Friday 29 May 2015

A visitor's guide to The Bahamas

Welcome to The Bahamas, a beautiful place of blue sky and crystal clear seas that I'm fortunate to call home.

This blog post is a bit different from my usual - in that it's designed to be a list of things to do for people who are coming to visit, be it coming to see me and raise a cocktail glass or otherwise!

It's also a post that can be updated on a rolling basis - so if there's something you think should be on the list that I've missed out, let me know where and why and we'll add it on. Oh, and a disclaimer, I haven't received anything from any of these businesses to sway me to put them on the list!

So without further adieu, we have...

The beaches

There are lots of beautiful beaches in The Bahamas. I'll add others from the Family Islands as people recommend them (and I'm sure locations in Exuma, Mayaguana and Long Island will feature), but for New Providence and Paradise Island, the top three that draw me are:

Cabbage Beach

Situated on Paradise Island, Cabbage Beach is the beach running along past the hotels of Atlantis. There's public access too though and it's a quiet spot to relax - with occasional people trying to rent you a jet ski. The water is clear as can be, which is great for fish spotting. The sea can sometimes get a little rough but not usually. You'll likely find plenty of people selling drinks too along the beach.

Goodman's Bay

Over on New Providence, there's also plenty of beaches - including the likes of Junkanoo Beach and Montagu Beach closer to the hotels of Paradise Island. But a little bit further to the west, before you reach Baha Mar, I prefer the peace of Goodman's Bay. Sparsely populated and with good swimming, it's a lovely spot to chill out with a good book. There's a line of trees along a park to its rear that can provide shade too if you need.

Jaws Beach

More tucked away is the idyllic Jaws Beach. It's over by the Clifton Heritage National Park to the west, itself worth exploration. The beach is smaller, but picture perfect. It's also where some of a Jaws movie was shot - but have no fear!

Other suggestions: The 10 Best Nassau Beaches

Out for a drink

Senor Frogs

Don't go to Senor Frogs if you want to stay sober. Go if you want to try fanciful cocktails in inordinately tall plastic cups about a yard long. Go if you want to take part in the fun and games organised by the resident MC. Go if you want to see them stage things like the Drop Shot record attempt in the video above. Go if you want to flirt and dance through the night. But don't go if you want a quiet night. This is the place you wake up blinking the next day saying "Did we really do that?".

You'll find it downtown, not far from the cruise ships, and it's well tended by bouncers and with plenty of police through the downtown tourist area for safety. Taxis are easily snagged from nearby too.

Green Parrot

There's two Green Parrots to note here - one on Paradise Island at Hurricane Hole and one on New Providence on Bay Street. Both are good chillout spots. If you want to chat without music, the one on PI is better, while the one over on Bay Street has perhaps nicer views across the harbour towards Atlantis and often has live bands. Both serve food, though I tend to find them better for snacks than a full meal.

Potter's Cay Dock

This is my favourite drinking spot, under the bridge over from Paradise Island on the New Providence side. There's a line of shacks serving food and drink. The food is usually along the lines of conch salad or fried fish - and some of the best conch salads I've tasted have come from here. There are negatives - the infrastructure around the dock is basic, be warned, and the bathrooms could do with better care - but the positives outweigh those with the best atmosphere I've found for a night out. Charlie Brown's stall near the end of the western stalls is very much worth a shoutout - and where the picture to the left was taken of a beautiful Bahamian sunset.

I'm starting off with three places per category - and adding more as they are recommended, so tweet your suggestions to me @chippychatty. 

Places to eat

Seafront Sushi

If I'm looking for a sit-down meal, Seafront Sushi will often be high on my list. It has a great menu full of all kinds of sushi items, but there's also stir fries on there too for those less certain. The upstairs has low benches where you shuck off your shoes and cross your legs at the table to eat, while downstairs has regular tables and chairs. There's a potent list of alcoholic drinks too and great service. You can find out more here.

The Fish Fry

There are a number of Fish Fries in The Bahamas, but this one is the one at Arawak Cay, a line of stalls and restaurants, mostly serving traditional Bahamian food plus more. Twin Brothers, the yellow building in the picture, is a popular choice, though personally I prefer a few doors further to the east, Frankie Goes Bananas. That may be for the cocktails and daiquiris, but I'm not confessing. Whether you're looking for a quiet place to chill and chat or a busier place with music or even karaoke, there's plenty here.

Cafe Martinique

If you're looking for somewhere more elegant, then Cafe Martinique is one of a host of good restaurants over on Paradise Island. It offers fine dining and French/Asian cuisine. This has a movie connection too - appearing in the James Bond movie Thunderball, which probably makes it guaranteed that they know how to mix your Martini. For more information, click here.

I'm sticking to the three recommendations per section for the initial post - but I expect this will be the section updated soonest! I'm already planning to add a few... 

Things to do

Powerboat to Exuma

Here's a recommendation I'm making and I haven't even tried it myself - but everyone I know that has taken this trip has raved about it. You get the thrill of the speedboat ride, you get to go snorkelling around reefs, and even feed stingrays and sharks. On my to-do list, but in the meantime, you can find out more here.

National Art Gallery

Just a little distance from downtown Nassau - though worth grabbing a taxi if you're not sure where you're going - is the National Art Gallery.
With regular changes to the exhibits, it's a fantastic place to visit to see what's new and to get a glimpse of the forefront of Bahamian art. Admission for visitors is only $10, and well worth it (children under 12 free). For more information, click here.


Aquaventure is the water park for Atlantis, for which you can buy day passes - check here for more information on that - and it's a great family day out. Whether you're adventurous enough to take on the Leap of Faith in the video above - which whisks you through a tube through the middle of the shark tank - or whether you drift around on the Lazy River, it's a great way to get into the water. All around there are tanks of water with sealife in. Take a wander through The Dig to see stingrays and grouper, jellyfish and clown fish, eels and more. It's a great day out, just remember your sunscreen! You can book lockers to store your belongings, leaving you free to wander around. There's a number of food outlets and places to buy drinks, soft or boozy.

Again, sticking to the rule of three for now - though you can expect Blue Lagoon and the glass-bottomed boat tour to feature here soon... send those tweets to @chippychatty with your suggestions. 

That's all for now... send your extras for inclusion or leave your suggestions in the comments below, happy to add more! Let me also give a pointer to another article with ideas on staycationing in The Bahamas, by Dawn Demeritte, here

And for a link to a previous article giving details of currency, how to get around, etc, click here

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