By Alexander Britell and Guy Britton
It’s early in the afternoon and we need a stop at the local market.
We pull up to a small building in Chester’s without a sign.
“Why isn’t there a sign?” I ask Papa Chis.
“Because everybody knows where it is,” he says. “There’s only one.”
Chester’s is a tiny town on the North Side, a place that was bustling a century ago and now largely quiet, hidden away on Acklins Island, the far edge of The Bahamas.
This is the frontier. This is the island even some Bahamians don’t know exists.
This is the Bahamian Outback.
It’s about an hour by plane to get to Acklins from New Providence, at the far reaches of this 700-island archipelago, about as far away from Nassau as you can get and still be in the Bahamas.
It’s also about as close to undiscovered as you can get these days, a Stealth Bomber on the travel radar, with a population of just a few hundred, depending on whom you ask (and when you ask).
But there’s a reason people travel from all over the world to come here. And it’s just beneath the surface.
“Papa Chis,” actually Julius Chisholm, is the proprietor, along with his wife Arnette, of the Chester’s Highway Inn Bonefish Lodge, so called because Acklins Island is home to some of the best bonefishing on Planet Earth.
It’s the sort of place where you don’t even need to take out a boat — you just walk right into the flats and find yourself seemingly surrounded by bonefish, in waters teeming with the tough little creatures.
Indeed, Julius and Arnette’s place is Ground Zero for bonefishing here, a hotel where you practically step out your door and wade into the flats.
But Acklins is more than just bonefishing — it’s home to the same sparkling sandbars and little cays you typically find in the waters of the Exumas – but without any crowds at all.
There are miles of sand and beaches, the sort of brilliant turquoise you only find in The Bahamas and, well, the secluded tranquility you won’t find anywhere – at least not like this.
The scenery is diverse; shimmering blues; wide flats; sprawling masses of sand and brush.
This is the Bahamas before it was the Bahamas, raw, unadulterated.
This is the edge.
And it’s time to discover it.