Growing up in South Florida, the Bahamas have always been a favorite escape. And as a kid, no place was more alluring than Walker's Cay. It was like a Safari Lodge for salty fisherman. And it didn't matter if you were on a sportfish or center console. Chasing Marlin, Grouper or Bonefish. Everyone knew each other and there was a real sense of community among all the locals and visiting fisherman(many of later were there almost every weekend).
Walker's Cay was just far enough from Florida and just small enough to go unchanged for decades. As the rest of the Abacos boomed with development and tourism, Walker's small size and private ownership allowed it to keep its charm and personality.
When I was 10 I caught my first bonefish right off Walker's. I remember my friend Dave Lee and I running a small Dolphin skiff from the marina to Great Sale and fly fishing all day for bonefish, barracuda, and sharks. We went out for a day with Billy Black on the Duchess and caught wahoo and Mahi just off the reef. And coming in I'll never forget seeing swell hit the reef in the pass and breaking, the first surfable outer reef break my eyes had ever seen. In college, Jason Norcross and I spent 5 weeks in the Walker's Marina on his dad's 31 contender. We set up a tent on the bow every night and slept on air mattresses. We had a $69 window unit plugged into shore power and setup to blow cold air on us. And we spearfished all day every day. It was one of the most formative trips of my life. And that 31 contender was named The Headhunter and it became the namesake for our brand when Jason and I started Headhunter Spearfishing in 2002.
All that changed in 2005 when hurricanes devastated the island. With the hotel and marina in shambles, the Island was closed to the public. And has remained closed. But it looks like there is about to be another chapter written in the Walker's Cay story. A press release this week announced that Texas businessman and philanthropist Carl Allen has purchased the island and will soon begin a “phase one development plan”.
Not a lot of details were given regarding his plans for the island, but he did mention that he has been going since he was 12 and has a love for Walker's and the surrounding community. I hope he can steer this project in the right direction and restore Walker's to its former glory.