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A couple weeks ago, I got the pleasure of heading to Nassau for three days to send one of my best friends, B, off to married life chock full of RUM! With two full days in Nassau, we prioritized. Day one was snorkeling and day two was the beach.
Our hotel was Orange Hill Beach Inn, which was not anything fancy, but had two important points: we were able to all share one room, and we were directly across from the beach. We did find that the hill resided along bus line 10, so we were able to stand right outside the hotel and pick up a bus headed into town. For breakfast, we hopped down to the Bahamas Cricket Club Restaurant. The other girls had their coffees and English breakfasts (which looked good) and I branched out to try Chicken Souse….which was nothing to get too excited about, but it came with a Johnny cake. Johnny cakes are a bit like cornbread but sweeter, and I’m glad to say everyone at the table enjoyed a tasting of the deliciousness!
For our afternoon activity we went snorkeling with Stuart Cove. They provide a shuttle to and from hotels, so we were picked up around 1 pm and driven to the harbor to meet our boat and pick up snorkel gear. The trip included three stops. The first two were standard snorkeling stops, with colorful fish and (sadly) a lot of dead coral. However, stop number three made the trip! We stopped out in a deeper section of water and a bait box was lowered to the bottom of the water. Our crew gave us a debriefing on how our swim with sharks (!) would work including how they were going to lower a buoy and line into the water and we were instructed to hold onto the line (they provided obligatory tourism jokes, calling it a kebab or buffet line). It worked on first in, last out principals…and guess who was first in (behind our guide, of course)?
The sharks were Caribbean Reef Sharks, and they circled near the bottom, where they could smell, but not eat the bait box. It was a short swim – the last person in was only there for a couple minutes.As I watched the sharks, they circle and they do come up closer and closer to us. By the time I exited the water, I possibly could have reached out and touched one. We all crowded to the back of the boat to watch them swim directly behind us. The bait box was hauled up and opened, with the chunk of fish tossed into the water to provide us a bit of show.
The tour was definitely pretty memorable. I have seen a shark snorkeling once before while in Australia (a Blacktip Reef Shark), but this was pretty amazing! We did sign a release waiver and the shark trip was optional – but definitely worth it!
That night we dined at The Poop Deck – Cable Beach, where we had excellent seafood. They have a beach dining area with just a few tables. Could be very romantic with the right group….but not us!
Day two started with a leisurely morning at the beach. For lunch, we headed to downtown and ate at the Green Parrot, which boasts a marina with a lot of catamarans. We had the best conch I’ve ever had there. It was grilled in an aluminum foil packet with onions, tomatoes, and plantains. Delicious!
Back to downtown we went to the Pirate Museum and did some shopping. Our big plans for the night – the Festival Rum Bahamas! Held at the historic Fort Charlotte, the festival included food, entertainment and lots of rum! Unfortunately arriving at 5 pm was a bit too late for the free food – which I am not even 100% sure was there. However, lining the fort was Bahamian vendors of food, rum, and local products. If you can handle straight rum, you can have a good time very quickly! Rum vendors, including Afrohead and Ron Abuelo, were offering tastings of their rums. Down in the dungeon was the formal tasting, with bottles lined up of all the brands competing for the best rum. I didn’t make it that far before I had to switch to cocktails, of which there were plenty. Afrohead was offering FroCos – rum, cane sugar, and coconut water. Sky Juice was aplenty – coconut milk, sweetened milk, and gin! And finally, my favorite – a Dirty Mule. Recipe TBD.
After dark, the festival turned into a hard Bahamian party. The music was loud, and my knowledge of Bahamian music is seriously lacking, because I could not recognize or understand the music. Nevertheless, good dancing ensued. We made friends with Rum Shop Ryan (turns out we have a lot in common!) and even the band! The bride is a very talented musician, and she was able to get up on stage and sing Locked Out of Heaven with the band.
At $25 a person, the festival was fun, but get there early for the food, and get your money’s worth with the straight rum. Cocktails ranged from $5-7 each.
I had a great time with the ladies, and even though I missed David terribly (this trip wrapping up 14 days without him!) I had a great time.