As the holiday season is upon us, the words grateful, thankful, and gratitude start prolifically bombarding our timelines, tweets, and conversations. Living on a very tiny island, this got me thinking about some things that I am grateful for, things I didn’t ever give much thought to before my life on a rock began…

Island Transportation Image: Jack Harries

Island Transportation Image: Jack Harries

1. 75 degrees (F)

This is the perfect temperature. When you live in the tropics there are no real distinctions between the seasons, only varying degrees of heat and humidity. Summer in the Bahamas leaves your eyeballs sweating as soon as you leave the confines of air conditioning, so when those cool nights start creeping in, it’s an absolute delight. I get excited to get out socks and even my beanie. I am originally from Maine, so at one point in my life 75°F seemed like a heat wave; now I crave this weather because it means I am not going sweat as soon as I leave my house AND I can wear a hoodie! You can tell who the locals are because we’re the ones wearing sweatshirts and pants while the tourists are lying by the pool sunbathing.

2. Silence

I take silence for granted until I get back to Fort Lauderdale after months on the island and realize just how loud everything is. People are shouting on their phones, traffic is full of engines and honking, and the constant buzz of so many people doing so much so fast resounds. I get anxiety going into a Publix or Walmart where there are more people in the same space than I see all month. Walking a beach with nothing but the sound of the waves is pretty incredible and especially cleansing when I am back from a visit to the mainland. Silence is easy to find on my little island and what would probably make a lot of people uncomfortable makes me feel like I am home.


3. Biking to the Grocery Store

Biking for most people is a form of calculated exercise or something you do for fun as kids. To get to the grocery store, I have to ride my bike to the water taxi, take the taxi to the north island, then ride to the grocery store. It’s like a mini adventure every time. It’s also a really cool way to connect with the island and your island neighbors. People locked away in their cars are so removed from anything tangible. I am also quite proud of the fact that I can get 10 eggs (they cut up the large egg cartons and you only get 10, but pay for a dozen) with no lid on the container back to the house in my bike basket and not break a single one. #WINNING

4. No Light Pollution

There is nothing more magical than a dark sky illuminated by a million stars. I love lying on the beach and just looking up. They seem so close and it brings out the sense of wonder and aw that most of us lose as adulthood, taxes, mortgages, and life creeps in. No, we don’t have a movie theater or a fancy coffee shop, but those things, like so many others, are easily accessible where the dark night sky has actually gone extinct in many places.

5. Golf Carts

In my mind, this was always a vehicle is for golfers (stating the obvious, I know), which I am not, other than an occasional round of the tiny kind. I still remember how excited my husband and I were when we realized the dilapidated green beast in front of our condo was actually ours. Golf carts are amazing; they don’t go fast (well, ours doesn’t), but every time you go for a ride it’s like an amusement park ride. We strap paddle boards on top, load it with 12 dive tanks, and look just like the Beverly Hillbillies, but it gets us there…sometimes.

6. The Endless Battle of Sand in the House

We don’t live on the beach, but we are close. My best attempts to clean it up (slightly Captain Ahab after his white whale-esque attempts) are futile and I’ve actually started to appreciate the tiny, persistent grains. Sand in the house means you were at the beach; you felt the sand and the sea on your feet and your face. It is a constant reminder of my beautiful island and my blessed life.

Sandy toes and salty critters

Sandy toes and salty critters

7. Not Having a Gym

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good spin class, but not having a gym is actually pretty awesome. I walk and run the beach every day and have the most amazing cross fit and yoga “studio.” There are definitely days when a yoga session is less than Zen due to the constant swatting of mosquitoes and application of bug spray, but when your view is the beautiful blue of the ocean rather than a room full of sweaty people, none of that stuff matters.

8. The Island Characters

I grew up in a small town in Maine and we definitely had our cast of characters. They made you smile, they made you laugh, and they made you feel a sense of community. One of my favorite guys on the north island always shouts, “blondes have more fun,” as my husband and I ride by. This always makes me laugh out loud. The charm of a place is really in the people who live there: the guy who has license plates covering his bike, the lady who makes conch salad on the seawall, and the guy who always wants to shake your hand so he can get a dollar.

Island Characters Image: Duncan Brake

Island Characters Image: Duncan Brake

9. Salty Hair

Salty hair has the ability – in a single moment – to make you feel organic, wild, dirty (as in not clean), and sexy. It means I’ve been in the sea, which means it’s been a good day.

10. Impromptu Cocktail Hours that Turn into Dinner and Late Nights

Let’s be honest – island life usually involves alcohol more frequently than land-locked life. An evening walk or a stroll by the pool always finds someone with a cocktail in hand, willing to share. My favorites are random boats in the marina that notice our dog or just say hello and the next thing you know, we are sipping a Dark n’ Stormy on the back deck, chatting like we are old friends. They are fascinated by the fact that we actually live here and we love that they sold their house, bought a boat, and are sailing the Caribbean. Salty tails and salty rims are always a good combination.

–   –   –

What has living on a rock made you unexpectedly grateful for?

Written By:

Current Rock of Residence:

South Bimini

Island Girl Since:


Originally Hails From:

Sebec Village, Maine

Jillian found herself on the “Island in the Stream” a decade before it would actually become home. While the white sand beaches of Bimini are stunning, it is the underwater world that was too intoxicating for her and her husband to resist. As a marine biologist turned photographer/videographer, the Bahamas, arguably the Shark Diving capital of the world, was an obvious choice for habitation. It also supports her, possibly unhealthy, obsession with sharks.

While Bimini is only 50 miles from Florida, it has not been overrun with development or lost too much of its charm. Jillian does not miss the noise or traffic of life in the States; she does, however, constantly crave Thai food, micro-brewed beer, and Whole Foods. If she and her husband are not swimming with sharks, you will find her swearing at the computer because of the slow internet, cruising around on the golf cart with her 75-pound pit bull riding as a hood ornament, or adding to her already out of control sea glass collection.

Jillian and her husband also run a shark education non-profit called Sharks4Kids, teaching kids around the world about the importance of these misunderstood animals. You can learn more about this and Jillian’s other shark adventures on her blog, The Adventures of Shark Girl.

Want to read more posts by this writer? Click here.

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