Conception Island, Part 1: West Bay Anchorage and Beaches

Conception Island is highly regarded as one of the most spectacular island in the Bahamas. - Bahamas National Trust

Conception Island is the loveliest island in the Bahamas, bar none - Bruce Van Sant, The Gentlemen's Guide to Passages South

Conception Island is a paradise within a paradise - Explorer Charts

Mega Yachts with their disco parties ruin it for everyone - Grumpy Captain

Can anything live up to this amazing hype? We'll find out! 

After leaving Long Island, we anchored at Redshanks in George Town for 2 nights to wait out some squalls. We actually anchored 3 times in the space of a few hours just because we like yelling at each other. We were lucky and only got up to 30 knots of wind....Cape Eleuthera reports 110 knots and golf ball size hail. Good times! 

We were planning on staying for a few days of the regatta, but west winds were forecast - perfect for sailing the 40 miles  east to Conception. West winds are so rare we had to take advantage of them. We arrived and anchored and were joined by three sailing catamarans and 4 mega yachts. Holy roll, Batman! We couldn't even land the dinghy on the beach due to the crashing waves. The rolliest anchorage. Ever. Bar none.

Conception Island is very small; it's about 6 miles to circumnavigate it. It is part of the Bahamas National Trust; take only pictures, leave only footprints. There are no inhabitants and no cell towers. 

Let me tell you, the beach was amazing. Pink sand. Good firmness to walk on, yet powder soft to make sand demons in. The water looks photoshopped.  
Conception Island West Bay Anchorage
West Bay Anchorage
Conception Island Beach
Why everything and everyone is wet and sandy, all the time
Conception Island
Peek through rocky shore
Shells! As part of the National Trust, you can look, but can't take.
We were entertained by watching the mega yachts have way too much fun entertaining. They jet skiied. They had those James Bond jet pack things. They paddled. They snorkeled. Their crew spent hours setting up a real table, chairs, tablecloth, glassware, etc for a dinner on the beach. They all must have been exhausted! It reminded me of movies set back in the day when the Brits would be lolling around in Africa, or India, or Australia, and they would have people set up tables, chairs, and tea service in the middle of say, a desert. 
Jet Skis and Yacht, Conception Island
For the first night in years (since the Berrys in February!) we had clear skies so headed to the beach to take photos. What a beautiful night! The waves had tiny specs of bioluminescence washing ashore, and when we dinghyed home, our motor made a very bright wake. 

It's really hard to photograph bioluminescence - you can just see a bright blue spec here
At 3AM on the third night, we were awoken by boaters on the radio afraid of a squall that had moved 15 miles in 15 minutes. I thought about the Eleuthera microburst with 110 knot winds and golf ball size hail. Lightning started filling the sky. We battened down the hatches, put away the paddle board, brought in the cushions, cleared the decks, etc. It started raining about 4:45AM. I remembered our chart book saying "boats wash ashore here" and it was all I could think about. Boats, washed up on the shore. I wondered if we would end up on the shore or on the reef, and was frightened of golf ball size hail.

I put our electronics in the oven. I wondered if our Sat phone and EPIRB would survive a lightning storm. It started raining. I got up and watched the other boats. Winds were about 30 knots and we shifted from the east to south to west and waves built. The rain stopped around 11AM. No one washed up on the shore. 

We walked around to the other side of the island. Beautiful, but our side has the best beach!

So, to recap:

Conception Island is the loveliest island in the Bahamas, bar none: Humm. Beautiful, yes. Tough call to make such a definitive statement! 

Conception Island is a paradise within a paradise. Yep. 

Mega Yachts with their disco parties ruin it for everyone. Every mega yacht that pulled in, we held our breath. Will these be the disco partiers? Can we join in? Seriously, haven't discos been out of style for 30 years? Sadly, the disco never came. The mega yachts were seen and not heard. 
Next time: Photos from the creek on Conception Island, and the dozens of birds, sharks, and rays we saw from the boat. 

Would you like a full time crew to beaver away, setting up tables and china on distant beaches for you? 

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  1. I'm still stuck on the 110 knots and golf ball sized hail at Cape Eleuthera -- wow! Is that normal for this time of year there?

    Stephanie @ SV CAMBRIA

    1. We sure had a lot of cold fronts in the winter, with clocking winds and 30 odd knots. Now we are getting summer squalls - it was forecast to be 30-40 knots but Cape Eleuthera experienced a nasty microburst. Everyone leaves for hurricane season, but at least we have good warning about hurricanes.

  2. I remember that storm. We were in Marsh Harbour - winds at least 50 knots. Came out of nowhere. We turned on the engine and got ready to deal with disaster and waited it out. Fortunately, we didn't drag nor did anyone else. But it was a long night.

    1. It sure is terrifying watching a storm in the dark, knowing there is no where to go, and just having to hope for the best. I am glad we took in our board at 3AM - someone else lost their board at 3:30.


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