Harbor View Vacation Rental in Exuma

Harvesting Honey in Exuma

beehives in Exuma

We have a honey marketing facility here is Exuma. So next time you are looking for that unique gift to take home, why not buy a jar of 100% natural honey from Exuma.

I just spent a fascinating day at the headquarters where BJ spent the morning showing us around and answering our many questions.  They have more than a dozen hives and as the many local plants and trees come into bloom, so the pace of activity at the production site speeds up, this time of year being their busiest.

opening the hive
The hive with the cover removed

We watched as BJ sprayed a hive with smoke to calm the bees, although we were assured that this type of bee is favored because of its lack of aggression.  Then slowly and carefully he removed the lid exposing the top box.  Another puff of smoke and he starts to very carefully remove one of the 9 panels the spanned the box. On the panel were maybe a thousand  bees. BJ gave a sharp shake and the bees fell off or flew away.

extracting the panel from the hive
Removing a panel

Then that panel was put in a separate box to be processed and a new clean panel put in its place. There is about half inch gap between the panels and the foraging bees bring the pollen back to the hive entrance at the base of the stack of boxes. The pollen is then transferred to a worker bee that makes its way up the gap through the stack and the produce is put into the honeycomb and sealed with bees wax. The collection process was repeated for the remaining panels until we had a box with 9 new panels inside, ready to be placed back on the stack when we had gone through some of the lower panels.

Full panel of honey
The wax that seals in the honey

All this was done without gloves, just a beekeepers protective hat.  It was obvious that the beekeeper had to be confidant, move slowly and carefully, especially when rebuilding the hive as he lowered each box back in position taking great care not to crush any bees.

The predominant tree that is currently in bloom is the Logwood Tree and the honey from this tree is paler and processed separately from other blossoms that occur later.

Once the full panels reach the processing area. the wax is scrapped off,  exposing the raw honey. The panels are then placed in a large centrifuge, spun at high speed so the honey flies out of the panel and slides down inside the drum and is filtered and bottled.
Scraping the wax off

In a hive there are around 1000 bees on each panel and more than 90 % are female. The male bee’s only function is to fertilize the Queen, a job that costs them their lives. There is just one queen who lays eggs for 2 to 5 years. When she is past her prime she is replaced by feeding a replacement with Royal Jelly which will become the next queen. It’s a tough life being a worker bee and their life will last around only 2 months.
The honey centrifuge

The hub of this growing industry is at the Exuma Foundation located on the Queens Highway roughly halfway between GeorgeTown and the airport, and that is where you can buy your special Exuma Honey.

The Welcome Book

welcome to Exuma

As vacation rental property owners we feel a responsibility to ensure that our guests get the maximum pleasure from their vacation. But we have to draw a fine line as on-site owners between respecting our guests privacy and helping them get the most from their valued time.

When a guest arrives we are well aware that it can be overwhelming after an all day travel experience to be in a new country, a new island, new accommodation.   where to go?, what to do?, what not to do?

The answer is a “Welcome to Harbour View” book. It’s there in the lounge for them to read and benefit, as and when they are relaxed; in their own time. So when they arrive we only have to greet them and point out a few basics, such as operation of the air conditioning. How to contact us if they have a question, or are looking for local knowledge.

The Welcome book is divided into chapters.

The first chapter relates to a few house facts. Such as; our internet details. We are on a well so we appreciate guests being frugal with water.  That we recommend they use bottled water (where to get it, where to get bottles refilled) for drinking.

The second chapter is about traveling. Guests are advised to rent a car in advance of their arrival. So we remind that we drive on the left.  That they should put our phone number into their mobile phone or take one of our business cards so they can contact us if they experience a problem. Similarly they are encouraged to take the welcome book with them.

The third chapter is a comprehensive list of the many beaches that they can visit. Each beach is shown on a map with the distance from our house. So that if they set the mileometer to zero when they leave the home, their beach destination is known to be “x” kilometers away. The beach is described by size, whether there are shells,  shade or which is best protected from winds.

Pretty Molly Bay

The fourth chapter is a comprehensive list of restaurants. Again we give directions, show each on a map, and give the distance.  We also enclose a menu in order that they can get some idea of the range of costs and whether they have specialities… asian food….. Bahamian fare.  And most important, the contact phone number and which days they might close.  There is nothing worse than getting all dressed up and driving 20 minutes to find some restaurant is closed.

lobster at Santannas
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The fifth chapter is a list of special excursions that are available. These range from fishing guides (bone fishing is very popular in Exuma), scuba trips, ATV guided tours, kiteboarding lessons, and of course the most popular at present is the “swimming pigs” trip. This is an all day boat trip through several of the nearby tropical islands with stops to see, feed and swim with wild pigs on a deserted island,  see and feed wild Iguanas found only in Exuma, to swim with (or not) nurse sharks, and to swim and explore Thunderball Cave, made famous in two James Bond films.  An exciting and a trip to remember. Well our book tells you who runs the trip, who to contact, how much it costs, and where to go on the big day.

Swimming Pigs

So what have I learned  from writing this story?  That I can improve my welcome book.  

I can add photos.  I can make my welcome book more interesting to my valued guests. 

In fact I think I will devote some time to making my book, not just factual and informative, but make it a coffee table book and find out how much it would cost to print and present to our guests as a thank you for staying with us.  If the improved version sits on their coffee table it could be talking point with friends and, who knows , maybe a new enquiry??

Spiny Lobsters in Exuma

Spiny lobster

One of the delights of your vacation at Harbour View is the opportunity to search and find, and if you wish, to catch  spiny lobsters in Exuma.

We do have a season when you are permitted to catch lobsters. Between August and March is open season to catch spiny lobsters, subject to certain restrictions.  The lobster must have a minimum 6 inch tail, it must not be egg carrying ( female lobsters carry their thousands of eggs attached to the underside of their body) and you can only use a pole spear or Hawaiian sling to catch them.

Lobsters can live to a ripe old age of 100 years. Like most fish stories, the largest and heaviest lobsters tend to have been caught in years past.  One of the largest weighed in at over 40 pounds and was reported in a newspaper to have been sold to a restaurant for a special meal. However the public were so upset they purchased “Larry”, yes he had a name! and sent him off to an aquarium.

So if the idea of seeing, and maybe catching a spiney lobster, give Exuma Dive  a call. They know where to take you. Lobsters are nocturnal and during the daytime, when you are looking for them, they are usually resting and hiding under ledges.  Good luck !

Next time we will look at recipes for these delicious creatures.

 

Ice Cream in Exuma

Scoops Ice Cream

We have a new budding entrepreneur in Exuma. The young lady’s name is Dominique and she is working hard to start an ice cream manufacturing company under the brand name “Scoops”.

I must admit that ice cream is one of my weaknesses and she will certainly get my support. You can imagine the problems of importing the Ben & Jerry, Hagen Daz products in relatively small quantities into a tropical island where temperatures can be in the high nineties. You need refrigerated trucks, refrigerated ships and the ability to protect these fragile products while transferring from on to another.

Dominique has wisely decided to limit the number of outlets selling her product while she irons out the kinks in her production. So to sample her delicious blends you need to visit Prime Meats, Smitties, or Naturally Fresh.  By the start of the next season in November she anticipates increasing her retail chain.

Scoops is currently available in seven flavors,  Chocolate, Vanilla, Coconut, Rum Raison, Guava, Cheesecake and Caramel. My favorite is the cheesecake.

If you want to contact this young business lady, she is at scoops242@outlook.com

Dominique, we wish you well in your new venture.

Scoops ice creams
Scoops ice creams

The Salt Flats in Exuma

The Salt Beacon in Little Exuma

The salt flats in Exuma are located near Williamstown on Little Exuma.

For thousands of years salt was an essential component of civilization. Only those who had access to salt were able to sail long distances and have useable preserved meat and fish. In fact in Roman times the Centurions were paid in salt.

In the middle ages when empires were being built, and explorers were financed to find new lands, one of the commodities that  the ships were looking for was an easy access to salt.

The early settlers in The Bahamas realized this demand and used the shallow flat land around what is today the settlement of Williamstown, to meet this need and provide them with an income.

The land was channeled to allow sea water to flood the land at high tide to a shallow depth and then the warm tropical sun worked its magic by evaporating the water leaving pure sea salt. This was then raked into pyramids to dry.

Then the message had to be provided to the passing ships that this was where they could purchase fresh sea salt to preserve their purchases of fresh meat and fish.  Hence the need for the monument, reputed to be 200 years old, to indicate that this was where you should anchor off to provision.

At its peak the output was reputed to be 10,000 tons. The flats are not commercially worked now but you can still purchase sea salt locally, ask at Santanna’s Bar and Grill for details.

The Best Pizza Place in Exuma

Splash Restaurant

And the first prize goes to…… (drum roll)… “Splash Restaurant” !!

The best pizza in Exuma resides in this popular bar restaurant which offers several big screen TVs to watch your favorite sport while you pick up some stretchy cheese and get tomato paste all over your face !

Located on the edge of Elizabeth Harbour, this family run business has been around for almost twenty years and has thrived on providing home cooking at reasonable prices.

Equipped with a pool table, and being right on the beach means you have the opportunity to work up an appetite before indulging in your pizza fest.

Available in a variety of sizes and with a broad selection of toppings, Splash is the place to visit….Enjoy

The Conch in Exuma

conch

Conch in Exuma is declining in numbers. Gone are the days when going for a swim meant taking care not to tread on these plentiful creatures, now it is a rarity to see a live conch.

Yes the demand has outstripped the supply and conservation is needed to protect the conch for future generations.

Conch become sexually mature by their third year when the lip on the shell grows. Then the female will lay upwards of a half million eggs in a gelatinous string. The eggs hatch in a few days and the juveniles bear no resemblance to a conch as we know it. After around 20 days they metamorphoses to the familiar shape and then they grow quickly to maturity in two years.

The life span of a conch varies according to whether it stays in shallow water, where it will live for around seven years, or if in deep water where it will live for 20 to 30 years.

Gourmet Dining in Exuma (2)

Big D prepares Conch Salad

Gourmet dining in Exuma must include a ride to Steventon to Big D’s restaurant and watch the master prepare  a conch salad.  This Bahamian delicacy is not to be missed and Big D makes an entertaining presentation with full description, showmanship, all with his signature smile.

The ingredients for this delicacy include raw conch, fresh tomatoes, Exuma onions, fresh Exuma salt, fresh peppers

all finely chopped then drizzle squeezed orange and lime.  Adding a Scotch Bonnet pepper is optional.
then enjoy.

The real skill is extracting the conch meat from the shell. Knowing exactly where on the shell to hammer a hole to place a sharp slim knifein to cut the foot free so the meat slides out. Then you are faced with  knowing how to remove the skin and other parts from the meat.  My recommendation would  be to leave it to the experts and Darrren certainly qualifies .

That is just one of the many ways to enjoy gourmet dining in Exuma.

The Beer Of The Bahamas

Kalik Beers

Kalik is the most popular beer of The Bahamas. Brewed by Commonwealth Brewery in Nassau and distributed throughout the islands. Originally produced in 1988 from a recipe from Heineken to produce a lager with 5% alcohol.

Kalik is produced as Kalik Lite, Kalik (regular), Kalik Gold (7%) and Kalik Raddler (a lime mix).  The name Kalik is said to represent the sound of cow bells which traditionally is an instrument in the Junkanoo carnival parade.

Kalik far and away out sells all other beers in The Bahamas including imports from Eurpope and the US.

So pick up a 6 pack or a case next time you are in Exuma.  Cheers!

Wine Tasting in Exuma

wine tasting

wine tasting
wine tasting

We are fortunate to have a wide choice of wines in our Exuma stores. Surprisingly, for a small tropical island, the prices are not to different from those in the US. Most wine is sent to Exuma from the Bahamian capital Nassau.

The largest selection is at Bristol Wines, a store located in a mall adjacent to Sandals Resort. Occasionally they have an open evening with wine tasting and that we make a special effort to attend.

Their selection is not just California wines, they have a wide selection from Europe,  from Australia and New Zealand and from South America.  One of our current favorites is Pinot Noire from Chile.

Bristol Wine
Bristol Wine

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