Bahamas travel guide: what to see, do, eat and where to stay
With 700 islands and 2,400 cays – only 30 of which are inhabited – endless crystal clear waters, pearly white beaches and swimming piggies, the Bahamas is the ultimate vacation destination.
Here’s where to eat, sleep and what to do on this island paradise.
Bahamian cuisine is a fusion of West Africa, Europe and America, and naturally features many seafood dishes. When you hold a conch shell (pronounced “konk”) to your ear , you can hear the ocean – but while you’re on the islands, also try the delicious conch meat.
Crushed conch with pigeon peas and rice is the national dish. “Cracked” simply means coated in batter and fried, while pigeon peas and rice are cooked with salt pork, peppers, onions, celery, tomato paste, coconut milk, thyme and other seasonings. The delicious dish is best enjoyed washed down with a glazed yellow bird, a popular and refreshing local cocktail made with light and dark rum (or coconut rum), Galliano, a sweet herbal liqueur and tropical fruits.
Finish with a Guava Duff, a steamed pudding that consists of dough rolled into a roulade with diced guava spread on it and covered in a savory rum cream sauce, this is by far the most popular dessert. popular on the islands. Also indulge in the Caribbean tradition of Johnny Cakes, which are traditionally made with cornmeal, butter, milk and sugar. When baked golden brown, they have the texture of something between bread and cake, which is why they are also known as “Johnny Bread”.
Did you overdo it on rum cocktails? Chicken Souse is a popular breakfast dish that’s also hailed as a great hangover cure. It is a clear broth soup made with chicken wings, potatoes, goat peppers, onions, celery, seasoned with lime juice, hot peppers and allspice to give to the soup its characteristic flavor. Another traditional breakfast staple is the Fire Engine, a dish of corned beef cooked in tomato paste and herbs, served with rice or oatmeal.
The best way to enjoy all these local bites in an authentic way? Embark on a foodie tour at Arawak Cay in Nassau.
See & Do
Swimming with animals is one of the best things you can do in the Bahamas – from swimming with pigs, dolphins and turtles to sharks or just hanging out with flamingos at the beach.
Combine it with a boat trip that takes you to several different places in one day. Blue Lagoon Island is a great place to swim with dolphins, while Paradise Beach is a good place to spot flamingos. And try to go ‘scuba diving’ while you’re there, it’s a fun combination of scuba diving and snorkeling.
If you are looking for a shopping cure, head to the Nassau Straw Market. Another cute and colorful market is Port Lucaya in Freeport on Grand Bahama Island.
Once you’ve spent a few days discovering the different islands, you might want to slow things down a bit. Head to The Cloister in Nassau, where you’ll find the medieval ruins of a 14th-century French monastery, or enjoy the lush greenery of the gardens of Versailles in the Bahamas on Paradise Island. On the latter, you will also find a huge water park.
Looking for the ultimate secluded getaway? Head to Kamalame Cay, a serene private island off the Great Barrier Reef of Andros. You’ll be rewarded with a laid-back island vibe, with calm beaches and private bungalows that will make you feel like you’re on your own private island. To get there, land at Andros airport, then take a taxi to the port, and finally a short boat ride to the island.
Prefer to be in the middle of it all? Check in to Atlantis on Paradise Island. The popular resort offers different accommodation options which are all interconnected and built around a water adventure park. The most relaxed option here is The Cove, which even has its own slice of beach, a row of cozy cabanas, and private access to two adults-only pools — fun fact Casino Royale was filmed here.