The Snorkel Trail at an Abandoned Resort
08 February 2020
In 2008, The Murphy family of North Carolina abandoned their efforts to develop Crab Cay near Great Exuma Island in the Bahamas. Nearly exactly 200 years earlier William Walker had abandoned the same island. Today we snorkeled the trail cut into the rock by Murphy, past the ruins of Walker.
Walker was loyal to England during the American Revolution. Afterwards, he fled the new nation, eventually landing in Crab Cay to capitalize on a thriving cotton trade. Although cotton was grown on Great Exuma, it is not clear that Walker had any genuine interest. He was definitely interested in botany. His grand estate on the island included plants from around the world, according to letters he sent and received. Walker corresponded with and
collected plant specimens for Sir Joseph Banks, who accompanied Captain Cook on his South
Seas voyages and was a primary backer of the
infamous HMS Bounty voyage to transplant the
breadfruit plant from Tahiti to The Bahamas. With the collapse of slavery in the English empire in the 1830's, Walker's fortunes dwindled and he abandoned his hill top retreat.
Two hundred years later, the Murphy family invested heavily in recreating a modern version of Walker's vision. The said that "Crab Cay will be an exclusive residential community located on a private island just off the coast of Great Exuma in The Bahamas." It is truly just off the coast. A 200' bridge separates the Cay from Great Exuma Island. They promised an "architecture [that] will reflect the relaxed sophistication of Mediterranean ports and villas [with] white sands and lush flora, surrounded by crystal clear waters" and, a snorkel trail. In 2008, the great recession crushed Murphy's hopes and he abandoned his half-completed infrastructure.
Today we snorkeled the half-completed trail in the shadow of half-completed terraces, under the watchful eye of the kitchen that Walker built. Of Murphy's efforts, only the fancy bridge was ever completed (and forever blocking boat traffic).
The half-completed nature of the snorkel trail didn't seem to bother the fish and turtles and didn't bother us either. The beaches are beautiful and usually ours are the only footprints.
By the way, the island is for sale for $35 million or best offer. Perhaps you can finish what has been started here.