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.
- 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
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Small Hope Bay Hotel Andros
- Small Hope Bay Resort
- Small Hope Bay Lodge Andros, Bahamas