Looking for a quick escape from the big city of Nassau?
Pearl Island is the latest getaway with a true Out Island feel, welcoming guests for just over one year now. Located just a short boat ride from downtown Nassau, this charming barrier island is marked with a pastel and white lighthouse, alerting mariners of the upcoming treacherous entrance to Nassau Harbour. The island offers day trips for visitors as well as private events and weddings packages.
If you are visiting for the day, Pearl Island staff will meet you at your cruise ship, or on East Bay Street at Harbour View Marina, to carry you over to the island by boat. Arrive on the island and receive a souvenir photograph and a welcome rum drink or fruit punch.
There could be 200 hundred people on the island on any given day, but you wouldn’t know it. There are ample spots throughout this slender island to find a secluded place to lounge the day away. Stay cool by drifting in the water on an inflatable float, or for the active type, explore the shoreline in a kayak or stand up paddleboard. A tasty Bahamian lunch is included in your day trip. For an additional fee you can engage in the snorkel tour, feed the fish and explore the reef just off the shore. Or if you’re looking to unwind, saddle up to the bar for one of their specialty cocktails.
On my trip to the island, it was one of those postcard-perfect Bahamas days; a gentle breeze was blowing, and the heat of the summer had mellowed the air to a balmy temperature. I arrived with two other ladies from the Harbour View Marina and was surprised by how quiet it felt, but I then realized there were actually quite a number of guests on the island who had come over from the cruise ships. Everyone was able to find space to spread out and feel a sense of solidarity.
I walked up the coconut palm-lined path and watched curly tail lizards scamper shyly out of my way. I weaved my way through the path until I came to the commanding pastel lighthouse, and the social welcoming grounds of the island. I was greeted with a warm smile and handed a rum punch to set the mood for the day. As lunchtime drew near, I could smell the open-air BBQ cooking up something tasty. I loaded up my plate with BBQ chicken fresh off the grill, fish fingers and typical Bahamian side dishes of peas ‘n rice and coleslaw.
After lunch, I donned my snorkel gear and headed out into the open waters. We went through a brief safety course and then hopped in the warm, clear water. The Sergeant Major fish swarmed around as one of our guides fed them tasty treats. You could reach out into the dense conglomeration, but they stayed just out of arm’s length. We didn’t have to get too far offshore to be right in the thick of beautiful coral formations teeming with sea life. Giant starfish dot the sea floor, grouper slowly slink through the protected coral crannies, and if you’re lucky, you’ll see a ray pass through.
Afterwards, I found a beautiful spot in a gazebo overlooking the protected side with a house-made margarita in hand. The waves lapped over the limestone rock and the breeze kept me cool under the shade of the thatched porch. Surprisingly, I had the gazebo all to myself. The sun sank lower on the horizon and before I knew it, it was time to head back. A jovial group boarded the boat, with smiles all around, and we had an easy ride back to the harbour.
I’ve spent a lot of time in The Exumas and in the Out Islands in general, and Pearl Island truly gives you a taste of the remoteness and rugged landscape of the low-lying rocky islands. Even when you are sharing it with others, the island has a way of giving you the privacy and peacefulness you are looking for, and the proximity to downtown Nassau makes it all the more enticing. If you have your own boat, you are welcome to call ahead and pop in for the day, otherwise you can contact them to organize your beach day and arrange a pick-up in Nassau. Day trips start at $65.
For more information visit www.pearlislandbahamas.com