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“Small Hope Bay is a charming dive resort with personality and a fantastic staff”

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Small Hope Bay Lodge
Ranked #1 of 9 Hotels in Andros
Certificate of Excellence
Middletown, New Jersey
Level 1 Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Small Hope Bay is a charming dive resort with personality and a fantastic staff”
Reviewed November 3, 2010

Here's an abbreviated review of Small Hope Bay Lodge.

This place is a gem! SHBL has a big personality. Jeff Birch and his resort and dive staff are excellent. Diving in Andros was an awesome experience. The SHBL dive masters (Antonio, Aidan, Dennis, & Loren) are fantastic. They ensured our safety and provided tons of enjoyment (in and out of the water). This is a great place to learn how to dive and learn from experienced divers. It's a great place to meet new people. SHBL made you feel like you were at home - but better. The staff did a great job making sure the guests felt like family rather than just visitors. They are great company.

For more details, read on...

1) Why did we decide to go to SHBL?

We got certified for Open Water Diving in the early summer. We wanted to take our new skills to the warm waters of the Caribbean. This was our first diving vacation. We found out about the Out Islands from the airfare promotions to the Bahamas (i.e. free companion airfare or fly-two for free to an Out Island). We chose from a list of dive resorts and hotels across many of the Out Islands and decided on SHBL.

We thought SHBL would meet the requirements of a dive resort, beach, vicinity of travel, and budget. So, we booked a 5 day trip at SHBL (4 days of diving). Since we focused the main activity on diving, the all-inclusive aspect of SHBL was a positive. It was everything we hoped for and more. We certainly missed the place!

2) What is staying at SHBL on Andros like?

SHBL is a small all-inclusive dive resort situated on a non-commercialized island (Andros, Bahamas). There are limited flights from NAS and FLL. Once you get to SHBL, that's where you'll likely be spending most of your time on the island. Most people go there for the diving. Aside from the diving, you can book eco-tours, batik factory tours, go sailing or kayaking, snorkeling, or biking to blue holes (which I highly recommend). There’s not much else to do outside of SHBL without a car. So, depending how you like to spend your vacation time, this may suit your taste or not. All the fun is within SHBL. Read on...

3) Who should go to SHBL?

There were repeat guests and first timers (like us). There were a mix of non-divers, novice divers, and experienced divers. We were told about 60% of people who go to SHBL were repeat guests. For all you can dive, this is a great place. There were guests discovering scuba (for free) or going thru their certification check-out dives. For novice divers (like us), we did our first series of open water dives which included wall dives (90'-120'), shallow reef dives (25'-45'), and a wreck dive (65'). The dive staff made a tremendous difference in our diving experience. A dive master accompanied us on all our dives until we were comfortable. I don't you'll find this type of service at a large commercial dive resort. We couldn't have asked for better dive masters/instructors (Antonio, Aidan, Dennis, and Loren) - they were awesome. For the more experienced and adventurous divers, you can try diving into Andros' famous Blue Holes (120'+), shark dives, cavern/cave dive, etc. So there's a lot of variety for diving in warm clear waters. Unlike other dive sites where there could be overcrowding, you won’t find that to be a problem here. It seems like SHBL owned that part of the Caribbean. For non-divers, you can enjoy the sun, beach, snorkeling, biking, kayaking, sailing, drinking, lounging, etc. They even ferry you over to a secluded island for your morning/afternoon snorkel!

4) How was the dining experience?

The food was always good and plentiful. The conch fritters are a must during happy hours. The same staff that went diving with us was also bar tending each night. There was a good variety of food from Bahamian to traditional American food. I can't say that we had any bad meals there. The kitchen staff was very accommodating. There were plenty of tasty desserts. And let's not forget, all you can drink!

5) How were the accommodations?
Don't expect 5 star hotel room accommodations. The room was a basic on-the-beach cottage. It's old fashion. There is no TV, no phones, and no clock in the room. It's one way to become disconnected from the outside world and just relax. The rooms were comfortable. The platform beds were firm. The rooms were equipped with private bathroom, safe, and air conditioning. The constant ocean breeze or ceiling fan kept it comfortable day and night during our stay in Oct. You wake up to the sunrise each morning. You are just steps away from the water. At night time, the sky is littered with stars! It does get really dark there, bring a flashlight.

If you have noisy neighbors, then it could be a nuisance. The cleaning staff took good care of the room. We learned that SHBL closes down for 6 weeks to completely renovate all the rooms and facilities every year. The same people who run the place (i.e. dive masters, office admins, maintenance staff) also pitch in on these renovations.

6) Any final Impressions?

SHBL is a great place to get away from a big city life and modern technology. You’ll go to a peaceful place where you can sit back and relax, enjoy the diving, ocean, marine life, beach, waking up to a sunny beach, napping in a hammock, stargazing, etc. You can’t go wrong with the diving here. You may get to meet some really cool people from around the world. The SHBL staff is an impressive group of people who will make sure you have an enjoyable stay.

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank Ivan1818
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
East Aurora, New York
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed October 25, 2010

What a classic laid-back island experience! Jeff Birch and staff made our stay thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing! I'd take another group in a heartbeat, and will strongly consider SHBL for an upcoming family vacation. An absolute TEN!

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled on business
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Helpful?
1 Thank MrOntheRoadAgain
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Glenwood, Iowa
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed October 22, 2010

We've been home 3 days & cannot quit talking about Small Hope Bay, watching our dive videos or looking at our photos. This place is incredible, I've never experienced a vacation like this. We've told everyone we know that we feel like we have a new family at Small Hope. This was my first experience diving but my boyfriend has been diving for close to 40 years and we had a blast. I actually got my open water certification at Small Hope and I cannot say enough about the dive staff. Joe, Aiden, Loren and Antonio were incredibly fun, patient and professional. If you are looking for Paradise Island style resort, this place is NOT for you. If you are looking for incredible diving, incredible people, incredible scenery and a truely relaxing vacation, SMALL HOPE has it all and more. I was sad to leave the Bahahams but even more sad to leave the people. Jeff, the owner, has a very unique resort with very unique people. Small Hope is celebrating it's 50th year this year and it is my hope that they are around another 50 years. We cannot wait to return.

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank DrStanton_10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cambridge, Canada
Level 5 Contributor
79 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
Reviewed August 30, 2010

Over 6 days, got my son open water certified and had many great dives including Blue Hole, Shark Emporium and Dianna's Dungeons. Everything was as comitted, well organized and safe. (Same as it was 15 years ago with the same owner who is actively involved). You have appetizers and fritters at the bar on the ocean, but it is a Bahamas Out Island and not a Marriott

Stayed August 2010, traveled with family
Helpful?
Thank eric_t185
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Gainesville VA
1 review
Reviewed August 27, 2010

A group of friends, their two twelve year old nieces and our 1 year old traveled to Small Hope in search of rest and relaxation and for the two husbands some good diving. My initial concerns about traveling with an infant were gone almost the moment we arrived. They had arranged a sitter for us each night while we ate, and my son enjoyed every minute of it. He has always been a fussy eater but learned immediately to expand his food choices and the kitchen staff was very accommodating with his needs as well as the needs of our two teens who wanted pizza instead of fish!
We all took an intro to scuba FREE class as well. A few of us had a hard time the first go round, so we did a second course (again free) a few days later and got the hang of it. Now we're on the path to be scuba certified - thanks to the patient staff at SHBL and the encouragement of all the guests. We were a little suspicious about all the reviews saying "making new friends" but we truly did. We hope to go back again and will try to reconnect with some of the friends we made on our next trip. My only criticism would be that the accommodations are VERY rustic for the price. However, sharing your shower with the occasional hermit crab was a bit of an adventure. AND, we weathered our first night through tropical storm Bonnie and the cabins held up without any issues. Just think it's time for a little remodel of those cabins! We'd definitely go again!

  • Stayed July 2010, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank JodiLS2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Michigan
Level 5 Contributor
30 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed August 17, 2010

Small Hope Bay Lodge offered our family exactly what I was looking for. I wanted a place close to nature, layed back, and with lots of water and outdoor activities. The room was th right size for our family of 4, king room for parents, 2 double beds for kids. There were plenty of storage shelves to get organized. Everything was clean and neat with prompt service. Food was good, creative and varied.

The best thing about SHBL is the staff. They are so amazingly personal. Everyone was helpful and fun. It was great to sit down to a meal and be joined by a dive master who could answer questions, tell stories, or just plain talk about the events of the day.

Our kids (10 and 12) did discover scuba and the 12 year old went on 2 open water dives. Thank you Joe for teaching and Dennis for being his guide. We loved snorkeling, biking to Bill's blue hole (a little far for the 10 year old but she made it), fishing, visiting with other guests, eating, .... the list goes on. The kids were already asking to go back and we hadn't even left yet. Hope we can return soon.

  • Stayed July 2010, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank purpletreegirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
2 reviews
Reviewed July 25, 2010

We started coming to Small Hope Bay Lodge in 1997. Every time we plan our next dive trip , Small Hope Bay Lodge keeps drawing us in. There is no commercialism, just nature. Every dive brings new adventures and sights. Every trip brings new friends.
One thing that never changes is the relaxation, hospitality, the genuine care by the staff for the ocean, the reef, all the guests and feeling like part of the family. Small Hope is a place to enjoy the beauty of the Bahamas and Andros. We are already planning our next trip."

  • Stayed July 2010, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank SMCZ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Small Hope Bay Lodge

Property: Small Hope Bay Lodge
Address: Fresh Creek, 00000, Andros
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Bahamas > Out Islands > Andros
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 9 Hotels in Andros
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:3 star — Small Hope Bay Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 21
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
We have been catering to scuba divers, snorkelers, fishermen, eco-tourists, and relaxers since 1960. Third largest barrier reef in the world and bonefish heaven. There are 21 all-inclusive rooms in cottages right on the beach. Come experience our unique ambience, friendly staff, and natural safe environment. Our dock and dive shop are right on property and fishing trips are easily arranged. Of course, if grabbing a drink, a book, and a hammock are more your style, go right ahead. We have 2 beaches and plenty of hammocks. Rest, Relaxation, and Rediscovery ... ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Small Hope Bay Hotel Andros
Small Hope Bay Resort
Small Hope Bay Lodge Andros, Bahamas

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