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Within minutes, we spotted the first "bug", peering out from an outcropping of coral, waving his long antennae at us. We clustered around it, but rather than swim back to the boat to get a spear from Sam, I stupidly tried to grab the lobster with my bare hand. I missed him, of course, and he retreated deep into the reef. Not a great start for the group's leader. Chagrined, I swam back to the boat for a spear, while the rest of the guys practiced the art of deep diving without gulping a mouthful of sea water.

On my own, I spotted a very promising shelf and kicked down for a peek. There was a very nice-sized lobster looking back at me. After another breath and dive I made one thrust with the spear and surfaced with a wriggling bug. That was followed by three more while my friends had still not bagged one. "Time for lunch", Sam announced.

Unfortunately, we then hit a dry spell that lasted through the second day. Lobster season started a couple of weeks before we arrived, so hundreds of boats and thousands of divers had already visited - and cleaned out - most of the reefs. Our luck did eventually turn, with everyone spearing at least one bug by the fourth day, but we never came close to our six-per-person limit. Each evening we had just enough to prepare fresh lobster tidbits as an appetizer before going out to dinner, and we had a feast of two or three broiled-and-buttered tails for each one of us on our last night.

There is great sport in spearing lobster, but you can also spend a completely enchanting long weekend in the Abacos simply cruising from island to island, eating, drinking and enjoying some of the most beautiful scenery in the Caribbean.

One day we ran to Green Turtle Cay for a casual lobster salad lunch on the patio of the Green Turtle Club. If you are up for more of a party atmosphere, Nippers on Great Guana Cay has a legendary pig roast on Sundays. If you are an anthropologist of alcohol, make a pilgrimage to the Blue Bee Bar in New Plymouth, where long ago, a lady known as Miss Emily invented the rum-powered Goombay Smash. Hope Town still has a colonial feel, with a candy-striped lighthouse. Man 'O War Cay has been the centre of Bahamian boat-building for 200 years, with the Albury Brothers still plying the trade along the waterfront. Each island offers a discovery of some sort; the freshly speared lobster is up to you.


Rome Hartman is the  executive producer of the nightly newscast BBC World News America.




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