Explore the backyard of the Bahamas. No, not your typical lush green grass, old tree house, sprawling swimming pool backyard; though it has those too. This is the chance to experience the archipelago in a more multifaceted, dynamic way that sparks a sense of awe and adventure. The vast swath of the Bahamas is an explorer’s dream – limitless cerulean ocean, untouched caves, swamplands, and pink sand beaches are only the beginning of the wealth of natural beauty the islands offer. It is through this intimate, venturesome exploration that Steven Cartwright fell in love with the Bahamas. It is one of the reasons behind the creation of his excursion company – Bahamas Revisited.
Bahamas Revisited was born out of sheer passion and pride for his island nation, combined with his creativity and love of history and culture. The goal of his company is to provide a wholesome, authentic experience of the Out Islands of the Bahamas for both locals and tourists. The Out Islands (or family islands, as they are sometimes referred) include The Abacos, Acklins, Andros, The Berry Islands, Cat Island, Bimini, Crooked Island, Eleuthera, Exuma Cays, Long Island, Harbour Island, and San Salvador. The company currently offers environmental and educational weeklong excursions to several of the Out Islands for families, school and corporate groups, or simply to have a memorable, off-the-beaten path get away.
Prior to embarking on this adventure, Cartwright was employed in many different aspects – from consultations and chartering yachts for major hotels to serving as a full time missionary for a sports camp in Eleuthera. In this interview, he discusses the importance behind marrying his passion with his career, improving the environment, the challenges of his startup, and the beauty of the Bahamas.
Twenty8+: Describe a typical day on one of the Bahamas Revisited excursions.
Steven Cartwright: We usually get up around 7, serve breakfast at 8, then do our first activity for the day which may range from snorkeling a reef, to feeding pigs or hiking a trail. Lunch is served around noon while we move to another location, and take part in another activity. Our program is very laid back, and apart from safety, our primary focus is having fun, while learning. Evenings are spent sharing photos and research on what you did that day and then laying out under the stars.
Twenty8+: The excursions so far have targeted schools. Why is this?
SC: The youth are our future, and unless we instill in them a desire to preserve the beauty that is the Bahamas, the repercussions will be dire. In addition to that, they will be the decision makers, and change-makers, and having the opportunity to spend a week with them to impart something positive with them has endless possibilities. If just one young person dedicates their life to selfless nation building after being on one of our excursions, I count all of this effort worth it.
Twenty8+: What have been some of the challenges that you have faced since founding this excursion company? How have you championed them?
SC: Funding. As with any startup the struggle is real when it comes to capital. By doing what I can with what I have. Social media for the most part is free, and if you are willing to put in the time, effort, and energy you can start up with minimal investment.
Twenty8+: How important is the work you are doing to the environment and the Bahamian society?
SC: It is essential that we as a people do much more to preserve the environment. Tourism is important, but only as successful as our sun, sand, and sea. Preserving that is important, but beyond that our culture is being lost, and by taking young people to the boat building communities, or to the caves where the first settlers lived, or providing an opportunity for them to spend time with local elders in the community provides a level of exposure, and ensures that who we are as a people is clearly defined and passed on to the next generation.
Twenty8+: What do you hope people will learn from the excursions?
SC: That we are more than a hotel destination. We are a people rich in heritage and culture that rivals many of our Caribbean counterparts. We are more than a BGCSE Exam. We are dreamers, thinkers, entrepreneurs, and until we believe that – we will never truly move “forward, upward, onward, together”.
Twenty8+: What have you learned about yourself and the Bahamas since forming your company?
SC: That this is the place to be. At just 42 years old, the Bahamas is ripe with potential; and although it takes a special kind of person to make it work here, this country is just about to enter its best years, with even better to come. I am excited to be a part of this generation, and although naysayers abound, time will show that those that held to their vision, and stuck it out were right to do so.
Twenty8+: When you are not working on your company or on an excursion, what will we find you doing?
SC: Reading, sleeping, and thinking up new ways to expand the company to be even more inclusive.
Twenty8+: What is the funniest thing that has recently happened to you?
SC: I had someone refer me to my company to see if I had heard about it, then not believe me when I said it was my company.
Twenty8+: If you were stuck on any island of the Bahamas, which one would it be and why?
SC: Long Island. It is where my family is from, and it is where I am trying desperately to return to. It has everything you need to survive, and beauty to rival any other place in the world. The people truly understand hard work, and service, and without Long Island, I firmly believe the Bahamas would not be as far along as it is now….yes I said it.
Twenty8+: What have been some of the highlights of your year so far?
SC: Being a part of a group of young creatives called Shift the Culture (STC). Without this group Bahamas Revisited would not exist, and the collaboration found in STC, has given me the drive to continue forward. They like to joke about how much I hustle to keep things moving, but the support base found in STC is all the fuel I need, and I thank them for that.
Twenty8+: What is the mark you hope to leave on the Bahamas?
SC: I hope to be a part of a Bahamas one day, where every single Bahamian has either been to, or is aware of the stunning beauty of their home, and the value in preserving it. I hope to help in some way to shift the culture in such a way that when people think of the Bahamas they don’t think of hotels, but of a people “united in love and service”.
Check out the website to learn more about Bahamas Revisited.
Photos Courtesy of Steven Cartwright