This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

March 15th, 2004

Island Tour

In an effort to be fair and balanced, I wanted to let you know there are several bonefish lodges on South Andros Island. South Andros is widely accepted as 'the' place to fish for big bonz, and the big boys are there. . .big bonefish that is.

The host for our last trip to the Bahamas, Brendan Foulkes at Emerald Palms offered to take us on a little tour of some of the other destinations on South Andros. We visited three of the places, but I am including a couple more to give you an idea of what is available.

Emerald Palms is the closest to the South Bight, a huge piece of water encompassing literally hundreds if not thousands of miles of fishable flats. The lodge is about 5 minutes from the small boat harbor on the Bight, and itself sits on the beach of the Atlantic Ocean.

Traveling South, you pass the South Andros/Congo Town Airport. The airport was recently refurbished and the runways repaved. The airport is served by two Bahamian airlines, Western Air and Caribbean Aviation, and also accommodates charter and private planes.

Glatos Bonefish Lodge is the next place on the road going south. It's about 20 minutes from the airport, and their claim to fame is that in the 1980s they provided accommodations for then President's Carters security staff while he was on a bonefishing trip. We did not visit Glatos, but their information says they have 14 rooms, and meals are included in the rates. Rooms are air conditioned and have satellite t.v. and there is a full service bar. It is however, a 45 minute run by boat to the South Bight which can be pretty rough. The rates for Bonefishing packages are $1,200. per person Double occupancy or $1,500 per person for 3 full fishing days. Bonefishing Packages include transportation to and from Congo Town airport, lodging, meals, fishing guide, boat and taxes. Gratuities are not included. Check them out on their website: Glatos.

South Andros is about 30 miles long (and 50 miles from Cuba) and has a population of 2,500. Some folks work for the lodges, but the main source of income is fishing - we were told the per capita income is $15,000, basically from fishing (and lobsters).

Tiamo is not specifically a bonefish lodge, it was designed as an eco-tourism facility and they have gone to great lengths to make it environmentally friendly. They will however, accommodate 6 anglers in three boats. They have a nice dock on the South Bight, no roads lead to Tiamo. Their driveway is the calm water of the South Bight. A pleasant and picturesque fifteen-minute boat ride will carry you to your first vision of paradise a simple wooden dock set upon a private, white sand beach. The accommodations are 11 private beachfront bungalows. Rates are $275 US /person per night not including alcoholic beverages or guides and boats. Plan on about $300 per day for boat and guide. For more information: Tiamo

We did stop at Nathan's Lodge, about 10 minutes from the airport at Kemps Bay. This is a small local operation, but the five rooms are large and very nice. There are also a 2-bedroom bungalow and three 1-bedroom efficiences, each room is air-conditioned and equipped with satellite T.V. Nathan's also features a full restaurant and lounge. The beach is about a half block, and you can fish right there on your own - or they will arrange for a boat and guide for you. Just rooms, without food run $100 per night and could easily accommodate 2 or more people. For more information: Nathan's Lodge

Our next stop was Bair's Lodge. Laura and Hal, the hosts, kindly invited us for drinks and nibbles along with a tour of their facility. Bairs is a remodeled home, turned into Bonefish Lodge, again right on the ocean. They can handle 6 rods with 3 "en suite" air-conditioned rooms (double) with private baths. There is also a nice common area, and room on the front lawn for casting practice. There was an Orvis bonefish school underway the week we were there. No rates are given in their brochure or on their website, but I recall asking - and hope I'm correct, $580.00 per person, per day all inclusive for the bonefishing package. By the way, the nibbles were super, especially the Coconut Shrimp. You can find more at: Bair's Lodge.

Last on our tour was a place which used to be called the Royal Palms Lodge. It is now the Bonefish Bay Club - our host was John Toker who manages it. For those who may have been at the 'old' Royal Palms, you probably wouldn't recognize it. Totally cleaned up, rooms remodeled, painted and new furniture (and air-conditioners) - and a new patio area outside the restaurant/bar. The lodge has 10 air-conditioned rooms with private baths, phones and cable television. There is also a modern 3-bedroom townhouse on the beach if you had a large group. There were about 14 people at the Club when we were there, mostly from New York state. A couple of wives who had caught their first bonefish, especially commented on how great the guides are, (they have 9). This was a very happy group of campers! Double Occupancy rates are two per room & two per boat with shared guide; rates: 6 Night/5 Days Fishing- Double Occupancy $2,300 6 Night/5 Days Fishing - Single Occupancy $3,175 For more information: Bonefish Bay Club.

We really appreciated Brendan's thoughtfulness in getting us to visit the other lodges. He and the other managers of the local lodges have formed a "tourism" group of their own to publicize South Andros, we hope this will help them out! For more on South Andros, try this website - works best in Microsoft Explorer and for an island treat be sure your sound is turned on! The Bahamian Ministry of Tourism has a new and very good website, (use Microsoft for this one too).

If you've never fished for bonefish and have a desire, (eyes get big when someone mentions bonz?) the guides are very capable of not just getting you on fish - they can teach you what you need to know. Or, stay tuned, my husband JC and I just may do a Bonefish School on South Andros. ~ The LadyFisher

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