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.