san salvador island, bahamas

Move along, people, there’s nothing to see here. My week in the Bahamas has left me full of wordlessness, short on commentary, drained of snark and every time I try to summon a few meager paragraphs about our vacation I open my pictures folder, blink a few times at the teal ocean and, I’m sorry, what were we talking about again?


… But I will try. There was sun. There was a very long beach, with the ocean a color I am not sure I knew existed in real life. You could walk out the length of your body and still see your feet under water, and this I could not get over — can you tell I “summer” at Brooklyn public beaches? And there was the most fun group of people I have yet to vacation with, and you might just know them too.

leapin' bloggers!

So what was this all about? Club Med graciously invited a handful of food bloggers and their better halves to their Columbus Isle Food and Wine Festival this past week, days filled with cooking demonstrations and multi-course meals by some of the best chefs around. It took me all of fourteen point two seconds to say “Sure! Just let me get my suitcase.” Of course, that was November, but I had my bag packed. You know, just in case they needed someone to come down early and, uh, survey the beachfront. What? It could happen.

The resort is stunning, and I’ve seen my share of resorts. What liked the most was how played down it was — no overly elaborate landscaping, no people schleping up and down the beach to implore you to buy beads, no towel lines and chair reservation systems — just a 1/3 mile stretch of beach, and what seemed like an acre’s worth of elbow space per beach-napper. We all stayed in huts with balconies facing the ocean, a delicious contrast in the sounds of cars honking and/or blasting Boy George that usually sings us to sleep back home.

lounge chairswalkwayumbrellascafeteria

And the food! It was a seafood-lovers dream, which was, ahem, occasionally lost on this seafood-phobe but more than compensated for with Alex’s enthusiasm. There were clams and chorizo and spicy mussels and beef dumplings with truffles and blue cheese and fresh wahoo, fished the day before. But I’m not going to lie, there was also a lot of this. Enough that when I had dinner last night, I not-so-quietly mourned the missing ice cream bar.

wahoo!espressossautecuracao cocktailsseltzer with limemmmussels

Oh, and the island itself. Due to a family engagement, we had to leave a day before the rest of the crew which didn’t seem like the biggest deal when we were booking the trip but when we got home and tried to figure out what they’d be doing about then (mai tais? chef demo? more bocce?) I finally understood LOST’s incessant despondency: “We never should have left the island! We have to go back!”

Updates and photos from our fellow travelers:

The rest of our photos, if you’re into that kinda thing (not viewable in RSS):

I hope to have a great chef recipe to share with you in the the next couple days, if you can be patient that long for me to test it, but in the meanwhile, I seem to have gotten myself immersed in an act of extreme baking not seen since the Project Wedding Cake Days. It’s giant, it’s covered in ganache and it checks in at more than ten pounds, and I don’t just mean my apron after I was done. More about that coming, too.

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85 comments on san salvador island, bahamas

  1. My friends and I were reminiscing today about our trip to the Bahamas two years ago. The islands are absolutely gorgeous and your photos make me want to go back!!

  2. Ugh, I’m sooooooooooooooooooo jealous. All week long twitter and google reader have been rubbing it in that a whole bunch of people are SWIMMING IN THE OCEAN and DRINKING BRIGHTLY COLORED DRINKS and I’m stuck here in Philly listening to stray cats yowl and eating frozen seafood and splashing around in the bathtub pretending I too and someone wonderful. It hasn’t been working.

  3. Susan

    Oh man, I am green with envy! I know this was that light near the end of winters tunnel that got you through the last three months! What a perfect place for a festival! I just know you had a great time! Glad your back! I don’t mean because misery loves company. No, really, I don’t! ;P

  4. Wow- gorgeous! I am very jealous of your trip to the water. Whenever I go to the ocean, when I get home and look at the pictures, I think “Was the ocean really this blue? Was it really this beautiful?”

    I am glad you had a good time.

  5. These pics were more than enough eye candy for me — who cares about a recipe this week? Absolutely gorgeous sunsets, crystal clear water, and cocktails seems like a mix for the perfect vacation. :)

  6. So. Jealous.

    I’m always googling amazing looking cooking tours and holidays but have been a bit hesistant to try (bad P&O Gary Rhodes experience).

    Will definitely be looking into a local one when I get back to Oz!

  7. WOW! What a vacation! What an experience.

    It was my thing this morning to look at all of your pics. Shivering, wrapped in a blanket, with coffee in hand in COLD Nova Scotia ;)

    Good luck coming back to reality this week!


  8. It is hard to believe a place like that actually exists! So breathtakingly beautiful. I’m glad that you got to enjoy it and thank you for sharing photos!

  9. What a wonderful oppertunity for you! I got to go to Grand Bahama a few years ago for work and it was so beautiful there. The food was so fresh and simple. I loved it!

  10. In the words of the infamous Rachel Zoe: I DIE. THIS MAKES ME DIE. What an unbelievable vacation it looks as though you’ve had! It can be so hard to find nice beaches today…I’m so glad to hear you happened upon one!

  11. Jenn alves

    Ha! My husband i just returned from Hawaii last monday and he said the exact same thing to me when we woke the next morning! “we have to go back to the island kate!”

  12. Val

    Stunning pictures of everything & everyone. The women look stunning, beautiful & relaxed. The men looked giddy, 1/2 tanked & relaxed. What a great little break from the cold harsh winter. Thank you for sharing the photos of such a fun time. ;o}

  13. Amanda:}

    beautiful pictures, but then again, it’s hard not to get beautiful pictures in the bahamas <3 even i got some when i went there with some college girlfriends. i found it VERY hard to leave :( it was like having to wake up from a wonderful dream…five more minutes, please!
    the food sounds great but i hope you were able to get some local food like conch fritters and an ice cold kalik beer…. no?!?! well then i guess you’re just gonna have to go back….

  14. Thanks for sharing the photos, that looks like heaven on earth. Makes me want to plan a trip to the same resort! Going to Mexico is easier for us West Coasters (because of flights), but I would love to go to a different part of the Carribean.

  15. Gigi

    So strange to have all my favorite blogs suddenly converge on one spot. I felt like I was inadvertently spying on a group of strangers. Hello new media discomfort. :D

  16. JanetM

    I just found the site.. its o so marvalous..
    I’m only 19 but i love to cook, bake, experiment, everything..
    My son loved your choco chip cookies..
    and once i find the right man,
    I will be sure o honey moon here.. =]

  17. Jenna

    I’m curious about all these blogs turning into commercials for Club Med and the Bahamas. Did you have to agree to anything in order to get the free trip? Like devoting one blog post to your trip w/ photos? I’m not criticizing- I probably would do the same for a free vacation- just curious. And jealous! Those pictures are beautiful!

  18. Gorgeous! Thanks for sharing your fabulous vacation with us. We’re all terribly envious, but at least we can live it vicariously through your beautiful pictures!

  19. Wow! What a beautiful vacation spot! And I laughed when I saw that picture of you and your friends. My friends and I took a trip to San Francisco recently, and we did the same “Everybody jump up on the count of 3!” pose in front of the Golden Gate Bridge!

  20. Deb! Long time listener, first time caller. They call this de-lurking, yes?

    Well, I am coming out of the woodwork to say that I spent a semester in college living on San Salvador island at the Gerace Research Center and you are completely correct about the extreme beauty and awesomeness of that place. Study abroad consisted of the very scientific acts snorkeling every day, hiking, occasionally measuring crab holes, and getting a wonderful tan. What a fantastically hospitable and undeveloped little island. Study abroad, for all it’s silly stuff-white-people-like-ness, is a damn fine institution.

    Glad you enjoyed your break!

  21. This year, we have a fabulous trip planned. We are headed to Germany for a month, where I will get to see (for the first time) my husband’s homeland. I will get to meet his childhood friends and see the 1000 year old church that he walked past on the way to school every morning. I will get to see castles and famous cities, and even a little bit of a few more places in Europe. I am thrilled to be going there.


    Let me say that after reading your post and seeing your pictures (gorgeous pictures, BTW…), I am absolutely devastated, heartbroken that our travel plans will not be taking us somewhere tropical, at least not this year. I am so very excited to be heading to Germany, but after seeing this, I am almost wishing- just a hint of a desire -that it was the Bahamas instead. I guess Germany has the North Sea. That’s something, right? But AH… for the chance to dig my toes in some warm sand again…

    Next year. There’s always next year…

  22. Karen Culver


    You bring so much joy to Smitten Kitchen… The pictures were fantastic. I’m thrilled you received a LOT of joy on your journey! xoxo, Karen

  23. I am blown away! You are making me want to book a trip immediately – and how awesome that you got to go with fellow food bloggers. I went to the Bahamas once when I was a kid, and I will never forget the color of the water. It’s unreal.

  24. awesome pictures! especially the food one! (but that’s mainly because i love food). the seltzer is really nice too. and that gigantic dead fish (??)

    fiy the photo viewer worked in vienna reader (rss reader on mac). guess i’m one of the lucky ones! great shots.

  25. Hi! I’m a fairly new reader of your site, and I just about fell off my chair when I saw this post. Mostly because I live on that island! My husband and I are Americans who live and work at a scientific research station on the north side of the island. It is so great to hear that you enjoyed your stay. Did you manage to see any of the rest of the island besides the resort? We really do have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. If you even decide to come back and need a tour guide, let me know!
    (Oh, and there is just one small thing I’d like to point out, the name of the island is San Salvador, while Columbus Isle is the name of the Club Med resort itself.)

    1. deb

      Hi Erin — How cool is that? It’s such a fantastic place. And I’m so embarrassed about the titling — I had been confused by the two names. I must change it now.

  26. Your beautiful pictures are helping me re-live that fabulous week! Both you and Alex are the BESTEST EVER beach buddies. Thank you for your humor and amazing wit with words. You say so much in just a few sentences. AND, thank you for teaching me about pie crusts. I appreciate a better pie crust now…..yes!

  27. Oh, please don’t be embarrassed! I think it confuses a lot of visitors. The island is believed to be the location of Christopher Columbus’ first landfall in the New World, and “San Salvador” is how he referred to it in his journals. But I guess Club Med didn’t think that name had enough commercial appeal, so they decided to go with Columbus Isle for their resort. I’ve heard that when they opened they tried to change the name of the entire island, but the Bahamian government didn’t quite go for that. Anyway, sorry for the history lesson, I just couldn’t resist. Have a great day!

  28. this post makes me happy and excited for the warm weather here in massachusetts. granted i wont be travling outside of new england, i am saving my money to go to a place such as this after college graduation. great post. lovely photos.

  29. How great to see that one of my favorite blogs was combined with my favorite vacation destination – Club Med Columbus Isle.

    Having enjoyed Club Med’s chocolate bread for years now, I was excited when, at Columbus Isle a few years ago, a demonstration on how to make it was offered and a recipe handed out. It seemed easy enough. Yet – was a complete failure when I tried to make it at home.

    Do you have a recipe and suggestions for how to make it?

  30. Crysten Nesseth

    EEk! so excited to see this on your site! I’m going there next week and spent a month there last January! Club med is pretty wonderful.