50 years ago, Flight Instructor Bob flew to beautiful Great Harbour Cay (Berry Islands), Bahamas in a single-engine Piper Arrow. It was so beautiful, he always thought of returning. This year, we did it (March 2023) in our Piper Twin Comanche, N8475Y.
The weather finally presented us with a good window in which to make the roundtrip flight – from our home in northern Virginia (home airport Manassas/KHEF) to the Bahamas.
First leg: we flew south before weather forced us to stop overnight in Georgia – just west of Savannah. The next day, it cleared up enough in the late morning that we could continue on – to Pompano Beach, FL (KPMP). Our hotel was on the Intracoastal Waterway – it was fun to enjoy a cold beverage and watch the boats go by.
After leaving Pompano Beach, we took off and made a beeline for Great Harbour Cay (MYBG) – a beautiful unspoiled island, part of the Berry Islands group. The flight took about an hour, all over beautiful turquoise water. We were wearing required life jackets and had extra fuel in our tip tanks. We landed on the exact island and runway where Bob landed 50 years ago! He was delighted to see that the island and beach are just as beautiful as he remembered them. Just as Bob had done 50 years ago, we walked across the road from the airport (there’s a terminal now) to the pristine beach; this time, there is a charming beach bar/cafe, where we enjoyed lunch.
On Great Harbour Cay, we spent two nights at 5 Bays of Pirates, in a delightful AirBnB casita with a stunning view of the lagoon. Our conch dinner at Hammerhead’s Restaurant (walking distance from our casita) was probably the best conch we’ve ever eaten.
Next, we flew to Eleuthera (MYEH), a 30-minute flight from Great Harbour Cay. Eleuthera is a much busier (more developed) island, with lots of airplanes flying in — all pilots announcing their intentions and positions, as this is an uncontrolled airport. Here, we spent two nights at Daddy Joe’s, a friendly place with a great restaurant, across the road from a gorgeous beach. We were also able to walk a short distance to visit and soak in the Queens’ Bath, a series of spectacular pools, formed by wave action over the millennia.
International flights: Since both flights (to and from Bahamas) were international flights, Bob had to do quite a bit of special planning, including filing international flight plans and ensuring proper emergency gear. Both countries have specific requirements for all aircraft entering their airspace; we learned a lot! For the return flight to Florida, Bob had to request and receive permission to fly into U.S. airspace, including receiving special codes from both U.S. Customs and from Miami Center (FAA). We flew into Boca Raton (FL – KBCT), one of the required U.S. Port of Entry airports and pulled up to the separate U.S. Customs & Border Protection Facility, where 75Y was inspected and we were cleared to enter the country.
From Boca Raton, we flew a short distance to Vero Beach (KVRB) – we had booked a visit to the Piper factory, which had recently re-opened after a long COVID-related closure. The factory tour was fascinating, and we were impressed with the high-quality operations. Our time in Vero Beach enabled us to visit the lovely Round Island Park, learn about the many Spanish galleon shipwrecks in the area, and eat lunch at the beach. After a couple of days at Vero Beach, we were ready to come home after a great trip. Our flight home was uneventful, with a short stop in Georgia for fuel.
Watch Bob’s short video here.
Here are a few of our favorite photos; click any pic for a slideshow:
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