inspection it was obvious that the little building housed a little shop. There was definitely a sign outside advertising the Hamilton Caves. It was all closed up and we were just about to give up, when a little round man came and unlocked the door. My Dad and some sisters went in after him to ask about the cave tours. He said yes, he gave the tours, but since his wife still had the truck he couldn’t do a tour for us right then. After some more discussion it was discovered that he needed the truck to transport us all down the road to where the caves were. Since it was really not far, we did the trip in two go’s with our little hired car. Problem solved. =)
It was a very interesting tour. Nothing like the usual ‘these formations’ and ‘so many years’. The land on which the caves are, used to belong to the man’s grandparents, now it’s split up between the children. He can’t really remember a time when he didn’t know the caves. All the cousins played hide-and-seek in those caves. (The seeker without a torch and those hiding cramming themselves as deep as they could in little niches and crannies. The smaller you were, the more hiding places. 😉 ) They are just the family caves.
He could tell us a lot of stories about growing up, playing in the caves on a Sunday afternoon. No one ever got lost. The caves aren’t dark caves exactly. They are very extensive but shallow, close to the surface.
There are many holes into the world outside, letting in natural light and air. There isn’t light everywhere, but you get the feeling that you walk through a maze of dark tunnels to emerge in another green-tinged room. It looks like a dead-end until you explore the dark patch at the other end of the cavern and you realise the maze just continues!
Again, no one ever got lost, but I think that was mostly due to conscientious older siblings. When you were old enough, you were taken under someone’s wing and allowed to join the group. In due time it was your turn to make sure all your little charges came back.
They are very friendly caves, full of life. Cockroaches and bats mostly, but there was also a crab and some spiders. ^_^ It was one of the most interesting caves I have ever had the chance of visiting!
Franci, Dad and I were the only ones diving in Dean’s Blue hole, the rest all gave it a skip. It was nice, not specifically spectacular. My Dad said it’s a lot like Wondergat. Except that’s freshwater.
We didn’t stay at Long Island very long. Nowhere convenient for diving, you see. 😉 We quickly moved on to Greater Inagua, where we did some more great diving. Not, perhaps, quite as spectacular as in San Salvador, but very good, nonetheless.
We really enjoyed our Bahama stay! To think, we almost gave that whole chain a skip. I’m glad we didn’t. Up to date, San Salvador is the best place I’ve dived so far. I haven’t seen the South Sea islands yet, so I’ll update my views then. ^_^
After Greater Inagua and New Year we left the Bahamas behind and set sail for Panamá.