This blog post was originally published in May 2018 after our week-long trip to the Bahamas. Update in January 2020: I just got back from a four day girls trip in Nassau and wanted to re-post this with a few updates from this past weekend. Scroll to the bottom of the post for the updates.
The Bahamas are fun, but I’m not going to lie, when I used to think of the Bahamas, I thought of family-friendly cruises and tourist-filled Atlantis. This past vacation however, definitely changed my perspective. The Bahamas are filled with history, culture and amazingly fresh cuisine. Keep reading for some unique things to do in the Bahamas, other than the Atlantis and Paradise Island.
We stayed in Nassau, but we wanted to ensure we did local things, so we stayed for the first few nights in a Treehouse AirBnb. It was amazing, and without the comfort of a resort, we were forced to try out the local foods.
The Fish Fry (Arawak Cay) is just a 10 minute taxi ride or a 15-20 minute walk from downtown, and is comprised of a slew of Bahamian family owned restaurants and food stands. This was my favorite place to drink pina coladas and to eat ridiculous amounts of conch. My favorite part of the fish fry is that it is filled with both tourists and locals, so you know it’s a good place to go. We honestly may have eaten here 5-6 times! My best advice for you in the Bahamas is to have as many conch fritters and conch salads as your stomach can hold and to try them at different places because each restaurant has their own family recipe. Here were some of our favorite fish fry spots:
Franky Gone Bananas – This is the most touristy in my opinion, but it’s a great starter restaurant to get your feet wet in the Bahamian cuisine. There is plenty of outdoor seating, an outdoor bar, and live music at night. Their conch fritters and conch salad are good, but we also got their seafood pasta for dinner once and it really hit the spot.
Drifters – We went here for lunch one day, and they had my favorite conch salad! If you like coconut, their conch fritters have a little bit of coconut shavings in them, which was delicious.
Eddie’s Fish Fry – Ok this may look sketchy, but trust me on this one. Go straight back to the back deck, which sits on the water. The service took forever (so maybe grab some appetizers at a different place first), but the grilled lobster was the best lobster I have ever had in my life. The wait was well worth it!
Bahamas Food Tour
I’m a huge food tour gal because I love that you get to try a bunch of different restaurants, while also learning about the history of the restaurant and the history of the town. The Tru Bahamian Food Tour did anything but disappoint! We did the Bites of Nassau Food Tasting & Cultural Walking Tour, where we tried Bahamian comfort food, cocktails, chocolate, Greek food, tea and rum cakes. I also got a picture with a parrot. I’m glad we went on the tour early on our trip, because we learned a lot of history and we discovered a lot of things we wanted to do in the following days.
For example, we went back to the Towne Hotel, which has a cool rooftop patio to grab a drink and watch the sunset (and is home to said parrot). We also went to this cute pinterest-y coffee shop, Biggity, had some amazing tea – I went back after the tour to buy some to bring back.
Sandy Toes / Rose Beach – Swim with the island pigs
One thing I reallyyyyy wanted to do (thanks Pinterest) was swim with the pigs, but to go to the original pigs in Exuma would have cost a lot of money and a lot of travel time. So we opted for a day trip and somehow came across the Sandy Toes excursion. We had the best time! There was a quick and scenic boat ride to a private beach, and the snorkeling was amazing. I haven’t ever been a big snorkeler, but this day converted me. The water was so clear and there were so many colorful fish! We took some amazing videos on our GoPro. We also had a delicious lunch – really, it was better than I expected it to be.
The highlight of the day, however, was that they had swimming with the pigs! It was really cute, but fair warning, it is not like swimming with the pigs in Exuma. This was more structured, so for ~30 minutes after lunch they let out their three pigs and let you feed them and take pictures. So, cons: there are only three pigs and you don’t get unlimited time with them, but pro: you can still take cool pictures and know that these pigs are taken care of (re: what happened in 2017). In conclusion – we highly recommend this day!
The Greycliff was the Caribbean’s first 5-star restaurant, but it has so much more than that. The Greycliff is a stunning 20-room hotel with beautiful gardens and pools. Below the restaurant is the wine cellar, which houses over 250,000 bottles. On site there is a chocolatier, where you can take a tour, make your own chocolate, or just sample and buy a few. Additionally, there’s the Graycliff Cigar Company. Here you can watch the skilled torcedores roll cigars, take a class and learn how to sort, clean and roll your own, or buy a few for later. The restaurant itself is pretty pricy, but we went on Valentines Day, and it was worth it — but I also recommend just stopping by for a drink, some chocolates, and a cigar if that’s your thing.
The Bahamas Cricket Club was SO COOL, and also very random. One of our taxi drivers nonchalantly recommended it to us, and I’m so glad we listened! It overlooks the cricket field, which is across from the Fish Fry, and we sat outside on the balcony. They serve British and Bahamian food, so we opted for the English Breakfast while we people watched the locals. The food was amazing and the breezy balcony was the perfect way to start our day.
- We had a few hours to kill so we went to the John Watling’s Distillery, which was really pretty and you could smell the different aged rum. The pina coladas were perfect!
- The Tiki Hut on Junkanoo beach had reallyyyyy yummy (read: strong) drinks and the best [drunk cruise] people watching.
- For an all-inclusive resort, we recommend the Melia. We got a black Friday deal special, so it was really reasonably priced, and we paid a little extra per day for the Level service, which gave us a private lounge and beach area. The food was actually really good, and there were plenty of restaurants to choose from, and there were a lot of other young people that we met at the pool.
- The Melia was a 3 minute walk away from the Baha Mar, a luxury resort and casino, which is where we went to meet some friends for drinks. The casino is really nice, but you didn’t have to be dressed in your Vegas best to walk around. There are a lot of bars tucked within the Baha Mar and their nightclub, Bond, was a popular place to go (it doesn’t open until 11pm, so plan accordingly).
2020 Updates and Travel Tips:
The Melia – For this girls trip, we stayed at the Melia, an all-inclusive resort. We were a group of twelve, so it was nice to not have to worry about how we were going to split up the bills at the end of the trip. The hotel itself is a little outdated in terms of decor, but the food is surprisingly delicious for an all-inclusive. Nikkei, the asian/sushi restaurant, was my favorite meal and I loved the smoothie bar at the breakfast buffet. It happened to be super windy while we were there, so we didn’t spend much time on the beach, but the hot tub was perfect. The bars were good (I forgot how much I loved mojitos), but the nightlife was very sub-par…which is why we went to the Baha Mar every night.
Baha Mar – The Baha Mar is a high-end luxury resort, made up of three different hotels, tons of beautiful pools, a casino, and tons of nightlife. It’s a five minute walk next door to the Melia, which was perfect. The drinks at the Baha Mar are super expensive (good bye $20 per cocktail), which is why we picked the Melia – daytime at the Mel, and nighttime at the Baha Mar. We’d start off with drinks at our hotel and then take them next door to the Baha Mar. No one (neither hotel) ever seemed to mind this tactic. Within the Baha Mar there are over 15 bars and lounges. Our favorites were the Jazz Bar piano bar, with live music and dancing, and the Sky Lounge, because you can never have a bad time on a rooftop.
Boat Rides – The Melia includes a free taxi boat to their private Balmoral Island. I haven’t been on it, but it’s nice that the resort has that. Last time we were in the Bahamas we took a day trip with Sandy Toes, but this time we booked a half day boat tour with the boat company onsite at the Melia. We were worried we accidentally booked a deep sea fishing boat, but luckily the captains driving the boat let us just ride around and enjoy the sun. It was such a fun day!
Airport – One great thing about staying at the Melia vs. Paradise Island is that it’s way closer to the airport. For two people, cabs to the Melia will be around $20. On your way back home from the Bahamas, remember that customs happens in the Nassau airport. Arrive with plenty of time to check in, go through security (there are no TSA pre-check lines in NAS), and go through customs.