Frequently Asked Questions about the Out Islands of the Bahamas
Do I need a passport to go to the Bahamas?
Yes! On January 23, 2007 new US government regulations took effect which will require all adults and children (even newborns) to have a valid passport for all international travel by air. To apply for a new passport, you will need to appear in person at a post office or courthouse that accepts passport applications. Read more about passport application process.
We like to do at least some of our cooking. Will we be able to get supplies and where is the best place to shop so we can incorporate local produce or seafood into our meals?
I know the feeling as we do the same on vacation. The supply boats come to the Island on Thursdays and Fridays. That's when the fruits and veggies come from Nassau. Piggly Wiggly and Johnson's grocery have the largest selection of goods, but some of the little corner stores sometimes surprise you with things you never expect like Ben and Jerry's New York Jungle Fudge Ice Cream, for instance. On the North end of the Bay Street, you'll find the fisherman's dock where you can get fresh fish and lobster when in season. That's where you'll also find the Pineapple shop with fresh fruits and vegetables. There is also a new seafood and Meat market store next door. Bon Appetit!
What kind of nightlife will we find in Harbour Island? Also, is it safe to wander around at night?
Just a hint...if you want to know about night-life, a baker is the last guy to ask. Remember, he's the guy that gets up at 4AM to "make the donuts". But, I do know there are 3 clubs on the Island: Gustys is the most popular, and gets started the earliest. It has a nice mix of visitors and Bahamians. It's got a pool table in the center, but like most Bahamian clubs, it's all about the dance. Seagrapes gets going on special occasions, so you'll have to ask around to see what's happening. The Vicum is the late, late night spot, but is not for the faint of heart. It's a walled outdoor club where the wild crowds hang out. I can tell you that "Briland" (as we call Harbour Island) is fairly safe to walk or Golf cart at night. Just use common sense as you would anywhere you go. We Brilanders love our guests, so always ask your housekeeper or waiter for information on where to go. Walk Good!
Can we rent fishing gear and swimming gear on Harbour Island? We've rented a boat for the week, but don't want to carry all of our gear?
Welcome to Harbour Island! I don't know who you've rented your boat from, but you may want to take well-fitted basics with you such as a mask and snorkel ... and if you're staying at a local hotel, these are often available for checkout at the front desk. If you hire a fishing guide while on the island, they often have basic equipment available for your use. If you're a world-class bonefisherman, though, you may want to bring your own, or look into packing the collapsible poles available from adventure stores such as Cabela's. Fishing gear, snorkel and mask swimming gear are in fact available on the island from Ocean Fox, at tel. # 242-333-2323 or firstname.lastname@example.org, but are often restricted to daily customers. You may want to contact them directly to make alternative arrangements in advance of your trip.
I've heard that credit cards are not widely accepted and there are no ATMs - that sounds very remote - is it true?
Yes, we are very remote. There are no ATMs and there isn't even a bank, although one is supposed to be coming soon. Credit cards are not widely accepted, other than at the resorts. There are a few local groceries and some local places for eating out, but none of them accept credit cards. You will need to plan a little ahead and make sure you bring enough cash. And remember, the US Dollar is an even exchange throughout the Bahamas.
I've heard Bahamians are very friendly. What can I expect from the locals while I'm on the island?
The Bahamians are very warm and friendly. While exploring Cat Island you will find the local population to be kind, curious and helpful. They greet each other with respect and good manners; everyone waves. Most folks will invite you into their homes for a visit and share their personal stories of Island life. Cat Island is a safe, informal, happy Island. The folks here like living in peace and so extend it to visitors, neighbors, family and friends.
Can you tell me about the New Bight area of Cat Island?
That's a common question, and answering it gives me a chance to talk about my home one of my favorite topics. We don't really have towns or cities on Cat Island, but we have lovely little settlements, like New Bight. The New Bight airport is at one end of the settlement. There are a couple of local restaurants in the six mile area and the post office, primary school, police station, churches and public telephone are located there, too. New Bight sits mostly on the water. The Hermitage is there and is built on the highest point in all the Bahamas. The New Bight Service Station and Food Market both also rent cars. Our local sailing club, which hosts the annual sailing regatta, is found on the shores of New Bight - where there are local stalls set up serving Bahamian food on Friday and Saturday nights. There is a woman who bakes fresh bread for sale from her home, and another who sells beautiful handmade straw items. The New Bight area is big on natural beauty, warm hospitality and gentle breezes with not a single traffic light and no overcrowding.
Is Cat Island a good place for families?
Your 2, 4 and 15 year old will all enjoy the beach and the water. The creek is a great place to explore at low tide, especially with the little ones. I would suggest bringing some sand toys and perhaps an inexpensive blow up pool for playing on the beach. The Hermitage is a nice way to see some local culture without spending a lot of time in the car. It's about 6 miles away and is a nice little hike to the top of Mt. Alvernia. There is a small waterfront restaurant at the base where you can get cold sodas and visit with the ladies that work there. You can stop by Olive King's house and buy some homemade bread and local Flour Cakes from her. At the Hawks Nest resort they have a nice pool the kids might enjoy for a few hours while you have lunch there. It's about a 30 minute car ride. Louise Saunders comes to the resort most days selling local baskets that she makes the kids will enjoy talking with her and they can even get some straw work with their names on it. You'll really enjoy exploring the beach at Fernandez Bay too. I have 4 nieces and nephews too and they all have a great time playing on the beach. It's not a bad idea to bring some inside toys as well any arts and crafts, videos, etc for quiet time out of the sun.
Are there plans for a casino on Cat Island? If so, how will that affect the islands serenity?
You asked about a casino that's being planned for Cat Island and wondered about maintaining the pristine beauty and quiet atmosphere of the Island once this monstrosity is built. I'm of the opinion that the casino is not going to be built anytime in the near future, if at all. Personally, I feel there needs to be a lot of infrastructure changes to accommodate a hotel of that magnitude on the Island. For the time being Cat is still quiet, secluded and inviting to anyone looking for a restful get away. Progress is always just around the corner, so it's important to embrace the tranquility for now and hope that what ever does come along will enhance the natural beauty of the island instead of ruining it.
I've heard that Andros is the bonefishing capital of the world, but what else can I do there?
In addition to being the bonefishing capital of the world, Andros also has the second largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere, providing the avid scuba diver and snorkeler an underwater wonderland. The island has some of the most unique straw craft in the world and is home to the Androsia batik factory, all can be purchased in the settlements. Exploring the interior of Andros on an eco tour will give the visitor an insight to some of the world's most unique plant and bird life, plus some of the most fascinating geological formations: the blue holes. Also the visitor can tour the island's many settlements and get an insight into the people and culture of the island.
Why does everything I read talk about how "magical" Andros is?
Andros is a magical place because of the vast amount of space and quiet one can experience on the island. When Andros was first discovered by the Spaniard's in the 1500s, they called it the island of the "Holy Spirit" because of the way the land and water interact. When exploring this tranquil yet dynamic island, you may feel yourself transported to another place and time.
What does Brilander mean?
Every island in the Bahamas archipelago has a unique take on the local patois, and Harbour Island is no exception. Our dialect tends to drop the 'h' in any word that begins with that letter, and add an 'h' to any word starting with a vowel, similar to that of the Cockney accent showcased in "My Fair Lady." [Add to that the fact that we also reverse our 'v' and 'w' pronunciation, which results in helpful phrases such as "dem folks liwwing in da vite 'ouse h'up the road". 'Briland' is a contraction of 'arbour H'Island' said rather quickly. Hence, "Ise from Briland."