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Reviewed 28 November 2011

We just came back from a long weekend trip to Cape Santa Maria (2 adults, 3 kids ages 7, 10 and 11). Everyone agreed that this was one of the most awesome vacations we have ever taken. The beach is the most gorgeous one we have ever seen. The water is a beautiful turqoise color and very clear. We didn't notice any mosquitoes or sandflies. We chose the breakfast and dinner meal plan and the food was absolutely scrumptous! The kids loved the kayaks, tubes and beach toys, all of which were complimentary. One day the adults took bikes provided by the resort (also complimentary!) and rode to the Columbus Monument which is on the north end of the island, about a 3-4 mile one way ride. The views and cliffs near the monument are breathtaking. The staff was extremely responsive and friendly. It is obvious that the managers (Brook and his wife Ewa) are doing a first rate job making sure that guests have a great experience. We had a truly awesome time! We hope to be back!
Family from South Central Florida

  • Stayed: November 2011, travelled with family
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1  Thank Peter S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 November 2011

Our cruiser friends (i.e. friends who cruise in the Bahamas on their own sailboat, and not cruise ship “cruisers”), who’d spent some time in Long Island over the past 3 winters, told us the beach at Cape Santa Maria was the most beautiful in the Bahamas. That’s quite an endorsement, when you consider they’ve been spending much of their time in the Exumas (including the utterly jaw-dropping Warderick Wells). They were not wrong!

Cape Santa Maria is located on the Exuma Sound (leeward) side of Long Island, just shy of the northern tip of this 70-mile-long island. When Christopher Columbus made his second landfall in the New World on this shore, he must have snapped his fingers, asked for a Goombay Smash, and thought hard about never leaving. Of course, that assumes ol’ Chris liked beaches as much as I do. This one is a gently curving 3-4 mile stretch of shimmery, powdery white sand with the occasional patch of ironshore. The water is the gem-like clear blue that tests the limits of your thesaurus to come up with different names for “blue.” The west-facing shore guarantees spectacular sunsets, including a green flash from time to time (saw one).

The rooms at CSM almost take second place to the natural environment, but that’s because the environment is so remarkable. Like most other Out Island resorts we’ve visited, there is a central clubhouse – this one in two levels of white gingerbread – with reception, a restaurant, bar, library and TV room, and gym. The rooms are half comfortably-furnished screened porch, and half bedroom and bath, equipped with small fridge, coffee maker, and safe. Though we had air-conditioning, we never needed it, and even turned off the ceiling fans at night, so perfect was the weather during our visit. The only caveat: there is no screen mesh fine enough to keep out the dastardly no-see-ums at dusk. Even with liberal dousing with Deep Woods Off (which is thoughtfully supplied on the porch), I was eaten by the voracious little pests. The little beasties are a fact of beachfront life.

Knowing that there would be limited options for dining, we opted for a meal plan (breakfast and dinner) at CSM, and then going elsewhere for lunch. That was a wise decision, since many places outside of CSM weren’t even open for the season yet, and most involved quite a long drive (20 minutes to over an hour). After many visits to the islands, I knew that – even at a hotel with an international clientele – my best bet was to choose local food, which was absolutely the way to go. There is, reliably, conch in all of the traditional variations (conch chowder, conch fritters, cracked conch), as well as grouper and local lobster (crawfish). If you want to go a little more down island, CSM has a delicious chicken souse (a citrusy chicken broth with potatoes, celery and boiled chicken legs and wings) on the lunch menu. If you want to be even more island-y, order boiled fish for breakfast – it’s a broth very similar to the chicken souse, but contains poached grouper. But the most appealing meal we had at CSM was stone crab claws; delicious!

I liked Long Island for its quintessentially Out Island feeling. But while I found Cape Santa Maria to be a very comfortable and pleasant home base, it lacked the Out Island vibe. I hesitate to even say this, but perhaps CSM was a little too groomed for my taste. This, of course, is strictly a matter of personal preference – I prefer a more quirky, organic feeling, like the coral stone of Small Hope Bay Lodge (Andros), or the thatch roofs at Fernandez Bay Village (Cat).

And, if I return to CSM, I would ask whether a large group is booked at the property. During our week, a pilot’s group had a “fly-in,” taking over most of the resort. One of the things I love about the Out Islands is meeting like-minded travelers. But a large group tends to be insular, leaving outsiders feeling just like that: outsiders. Moreover, we were left with whatever dining times weren’t claimed by the group, table assignments that were an afterthought (e.g. near the kitchen door), and service that – while competent – was a bit strained and harried while the group was in residence. It’s great business for the resort to have a group like that visit, but it left me feeling slightly disappointed.

My complaints are mere quibbles, and when it came to be time to leave, I wasn’t ready.

  • Stayed: November 2011, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank RedSabre
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 November 2011

My husband and I were a little apprehensive about our trip to Cape Santa Maria after reading a couple of recent, mixed reviews - particularly complaints about the mosquitoes. We were pleasantly surprised by the LACK of bugs. We saw only a few mosquitoes (or any type of bug) during our 5 day visit.
We stayed in a villa which was beautifully appointed. The beds are so comfortable! The view is jaw-droppingly gorgeous.
(Of note: from the exterior, the bungalows look rather dated).
The staff was warm, welcoming and responsive - every one of them! The food was great!!
As others have mentioned, the 2 meals-per-day plan is probably plenty for most people.
The beach was as beautiful as everyone else has mentioned and the sand feels like velvet, although the water was a little cold for swimming in November.
All in all, it was a terrific and special time and we highly recommend Cape Santa Maria to those wanting to truly get away from it all and enjoy the natural beauty that this island has to offer.

  • Stayed: November 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank RWWColorado
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
BrookCSM, General Manager at Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort & Villas, responded to this reviewResponded 21 November 2011

Dear RWWColorado,

Thank you very much for your review. We most certainly appreciate your kind words regarding our staff. We truly believe we have the best staff in the Bahamas! I also appreciate your comments regarding mosquitoes. It is unfortunate the one or two reviews can change people's opinion, however, if you read a number of our recent reviews I know you will get a more accurate picture of Cape Santa Maria.

Thanks again and we hope to see you soon. Don't forget to join our NEW Loyalty Club! See Oak Bay Marine Group's website for details.

Brook Castelsky
General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 October 2011

I've really been putting off writing this review. I keep thinking to myself, why would I want to tell everyone else about this amazing hidden gem in the Caribbean that we found??? It is truly such a wondrous place in every way, that I just want to keep it to myself. But, alas I will share with everyone what a great time we had so you too can go and enjoy it. The more the merrier, I guess:)
We arrived at the small airport (customs people were very nice) and we were picked up by a taxi. The driver was very friendly and we talked to him about the island and his family. He drove us to Cape Santa Maria, where we were staying. There is one long, main road on the island. I want to say it was a decent 15 minute ride. We checked in and everyone was so welcoming...almost like a homecoming. The staff, from the ladies behind the counter to the waiters, were all so kind and helpful throughout the trip. If we needed something they were there.
It was just the two of us so we stayed in one of the bungalows. They were nice and quaint....just what I would expect of a bungalow in the Caribbean. There are locks on the doors despite other reviews saying otherwise. There are A/C units in the room and they worked fine. There was a mini fridge in the room. When we go again I would mainly use this for drinks...not sure if it kept food cold enough. We didn't really bring anything valuable, but we did put our passports and some money in the safe one day and we came home and it was open. Someone up front told us that occasionally if they lose power the safe opens. No big deal to us. We didn't have any problem or feel like our possession were unsafe, but if you feel funny about that, try not to bring anything too valuable that is unnecessary for the trip. There is no TV in the bungalows, which isn't a big deal to us but we did bring our laptop and some movies to watch at night before bed. I'd do that again. While I wish there was wifi in the room we would just go by the clubhouse to pick up a signal and check email, send pictures, etc. Mosquitoes and bugs weren't a big problem for us. I actually didn't see many near the bungalow at all, but they would swarm me near the club house...I would just make sure to use bug spray around there.

There is plenty to do for someone who enjoys nature and exploring.
-The first day we were there we grabbed the kayaks off the beach (which were complimentary for guests...so nice!) and took them over to the cove to the right of the resort. It was so beautiful. We kayaked all the way to the other side and went walking on the rocks.
- We aslo went bone fishing with Bert one day. He was so pleasant. We didn't catch too many fish--those sneaky bonefish! I laughed when we got back to the house because I really think Bert was even more intent on catching the fish than we were! Bert also told us to try some fishing right off to the side of the resort and we actually caught a bonefish over there...there were lot of pods of small ones.
-We dedicated one day to exploring th rest of the island. We rented a car and drove down that main road all day. I love to drive around a see new places so this was a great day and pretty relaxing since there isn't a whole lot of in your face things to do--just lots to see and soak in. Definitely stop at the little restaurant on the side of the road with all the flags....I dream about that conch salad (really, I do!) We also stopped at Dean's Blue hole. Oh wow...not like anything I have ever seen before....pretty amazing. We swam across it (against that little voice of reason in my head!) and it was pretty remarkable.
We also went to the Chris Columbus dedication stone. This is off a slightly hidden road, north of the resort, that seems to last forever. We did read somewhere that said you could ride your bike there. We started chuckling about that half way through getting there. I guess if you are a mountain biker...go for it. Otherwise I think a car with some toughness will work best. The view from up there is breath-taking.
One day we hung out at the beach which was, you know, right outside our front door! We went out at low tide and it was stunning how far the shallow, crystal-clear water went...just on and on.

One of the huge perks for us while staying here was the food. The island is somewhat remote and secluded so there aren't a bunch of restaurants to go to nearby. There actually aren't any to get to conveniently from the resort. But the good news is, you don't need to! Because of past experience in other larger island in the Bahamas (yuck food & crazy high prices) we actually decided to bring some food of our own. To our surprise the food at the resort was very, very good AND fairly priced. I would say you could compare the prices to Outback...most things fall between $8-$25. My boyfriend votes for the Ahi tuna salad. It is actually on his menu back home now....or at least he tries to recreate it:) For the quality and diversity of the menu, we were more than satisfied (and definitely pleasantly surprised). We ended up throwing out some of the food we brought because we kept wanting to eat at the restaurant. The waiters and waitresses were all very kind and accommodating, even making items that were on the lunch menu for dinner. ( I actually didn't think they would do this but, my boyfriend asked and they said it was no problem) Oh, and did I forget to mention that they purify their own water...so it is fair game to drink and tastes good to boot! I would happily eat at the restaurant for all my meals. Yum!

We finally had to move on from our Cape leg of the trip to Marsh Harbor/Treasure Cay. While Treasure Cay is a nice place with a beautiful cove (we've been there a few times,) we kept catching ourselves dreaming of being back at the Cape instead.
So, in conclusion, thanks to you both, Brooke and Ewa, for your hospitality. You have a beautiful place and do a great job with the staff training. Contrary to what you would think, good attitudes and a friendly staff are sometimes hard to find and can really set the tone for a trip. You both have achieved what most in the Bahamas have not achieved. Keep up the good work. We can't wait to come back and we encourage anyone else who is thinking of discovering this hidden gem to do so.
I know this review seems truly glowing, but that's only because Brooke, Ewa,all the workers and the whole island deserves it. We had a genuinely delightful vacation.

  • Stayed: June 2011, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Megan M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 October 2011

My wife and I spent just over one week at Cape Santa Maria and had a wonderful time. The resort feels like it's truly off the beaten path with just the right amount of amenities to make you feel comfortable but not too many to make it feel like a 'commercial' property.

Getting here was pretty easy, we connected through Nassau on a little prop plane and loved the ride, I suggest bringing a camera! We were picked up at the airport and shortly thereafter arrived at the resort.

Like the other reviewers I cannot say enough great things about the beach. It is unbelievable with it's pure white sand and azure seas. We spent many long days soaking up the sun on that beach. I don't agree at all with the comments about the sandflies though; they are no worse than any other beach resort in the Caribbean. It's fairly common knowledge that swimming late at night in that environment will guarantee you a few bites at least, I didn't swim late at night here but I did on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica and I received some bites there. But as I say, it wasn't an issue for us at all.

We did not have a chance to fish while at the resort which I kind of regret as some other guests raved about it. Perhaps it's an excuse to head back soon!

  • Stayed: August 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank iamRobSmith
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
BrookCSM, General Manager at Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort & Villas, responded to this reviewResponded 18 October 2011

Dear iamRob Smith,

Greetings from Paradise! Thank you very much for taking the time to post a review. It was great meeting you an your wife last August and we appreciate your feedback. Next time you will definately have to try fishing with Bert. If you get a chance, check out a couple of the fishing videos on our website!

Hope to see you again,

Brook Castelsky
General Manager

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