My wife and I spent 10 days here with good friends in search of the feisty bonefish and some down time in a remote location. The rooms are nicely appointed and we benefited from the air conditioners on several stuffy nights. They were cleaned spotlessly each day by the friendly support staff and ours was set back closely from the water's edge. The view of the morning sunrise was truly spectacular from room #1.
This is truly a fishing lodge as everyone in our group was either a fisherman or fishing widow who clearly understood the game. I was paired with Shine for two days, and Alvin for two days more and I couldn't be more than happy with their service. This was only my second trip bone fishing so I welcomed his patient guidance. I got 9 to the boat each of the first two days and had shots at some truly monstrous fish, several which he said weighed over #12 and as much as #15. My fishing skills improved immensely. My second two days were more challenging as I was under the weather health wise and a front blew through causing overcast skies and a steady 10-15 mile breeze with gusts up to #35. For someone from the northwest, this is not favorable conditions but Alvin nevertheless positioned me for some truly good shots. His style was more spot and stalk as we cruised the edges of the mangroves looking for singles and doubles. What a kick. I had a huge fish on that somehow broke my line, not my leader, on its screaming first run while we were wade fishing. What a monster, and we couldn't figure out how he busted it. There were no knots in my line, coral perhaps...gigantic fish perhaps...makes for a great story! And I caught other fish as well with the biggest about #6.
My partner was successfully paired with Marvin as a guide the first two days and he was equally pleased with his experience. However, his third day brought a new guide, Mark, who no-showed him at the dock. The lodge provides drivers and his called Mark at home, apparently waking him up so he could come guide my friend. After an hour wait he showed up somewhat disheveled. Some valuable less-windy fishing time was missed that morning and he offered to stay later but by late afternoon the winds were howling. My friend had mercy on Mark and shared his lunch with him as he brought nothing to eat or drink. Fortunately my partner was able to switch out guides two days later and he again had a good experience with Marvin. It wasn't clear whether the lodge or guide was to blame.
Be aware that (at least) my two guides had nothing in the way of tackle, flies or back up rods. Some fellow travelers said this was the norm in the Bahamas but as a veteran of Montana and Alaska I found this strange. For $400-$500 a day, a back up rod and reel would be nice, not to mention some local flies. This could have been disaster as I lost 30-40 feet of my weight forward line on my monster fish, rendering my 8 weight useless in the wind. Thank God I threw in my #6! It made the rest of casting in the 15-25 mile winds challenging and I did lose a few shots trying to power my #6 through the gusts. But I would have been done for the day if not for this. Close call and I will never think about not having a back up again.
As for the widows, they generally kept themselves busy riding fairly well maintained bikes by the friendly Noel, kayaking and visiting the small local villages. There are few opportunities for shopping but the locals are very friendly. My wife asked about massage here and was told that the therapist quit. Too bad and I don't quite get why I just received a massage promo from the lodge. There are a large number of sand fleas in this area (as in others we have visited) so be prepared with Deet and benadryl for this. I think the lodge could have done a better job of looking out for the ladies in terms of activities while we were out fishing. But the staff was friendly though. They do offer some very expensive tours.
One issue that rose for them was the rather mundane lunches provided for them, and us. Ham, turkey, and tuna sandwiches or tuna salad were it for 10 days. They were OK at first but nothing was really prepared other than having a tuna salad or a sandwich. I might have to get my own mercury levels checked after so much canned tuna. And the service for lunch was also spotty. This is a small lodge (which is why we went) so we didn't expect someone in the kitchen all day. But the staff seemed burdened at times when asked if they could give us something to eat. We noticed a similar thing when getting back from fishing. The bag lunches were fairly spartan but there was nothing available to eat until 6:00 or later after getting back at 4:00 from a long day in the sun. One day our appetizers were check mix. There are a few nearby small markets and the girls would scavenge for snacks for us while we were gone.
Breakfast choices were mostly bacon, scrambled eggs and sometimes grits or pancakes. Decent, if not a bit repetitive. A small quantity of fresh fruit and cereal was available but we were never asked if we wanted more when it ran out. Nothing local however. Dinners however had some major problems. There was very little in the way of local flair, something we have grown to love about travel to Latin America. Boring, generally over cooked American food for a number of nights was standard fare. We had over cooked 1/2 lobster one night and all of us thought that we were a bit hungrier than we should have been later on. And we are not pigs either and are more fitness oriented than the average traveler. Sadly, my partner had lobster the next night as it was his birthday and this was reheated lobster from the night before. One night my pork chop had the consistency of shoe leather. Pork chops on an island over fish? Our server Pam, helped partially save us when she made for us on her own initiative (at her home) both a Key Lime pie and Guava cheesecake after talking to my partners wife, who used to own a bakery. The frozen vegetables were always over cooked to the point of mush and we only got salads when we asked for them. Only after our pleading did we see some more local flair, including an excellent conch stew for breakfast the second to last day and wonderful cracked conch for dinner the last night. Our overall impression is that the lodge is cheap on spending for food and needs a more imaginative menu that is properly cooked while focusing on local cuisine (including more fresh fish).
Overall, this is a good place if you want to seek big bones in a comfortable and scenic setting. This is good for staying and fishing 3-5 nights but I wouldn't recommend a whole week as we did unless you are there strictly for fishing and happy with Denny's style food.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Swain's Cay Lodge is the perfect island retreat on Mangrove Cay, Andros Island, only a a 20 minute flight from Nassau. Newly built in 2009, Swain's Cay is located on the beach. Kayaks and bikes are available for guest use to explore the island, our bonefish flat, reefs and blue-holes. The ideal location for the world's best bonefishing or to escape from it all! ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Swain`s Cay Hotel Andros
- Swain's Cay Lodge Andros, Bahamas