Our cruiser friends (i.e. friends who cruise in the Bahamas on their own sailboat, and not cruise ship “cruisers”), who’d spent some time in Long Island over the past 3 winters, told us the beach at Cape Santa Maria was the most beautiful in the Bahamas. That’s quite an endorsement, when you consider they’ve been spending much of their time in the Exumas (including the utterly jaw-dropping Warderick Wells). They were not wrong!
Cape Santa Maria is located on the Exuma Sound (leeward) side of Long Island, just shy of the northern tip of this 70-mile-long island. When Christopher Columbus made his second landfall in the New World on this shore, he must have snapped his fingers, asked for a Goombay Smash, and thought hard about never leaving. Of course, that assumes ol’ Chris liked beaches as much as I do. This one is a gently curving 3-4 mile stretch of shimmery, powdery white sand with the occasional patch of ironshore. The water is the gem-like clear blue that tests the limits of your thesaurus to come up with different names for “blue.” The west-facing shore guarantees spectacular sunsets, including a green flash from time to time (saw one).
The rooms at CSM almost take second place to the natural environment, but that’s because the environment is so remarkable. Like most other Out Island resorts we’ve visited, there is a central clubhouse – this one in two levels of white gingerbread – with reception, a restaurant, bar, library and TV room, and gym. The rooms are half comfortably-furnished screened porch, and half bedroom and bath, equipped with small fridge, coffee maker, and safe. Though we had air-conditioning, we never needed it, and even turned off the ceiling fans at night, so perfect was the weather during our visit. The only caveat: there is no screen mesh fine enough to keep out the dastardly no-see-ums at dusk. Even with liberal dousing with Deep Woods Off (which is thoughtfully supplied on the porch), I was eaten by the voracious little pests. The little beasties are a fact of beachfront life.
Knowing that there would be limited options for dining, we opted for a meal plan (breakfast and dinner) at CSM, and then going elsewhere for lunch. That was a wise decision, since many places outside of CSM weren’t even open for the season yet, and most involved quite a long drive (20 minutes to over an hour). After many visits to the islands, I knew that – even at a hotel with an international clientele – my best bet was to choose local food, which was absolutely the way to go. There is, reliably, conch in all of the traditional variations (conch chowder, conch fritters, cracked conch), as well as grouper and local lobster (crawfish). If you want to go a little more down island, CSM has a delicious chicken souse (a citrusy chicken broth with potatoes, celery and boiled chicken legs and wings) on the lunch menu. If you want to be even more island-y, order boiled fish for breakfast – it’s a broth very similar to the chicken souse, but contains poached grouper. But the most appealing meal we had at CSM was stone crab claws; delicious!
I liked Long Island for its quintessentially Out Island feeling. But while I found Cape Santa Maria to be a very comfortable and pleasant home base, it lacked the Out Island vibe. I hesitate to even say this, but perhaps CSM was a little too groomed for my taste. This, of course, is strictly a matter of personal preference – I prefer a more quirky, organic feeling, like the coral stone of Small Hope Bay Lodge (Andros), or the thatch roofs at Fernandez Bay Village (Cat).
And, if I return to CSM, I would ask whether a large group is booked at the property. During our week, a pilot’s group had a “fly-in,” taking over most of the resort. One of the things I love about the Out Islands is meeting like-minded travelers. But a large group tends to be insular, leaving outsiders feeling just like that: outsiders. Moreover, we were left with whatever dining times weren’t claimed by the group, table assignments that were an afterthought (e.g. near the kitchen door), and service that – while competent – was a bit strained and harried while the group was in residence. It’s great business for the resort to have a group like that visit, but it left me feeling slightly disappointed.
My complaints are mere quibbles, and when it came to be time to leave, I wasn’t ready.
- 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
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Hotels.com, TripOnline SA and Booking.com so you can book your Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort & Villas reservations with confidence. We help millions of travellers each month to find the perfect hotel for both holiday and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- 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