We headed through town, the NaBalam Hotel being our destination. We had heard that the water was actually over the bridge leading to the Avalon Resort. The road from Maria del Mar to the Avalon was blocked off but they were letting people walk down. What we saw was not the beach we remembered. The water had receded to just below the bridge but the cement walkway to the bridge was broken and lying at weird angles. Part of the railing was totally gone. As we looked over to the palapa where tourist boats dock, we could see that a huge piece of it was missing. Waves were still coming in at breakneck speed. But what amazed us most was that there was no beach left. None at all. The water extended all the way up to the bar and restaurant of the NaBalam. Gone were the palapas that lined the beach. No idea of where they ended up. We took some pictures and then headed back to Maria del Mar and North Beach. They fared a little better since the waves hit them sideways and not straight on. The water was a little high on the beach but there was still plenty of beach. I took some pictures but it was difficult there because the wind was still blowing strong enough to bend the palms.
We left town and proceeded to follow the road that circumnavigates the island. There really was not much damage to speak of. As we came back around to the ocean side, we passed by our favorite beach.
Just one minute down the road from us was a wonderful little beach. It was protected in the back by cliffs about 15 feet high. There was a nice half moon sandy beach for sunning. It was shallow and flat and the waves rolled in just enough that sometimes you could even body surf there. No more. The crashing waves of Ivan had ripped the cliff walls apart and they had fallen into the sea. No sand left at all. The whole thing now is just a jumble of pieces of cliff and huge boulders. Great piles of seaweed lay everywhere, rotting in the hot sun. I doubt that we will ever get that beach back. Not many people ventured down and through the cliffs so I have been able to find some beautiful conch shells there. One good thing about the storm I guess. Great shell hunting!
On the whole, we were very blessed that Ivan decided to turn at the last minute. Otherwise this would have been a totally different tale. The island would have been torn to shreds and who knows how high the water would have actually come. I think downtown would have been hit the worst since they are right at sea level. I do know one thing for sure, and I am unanimous in this, I will never stay on this island again for a Cat 3 or higher storm.