A Guide to the Bahamas

best restaurant Bahamas

My initial reaction to a vacation in the Bahamas was aversion, believe it or not. I’m just at a point in my life where I crave adventure and culture, and I very rarely yearn to return to the same place twice (or in this case thrice). But oh-my-paradise am I glad I ended up ‘sucking it up’ and booking the long leg from Los Angeles regardless. The Bahamas is so much more than just an Americanized (albeit beautiful and ridiculously fun) hotel, aquarium and casino compound, you just have to be willing to leave the Atlantis to find it.

<<|| LODGING ||>>

stay with the fam @ THE ATLANTIS. Speaking of the Atlantis, I’m not saying you shouldn’t stay there! Especially if you’ve got little ones or a large family of mixed ages, the Atlantis couldn’t be more perfect. You can drop your kids in the lazy river and enjoy 3 mudslides poolside before they finally loop back around to you – what’s not to love?! There’s dozens of dining options, a lovely spa, pristine beach, well-stocked fitness center, and lively casino all situated in a jaw-dropping living aquarium and water park.

honeymoon @ THE COVE: …But if you’re just going on a trip with your bae, well then, I would definitely suggest you stay at the Cove instead. The Cove is the classier, more adult-oriented version of the Atlantis, but with all the perks of the Atlantis amenities. Believe me, you’re going to really be happy to have an adults-only luxurious pool to lounge in after a long night in the casino. And the Atlantis is just a short walk along the beach away.

party @ THE BAHA MAR. Now don’t get me wrong, I had an blast riding my tube through a shark tank at the Atlantis, and I enjoyed the quiet retreat of the Cove, but my favorite hotel in Nassau is the new Baha Mar SLS resort.  Trendy, hip, and buzzing with excitement, I absolutely loved the Baha Mar vibe. Expect all of the signature SLS restaurants, like Katsuya and Cleo, but with a bunch of informal beach-side walk-up food stalls and trucks as well. This beachfront hotel also has a full service casino & spa and multiple pools to lounge at. This hotel is perfect for a bachelor or bachelorette party but also is a great choice for a hip couple.

<<|| THINGS TO DO ||>>

The Atlantis. No matter where you decide to stay, you’re going to have to spend a day and night at the Atlantis. The aquarium has to be the most incredible in the world, the water park is ridiculously fun with a lazy river that is anything buy lazy, and the casino is never not buzzing.

Swimming Pigs (& Feeding Stingrays, Feeding Iguanas, Snorkeling with Sharks). Epic. I’ve been all around the world and then some, and this stands out as one of the best travel experiences I’ve ever had. We used the company Powerboat Adventures and I wrote an entire blog post ode to them here, but in a nutshell, it was the least expensive for the best value. I seriously couldn’t recommend them more. They pick you up from your hotel, boat you to an island to feed iguanas, then boat you to a private island for shark, pig and stingray feedings, snorkeling, a fully stocked open bar and a fresh deeeeeeelicious lunch. If swimming with pigs and snorkelling has changed your mind, do make sure to read these full face snorkel mask reviews, as you most definitely will need one. Click here to read a whole post on the BEST DAY EVER with the pigs

best boat company to swimming pigs exuma

Fish Fry. More on this under food, but for an authentic Bahama experience, head where the locals go for dinner and bar hopping. There’s also some pretty unique handmade jewelry for sale.

Downtown Nassau. It’s worth spending a few hours perusing the downtown Nassau area where the cruise ships dock. You’ll find a plethora of bars and tourist shops. Make sure to grab a fresh fruit cocktail from the daiquiri shack.. and drink it in the streets, because you can (sucker for that).

Exploring downtown Nassau

Casino.  We visited the Baha Mar & Atlantis casino – both are great.

Snorkeling/Scuba Diving. There are a bunch of companies offering snorkeling and boating trips to various spots throughout the Bahamas. It would be a shame to come all the way to the Bahamas and not explore the underworld!

*I do not recommend booking a dolphin encounter experience. I believe these dolphins are wrongly being held captive and that they should be returned to the wild. If you want to see dolphins book a boat tour to take you to some of the most common dolphin hangouts.

<<|| BEST RESTAURANTS ||>>

Frankie gone Bananas. While there is a second location at the Atlantis, I recommend you check out the original spot where the Fish Fry is.  Eat and drink for half the price with locals at the informal bar or a picnic table and enjoy one of the best fish meals I’ve ever had in my life. Seriously. I got this Bahamian style snapper ‘steamed’ on a bed of veg and plantains in a tin foil pouch that you get to slice open with a knife to enjoy. Maybe I’m not explaining it right, but believe me, it’s so fucking good. This is also the spot where you should try the Bahamas most famous dessert, the rum cake.

Frankie Gone Bananas, best restaurant in the Bahamas

Cafe Matisse. After you’ve wasted a meal or two in the hotel at typical overpriced American restaurants, this will be a warm welcomed Italian feast for a very reasonable price. I loved the romantic dimly lit patio and everything we ordered (lobster and avocado salad, mahi mahi, ravioli) was delicious. Good wine list too.

Twin Brothers. Located at the Fish Fry, this is a pretty infamous spot. We regrettably didn’t get to go to this Carribean feast, as it was closed for what I imagine was renovations. But it came highly recommended, so I figured I’d pass along the praise.

If you’re staying at the Atlantis, Olives wasn’t the worst meal, and they have a late night menu with a variety of flatbreads.


Some Myths…

Myth 1: The Bahamas is cheap! The whole island is American prices, with the hotels being even more pricey. $8-12 a water bottle and $18-20 per cocktail adds up fast.

Myth 2: You Never Need to Leave the Resort! Well sure, maybe you don’t need to – but why the hell wouldn’t you? Really, whats the point of leaving the US if you’re only going to experience a US hotel and amenities?  Taxis will cost you between $20-40 anywhere that you go, cash only and worth every penny.

Myth 3: You need to change over your money. American $ is accepted everywhere. When we visited the exchange rate was 1:1.

Myth 4: Stingrays are dangerous, don’t you remember Steve Irwin?!?! Sure, I guess, you could die.  But the chances are ridiculously slim.  Stingrays aren’t looking at you as prey, just watch out for their tails when you’re in the water with them. 

Myth 5: You’re never too old to go down a water slide! I am too old. At 31, I hurt my back so badly going down a waterslide that I haven’t walked without wincing since.

Myth 6: You don’t need your passport. Yes, you very well do. And you also need to tell your bank you’re leaving the country, and to enable an international roaming plan for your phone.

Myth 7: The Bahamas is an Americanized tourist trap devoid of adventure & cultural experiences. If you never left the SLS or Atlantis, did you even really go to the Bahamas? I’d argue that you didn’t. But exploring the nearby islands, diving (literally) under the surface, eating outside of the hotels — these will get you an authentic experience, a bit of adventure and maybe even a few local friends.

I had it all wrong about the Bahamas, and I’m so glad I gave this Caribbean paradise another shot. If what you’re after is some of the world’s clearest waters, friendliest people, lovebuggy swimming pigs, world-class snorkeling, diving and boating, and the best daquiris – The Bahamas is a pretty clutch travel spot.

PS. Here’s a video I made of our trip (first attempt with a underwater camera, don’t judge me haha)

This post is part of a two post series, to read the Day trip to Exuma travel guide, click here

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