WALKERS & GRAND CAYS - The TOP of the BAHAMAS
From Sandy Estabrook's Guide to the Abacos, Bahamas
Walkers as seen from the southeast
...was the first island stop of my first trip to the Abacos by boat back in '93**, fittingly 20 years after my first visit to Green Turtle Cay in '73. The 80's & early 90's were the days when Walkers was in it's heyday. Jet-setters would fly in on their Lear Jets (on a short runway) for a days fishing on their yachts. Some didn't make it as a burnt fuselage or two lined runway here and there.
The resort stood high on the cay with a magnificent views west and south. With the exception of the Customs office, it is basically the only thing on the island. Customs were needed for the fly-in folks along with those boaters bypassing West End. Walkers provided guest rooms, restaurant and bar and a large pool. In addition to the marina there was a dive shop of some repute. The resort was originally developed by Robert H. Abplanalp the inventor of the "clog-free" spray valve used in today's aerosol spray cans. He was also a friend & confidant of President Nixon.
Walker's reputation was world wide. There were numerous tournaments here through out the year, including the prestigious , by invitation only, "Shootout" between Hatteras and Bertram owners. (Some folks may remember the "Walker's Cay Chronicles" on ESPN2 back in the day.)
The Shootout's organizers eventually moved to Boat Harbour Marina in Marsh Harbour in '96. Without the prestige and luster the Shootout brought to the island, Walkers slipped into disrepair. Then the double whammy by Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in '04, put the finishing touches on the resorts already worsening state, and the resort closed.
The Customs office remains open till this day as it is needed to service the needs of the fishing settlement of the adjacent Island of Grand Cay.
Rumors persist of it reopening and or new investors in the resort. It wasn't until late summer of 2010 that these rumors bore some credibility when the Bahamas Investment Authority approved plans for development of the 69 acre island. Buy 2011 all was quiet again still with some murmuring in fall of 2012 on an Abaco bulletin board. This writer wonders if in these difficult times, and what seems to be over development in the Abacos, if this project will come to fruition. I'll be standing by. In the meantime you can tune in Rob Thomson's Facebook Blog. Here you'll find many friends of Walkers from days gone by.
...as mentioned is just south of Walkers. Most of the staff at the old Walkers Resort lived here and since its closing left the island or returned to commercial fishing - lobstering & conch too.
Grand Cay photo by Gary Moline. Read his story below.
In recent times Grand Cay has attracted more and more Florida small boat sport fisherman as it's just a 5 hours / 110 mile trip from West Palm. That's 50 miles closer than Green Turtle Cay, 80 closer than Marsh Harbour. Also since the customs office on Walkers remains in service it makes for a hassle free trip, weather permitting.
It's sole proprietor of any business back in the day was Rosie who ran his restaurant. I visited there back regularly back in the mid 90's and often dined on Rosie's famous combo of cracked conch, grouper, lobster and turtle steak. Some may disapprove of the latter, but yum.
Picking up the slack of the resort's closing the little island settlement and Rosie's Place and Marina has grown considerably not the least of which is the addition in recent times of new hotel cottages, restaurant, bar and fuel dock. (I am surprised he has a website). And there is now a second restaurant on the island but little else. Still a charming island settlement few will see.
At this point we should say that access to Grand Cay is for the most part by boat only either from Florida or mainland Abaco. Of course you can still charter a flight to Walkers and make arrangements for a ride to Grand Cay.
Summer of 2011 saw the following fishing trip report to Grand Cay.
It's a fun read with lots of great pictures and can bring one up to date on the Island. Gary's report is here.
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**I chronicled my first trip by boat aboard my 29' Phoenix SF, here is a a couple lines from my log.
"............. while exploring the island we hit upon a tropical fish farm where they bred Clown Fish for the tropical fish market. A caretaker invited us in for a look inside.......... Walking back to the resort along Walker's runway we came across a melted Lear Jet in the trees at the side of the runway. Yes, melted, parts of which looked like silver puddles in the rocks. The melted aluminum I presume...."
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Returning from Shootout