I love birthdays. Not just my own, but birthdays in general. The fact that it’s a day where said person can be happy, elated, and have people treat them so nicely, whether they’re a family member or a stranger, is a wonderful thing.
Saying that, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to turning 25. Over the past year or two I’ve managed to get myself a bit anxious that I haven’t achieved much with my life so far as I would have liked – which is such a #firstworldproblem, because I’m actually incredibly fortunate in the grand scheme of things. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to reflect on this sort of thing and know where you want to be and where to go, but I was definitely thinking into it too much.
I figured that 25 – mid-twenties and quarter of a century and all – would be a great time to go abroad somewhere warm, which, as a November baby born and raised in the UK, isn’t a normal occurrence for me.
Answer? The Bahamas.
Here is where I start gushing. I’ve already spoken about what to do in The Bahamas, specifically if you’re based on Staniel Cay, with huge amounts of enthusiasm, and what I did on my birthday essentially amassed to a few of those list items with a special twist.
Bucks Fizz/Mimosa breakfast
We headed to Staniel Cay Yacht Club’s restaurant for breakfast where we had yummy food and the classic Champagne and orange juice (Bucks Fizz to my English readers and Mimosa for my North Americans!) with a view of the ocean.
Presents on our over-water balcony
I’m still in love with our Pink Cottage – a pink painted cottage (duh) on stilts over the water. Opening my cards and presents sent by my family, friends and brought along on the trip via my boyfriend, with a cup of tea on the balcony was something out of a dream/alternate life.
Thunderball Grotto, made famous by the Bond film, Thunderball, was a major highlight of the entire trip, especially on our second visit on my birthday. There were so many curious fish and the light streaming through the cave’s holes was mesmerising. Truly a very special place.
Champagne and sunbathing on Sandy Cay sand bar
Another place we came back to for a second time, the Sandy Cay sand bar makes you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere and have stumbled on some undiscovered paradise. There was nobody else there except us, so we enjoyed the bottle of champagne Staniel Cay Yacht Club was kind enough to give me when they found out it was my birthday over our stay and the picnic we got into the habit of taking on our daily adventures. After that, we ran around and played in the sea and sand and sunbathed until we figured we should probably move on to the next birthday treat.
Cocktails at Staniel Cay Yacht Club
We took our boat (i.e. the skiff included with our room that we – eventually learnt how to drive) back to Staniel Cay Yacht Club and sat at the bar and on the dock with a few mudslides and bahama mamas.
Swim with sharks and rays
Beside the Yacht Club’s bar was an area that the daily catch would get chopped up and leftovers thrown into the sea for the local nurse sharks and rays to eat up. Naturally, this was the perfect time to go swimming with them (they’re perfectly harmless as long as you don’t mistreat them or be other kinds of stupid around a wild animal).
It was incredible and had my heart racing as they would swiftly swim right towards me and then change direction the last minute. A few times I had them slither past me, making contact, when I didn’t realise one was close by or I was distracted by another in my eyeline. Definitely another highlight of the whole trip.
Sunset from the dock
All the water activities done for the day, it was time to shower and watch the sunset with a cocktail and beer on the dock. This became a daily routine for us – the gentle lapping of waves against the dock and boats was very peaceful and there’s something so simply happy about bare feet, a sunset and a cold beer.
On to dinner at the restaurant, where I finally chose the lobster and, holy cow, it was the biggest, fluffiest-looking lobster I’ve ever seen. Finishing it was a struggle, but so worth it.
When we came back from the sand bar, we had started speaking to with a pair of awesome women at the Yacht Club bar who happened to be staying in the cottage next to us. They were a mother and daughter going on holiday together – the mother had been before and promised herself and her daughter that she’d come back with her, which she obviously now achieved. I’m not sure I’ve ever met two more positive, life-affirming women, who, for reasons I won’t go into, inspired me so much and for whom I have only the utmost respect for. The four of us drank together, chatted about life and joked about nonsense – a wonderful, random way to spend my last few birthday hours and one of those experiences that confirms my deep love for travel.