My family and I visited Cape Santa Maria in the middle of June. We had a wonderful time and we would definitely like to visit again. I'll try to give as many details as possible to hopefully provide some helpful information to other travelers.
First, I was a little concerned that the weather may not be so great since June is the rainy time of the year. That turned out to be no issue at all. There were a few brief showers but they passed quickly and the weather was beautiful.
We flew into Nassau from the States, then flew to Stella Maris on Southern Air. We arrived in Nassau two hours before our flight to Long Island and had no trouble making our connection. We got through immigration in about two minutes. We waited about ten minutes for our bags and customs waved everyone on our flight through. I didn't see them search anyone's baggage. We waited about ten minutes to check in with Southern Air and arrived at our gate with over an hour to spare. On our return trip we arrived at Nassau with three hours to get through US customs and immigration and ended up with probably two hours to spare. So, no travel difficulties.
I will say that flying on Southern Air is a bit of an experience. The planes are OLD and kind of grungy. On our flight to Long Island we stopped at Rum Cay, Deadman's Cay, then Stella Maris. All of the runways are pretty worn out - far below what you would find at even your local municipal airports in the States. The flights were timely though. No major problems. Like I said, just be aware that it's a different experience than what you may be accustomed to.
The resort arranged for a taxi to pick us up at Stella Maris. She was there waiting when we arrived. She was friendly and helpful and took us straight to Cape Santa Maria.
The first look at the beach and the resort when we arrived was breathtaking. It is definitely the most beautiful place I have ever been. The water is blue and calm. The sand is amazing. The resort is quiet, beautiful and well maintained.
We stayed in one of the bungalows with a side room for the kids. We were completely satisfied with the room - especially the screened in porch with comfortable chairs. And the view from the porch was unbelievable.
The food was very good but I wouldn't say it's spectacular. We're not very picky eaters and we all found several things on the menu that we really enjoyed. We especially liked the daily happy hour with conch fritters. And the view from the restaurant is gorgeous, like all the other views from the resort.
As for the service, I would say it was very good overall. To be completely honest, it depends on the staff member. Some of them were outstanding. Some of them were so-so. One of the ladies in the restaurant brought an extra cushion for my daughter's chair one night at dinner so she would be more comfortable without anyone asking. One of the ladies at the front desk brought her a towel to dry off after she got caught in a brief rain shower. Many of them remembered our names and our childrens' names. Very nice touches which we greatly appreciated and there were other examples like that.
On the other hand a few of the staff members at the restaurant and the bar seemed generally disinterested, dragged their feet, made little or no attempt to be warm and friendly, etc. We weren't in a hurry at all and didn't mind being on "Bahamas time" but a few of the staff members could show a little more interest in their jobs. They were the exception rather than the rule though and we were satisfied overall with the service.
We went on several of the excursions offered by the resort. Our favorite was the Sandy Cay tour. It was about an hour by boat from the resort. They advertise it as an iguana tour but the iguanas became just a side note when we arrived at Sandy Cay and saw the jaw dropping beauty of the island. It's an amazing rocky island covered with all types of vegetation. The island is surrounded by crystal clear shallow waters and tons of huge sandbars. The tour guides set up umbrellas and chairs on one of the sandbars for lunch. There were eight people in our group including two tour guides and we didn't see another soul the entire trip. The tour guides were super friendly. It was an experience we'll remember forever.
We also went on a guided tour of the island arranged by the resort. We enjoyed this trip as well. It was interesting to get off of the resort and see the rest of the island. The tour guide was very friendly and knowledgeable about the island. He shared many facts about the island and answered all of our questions. The highlight of this trip was visiting Dean's Blue Hole and jumping from the cliff into the deep water below. Also had lunch at Max's Conch Bar, which is a little outdoor bar on the side of the road. The staff there was friendly and the food was excellent.
Our final excursion was a half-day reef fishing trip. We enjoyed this trip overall as well. The guys who took us on the trip were extremely nice. They know where the fish are and put us on them quickly. I do have one suggestion for improvement with the reef fishing trip though. I've been on many bottom fishing trips in different areas on different vessels and in my opinion the tackle they used on this trip was inadequate. Specifically, they did not use any leaders at all and the hooks should probably have been a little beefier, too.
During the trip we caught a bunch of small fish. We also hooked about half a dozen big fish but not a single one of them was landed. One or two of the losses could probably be attributed to inexperienced fishermen on the rod but the rest were due to cut lines and straightened hooks. I've done enough of this type of fishing to understand that you don't always catch fish. I would never complain about that (and again, we did catch fish.) I also know that broken lines and straightened hooks can happen when you fish and I also would not complain about that. However, to lose fish because the tackle was clearly not up to the task was a little disappointing.
These guys are clearly competent fishermen and I'm sure they're aware of the limitations of their gear. Every time a line broke or a hook straightened they made some silly excuse about sharks getting the fish or something. It was a little insulting. Fish in the ocean have teeth. If you don't use the proper tackle they will cut your line. It seems like the trip was geared to be fun for the kids, which it was but some simple upgrades to the tackle could've afforded us the opportunity to land some big ones and make the trip memorable for everyone. I know heavier gear is expensive, but so was the fishing trip. They seem content to catch pan fish as quickly as possible and let all the bigger ones get away.
For the sake of full disclosure, I will also add that I did not complain about the gear to the crew or anyone else at the resort. I didn't really even think about it until later and I didn't go on vacation to complain and argue. So, I didn't give them an opportunity to do anything differently or make up for it in any way if they would have chosen to do so. This is mostly a suggestion for the future. And although I've written quite a bit about it here I'd like to express that it was really just a minor thing and only a blip on the radar screen during our stay.
Other thoughts from the trip.....be aware that mosquitoes here are vicious in the early mornings and in the evenings. Obviously that is no fault of the resort. It's just the way it is but it's something travelers may want to be aware of. I did see them spraying the grounds, so they're doing what they can to deal with it. The resort also provides insect repellant. We would've enjoyed sitting on the beach at night without covering ourselves with bug spray but it's not that big of a deal since all the bungalows and villas have great screened in porches that are right on the beach anyway. When the sun comes out the mosquitoes go away and you can enjoy the beach all day without bug spray.
As for management - the couple that manages the resort was onsite but I only saw them a couple times. They were away the day we arrived and the lady who checked us in told us they were returning the next day. We were there for seven nights and they never sought us out to ask how we were enjoyiing our stay. Maybe they purposely stayed out of our way, and that's fine since we didn't have any complaints anyway.
I only really took note of this because one day a lady visited the resort and stayed in the room adjoining ours. She was somehow involved with the tourism industry or possibly some governmental tourism function. I was aware of this because when we went on our tour of the island our guide mentioned that he was taking her on a tour the next day. Anyway, I noticed that both the managers took the time to come out and escort her to her bungalow but I didn't notice them doing that with the other guests. Just an observation.
When we were ready to check out all of the charges to our room were accurate and as expected. The resort arranged for a car to pick us up the morning of our departure. They took our breakfast order the night before to speed things up since we were leaving early that morning. We greatly appreciated that. Our taxi was on time and our flight back to Nassau was on time.
I've tried to provide as much information as possible but the bottom line is that our vacation was amazing. The location is THE BEST. If you're looking for a beautiful, low-key spot to unwind you will find no place better. We can't wait to go back and you'll surely love it too.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Untouched... Undiscovered... Barefoot elegance in a Caribbean paradise. Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort is unlike any place you have ever experienced. Mile after mile of silky-fine sandy beach melts into the warm turquoise water. With twenty bungalows and a handful of villas steps from the most beautiful beach in the Bahamas, an escape to Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort is an experience you will never forget. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort & Villas Hotel Long Island
- Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort And Villas
- Cape Santa Maria Beach Hotel
- Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort & Villas Long Island, Bahamas