Eat Conch in Potter’s Cay: A mere mile from the cruise-ship terminal, this bustling stretch of waterfront stalls tucked under the Paradise Island Bridge is a world away from duty-free shops and glitzy resorts. Locals come to buy fresh seafood and produce, and enjoy a tru-tru Bahamian lunch.
Brace for It: Twenty or so “fish shacks” with names like Bones and Burning Spot, each with a handful of tables, back onto the water on the western side. They look slapdash, but the food sure isn’t.
What to Eat: Conch is king — cracked (breaded and fried) or scorched (“scored,” to tenderize it, and dressed with hot Bahamian goat pepper and citrus juices); in chowder or fritters; or, my fave, raw in a conch salad. How fresh? At Bernadette and Donnie’s stall, the main ingredient didn’t leave its shell till I ordered.
Get There: Grab a taxi for the short ride instead of losing time walking hot pavement; taxis aren’t metered, so discuss the rate before hopping in.
Photo By Zach Stovall
Dine with a Local Family: The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism has a cool under-the-radar program, the People-to-People Experience, that brings together visitors with Bahamians for an inside look at island life.
Matchmakers: Sign up at Bahamas.com, where you choose your interests. Spend the day fishing or attend church. I love food, so I was invited to dinner.
Informality Rules: “My house loves to welcome people in,” Donna said. Dinner was Bahamian home cooking: conch chowder, fresh grouper, guava duff. The fresh cherry juice came from the tree over my right shoulder.
Get There: Register online at least two weeks before traveling. Your hosts will set up a place to meet or tell you how to get to them by bus or taxi.
Photo By Zach Stovall
Boat to the Exumas: Nassau’s hustle and bustle seems very far away on this long curve of deserted white sand. It’s tempting just to chill on the beach, but then I’d miss a chance to hand-feed stingrays, drift-snorkel over vibrant reefs and learn to clean a conch. ****
Be Adventurous:Powerboat Adventures, the company behind the trip, lives up to its name. The high-speed performance boat carved turns between the cays. Even on a calm day, the hour-long ride is a kick.
Feeding Frenzy: The stingrays gently sucked strips of grouper from between my fingers as I knelt in the gin-clear shallows. Feeding grouper remains (from our lunch) to the sharks, however, was left to the guides.
Get There: Take a taxi to the Paradise Island Ferry Terminal. Or meet the Powerboat Adventures shuttle, a 10-minute walk from the cruise-ship terminal. Check the schedule: The trip starts at 8 a.m. and you won’t be back till 6.
Did You Know?
The Bahamas aren’t geographically in the Caribbean Sea.
Snow fell once in the Bahamas, on Jan. 17, 1977 in Freeport.
Nassau is a city, not an island. The island is New Providence.
Of the 320,000 who live the Bahamas, 200,000 live in Nassau.