Five People to Know in the Bahamas
by Mollie Chen
I just got back from a whirlwind trip to the Bahamas: five islands, over a dozen flights, a handful of ferries, and a few half-dead rental cars. I discovered many things along the way, most importantly that every single one of the Bahamas' 700-plus islands and cays is different. The second most important thing I learned is that when trying to get from here to there and back again you end up relying on the help and advice of strangers. Luckily, everyone I met was unfailingly friendly. Here are five people worth looking up if you're headed to the islands:
Luther Rolle: A cross between James Earl Jones (that voice!) and Morgan Freeman, Luther owns a popular taxi service and knows (or is related to) nearly everyone in Exuma. His family has been living there for close to two centuries and he is a rich resource for Bahamas history, gossip, and inside information (242-345-5003 or 242-357-0662).
Clifton Smith: A Staniel Cay native, Clifton is the guy to know if you want to snorkel with tropical fish, dive with sharks, or feed the area's swimming pigs. He knows the Exuma cays like the back of his hand and has near-magical abilities to make things happen--when we pulled into marinas, people offered us beers, and when we offhandedly wondered about catching fish, he had us reeling in mahimahi minutes later (Staniel Cay Divers, 242-535-1474, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Jeff Birch: The owner of Andros's Small Hope Bay Lodge and head of the Out Island promotions board, Jeff knows the best diving spots, the most pristine beaches, and the most reliable flights. His rustic retreat was one of the highlights of my trip (242-368-2014).
Brenda Barry: The lovely owner of Harbour Island's The Landing hotel, Brenda is a former Miss Bahamas (the hotel's logo is a stylized picture of her in her Afro-sporting heyday) who can point you to the island's best cocktail, bike rental, or boutique (242-333-2707).
Kenneth "KB" Bowe: Kenneth's Chat 'n' Chill is Stocking Island's main attraction. The open-air beachfront restaurant has picnic tables, volleyball courts, and a popular Sunday pig roast. People come on kayaks, inflatable dinghies, and Sunfishes for Kenneth's rum punches (242-336-2700).