The Best Family Vacation: Why We Chose The Bahamas
Earlier this year, we took the best family vacation of all time! We had been saving up for an extra special trip and choosing where to go was a really big deal to me. One of our kids’ bucket list items has been to see clear water some day (apparently Ocean City, NJ wasn’t cutting it- lol). We decided they were all at a great age and we started planning our “clear water trip!”
I did a lot of research- a lot- we’re a family of 6, so flights can get expensive fast. I learned that The Bahamas was a pretty cost effective place for us to fly to and then started to explore my options there. Eric and I had been thinking we’d just go with a kid-friendly all-inclusive resort. We wouldn’t have too cook, clean, there would be tons of activities and it seemed like a no-brainer. We started pricing out options and it wasn’t pretty.
This quote was for our family, split into two separate rooms with kids on pull-out sofas. That didn’t sound like the relaxing vacation we were imagining… that sounded like cranky kids, waking us up every night. We talked more about what an all-inclusive experience would be like with our kids- they’d get a completely packaged view of the Bahamas, they wouldn’t want to go to many of the kids only activities (they aren’t huge fans of making new friends on trips), and then there was the whole sofa bed tiny hotel room thing. I moved my search to Homeaway and airbnb.
That’s where we found this gem…
It took me about 3 seconds to fall head over heels in love with Whymms Villas!
Whymm is a tiny “town” (if you can call it that) on Long Island, southeast of Nassau. It’s one of the “out islands” of the Bahamas- less commercialized islands with so much to offer!
We flew from Philadelphia to Nassau and then took a private plane to Long Island. There aren’t any commercial airlines that fly to Long Island, so my idea of “cheap flights” sort of went down the drain, but it was 100% worth it and still was less than the all-inclusive quote above.
Getting ready to head to Long Island! That’s our lil’ plane behind us.
The chartered flights to and from Nassau were my kids absolute favorite! Kaden and Callen both got to co-pilot a flight and it was a pretty unforgettable experience!
I’ll tell you all about what we did on our trip, but first I’ve got to show you more of this amazing house. The owner, Carol did an amazing job designing each room- we felt like we were living in the pages of Coastal Living!
Here’s the direct link to website if you want to see the full listing and seasonal rates.
One great feature was the fully stocked fridge! We were sent a grocery store list and picked all of our foods ahead of time. We arrived to fresh fruits and veggies and all the food we needed for the week! It was so convenient!
I loved that we could leave the doors open at night and hear the ocean while we went to sleep. We also awoke each morning to Kira and Cal playing out on the beach building sand castles. It felt as surreal as it sounds!
Bathroom (1 of 3)
The villa easily slept the 6 of us. It had a master bedroom with private bath, a private outdoor shower, and patio, then two other bedrooms (both slept 2 people each) and they had a large bathroom that joined between them with another private shower. It also has a private office space, living room, kitchen and dining room. So much more space than we would have had at a resort! We also loved that even though we were on a remote island- we had all the amenities of home. Strong wireless internet, XMRadio throughout the house and yard- it was so nice to be on the beach with music and Direct TV- we watched the Super Bowl there our first night! While none of those things are “essentials” they were really nice perks!
So, Yes, the house was amazing inside, but let’s be honest… it’s all about the incredible private beach and yard!
We ate most of our meals outside- my favorite meal of the day was breakfast. We made egg sandwiches each morning and I don’t know why, but it was so good. Just this week Kira said, “Mom can you make Bahamas eggs?” she said that eggs in the Bahamas just tasted better! Ha!
This is the view standing towards the beach looking up at the house.
And this was our private beach… sigh… I wish I could go back right.this.second!
Each night we’d play on the beach as we watched the sun set.
Our rental also included a little Boston Whaler boat that we used all week… there she is.
I promise I didn’t stage these pics- each night Kira would walk along the shoreline singing while she watched the sun go down. I know, it almost make me feel weird sharing this because it was just that cheesy perfect!
It would have been really easy to just stay at our house all week, but Long Island had so much for us to explore!
Check out our sweet ride for the week!
We rented our van from Mister Pinder. It was waiting for us at the house when we arrived and he stopped by mid week to pick up our payment. No paperwork, nothing more than a handshake. He also brought us fresh tomatoes from his garden- we learned a lot of lessons about slowing down and taking time for people during our visit to Long Island.
Once we had our sweet ride, we could explore the island. There’s one long road the length of the island (80 miles) and then dirt roads branching off of that main road. Most days we packed up and headed out to find a new piece of the island for about 1/2 the day… then we headed back to our own little beach.
My kids’ favorite place on the island was Dean’s Blue Hole.
This sign makes it seem a bit scary, but it’s not.
It’s the deepest hole in the world- 663 feet deep, but all around it is shallow. It’s nothing short of amazing! Where you see the light colored water it’s only a few feet deep and then suddenly it’s 100s of feet deep!
See the white platform in the middle? That’s where divers jump off of. Dean’s Blue Hole is the location for the world’s free diving competition… basically crazy people go down as deep as they can without any air tanks and then hope to come back up. There’s a rope going down labeled with the depth. While we were there some divers from Scotland were there and they’d be under for minutes at a time. It was crazy!
Our kids love cliff jumping- they get that from their dad not me! This was Kaden’s first jump into the Blue Hole. It’s a lot higher than it looks!
My favorite part of Dean’s was the shallow edge. The depth drops off so quickly that you can run and cannonball or jump right in. It looks like Eric’s headed toward a serious neck injury, but nope, it’s super deep!
We did jumps like this for hours!
The other side of Dean’s Blue Hole is nice, calm shallow water and the kids swam and snorkeled there too.
You might notice that there’s something missing from my pictures… PEOPLE! The island wasn’t crowded at all! The only beach that we weren’t alone at was Dean’s- there were about ten other people total. Talk about getting away from it all!
Carol (the owner of the villa) helped us get connected with all the right people. Captain Delbert was a rare gem. He took us out on his boat for the day and gave us the insiders tour of Long Island & beyond. He asked how many hours we wanted to be out for and then just planned lots of fun sights and activities for us- with the kids in mind.
Our first stop was a prime snorkeling spot just off the island. The kids saw so many tropical fish- they became pretty hard core snorkelers during the week!
Our next stop was by far my favorite place during the entire week…Sandy Cove.
It’s where the Pirates of the Caribbean movies were filmed and for good reason! It’s a tiny uninhabited island about an hour by boat from Long Island. Captain Delbert dropped us off and said he was going to drive around to the other side of the island and he’d pick us up in an hour.
It was awesome and crazy all at once… it was just the 6 of us, on an island in the middle of the ocean.
“Okay, bye… see you on the other side of the island….”
The kids swam in little pools of water
The sand felt more like powdered sugar than sand and the granules were actually tiny little balls. Kira looks like she’s sitting on snow in this picture!
My animal lover-Kenzie- was thrilled because Sandy Cove is an Iguana preservation. There are thousands living on the island and Kenz got up close to about 50 of them.
yuck! I didn’t get close to any of them. I screamed and ran like a psycho to keep them away, because ya know… I’m cool like that.
We slowly made our way across the island and met back up with Delbert. He showed us some neat features of the island and as we walked through the water back to the boat, he calmly pointed out a nurse shark about 5 feet from the kids. It was about 3 feet long and I explained to him that even if he was pushing 65 I would be jumping into his arms in about 5 seconds! He laughed and reassured me that they’re harmless… I didn’t get off the boat the rest of the afternoon! True Story!
There were so many incredible things to do on Long Island, but since this post is already eternal, I’ll just share a few final things with you…
This is the Atlantic side of the Island. It’s perfect for surfers and has much bigger waves and a completely different feel to it. The Caribbean side is very calm with white or pink sand. The island is only a mile wide, so you can go back and forth!
We brought home about 50 lbs of shells with us! They were so pretty and easy to find. Conch is the food of the island and you find the shells everywhere. We tried conch fritters, but passed on the conch salad- the most popular dish of Long Island.
haha. Kids in masks look so goofy and I love it!
We ate at the villa for most meals, but we did have fun trying out little places for lunch or dinner.
Right near the Outer Edge Grill was a marina and we were all a tad shocked to see 7-9 foot sharks swimming just a few feet below us. There was one warning sign, but no railings or anything. It’s so different from America. We saw about 15 huge sharks- yikes!
We drove the entire island many times and the one crazy thing about Long Island are the amount of churches it’s unbelievable. I think there are about a million, but in reality probably somewhere around 100. If I was on an adults only trip I would have loved going out and just spending a day taking pictures of them all. Since I was with 4 kids, I snapped quick pics from a moving van.
Obviously from my overuse of the words awesome, amazing, incredible, cool and super cool you can tell I loved our vacation. I am so glad that we didn’t go to an all-inclusive resort! The experiences we had weren’t packaged, they were real and authentic, and wait for it… amazing!
If you’re looking for a family vacation, I 100% recommend Long Island, Bahamas and Whymm’s Villas!
Planning a trip of your own? Feel free to ask questions in the comments.
What do you think of Long Island? Have you ever been? Do share!