Daily Photo: Small Hope Bay Lodge

Daily Photo: Small Hope Bay Lodge
Photo by Travis Snelling

Small Hope Bay Lodge on Andros, the largest 700 islands that make up the Bahamas, is the closest thing to home-away-from-home that I’ve experienced.  The setting, the people, the vibe – it all comes together to make it feel like you’re staying at your family cottage.  Except this cottage is on a beautiful and private beach in the Bahamas.

This photo is of the dock at Small Hope Bay Lodge.  The water is such an incredible aquamarine because of how shallow it is.  That is, until you reach the Andros Barrier Reef (the 2nd largest barrier reef in the Atlantic, 3rd largest in the world) where it plunges 6,000ft straight down!

Check out this alternate shot, taken at sunset:

Daily Photo: Small Hope Bay Lodge, AndrosPhoto by Travis Snelling

Celebrating their 50th year in 2010, owner Jeff Birch believes strongly in providing incredible service and value.  Jeff’s family moved down to Andros from Hamilton, Ontario when he was just 6 years old after his father, Dick Birch, started Small Hope Bay Lodge in 1960.  Dick helped hand-build the 20 cottages with local coral rock & Andros pine materials and they have a very home feel to them.  While they don’t exactly have marble floors and gold faucets, their modest design is a different kind of luxury: Step out the front door of your cottage, walk past the hammock suspended between two pine trees, and you’re on the beach.

It’s a true all-inclusive, too.  Feel like taking a bike out to tour the interior? Go ahead, there’s a bunch of them you can use at any time.  Same goes with kayaks, the Hobie Cat, sailboat, snorkel gear and pretty much everything else.  Most places that are “all inclusive” charge you $50/30 minutes or something crazy so this was refreshing.

The main draw to Small Hope for most people is diving.  Offering 3 different dives daily: day, night and shark dives, there’s never a shortage of dive-talk in the main cottage during conch-fritter happy hour or dinner.  From the Small Hope website:

There are more than 60 dive sites on the regular Small Hope Bay Lodge schedule, including colorful shallow reefs, coral gardens, wreck dives, breathtaking blue holes and stunning wall dives at the edge of the continental shelf, where the Tongue of the Ocean plunges to 6,000 feet.

If you’re looking for a great, laid-back atmosphere (the dress code is “anything but a neck-tie”) with great activities, food and people, than check out Small Hope Bay Lodge in Andros.

Being off the beaten path is part of it’s appeal (former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau used to head to Small Hope once a year to get off the grid).  But don’t let that stop you – getting to Small Hope (and Andros) is much easier than you might think.  One of the easiest ways by far is to “just get yourself to Nassau or Ft. Lauderdale and we’ll do the rest” – meaning, talk to Jeff or somebody else at Small Hope prior to your trip and they’ll arrange a short charter flight and all ground transportation for you so you don’t have to worry about a thing.

To make it even easier, you could work with a Bahamas specialist on


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