By Wendy Wood-Prince
So much hype surrounds ringing in the New Year, with restaurants offering prix fixe menus full of rich offerings and expensive champagne and big parties with confetti and noisemakers at the ready for the stroke of midnight. Sometimes it is nice to celebrate the New Year in a gentler, quieter way.
The Fast Ferry “Bo Hengy”–named after a monk by the name of Brother Henry—departing Spanish Wells.
Heading to the Bahamian out island settlement of Spanish Wells for New Year’s is an excellent way to wind down the old and welcome in the New Year. Spanish Wells is the name of a settlement that is located on St. George’s Island, just off the northern tip of Eleuthera. It is a short water taxi ride from the nearby Harbor Island, but Spanish Wells couldn’t be more different from the tony, exclusive, see and be seen haunt of the see and be seen. Originally settled as a fishing post, the main industry today is lobster fishing, with much of the supply of lobster for The Red Lobster Chain of restaurants coming straight from Spanish Wells.
The quiet streets of Spanish Wells.
I joined my cousin, Jenn for a recent trip to Spanish Wells over New Year’s to house and dog sit for one of her friends. Arriving on the “Bo Hengy”, the ferry that stops in Spanish Wells twice a day, once arriving from Nassau and once on its way back to Nassau to and from Harbor Island. The arrival in Spanish Wells is a chaotic mass of Islanders greeting friends and relatives who have come for the holiday. They greet one another with warm hugs and kisses and then load their belongings into golf carts and the few cars on the island before heading off for family time. Jenn met me at the dock and we headed off to the beautiful little cottage she was watching for the week. Spanish Wells does not have a big tourist influx but there are beachy cottages, houses and rooms that can be rented for very reasonable prices.
Sunset over the harbor with fishing boats moored for the night.
We wandered around the quiet town, visited the deserted beach and fell into the easy rhythm of out island life for a few days. Someone had brought the neighborhood boys fireworks, which they set off up and down the street for the entire week, scaring the life out of every dog on the island all the while providing no end to their own entertainment. Throwing poppers as unsuspecting people walked casually past them down the street was cause for fits of giggles and running away.
The spectacular beach.
One evening we hopped in the car and drove around just to look at the neighborhood Christmas light displays. Island life may have a slower pace but the zeal with which some truly went for it in their holiday light display was sure to put a strain on the Island power generator! The enthusiasm was much appreciated by everyone who passed by to witness again and again.
Christmas decorations taken very seriously.
For New Year’s Eve itself, we reserved dinner at The Shipyard Restaurant, a beautifully located spot right on the water. The early seating was necessary in order to get back home to the dog so that we could hug her through the midnight firecracker trauma. Dinner was delicious and drinks creatively concocted by the bartender. The outside of the restaurant was decked out in twinkling lights and the festivities were enjoyed by all.
Celebrating the New Year!
Once back home we could hear the distant firecrackers as well as the local boys lighting the rest of their precious commodity as we drifted off towards the New Year.
The view from the Shipyard restaurant.
Wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2018.