C'mon Inner Peace… I Don't Have All Damn Day
Cruise lines frequently stop in the Bahamas; it’s a convenient port being so close to Florida. With that said, the reviews on the Bahamas, Nassau in particular, are absolutely terrifying.
Being an experienced traveler, with zero fear of any particular destination, even I was taken aback from reading such horror stories about Nassau.
So… naturally, I would like to counter those reviews, and give you a realistic idea about what you will experience.
Quite simply, Nassau is filled with BEAUTIFUL people, both inside and out.
As you know, I am not a “touristy” kind of traveler, preferring instead, to live among the locals. Typically, I stay FAR AWAY from generic tourist spots with “made in China” regalia. Lately though, I’ve taken a few cruises due to the cheap rates they offer when I’m broke, but need to scratch that itch.
My sons 12th birthday was quickly coming up. Both he and my husband decided on a cruise to the Bahamas instead of our typical Mexico weekends.
I’ve never expressed a desire to visit ANY Caribbean destination… and the Bahamas was even further from my radar.
After some research, my philosophy seemed to be justified.
I will be the first to acknowledge, I was wrong.
Very. Very. Wrong.
And I’m sorry Nassau. I love you! I will scream it from the top of those steps made for the queen…
GO! Get off that silly ship, and please visit this beautiful capital city. It is NOT the war-zone the message boards have described.
Although, I researched all kinds of port excursions, and was left feeling truly disappointed.
You have to understand that we live on a barrier-Island in Florida, so any excursions cruise ships offer, are easily accessible (and cheaper) for us, right in our own backyard.
Parasailing? Speed Boat? Catamaran? Snorkeling? Jet ski?
We have it.
What I don’t understand is why the Bahamas doesn’t have those fun, blow-up water playgrounds, like Cozumel.
It was my husband who said we should simply play it by ear, hire a cab, and see Nassau. Which is exactly what we did.
Like most places in the world, you must first check if a taxi is “official” or an illegal one.
An official taxi in the Bahamas has a yellow license plate, and a uniformed driver.
We hired a woman driver, mostly because of her smile, but also because I had read about the rapes, robberies and scams. None of that happened, but it’s always good to be a cautious traveler.
Our driver Ruth, a self-proclaimed God loving Christian woman, took us anywhere we wanted to go. First stop was the Rum Cake Factory. Owned by a British family, they offer samples of this thick, rich, local delicacy.
I’ve had rum cake before, but not the kind that actually burns as it sinks into your stomach. You’re left with a warm sensation throughout your body and a craving for more.
We bought two (and a half) rum cakes.
The coconut flavored one reminded me of the suntan lotion from the 80’s. Didn’t your summers reek of imitation coconut? This cake was a form of nostalgic synesthesia.
The second flavor was banana. Oh holy hell, this was my favorite.
The third, and smallest cake was Key Lime… this one did not make it back to the ship.
Then, we ended up at Junkanoo Beach; a local public beach, walking distance from the ships… with a tiki-bar (3 beers $10), souvenir shops, massages, hair braiding and crystal clear water.
A woman named Carol braided my sons hair for only $10, but we heard others paid $130 via the cruise ship connection.
Negotiate everything beforehand!
My son and I have a tradition of getting local chair massages around the world; Junkanoo beach in Nassau, did not disappoint.
On the cruise, you can expect to pay upwards of $140. But, Junkanoo Beach has a cute little water-front Bahamian shack with reggae music and soothing waves for only $40.
Our driver then took us to Cabbage beach; another public beach near the bigger resorts, like Atlantis.
This beach had prettier water, but less character. From all the reviews I read, Cabbage beach seems to be the “scary” one people wrote about, and I had to giggle.
REALLY, PEOPLE? Sometimes I truly worry about society if they consider this beach “uncomfortable.”
The only scary thing I saw about this beach was tourists being rude to the locals.
One tourist was blatantly yelling at a man for suggesting a lounge chair.
Yes, like Mexico, the locals want to sell you things… tropical drinks, Jet Ski rentals, lounge chairs etc. But GEEZ LOUISE, you don’t have to be an “ugly American” by being rude to people who are trying to make a living.
Stay on your resorts if you are going to behave like a spoiled prince.
I saw absolutely NOTHING wrong with the public beach attached to the Atlantis resort.
BUT, we decided against visiting the Atlantis water-park mostly because we have been to Dubai… a world class destination which has the “best of the best” of everything.
Atlantis offers their water-park in Dubai a daily-rate of around $60, when the Atlantis Bahamas daily-rate (from the cruise) was $189 per person.
I could NOT justify paying nearly $600. for one single day at a water-park when I live near Volcano Bay in Orlando… and frequent Dubai.
No thank you, Atlantis.
We drove around; we shopped; we saw a large portion of Nassau… it was wonderful.
The economy seems slow, people did want to sell us things, but all-in-all I found locals to be friendly, helpful and genuine.
And… I never once felt nervous, scared or uncomfortable.
The Straw Market is an overwhelming abundance of cheap souvenirs set up like an indoor flea-market of sorts. A place where you can negotiate a price, and contribute to the local economy.
You can literally see it from the ship, so there is no excuse not to stop by for a quick “Bahamas” experience.
Since the Straw Market has unbelievably bad reviews, here’s what I have to say about it… totally worth a visit.
For example, my son wanted a Jamaican style backpack. After negotiating, we ended up paying only $12. The exact same backpack near the port was $45.
Is it great quality? No. But my son loves it, and it I didn’t feel robbed.
The Straw Market has local craftsmen who carve beautiful wooden pieces, and a few other prizes can be found among the mazes of imported Chinese souvenirs.
It was worth it, because I like to support the local people, and now we have a cute backpack to show that support.
Because I was stuck on the ships timeline, I didn’t get to explore the island way I would have liked. But, I did get a taste, and I plan on returning soon.
I’ve been learning about Nassau’s fairly new “Junkanoo Carnival.”
The best way to describe it would be if Carnival in Rio and Mardi Gras in New Orleans had a baby, they would name it Junkanoo.
Personally, I think this is a brilliant marketing plan, which in time will bring people back to Nassau when it catches on.
Besides, did you know the drinking age in the Bahamas is 18?
Just saying, Spring Breakers may not have caught onto this little known fact, so get there now while you can.
My last word of advise regarding Nassau?
It’s a capital “CITY,” not the pristine beach destination you may have in your head. Yes, there are giant gaudy resorts, but go to Nassau expecting to visit a city… explore the historical aspects, the museums and fun things any typical city has to offer.
The Bahamas is made up of 699 “other” tropical islands which have that beachy feel, but get to know Nassau for the unique qualities it has to offer.
And, my usual public service announcement, “skip the resorts.”
Check out other destinations in the Nomadic Nirvana category at BuddhafulBritt.com or click on the links below:
Cajinicuilapa, Mexico: HERE
St Petersburg, Florida: HERE
Dubai Layover: HERE
Dubai Tips: HERE
Rishikesh, India: HERE
New Delhi, India: HERE
Jaipur, India: HERE
Jaco, Costa Rica: HERE
San Jose, Costa Rica: HERE
Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica: HERE
Most Interesting Travel Blogger: HERE
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