Hope Town, A Village of Smiles and Hellos

Hope Town Harbour Lodge View

Blue water and mountains are the two things sooth my soul within minutes. While the mountains are my home, after the past month of non-stop snow, ice storms and power outages, it was time to escape to the blue water.

Hope Town, Elbow Cay BahamasWhen a last minute fly fishing trip became available, the thought of warm weather, Caribbean music and rum punch were too much to pass up. (More on the fly fishing trip in my next blog entry.)

The plan was to fly to the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas a few days before my fly fishing trip and catch up with friends who were supposed to be sailing in the area. Unfortunately, high winds kept them in Florida so I was on my own to explore.

Through a quick search on Hotwire, I found a fabulous deal at the Hope Town Harbour Lodge on Elbow Cay. I flew into Marsh Harbor, took a quick ferry ride with Albury’s Ferry to Hope Town and was literally dropped off at the front door of the hotel.

Hope Town Harbour Lodge ViewI took a moment dockside to soak in the sunshine, the clanking halyards from the marina and the wonderful smell of salt air. My bags were whisked away by the hotel staff and I walked up the steps, surrounded by bougainvillea, to check in. This quaint gingerbread style hotel straddles the island with wonderful views of the harbor and the ocean.

I’ve learned with last minute reservations you can end up with a fabulous room or the closet room that is always last to be sold. I was pleasantly surprised when Bernadette, the front desk manager, walked me to my room which was two flights up at the top of the hotel. An amazing view of the harbor greeted me from my front door, and the turquoise blue ocean, palm trees and the garden area of the hotel lay below my patio balcony. It was absolutely perfect.

Conch Fingers at Reef Bar & GrillI quickly unpacked and made my way through the garden to the Reef Bar & Grill where Gary, the bartender, greeted me with a fabulous smile and an excellent rum punch. When I’m in the Caribbean there is only one thing I must have – conch. I ordered the conch burger and it did not disappoint. Lightly breaded tender conch fingers were perfectly cooked and piled high on a toasted bun. I pushed aside the bun and started devouring the conch. Without question, it was the best I have ever eaten.

A group of people joined me at the bar, some with connections in Annapolis, so the stories started flowing. Before long we had become fast friends and I was joining them for the Songwriters in Paradise concert at the Seascape Inn down the island.

The Songwriters concert is in its fifth year on the island and I soon learned it is Songwriters In Paradiseone of the events of the year. Sailors, visitors and locals come from near and far to enjoy six days of country music’s top hits from the people who actually wrote and composed the songs.

Django Walker (Jerry Jeff Walker’s son), Wyatt Durrett, the writer behind many of the Zac Brown Band’s top hits, Kristian Bush of Sugarland, and Mark Bryan, lead guitarist for Hootie & The Blowfish were just some of the talent showcased.

The concerts are free and hosted at various hotel properties across the Elbow Cay. Dinner tables are available for each concert, but as the wait staff are quickly overwhelmed, I would recommend eating dinner before the concert and just come for the music and drinks. While you may not know these names off the top of your head, when you hear the songs they have written, you will quickly have an “aha moment” and start singing along.

Dornan's t-shirt in the BahamasWhile the weather went south my second day, negating swimming or snorkeling, I rented a cruiser from The Bike Shop and explored the island. Hope Town Canvas also as located in The Bike Shop, offering fabulous bags made from recycled sails and fabric. I headed to On Da Beach, just south of Hope Town in Turtle Hill, for lunch and a drink while soaking in the sun. The most hysterical part of my trip was walking in and seeing a gentleman at the bar with a Dornan’s t-shirt on – my favorite hangout in Jackson Hole. The world has become so small. Located on a beautiful beach, On Da Beach is a great little hideaway, but look closely for the sign at a bend in the road or you’ll miss it.

Hope Town has many cute shops and restaurants you can stroll to if you are staying in the downtown area.  There are boat shuttles across the marina to the Hope Town Lighthouse and Hope Town Inn & Marina.  If you want to explore further afield, rent a golf cart from one of several outlets.  Carts and bikes are the main modes of transportation on the island.

The one thing about Hope Town that made such an impression was that everyone says hello and greets you with a smile.  It was refreshing!  Although my visit to Elbow Cay was quick, I will undoubtedly return for a longer stay to further explore the island, snorkel, sail and just unwind in this beautiful community.

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