I’ve been blessed to visit a gorgeous island or two in my day, which has left me with very distinct impressions of the local culture. The tantalizing allure of the Jamaican sun inspires sensual adventures while the soft sands of Barbados sweetly disarm you of whatever stress you foolishly brought along on your trip.
My first time in the Bahamas was no different; I immediately realized the people of Nassau, my home for four glorious days, make the popular destination so uniquely magnetic. There are beautiful beaches, amazing food and breathtaking sunsets throughout the Caribbean and South America, but the warmth and energy of Bahamians are unmatched.
Though the island is crammed with amazing eateries, one of my favorite meals of the trip came during the first night’s dinner at Ms. Willimae Salkey’s home. Through the Bahamian people-to-people experience, I was able to have a home-cooked meal while getting to know Ms. Salkey and her friends, who graciously filled my belly with delicious eats while filling my mind with the rich history and culture of the Bahamas.
Speaking of food, there was no shortage of fresh and authentic Caribbean cuisine during my stay. From the country’s national food, conch (prepared about 263 delicious ways) to rich, sweet and delicious rum cake, I ate to my heart's content. Indeed, most restaurants I visited on the island ran on “Bahamian time.” Translation: Your food may take a while, but when something’s made with love and the right amount of seasoning, you simply can’t rush the process.
Accommodations at the Compass Point Beach Resort provided a much different experience than I’ve had at other island hotels and resorts. There are several private bungalows, each providing an amazing view of the beach. Many are directly on the water, and I often saw remnants of the crashing waves resting on my private porch. The property is also known for its legendary recording studio, hosting artists including ABBA and [proud Bahamian] Lenny Kravitz. For those looking for a more low-key yet vibrant and authentic time in Nassau, this is the place for you.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with doing it up big as well, and I was fortunate enough to also experience Baha Mar Resort, a huge property that brings the exciting sensibilities of Las Vegas to the islands. After gambling away more than I’m willing to admit, I was able to mix and mingle at Bond Nightclub then take a late-night dip in one of several hot tubs that accompany the resort’s six luxurious pools.
The following morning, I hit the buffet like nobody’s business, downing mimosas as if every orange tree in Florida could be hacked down at any minute. Later, it was off to Cable Beach, where I caught some sunrays and took a much-needed swim in its crystal blue waters.
All of this was fine and dandy, but as I mentioned, the hospitality of the smiling people is what I will remember most vividly. Even under less-than-ideal circumstances, I knew my presence was was wanted and appreciated. From dancing under the stars to teaching me to crack fresh almonds as they fell from the trees, I felt the love of the natives wash over me just as those warm waves did, and I think I may be ready for another dip.