Still reliving my amazing vacation to Guana Cay in Bahamas, I wanted to share some tips with you if you decide to take the trip yourself!
1. Bring sunscreen with you. A lot of sunscreen. Way more sunscreen then you think you need to bring. I say bring it with you because it is expensive in the Bahamas and you’ll need to buy a lot of it. One spray bottle we bought was $15.99 in the Bahamas when you can get two bottles for less than that price in the US!
2. Reapply sunscreen frequently. Unless you are used to the Caribbean sun, you will want to reapply sunscreen constantly. Burning is no bueno and is terrible for you. You don’t want cancer, right? Plus you don’t want to ruin your trip on the first day by being burned right off the bat. I reapplied like a mother and still got pink areas that were a bit tender for a day or so. If you get in the water, definitely reapply when you get out.
3. Don’t succumb to first night syndrome. What is first night syndrome? It’s when you get super wasted the first night because you are so happy to be on vacation and are then hungover for two days. This did happen to a few people on our trip … they will remain unnamed.
4. Bring some food with you. Things like a jar of nuts in the Bahamas are outrageous! Nuts are the perfect beach snack, but we resisted because the mixed jar was $30! I brought some granola bars for the plane, but I recommend bringing things like your favorite coffee (we did) if you are a coffee person. If you need a pink/blue/yellow packet for your coffee, might as well bring your preferred one because you never know if the store will have the one you like. Same with tea bags if you like tea.
5. Go to Maxwell’s grocery store in Marsh Harbour about 90 minutes before your ferry departs to Guana Cay. You will spend an hour in the store, and you will need to get a taxi from the store to the ferry. The store in Marsh Harbour is way bigger then the one on Guana Cay, and less expensive. We bought as much as we could think of before going to Guana and that was smart. The grocery store on Guana surprisingly has a good selection of food, so you can definitely get a few things while there. We ended up getting a few more things at the Guana grocery store as we needed them, but we were glad we made the big trip in Marsh Harbour at Maxwell’s.
6. Don’t buy condiments and spices until you check out your rental house. Most rental houses will have all of the main things like olive oil, salt, pepper, mustard, etc. Unless you just eat an inordinate amount of a specific condiment or are using it for a recipe, you can wait to see what they have leftover in the fridge. Our house was stocked with the basics. There was even half-n-half left over from the people who were there the week before us. You can also email the owners of the house or the caretaker and ask them what is there. They may or may not be able to tell you.
7. Get a styrofoam cooler at Maxwell’s grocery store in Marsh Harbour. Depending on when your ferry leaves and when you go to the store you might need to keep some of your food cold. We had about 2 hours before our ferry came and needed to keep things cold, but we forgot to get a cooler at the grocery store (a long walk from the Ferry). None of the liquor stores near the ferry had styrofoam coolers (don’t understand this) so I had to walk to the hardware store where they had ONE left. Otherwise we would have either spoiled half of our food, or I would have had to pay a taxi to go back and forth from the grocery store again just for the cooler (or walk in the heat). We ended up using this cooler again when we rented a boat for a day, which was perfect. Then we donated it to our rental house for all the future guests (maybe even us again!).
8. Bring DEET bug spray. I say bring it because just like sunscreen, it’s expensive in the Bahamas. You will need it if you want to be outside at night, but honestly I think the bugs there don’t even care about it. This was the only thing that made me sad about our trip, we wanted to sit outside at night and couldn’t because we were getting eaten alive! A screened-in porch would have been amazing.
9. Bring cash with you. I’d say a lot of cash. You can use credit cards for most big restaurants, but everywhere prefers cash and some small places ONLY take cash. You definitely don’t want to run out of cash on Guana Cay because there is no ATM on Guana. You have to go back over to Marsh Harbour to go to an ATM. Plus, it’s just usually better to NOT use your credit card when possible. Not that anyone will steal the info, we (so far) haven’t had an issue with that, but I’d say it’s just better to not have to find out. Also you might want to check with your bank or credit card carrier to see if you will incur international fees. And if you are the carrier of the cash, don’t get wasted and leave your wallet around. Duh.
10. Don’t rely on the Bahamas Wimax Wifi if you need to get work done. I planned on doing a little work while there, but the wifi was so spotty I could barely get anything done. For simple email (no photos, no downloading, etc.) it wasn’t terrible, but basically anything else was near impossible or took f o r e v e r. It seemed like there were certain times that it worked better, and other times that it was really slow. Some of the restaurants have wifi and theirs might be more reliable, but not sure. Basically, just take a vacation and try not to work while there!
11. Don’t over pack. Ladies, trust me, you need half of the clothes you think you will need. I probably wore a third of what I brought. Guana Cay is so chill, it doesn’t matter. I wore the same things over and over. And you definitely don’t need anything dressy. And no heels.
12. Bring a deck of cards. Our house had a TV so the boys could watch baseball, but mostly we just played cards. It’s something small you can bring that provides hours of entertainment. Our games of choice were Hearts and Asshole (also called President).
13. Plan out some recipes and meals in advance. If you want to make your meals at your rental and not eat out every meal, plan a few meal ideas in advance for when you go shopping at the grocery store in Marsh Harbour. I should have made a list of everything I wanted to get before we went (that would have made going through a new grocery store much easier). You can even make this list on the plane. We ate breakfast and lunch mostly at our rental house, and we had so much fish from our deep sea fishing trip that we cooked it for dinner every night except the first night. But I do recommend eating at Nipper’s Restaurant and Grabber’s for dinner, just to try them both out. They are also great places to get a drink pretty much anytime!
14. Rent a golf cart in advance. We got the last one available from Donna Sands. The location of our house was perfect and close to everything, but the cart was definitely needed/helpful.
15. Bring aloe vera. For those red shoulders. Because even after reapplying sunscreen every few hours you are still bound to have a tender spot or two.
16. Buy water bottles and gallons of water at the grocery store. The water on Guana is rain water which you will need to conserve while there, and you don’t want to drink it.
17. Ladies, bring a leave-in detangler. I didn’t even use conditioner so that I could shorten my showers (because you do need to conserve water), and just sprayed in this Miracle Leave In product on my wet hair after I got out of the shower. You don’t even need to bring conditioner (depending on your hair type).
18. Bring a hat and sunglasses. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t think to bring these two things, but it’s bright down there, you’ll want both immediately. It can be really windy, so make sure the hat fits tightly or it will fly right off your head.
19. Carry-on your luggage if possible. We checked one of our bags, and it didn’t make it on our second flight. We got it the next day, but it’s just a little inconvenient to not have certain things your first night.
20. Buy beer and liquor in Marsh Harbour. It’s cheaper there. I recommend Kalik for local beers.
21. Use VRBO.com or HomeAway.com (they are the same) to find your perfect rental house. We rented the Sea Coral Cottage and it was AWESOME. The caretaker Nancy is so nice and helpful. It is RIGHT ON the most gorgeous beach I’ve ever seen, seriously. It’s a short walk to Nipper’s and Grabber’s. Each of the 3 bedrooms has it’s own bathroom, so it’s great for 3 couples. I highly recommend it!
RESOURCES FOR MARSH HARBOUR & GUANA CAY
Albury’s Ferry Service — You will need to take this from the location right next to the Conch Inn to get to Guana Cay. Pay with cash. And it’s cheaper to buy your return fare at the same time. Just don’t lose your return ticket.
Snappa’s — A great place to get a drink in Marsh Harbour. It’s just a block down from the Conch Inn. They have a really good pinkish frozen drink I forget the name of. I believe it’s their take on a frozen rum punch. Get one!
Conch Inn Hotel & Marina — Depending on when your flight gets in and the ferry leaves for Guana, you might need to stay at the Conch Inn for a night. They have a tiny pool too.
Curly Tails — If you have time, go up to the bar at Curly Tails for a mango daiquiri (but ask for an extra shot of rum to mix in). The Goombay Smash and Bahama Mama are strong, but I liked the daiquiri better, but it needed a little more rum. The view from up there is great.
Bahamas Wimax Wifi — $35/person for a week. Not terribly expensive, but not super reliable. You can only be logged in on 1 device with your login at a time (so you can’t be on the wifi on your phone and your laptop at the same time). Also, you have sign-in on the internet every time you want to login. It’s annoying, but if you are having trouble, you probably need to just login again.
Donna Sands — We rented our golf cart from Donna. Super easy, super nice.
Dive Guana — We rented our boat from here to go island hopping.
Photos by Meg Biram, Do Not Use Without Permission