Review: Kamalame Cay, Andros Island, The Bahamas
“Welcome to Kamalame Cay ladies. Would you like a Bahamian kiss?” Getting ready to pucker up and lean in, I giggled “Sure! Why not!” Seconds later, I was quickly adjusting my posture and facial expressions, as I realised what a Bahamian kiss actually was. Rum and orange juice, in case you were wondering. I sat down on the barge and glugged it back in one go to help my disbelief of two things: just how embarrassing I can be, and just how beautiful the ocean ahead of me was. We pulled into the island, hopped off the barge, and my breath stilled. Our host was listing this little island’s offerings and all we could enjoy during our stay, but I struggled to listen. I tuned back in, the moment I heard the words “sand chariot.”
“I’m sorry, I get a sand chariot?”
To add context, these are just regular sand buggies, but if they call them chariots, then that was all I was going to refer to them as for the rest of the trip.
Kamalame Cay is a ‘barefoot chic’ Caribbean private island featuring 19 luxurious seaside rooms and suites. In a range of charming, bougainvillea-draped cottages, bungalows, peak roof Balinese beach houses and classic Plantation style villas.
Furnished with art, books, antiques and a collection of South Asian and Bahamian decor, the Great House is a gathering place where guests enjoy cocktails and meals. Finally, a white sand path off the garden terrace, leads to a heated, fresh water-pool edged in towering Silver Palms. The Tiki Bar with an open grill, regularly hosts torch-lit, Bahamian beachside banquets enlivened by local “rake & scrape” bands.
As we drove our chariots down to our beach-suite, redefining the term ‘suite’ as it is in fact closer to a bungalow, we stepped onto the private entrance, and walked through the octagonal room. Wrapped in French doors with long opaque drapes, barely concealing what lay ahead, I took in our sweeping veranda with its expansive ocean view. Everything took my breath away, the removable muslin window panels, the old oak feel of the cottage against its spacious 17 foot high ceilings, the balcony set immediately upon its own beach, the hammocks ahead. I’d almost forgotten about the sand chariot.
We spent the entire first day, driving up and down the beach in pure delirious glee, swinging from our beach cabins doing pull-ups and documenting the fact that we could, and record-breaking just how many angles you can put a selfie-stick to work at. Once that was out of our system, we decided to adventure like adults, with the various offerings Kamalame has at hand to organize for you.
Feat one, was snorkeling.
“Why are you scared?”
“What if I can’t come up? What if my oxygen tank runs out?”
“Joanna, for the tenth time, it’s snorkeling, not deep sea diving.”
Once the instructor had finally coaxed me off the ledge of the boat, and into the water, my friend Georgia exclaims “so what’s the likelihood we’ll see a shark?” I instantly started kicking like a child who’s just had their armbands removed, scratched my leg against a coral reef and started bleeding – ironically, the best way to attract a shark. I was going to die, and more depressingly, it will have been death-by-snorkeling before I’d even started to snorkel. As our instructor and Georgia elegantly glided ahead of me toward the blue hole, I multitasked as well as I’m ever going to, between breathing, and kicking in sync. Very proud of my new skills, I sped up to catch up with them. I could get used to this, I thought. In fact, I could move to the Bahamas and become a snorkeling instructor. I think I shall. With this new life purpose decided upon, I concentrated on my surroundings and there they were: delightful colorful shapes and shimmers as they swished by. So, many, fish. I later learned that these little colourful reef creatures range from French grunts, to blue tangs, queen angelfish, rock beauty, and the less-fortunately named Spanish hogfish. It was an isolated coral garden that brought with it a sense of wonder and tranquility – I was finally still. That said, the entire experience is absolutely a butt-and-leg workout, so even if you do it for that alone, it is not an experience to be missed.
Day Two brought with it Bone Fishing. Our fine guide for the day was Flemming. Patience, being his virtue, as we spent about 20 minutes making him follow dolphins rather than the route to our fishing site. Once we’d finally piped down, and embraced the fact that we were out to fish, and not bond with other mammals, he led us to our serene site.
In the latest episode of Scandal (bare with me), Olivia Pope’s father tirades on one of his captivating monologues about, no less, than fishing. He talks about the precision, the thousands of factors, the stillness, and the luck (of which you can never know exactly how much) that fishing requires. And suddenly, I wanted to be back on that boat, in the ocean, with Flemming. I had done it all wrong. I hadn’t taken his advices on casting high vs. low and casting fast vs. slowly, and sensing precisely when to jerk and reel, as valuably and as intensely as I should have at the time. Ironically, I can feel the intensity of the sport as I type about it now. Sadly, it’ll be a while before I have the opportunity to go fishing against a vast ocean again. But one thing I advise is that if you pick one activity you normally wouldn’t try on holiday –try this. It will teach you so much of yourself. I’d also advise that if, like me, you finally start catching fish, you don’t suddenly develop a vegetarian’s conscience for the whole thing, and insisting you throw them back in, all the while apologizing profusely to the fish you’ve just caught. On camera. Those videos are going to haunt me.
Our last day, saw us crying into the face-holes on our massage beds in the spa, as we came to terms with the fact that we do not live on Kamalame Cay. Set up high above the water, the Spa is described by Kamalame Cay as ‘the perfect refuge from the fast-paced high stress world of today’ – which I do agree with, however I was more concerned with how they’ve even heard of this so called stress in Kamalame. The mystery remains, but so do their experienced spa team to plan unique rejuvenation and relaxation packages for you, whilst you try to figure it out.
As we walked toward the Marina, tucked into the nook of the creek, to leave Kamalame, I recalled the history of the Cay which I had been reading about on my last evening. “Build the dream, and the people will follow”, it had said, as the founders’ response to sceptics that Kamalame was perhaps not the most pristine landscape to build a resort on, as compared to competing islands on the Bahamas. That is quintessentially what Kamalame has captured: a pristine palace I think I may have dreamt up, the trail to which, I am inclined follow back.