White sand beaches, turquoise waters, great seafood — the Bahamas is the quintessential Caribbean destination. Given that the Bahamas is a super popular tourist spot, most people travelling here will probably already have a resort booked or a plan for their trip. I visited Nassau and stayed with a friend who was living there in 2017 — it provided a great change of scenery from the dreary DC February weather!
Downtown Nassau is a classic Caribbean city — the streets are lined with colorful, single-or double story houses with decorative balconies, with plenty of bars and restaurants. Fort Charlotte dates back to the late 1700’s and is well preserved. The other nearby historical stop is Fort Fincastle (from 1793) with the Queen’s Staircase (carved by slaves) leading up to it. The Straw Market is an open-air series of shops selling souvenirs and other odds and ends. There are some beaches right in town by the harbor, but many folks will head to other resorts or beaches around the island.
Crossing the Poitier bridge to Paradise Island, the main attraction is the famous Atlantis Hotel, with enough tourist attractions and big-name restaurants to be a self-contained vacation destination. There’s also an amusement park and golf course on the island, and the marina just across the bridge (near the Green Parrot bar) is where we caught our boat to Rose Island for a beach getaway (more about that below).
The northwestern side of island is a bit less crowded, with some upmarket (but not too fancy) restaurants. For morning coffee and a quick bite, I enjoyed Louis & Steen’s New Orleans Coffeehouse. For dinner, we went to Studio Cafe, which has great food and views over the water. The beaches around here are less crowded and great for relaxing (i.e., Cable Beach and Love Beach). I can also recommend the nearby Blue Sail bar, another spot where I had some great local food!
Food: There’s basically everything you could want to eat in Nassau, but it’s not cheap! If you want local fare, you’ll find that whole-fried fish is a classic dish, as are fried conch fritters, or plantains. There are some rum distilleries around town, and the traditional rum cake makes for a great (but potent) dessert!
I didn’t spend too much time downtown, however, as my main goal was to relax on the beach!
From Paradise Island, we took a boat to Rose Island, about 5 km east, and spent a day at the Sandy Toes Beach Resort. I went with a group of people and we had the place to ourselves. It had everything you could want – white sand, electric blue water, and a pop-up bar serving daiquiris and pina coladas. A few groups of people pulled up on private boats throughout the day and partied near the bar or passed out on the beach further away. I did some snorkeling and saw some amazing multi-colored fish (as well as one huge, dark one that shot by as an alarmingly fast clip — I have no idea what it was, but I kept my distance!) My GoPro battery died or else I would’ve posted some great photos on here. I also enjoyed hiking around through the thick vegetation and palm trees on the island’s interior.
Something for next time: For anyone who has wanted to swim with a pig — now’s your chance! You can take a day trip from Nassau to Exuma, where people can swim out in the sea with a group of local pigs at the aptly-named Pig Beach. If swimming with pigs isn’t your thing, there’s always Fyre Fest ; )