Base Backpackers and the Island Bar

If you find yourself trapped in Townsville, have no fear, lovely Magnetic Island is just a short ferry ride away. Seriously, save yourself and just go to Maggie, you’ll enjoy yourself much much better. In an attempt to stop making my life so hard and make my blog posts much shorter and more inviting, I’m going to talk about Magnetic Island itself later, and at this moment we’re going to focus on a wicked place to stay…Base Backpackers Magnetic Island. Now, Base itself has 14 locations across Australia and New Zealand, this is just one of them. Some are better than others, some are bigger, have better wifi, are cleaner, etc. Whatever, maybe someday I will have stayed at them all (highly unlikely), and I can give you the real lowdown (never gonna happen), but until then, let’s just stay on topic…Base on Magnetic Island. Rant over (for now).

This hostel is amazing. Period. That’s all.

“But Zoe, WHY is it amazing? Tell us more.”

Well I’m glad you asked, lets start with the location. Perfect. Literal perfection. It is water front, there’s a large beach right along the front of the hostel.

It’s basically the most popular hostel on the island so there’s a bus which drops and picks up directly in front, and if you’re renting a car most companies will just come pick you up from the hostel and drop you back off as well once you bring the car back. The hostel itself is also right in front of one of the good reef areas for snorkeling. It’s not directly next to the ferry terminal, but like I said, the bus goes directly to it for something like $2.50. Decent aye?

The kitchen is decent, but I’m going to be honest, I deffo did not stick to my budget for food here as well as I have managed other places. One thing, minor issue, but really it’s not that big of a deal, the closest supermarket is back at the ferry terminal. So, kind of annoying unless you’ve rented a car or feel like taking the bus. OR feel free to make friends with a staff member and they’ll probably bring you? Doesn’t hurt to ask right? Anyways, the reason why this isn’t that big of a deal is because the food from the restaurant/bar is amazing. Seriously, mouthwatering. They have awesome specials every night for dinner and the brekky is to die for.

Every day I told myself I wouldn’t spend money on food at the Island Bar and then, jokes on me, I didn’t cook for myself even once. Every single thing that I got from the restaurant was amazing, but the pizzas were especially delicious. The entire group of people that I spent time with on the island had trouble staying away from the restaurant, we always gave in, totally worth it though.

Next, the dorms/rooms: quaint, adorable, lovely,

(excuse the mess)

I felt like I was in summer camp. Almost every room was a cabin.

(I was in lovely 118, just far enough away to avoid too much bar noise, but close enough that I didn’t have to walk ages to the toilets, score)

The private rooms had the views, obviously,

This is the furthest I was willing to go though because I didn’t want someone to see me, a complete stranger, taking photos in front of their private cabin. Yep, don’t mind me folks.

Yeah, even the dorms though were, at most, three steps away from an ocean view.

This is a photo from our front porch. Just awful right?

As for complaints about rooms? Whelp, two girls I was with had a room with no A/C and smelled like boy (they were the only two girls in a room with 6 boys, bless their hearts). Actually everyone was complaining of no air con in their rooms except for Claudia (girl in my room) and I. Side note: you will meet all of these people in the next blog about shenanigans around the island, this is purely hostel information…for the most part. I love them all too much to simply glaze over who they are, okay? Deal. Anyway, Claudia and I thought we had gotten a sweet as deal, our A/C was great, the room was mostly girls with only 2 boys, no weird smells, we both had top bunks, but that’s okay. So our first night there, the entire crew was pretty tired. We all ate dinner and, no-shit, we were in bed by like 8:30. Had my pj’s on and Netflix pulled up, ready to cozy up with my stuffed animal and call it a night. The two guys in my room made a minor attempt to get me to go out, but I can’t be swayed out of bed once I’m settled so they left eventually, and I fell asleep, blissfully unaware of the terror I would wake up to.

1am, voices, obnoxiously loud. That’s fine, I’m an adult, I know people drink, I heard about this as a party place specifically, I can deal. The girl who was in the bed below mine had brought a friend home, I’m sure you can all guess where this is going, but I was blissfully ignorant still. Just some minor annoyance at being woken up. Things quieted down, and then, horror, moaning. Well eff. I had a couple doing dirty things to each other in the bunk below me. Okay, I can pretend like I’m asleep. Nope, things got rather vigorous, I was on a ship in a massive storm, a cyclone was hitting, I literally held on to my bed to keep from falling off, they KNOCKED THE LADDER OFF MY BED. I feel violated, terrible things happened to me, they finally finished and the guy stood up, ‘oh shit,’ he says when he notices me, curled up in the fetal position, horrified. ‘Yeah…I’m a little motion sick here guys.’ They don’t say much, a mumbled ‘sorry,’ and a quick retreat. As soon as they go out the door I immediately sit up and desperately look toward Claudia in the top bunk diagonally from mine. We shared quick horrified glances, both of us permanently damaged by what had just happened and we turn over, trying to forget as girl and guy come back and get back in bed to snuggle.

2am, voices. One of the boys is back, with a girl in tow…but she’s one of the girls also staying in our room. Cool, that means nothing should be going on right? Wrong. She climbs into his bed. I’m trying to shut my ears, I can’t even deal anymore, I hear noises, I’m crying inside, why is this happening to me.

3am, voices. The other boy is back without pants on and with another girl in tow. I can’t tell if this is the other girl in our room or what, but I heard dirty things happening over there as well that I won’t soon forget. Dead inside, nothing matters anymore, I’ve been violated, this is the worst.

When the third couple came in Claudia made the smart move and decided to leave, she slept outside on the beach, exposed to the elements, but the elements are better than what we went through. Horrifying. Let’s talk about how it’s a good thing I didn’t attempt to leave though because, remember, couple number 1 knocked my ladder off my bed, and they just really didn’t care to fix it.

(again…excuse the mess, even though none of it is really mine; I just needed proof)

Thanks guys. So, on top of dealing with their sex shenanigans, I had to launch myself to the ground in the morning when I finally felt the overwhelming need to get tf out of there. AND, even though I had literally woken up to them talking again (I know, how did I even fall asleep after all of that? Well, I’m officially dead inside), they decided to pretend to be asleep while I was up and about. Anyway, That was a hell of a side story, but yeah, the dorms are great as long as your roomies don’t suck. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to not have sex, you do you (or them…I guess?) I’m just saying to have sex in the shower like every other normal person in the hotel does.

Aaaaand I’m using that as a segue into the bathrooms. Some of the private rooms have an en-suite, but otherwise I’m pretty sure there’s only the main bathrooms for everyone. One huge girls bathroom and one huge boys bathroom. The girls had somewhere around seven or eight showers and ten-twelve toilets and five or six sinks.

It looks sketchy as, but it wasn’t that bad. And the showers were actually pretty nice with big waterfall shower heads. I never had a problem getting a stall, though that’s because I shower at different times than everyone else apparently. The first night though, there was no toilet paper. I want to say only like two of the stalls had any in them. It’s fine, it didn’t happen again that I noticed. Also, there are toilets in the bar, but they’re much further away from all of the rooms (obviously) so they’re really only convenient if you’re eating or drinking.

Aaaaaand speaking of, let’s move on to DRINKING! Okay everyone, Base is widely known as the party hostel, especially the Magnetic Island Base, and that is for a reason. I am not that big of a partier, but man did I have some nights at Base at the Island Bar.

So, I know I threw you all off by saying I had an early one the first night, (besides the free welcome drinks)

Whelp, the next day I decided to treat myself all day in order to feel better about my life from dealing with what I had to deal with. Honestly, nothing TOO exciting, a few of the girls and I simply took advantage of the happy hour prices and got a few bottles of wine from the bar. The event that night was beer pong so we watched some friends come in second, played some pool, took some photos, loved on each other, ate some pizza.

Great times, ended up in bed not TOO late, but had a lovely night. The next night was boozy bingo. I’m going to tell you something very important….participate. I don’t care if you like bingo or not, though lets be honest, who doesn’t like bingo.

PARTICIPATE IN BINGO OKAY!? You can win seriously amazing prizes. Like, for example, my friend Robyn won over 400 FREAKIN DOLLARS! Anyway, boozy bingo has a lot of shenanigans and it goes on for a bit and honestly, you gotta be a little tipsy. So we got more than tipsy and strongly participated in happy hour drinks while playing bingo.

Great times, we ate pizza, danced on tables,

took photos, friends won things,

hit on bartenders, lovely.

Next night was bar wars. These were the craziest shenanigans of them all as far as I saw. Not gonna lie, deffo saw some naked people (of their own volition, not the hostels okay). This one is hard to describe, but there’s a bunch of different games, like musical chairs and such with an interesting twist and you have a team and you try to win them….obviously. Stripping is involved if you lose a round and want to stay in the game, but it’s optional and you can just take the L like a champion.

Great times,

No one really knows who won, I was given many free drinks, ran into a table, played on the beach,

hit on more bartenders (actually just the one, two nights in a row). Lovely.

(my team <3)

Anyway, moral of the shenanigans, Base has activities every night. And even if you don’t think you’ll enjoy them, you probably will. You don’t HAVE to party, but look where that got me, eh? Just kidding, don’t party if you don’t want to. The bar closes at midnight so the noise isn’t actually that big of an issue if you are trying to sleep instead of party. And just make sure to be aware of your surroundings and if it seems like something dirty is going to happen in your room, speak up and tell them to get it on in the shower with everyone else.

So, for the hangover that you will definitely have at some point while staying on Magnetic, there are plenty of lovely hangover areas. There’s a lovely pool, nice and cool, which is very important since it’s insanely hot in Northern Queensland, and that cool swim will make you feel heaps better. (I didn’t take a photo of it though so there’s that) Or, if you prefer a swim in the warm waters of the pacific, just walk the thirty seconds down to the beach and get rid of your hangover in the gentle, loving waves of Mother Nature. Also there’s hammocks and bean bag chairs everywhere.

Plop down there for like three hours with some ice cold water, good as new. (Shoutout to Paul,

my fave, you are a legend, thanks for filling my water bottle up a million and a half times; sorry kids, he’s gone back home to Germany and you won’t ever know how awesome he is).

Anyway, on that note, one of the best parts of staying at this hostel is the staff. They’re all just like us y’all, just a bunch of backpackers staying there for accommodation. They like to have as much fun as the rest of us and they will show you a seriously good time. They’re welcoming, you’ll have good chats, probably end up getting drunk and hitting on one of them (don’t lie, if you stayed here you deffo did it too), and they’ll show you cool places to go around the island! Yay perks! Yay friends! Seriously, any decent hostel can be made ten times better by having an awesome staff around and this place has that. Of the three or four hostels on Maggie, Base is seriously the best. If you’re looking for a super super chill stay, I recommend the Koala Village YHA, but honestly, I’m just super partial to Base. I mean…beanbag chair fights anyone?

Also we saw an animal during dinner

BahaSea: An Ode to the Hidden Bahamian Hostel

Nassau is, on the surface, not a very happening place for backpackers. For one thing, no one knows what I’m talking about when they ask where I’m staying or if I’m on a cruise and I tell them that no, I’m actually staying at a backpackers. The other travelers and I have gotten quite a few confused looks after saying so. I’m assuming this is due to the fact that mostly everyone who comes to Nassau stays either in a resort, or is a cruiser (this is a copyrighted term I have come up with which clearly means “cruise ship passenger”). So, that being said, when I was informed of this backpackers in Nassau called “BahaSea Backpackers” I was intrigued. I didn’t even think backpackers/hostels existed on Nassau because I just assumed it was all resorts and hotels, so my first response was, predictably….”there’s no such thing as hostels in Nassau.” I was shown proof in the form of a listing and decided that was good enough for me. Here’s where it started getting weird though…yes, right at the beginning. I couldn’t book for the number of days I wanted, blah blah, long story, I emailed them before taking matters into my own hands and just booking two separate reservations. I never got a reply. Ever. So I ended up booking again but I had a lingering fear about this place.

I had terrible anxiety leading up to my trip, fearing I wouldn’t have a place to stay when I got to Nassau, that my booking would have either been lost, or that the hostel itself didn’t even exist. I definitely could have acted like a real life adult and contacted the hostel via phone, instead of immediately giving up after my email was never answered, but where’s the fun in that, eh? Also I’m a child. So my anxiety was made even worse when I got to Nassau and I was going through customs, the customs officer had absolutely no idea what BahaSea Backpackers was. He didn’t even know what a backpackers was in general actually, just as with everyone else on this island. Anyway I was even more nervous after our fun customs chat and I began moving extremely slowly after this encounter, as if putting off the inevitable heartbreak of having to find a place to stay that was much more expensive and much less fun. I was, however, still getting ahead of myself so once I got my bag I sat down and used the airport wifi to try to figure out where I was going. Here’s the next fun thing…there is no address for the backpackers. The only address provided is “West Bay Street.” West Bay Street is freakin long, okay? It goes along the entire length of the island, the island is 21 miles (34 km) long. For those of you who aren’t good at deducing information (me) that means my directions were to a street 20 freakin miles long! Those are ridiculous directions, how am I supposed to find it? My solution was to screenshot the picture of the map they had on to show my taxi driver, I assumed they’d be able to figure it out from there. Whelp…the lady who was directing the taxis on where to go couldn’t figure it out, she got another guy to look at it…he couldn’t figure it out, so they gave up and handed me off to a taxi driver, thanks guys.

I showed the picture to the taxi driver and he asked me what number, “I don’t know.” The only information we had was that it was near Sandy Port, so that’s what we went off of. I told him I’d just look for a sign when I got there, he informed me that he had dropped people off there before and that there was no sign, great. Things are getting better and better. Once we got “there” he asked if I had a phone number for them, magically the screenshot I had taken had their phone number, so he called. They said we were in the right place and that someone would come down to get me, things were starting to look up, this place existed, yay.

Here is where I would like to go back in time a little…okay here we go. Denver, Colorado; 10 pm, April 24: gusty, rain turning into snow, cold as fck. I, being an intellectual, was dressed for the weather in long leggings, wool socks, thick boots, a long sleeve shirt, and a sweatshirt. Next…Charlotte, North Carolina; 6 am, April 25: rainy, air conditioning on in airport…cold as fck, I even bought a blanket. Side story…I actually forgot my neck pillow as I always do #firstworldproblems and it was “buy 2 for $20” so I got a blanket along with my 3rd neck pillow, BUT, that blanket was an amazing decision. Anyway….Nassau, Bahamas; noon, April 25: beautiful, birds are singing, sun is shining, my body was literally melting as I stared at these bloody stairs waiting for god knows what…

SO, I am literally dying of heat, sitting on these steps, staring straight at the sun, waiting for someone to “come get me.” Suddenly, a wild tourist appeared! In the form of a guy driving a car….exciting, I know. He gets out, I’m trying to decide whether or not he’s the one there to “get me” but he just said hi and started going up the stairs. I had a quick internal debate: “should I be normal and stay sitting here in the sun where it seems no one is actually coming to get me, or do I politely ask this stranger if I am in the right place?” Whelp, I did what any normal person dying from heat stroke would do, I formed a completely normal, well thought out sentence in my head, “hello, I’m looking for BahaSea Backpackers, am I in the right place?” I stood up, turned to him and awkwardly and excitedly yelled “Hi! Sorry! What is this place!?” Because that’s a good question for the situation, great work Zoe. He responded how you would expect any normal person to respond to a strange girl loitering outside their accommodation, face shiny and red with crazy eyes and probably even a little spit coming out of her mouth….with a very confused look on his face, a little stutter, and a “ummmm…….BahaSea?”

Okay well I burned bridges with that guy and he probably wouldn’t be hanging out with me, but I had found where I needed to go. I started following him up the stairs and he, understandably, instead, told me the office was down where I was, he obviously didn’t want me following him, I couldn’t blame him. So I followed his directions and went to the door he said was the office, it was locked…and also didn’t look like an office, so I ignored a “private property, no trespassing” sign and ventured up the stairs next to the door. There was a pool, and a little outdoor bar, and two women having lunch.

Obviously they noticed I was lost and one of them came up to me asking if I had just arrived. Personally, due to my general appearance, such as my clothing and the strong confused expression on my face, I thought that was obvious, but I simply said “yes” and she brought me to the actual office. It was in the opposite direction that the guy said, fuckin guy. I didn’t want to hang out with him now anyways.

In the office my next terrible fears were recognized and toyed with. They didn’t have my reservation written on their list of people showing up for that day. Oh my god, my stomach dropped, the world was ending, why me? I internally began going into full on meltdown when Maria, the owner, found my reservation in the computer. Cheers erupted in my head, the sun came back out, my savior, Maria, I wanted to kiss her, but that would have been weird and I was trying to dial back on the weirdness. Anyway, she brought me up to my room and I can easily say that BahaSea is one of the nicest backpackers I have ever stayed in. Despite how impossible it is to find and contact, this place is insane, I would 100% recommend this place and I would absolutely stay here again. You know how the pictures always lie? This place was exactly what it claimed to be. There are two pools

along with having a private beach (somewhat only accessible during low tide)

and another public beach on the other side of it.

This was taken from the balcony of the hostel…perfect walking distance.

It’s beautifully clean, has two quite large kitchens, (this one was the kitchen next to my dorm)

and did I mention it’s right on the water? Or is that more information that could have been deduced? Either way…it is.

Perfect views of the ocean. It is the most expensive hostel I’ve ever stayed in, but for only $35-45 USD per night, this place is a gem. There’s a supermarket right down the road, only a five minute walk, and a Wendy’s and an awesome pizza place. There have been a few drawbacks, such as no water for a whole day, and a constantly low supply of toilet paper, but Akeem and Maria do their absolute best to keep everything running smooth. It’s also quite obvious that this is somewhat a new place, there are a few things unfinished on the outside, but these are superficial things which don’t actually have any effect on the stay.

There are awesome outdoor areas,

and comfortable indoor areas for if the weather isn’t cooperating (along with a million outlets! HUGE plus for a hostel, us backpackers always need to charge our shit).

I was staying in a 10-bed female dorm, and my first few nights there weren’t any boys staying in the 10-bed boys dorm next to it, but we finally got some guys in there. However, this must be some sort of sanctuary for ladies, because the female dorm was overbooked so they turned the male dorm into a mixed dorm. I thought about taking pictures of the boys/mixed dorm, but I’m trying to dial back on the weird, so instead I stuck with just my room

Anyway, I know I’m not that important but, I can’t endorse this place enough, the bus picks up right out front for a 15 minute ride to downtown which only costs $1.25, and it’s a comfortable, safe, welcoming atmosphere which draws some very cool people, myself included ha #lovethyself.

The hardest thing for me about staying in this hostel? Forget the lack of toilet paper or water, forget how hard it was to find or contact, forget the price, the hardest thing for me here is going to be saying goodbye to all of the amazing people who were drawn to this hostel as well. This place has great views, yes, but most of all it has a great vibe and a great community of travelers.