Planning for this trip to the Exumas, an island chain in the Bahamas, has been quite crazy experience. It started a few months ago when I decided I wanted to learn to scuba dive. I’m not really sure how I got this idea in my head, but anyhow, I started researching places to go. My parents had dived in Bonaire before, so I began my search there. I had found hotels, dive shops, and other things to do on the island, and I was super excited! And then I checked the flights. There’s my first “don’t.” Don’t get your heart set on a destination and waste your time finding hotels and such before you check for flights! At the very least, do a quick scan for flights on the rough dates you’re thinking of traveling just to see if prices and flight times are good. This was not the case for me. Bonaire is relatively far away so travel times were long, and apparently it’s pretty expensive to fly there!
I continued to search for a destination, changing from Guadeloupe to Turks and Caicos to St. Maarten, and back again, and that’s just naming a few. There are a lot of things to consider when planning a trip somewhere—flight dates and times, prices, accommodations, how touristy is it there? are there interesting things to do? etc. And for planning a dive vacation there were even more—dive shops, condition of the reefs, is there shore diving available? and on and on. One thing to keep in mind is there is no perfect place! There are pros and cons to every destination and it is simply up to you to know your priorities and go from there.
Another thing: you never know what can happen between the time you book your flights to the time you actually get on the plane. I learned this the hard way. After finally deciding on the Exumas, booking the flights, booking the rental house, signing up with the dive shop…hurricane Matthew hit. Of course with our luck, the storm came from an unusual direction, and aimed itself right at our house in Exuma! We watched on the news as it came through, waiting for the island to regain power so that we could call to see if they were okay. When we did manage to contact the property rental people, they told us it would be unlikely that the house would be fixed in time. So suddenly we were back to square one!
For about a week we went back over our other options, and began to get really excited again about one of them, Turks and Caicos. And then the property company called us back! They said that they inspected the house and that it will be ready by the time we get there! At this point, we weren’t sure whether this news was good news or bad, because now we couldn’t use our flight insurance to refund our tickets to Exuma, and we had just gotten excited about Turks and Caicos!
In the end (after checking with the dive shop to make sure that wasn’t damaged beyond repair), we kept our flights to Exuma, and are hoping for the best. So in conclusion: Don’t get ahead of yourself. Do roughly check for flights early on in the planning process. Don’t get too frustrated when trying to find a destination, since there are always going to be downsides. Do be prepared for the unexpected, and don’t let something like a little hurricane ruin your trip!
Update: Because there is limited Wi-Fi here, I was not able to post this until a couple days into our trip. So, I’ll just end your curiosity about how things are going—it is great! The house is in pretty good condition and we are having lots of fun!! Be sure to check back later for some stories from beautiful Exuma!