Only 181 miles from Miami, you will come across the Bahama Islands. the Bahamas consists of 700 islands with only about 30 that are actually inhabited. The capital of the Bahamas is Nassau and the highest point is a mere 207 feet above sea level. It’s an easy breezy flight from New York, as well as most of the east coast. So pack your bathing suit, bring your flip flops and be sure to pack a good book. We are going on a beach vacation.
Less than 4 hours non-stop from NYC, the Bahamas is a an easy and quick getaway. There are cruises from Miami that go straight to the Bahamas in several hours as well. If you fly, cabs are available outside the airport and prices are regulated. The hotel we stayed at was about a 25.00 dollar cab ride one way from the airport. Paradise Island is a little further, so I imagine a cab would cost a little more.
Things To Do
Take a boat ride to Rose Island- I booked a trip with NassauSailing.com for a ride on a sailboat to explore an uninhabited island called Rose Island. When we arrived at the dock the skies looked ominous. I looked at the captain and asked, “which way are we heading?” He pointed towards the “Wizard of Oz” sky, smiled and replied, “that way!” I almost cried. Captain Wellington assured me that we would be fine. He said the storm was blowing around to the east. Then we got to his boat. One look at his boat and it wasn’t the storm that worried me anymore. My son hopped on without a care in the world. Oh to be young and foolish. I crawled onto the tiny sailboat with a sense of doom. 15 minutes into the trip the torrential rain started. Captain Wellington just smiled and said it would be over soon. We sailed in and out of pouring rains, high winds and large swells until we finally reached the island. There is no dock on Rose Island, so we had to swim from the boat…. which is fine with me if there is no THUNDER. “No worries” waved the captain. I wanted to punch him. The trip included 2 hours of snorkeling and/or exploring Rose Island on your own. Once the thunder stopped we had a really fun time snorkeling, collecting shells and hiking. On the way back Captain Wellington let me drive the boat. I looked down at the compass and asked him why it was spinning uncontrollably and he said, “No worries….we don’t need it.” Then he smiled again. I smiled when we reached the dock. That’s when I smiled. The trip included unlimited rum punch….really strong rum punch. Maybe that’s why Captain Wellington doesn’t worry?! The excursion was 98.00 dollars per person.
Go horse back riding on the beach- We went with Happy Trails.. This was a great way to spend a few hours and see another part of the island. Although you do get to ride on the beach and in the water with the horses, most of the trip is through neighborhoods and through the woods. I still enjoyed the ride and thought the horses seemed well cared for. The ranch is located about 25 minutes from downtown Nassau so we payed an additional fee for transportation. Reservations can be made online and they were very quick to answer any questions via e-mail. Horse rides are not cheap. They run about 150.00 per person for an hour and a half in the saddle.
Visit Paradise Island- This area on Nassau is home to The famous Atlantis Resort.…boasting the incredible Aquaventure Water Park along with an aquarium and a ton of shopping and restaurants. You can gain access to the water park for a hefty fee of 75.00 dollars a person which only includes the slides and lazy river. There are several other packages to choose from, including swimming with sharks. I can swim with sharks for free where I live on Long Island, but thanks anyway! Walking around the shops and exploring the area is free to the public.
Spend some time at Junkanoo Beach- Another beautiful beach with restaurants and live entertainment including parades on the weekends. Who doesn’t love people on stilts???
Shop at the Straw Market- Tons of handmade items like straw hats, straw baskets and wood carvings sold by locals. Good place to get some little souvenirs.
Explore Fort Fincastle- This fort is right in downtown Nassau and can be reached by climbing the Queens Staircase. The view from the top (Nassau’s highest point) is worth the climb.
Where To Stay
The Baha Mar- So I will report on the good, the bad and the ugly on the Baha Mar. As for the good… It is directly on an amazing beach. They have more pools than I have underwear. The resort provides free kayaks and paddle boards on the beach AND they just opened a free (for guests) water park on the premises. Customer service was amazing. The bad? For me, the resort was overwhelming, overpriced and isolated. This means that you are confined to the overpriced restaurants at the resort. I prefer to explore and eat where the locals eat. The ugly? Not only did the resort add the daily abominable “resort fee” , but also a daily “service fee”….What the hell??? So not only was there a “service fee” already added anywhere you ate on the property, but also a “service fee” added to your daily room rate. Perhaps they don’t know the definition of “double dipping”? I had to make sure there was no fee for the fees when checking out. Even the food truck on the beach is owned by the resort and added a service fee to my $5.00 coffee and $13.00 breakfast burrito. Yes, I said 13.00 dollar food truck burrito. The fees were scarier than Captain Wellington’s rinky dinky boat. However, the hotel did have really cool flamingoes that walk the property….the hotel claims to be part of a conservation project to preserve the Caribbean flamingos. Personally I thought the flamingoes should have much larger accommodations. However, if the flamingoes complained, I’m not sure they would have a leg to stand on. Sorry. I had to.
Where To Eat
Cafe Johnny Canoe- If you walk off the resort and turn right (about 10 min) you will find Johnny Canoe. There is a great outside patio and an inside section as well. The food was very tasty and a little more reasonable than the prices at the resort. My son had an unbelievable milkshake.
Anthony’s- This was a very reasonable place outside of Atlantis. They had a decent menu and were within walking distance of many other shops and restaurants at Atlantis.
Frankie gone Bananas- I had an amazing mac n cheese here. They had live music and awesome views of the water if you can score an outside table. This place is located at Atlantis.
The Pizza Lab- This was the most affordable place to eat at the Baha Mar. The food was superb! We ate here twice for dinner and once for breakfast.
Food truck- Breakfast burrito was pre-made and overpriced, but big enough for two people to share and still quite tasty.
The US dollar is accepted everywhere in the Bahamas and is equal to their currency. $1.00=$1.00.
Cabs are readily available throughout the island and are regulated…however, we did have a few cab drivers who tried to overcharge when they had the opportunity. Know what the fare should be before you get in and confirm that fare with the driver. Carry small bills for cab fare, otherwise they seem to conveniently not have change. Tipping is not necessary.
A service charge was added to every restaurant we ate at on the island. It was a little lower than I usually tip, so I added a little, but be aware that the service fee is there.
Buy your alcohol at the local liquor store. The drinks at the resort are more expensive than a burrito and coffee combined from our friendly food truck vendor.
Would I go back to Nassau, Bahamas? Probably not. I want a place with a little more history, more adventure and way less expensive. I have read that there are other islands worth visiting in the Bahamas that are much less touristy, more authentic and laid back. These include the island of Eleuthera and Exuma. I would definitely be willing to give them a try. How could I say no to those translucent blue waters? But for now I will seek out other strange lands and faraway places……Hopefully more interesting and affordable lands….