While cruising the Caribbean on the Nieuw Amsterdam, our first port of call was the private island of the Holland America Line, Half Moon Cay. It was an ideal day for an island triathlon: bike, paddle, and sail.
Most people hit the beach when they land on Half Moon Cay, the private island in the Bahamas that Holland America Line purchased as a destination for its Caribbean cruises. I signed up for a bike tour and kayak tour.
I didn’t expect to ride a bike to get to the kayaks. The island is not a sandbar as some others I have been to on Caribbean cruises. It’s 2,400 acres, of which only 50 acres are developed. The rest is a tropical forest.
Our ride wasn’t bright jerseys and multi-speed “go fast” bicycles. It was an island-style bike ride on a single speed beach cruiser. The only rules: we had to wear a helmet, and ride single file. On the wrong side of the road! In the Bahamas they drive on the right (or wrong) side of the road, something they picked up after all those years of being a British colony.
The only traffic we encountered were golf cart sized service vehicles, doing an unbelievably good job of keeping the island looking perfect. I believe that other than at the beach or the natural areas, everything is raked and groomed. Daily.
Our first stop was a deserted beach with a beautiful view of our cruise ship. White sand beaches, brilliant blue water, palm trees, and the Nieuw Amsterdam, the ship that brought us to paradise. Did I mention the hammock?
I took a short walk to the stables. Wouldn’t you expect a stable full of horses on your private island? For the horsey set, here is a rare opportunity to ride a horse along an empty beach and into the surf.
Our next stop was the tiny marina where Jet Skis and kayaks were waiting. My fellow cyclists and I chose the slower and quieter method of travel. As we hugged the shoreline as we paddled, we watched as two Jet Skis zipped off in the other direction.
Having an odd number of people in our group, my paddling companions were in a pair of tandem kayaks, while I was on a single sit-on-top. That gave me the ability to circle and cut in-between them to record their adventures on my water proof camera, an Olympus Stylus.
Being the only one in the flotilla with a camera yet again, I was thinking here I am on another great adventure with no pictures of myself. Just then, I noticed a group of people on the shore. Looking closely I spotted a lady in a Tilley hat. I paddled closer. It was Sandy! She was on the nature and history hike. Camera in hand, she snapped away. Now I have proof of my kayaking adventure in the Bahamas.
After paddling back to the put-in, we returned to our bikes. On the ride back, we stopped briefly to see Stingray Cove before returning to our starting point. Part two of my island triathlon completed.
When Sandy returned from her tour, we walked to the beach cabana. She noticed the Hobie Cat sailboats sitting in the sand along the beach. “Why don’t you take out one of those and I’ll get some pictures from the beach,” she said.
You don’t have to ask me twice if I want to go sailing. Growing up along the Intracoastal Waterway, I’ve been sailing since I was twelve.
This catamaran was like no other Hobie I had ever sailed before. Nothing like the sleek fast boats where our goal was to go as fast as we could flying a hull, finding that perfect balance of speed where the upwind hull could be lifted out of the water and you were moving very fast with only a single hull in the water.
About thirteen feet long, this boat could be easily handled by one person and was large enough to take a couple of friends along with you. Compared to my old “go fast” sailing days, this was like sailing a recliner. With only a single sail and a mainsheet (the rope used to adjust the sail) and no boom to hit your head on, it was simple sailing, something that anybody could learn to do.
With a little wind, I was quickly crossing back and forth between the beach and our cruise ship, enjoying the the peace and quiet. I could hear only the sounds of the wind and the water, and a little island music from the shore.
What a great way to end my island triathlon. I had a wonderful time sailing in the turquoise blue waters of the Bahamas, and Sandy got some great photos. My favorite is currently my screensaver.
Next time you are on a beautiful island for a day, think beyond the beach. Try my island triathlon. Paddle around in a kayak, bicycle back to the beach, and go for a sail.