The view from my hotel at the Sheraton Nassau Beach
Is it really “better in the Bahamas”? Read on to find out!
I recently got back from a press trip to the Bahamas*, and let’s just say I had a magnificent time! Unlike many of you, this was my first time in the Caribbean and I went in without many preconceived notions about what I’d find.
Because I was traveling with the Ministry of Tourism, I figured my trip would be very “touristy” because their goal was to show off the best parts of the islands in order to get glowing reviews and get y’all to book a trip. I was prepared to be wooed by excursions and endless glasses of rum punch and the beaches, and more rum punch. But what I found–once we ventured off the beaten path–was something even more magical.
If you really want to know what’s “better in the Bahamas…” get out and mix it up with the people. Everywhere I go, I try to “fit in” with the locals. When I was London, I made a point to go to Brixton, and when I was in Paris, I wandered the streets and made it a point to not speak too much English as to be found out. I just like being treated like I belong. While it was difficult to pull off on this trip because we were chauffeured from place to place, I did manage to meet a few amazing Bahamians and it totally made the trip.
So, what were some of the things I LOVED About the Bahamas?
Most people in the country look like me: This may sound weird, but that I grew up in America and most places I’ve traveled to have been in the States and Europe, so I wasn’t used to visiting a country with so many black folks. It was evident as soon as we got off the plane. The customs agents, airport workers, the construction workers at the airport, our driver, the hotel staff. nearly EVERYBODY was black. While there are non-black Bahamians (a lot of the biz owners, British and American ex-pats, etc.), I can’t begin to explain how I felt to moving around in a country in which nearly everybody I met looked like they could be my kin. Visiting the Bahamas made me want to visit Africa. Weird, I know, but true.
The BEST burger ever! From the Sip Sip
The Food: I think I gained about 10lbs. in the 5 days I was in the Bahamas. Along with way too many glasses of rum punch, Bahama Mamas, and daiquiris, I ate…a lot. Although I don’t eat fish, I ate a ridiculous amount of conch and shrimp. The best fried shrimp I’ve ever had in my entire LIFE came from Indigo Cafe in Nassau, and even though I’d never had conch (a shell fish) before going to the Bahamas, I’m glad I did. I ate lots conch fritters (a must), conch chowder, grilled conch, and conch salad. Additionally, the best (and I do mean the best) mac & cheese I’ve ever tasted in my life came at the home of a Bahamian family we met during a people-to-people visit. OMG. It was the PERFECT mix of creamy cheese, pasta, and a little added spice. And I know I sound like one of those crazy infomercials, but THE best burger I’ve ever had in my life also came on this trip. All I can say is, if you love burgers and blue cheese as much as I do, go to the Sip Sip on Harbour Island. Delish!
When you go to the Bahamas, don’t try to stick to your diet…just go and eat and eat and eat (then swim, swim, swim…it evens out, I promise).
Trying on a hat from Junkanoo. It was the heaviest hat I’ve EVER worn in my life!
The People: Most people go to the Bahamas to relax, lay on the beach, and just enjoy the tropical scenery. That’s cool. But after you’ve had your fill of sun bathing and banana-boating, get out and meet the people. During our visit we had the opportunity to learn about Junkanoo, a cultural festival that takes place on December 26 and Jan. 1 of each year, from Mrs. Arlene Nash Ferguson and her husband. The Fergusons run the Educulture center in Nassau and had SO much energy and love for their country and its Junkanoo festival that it was absolutely infectious.
During the trip we also had the opportunity to visit with local Bahamians on a people-to-people visit. People-to-People is a program sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism and allows tourists (yes, anyone can set up a visit) to hang out with Bahamians to learn more about the country and its people. Aside from the home-cooked food (which was down right amazing), I met so many cool people who were not only welcoming, but funny, friendly, and eager to share. If you ever visit the Bahamas…leave your resort and hang with the people!
Have you ever been to the Bahamas? What did you love the most?