Paddling a small boat or board is a timeless means for crossing the ocean's surface, but for some it's as natural as walking on land. A recent tropical paddleboard and bike camping trip with my oldest son, Willy, really illuminated our seemingly innate comfort of living on water.
On our first day, Willy and I paddled 6 relaxed hours across a remote region of the Caicos bank to an obscure cay with barely enough sand for our bivys at high tide. Upon landfall, we immediately hid in these small shelters for the next two hours as rain poured its purity over the spotless white horizon. Having just enough time to Jetboil a pack of Ramen noodles and pouched chicken, insects and darkness inevitably drove us back under tightly enclosed cover for the remainder of the night. (Notice how our Shallow H2O Expedition Fins allowed us to just slide our boards over the dune without a thought. We never think about our fins because they perform so flawlessly in these intertidal settings.)
We awoke next day to 360 degrees of distant thunder clouds, brilliantly coloring the sun's rising light. This beauty was only matched by the sparkling diamond reflection of tailing bonefish piercing the endless flat's glassy surface. Utopia. After breaking camp, we merrily paddled 4 hours against shifting wind and current to a cut where shallow bank meets thick azure sea. Baby sea turtles, spotted eagle rays, lemon sharks and various fin fish entertained us while we waited for Bibo to meet us in the airboat for the night. After making camp on an inlet island, Bibo and Willy spent the evening paddling with LED's under their boards. Endless stars studded the new moon sky overhead.
Day 3 consisted of a few hours chasing bones, followed by Bibo depositing Willy and I onshore one of 2 sparsely populated islands with our bikes, which we traded for our paddleboards. We then peddled across 5 miles of unpaved road and then a 10 mile stretch of hilly asphalt until reaching a favorite cafe for beer and conch. A few miles up the road, we ditched our bikes in the scrub to hike 1/2 mile to a deserted beach where we camped for the night. Tempestuous winds & ultra soft sand forced me to collapse my whipping rainfly covered tent atop me, stretching every claustrophobic limit to sleep inside my no-seeum netted sarcophagus. Sleeping without his tarp, Willy awoke the next morning covered in dew.
The final day of our trip we biked across the causeway connecting the two 50 sq. mile islands and spent the next few hours pedaling uphill to somehow still end up at sea level 20 miles later. We passed barking dogs guarding their quaint island homes, farmers burning their tiny front yard crops and a grand old lady crossing the narrow road with the help of her cane. The end of our paddleboard and biking journey was bittersweet as we paid to have our bikes ferried back to our home island 50 miles away. We slept the remainder of the day under a gazebo like the two tropic tramps we were privileged to be over the last four days.
The name of Bonefish Hippies embodies the choice to have as many off grid moments as possible surrounded by saltwater...not for the sake of a blog or post, but for the love of oceanic obscurity. It's an overwhelming instinct for many of us. We are honored to share a few of those moments with you.