Nassau has an extensive number of luxury hotels to pick from, but if you decide to stay at a resort like Baha Mar, there are many things you can do during your stay. But, it’s not a travel experience until you go beyond the hotel grounds and explore the local delights of what The Bahamas has to offer. Nassau is the capital of the 700-island archipelago, with unique and unmissable experiences to try out, some you may never think were even possible.
From a private experience with swimming pigs to discovering the delights of local delicacies of conch salad and sipping on local beer, there is more to Nassau than you think.
What are we waiting for, let’s dive straight in…
1. Swim with the pigs on Rose Island
If you’re like me, having scrolled through countless photos on social media of people swimming with the Bahamian pigs, it would be an experience that rockets to the top of your bucket list. I was one of those people, but I never thought that day would come this soon. The original destination of the swimming big experience is on the out-islands, The Exumas.
The story behind the pigs on The Exumas (or rumour has it) that the pigs were put there by the land owners. The pigs naturally foraged around the island and made themselves right at home. However, whenever the owners returned to the island by boat, the pigs would hear them docking and coming running out and start swimming towards the boat. Why? They associated the boat with food, and they would get fed well too.
Soon enough, it became a luxury experience that was sought after by many travellers across the globe. But, let me you in on a little secret, there is somewhere else you can visit for a similar experience, without the crowds and having to travel too far from Nassau.
Sandy Toes at Rose Island makes those piggy dreams come true. Hop aboard a boat from the Nassau port, and within 30 minutes you arrive at Rose Island where you’re in for a day of fun, frolics and well-made cocktails.
The private beach is like no other. Crystal clear water, soft golden sand and plenty of photo opportunities. As a part of your experience at Sandy Toes, you can take part in a few water sports including snorkelling, kayaking, and of course a meet and greet with the swimming pigs! Plus, you get an all catered for buffet lunch, with a range of traditional Bahamian food.
It’s an ideal opportunity to sit back, relax and just soak up the balmy Bahamian sun.
2. Explore Bay Street’s straw market
The Bay Street Straw Market is one of the first straw markets ever to make an appearance in Nassau. It represents an ever-growing industry within the Bahamas, and the rest of the Caribbean for that matter, since the 1940s. Straw baskets were widely used locally made products, as they were often used for carrying fruit and fish trapping by the fishermen.
Over time, as The Bahamas became a popular destination by the Americans, they became a popular souvenir to take home as a memento of their travels. This encouraged the straw industry to rapidly branch out into various other straw based souvenirs, so it’s worth checking out to see their lovely, unique creations.
3. Rum tasting at John Watling’s Distillery
More than 175 years in the business making rum, from its five sixth generation founding members, the rum brand established its name as the “spirit of the Bahamas”. John Watling’s premium rum can be found on the beautiful estate of the Buena Vista house, set over two acres of lush tropical gardens. The distillery offers personal tours, taking you through the history of John Watling’s brand, including a sensory experience of the four different rums they offer.
Each of the rums has a unique characteristic that makes it so personable to the person consuming it, but all are aged in the same Bourbon barrels to give them their finishing flavour. The pale rum is smooth and light-bodied, with woody notes and a hint of citrus, which makes it perfect for cocktails. The amber rum is very smooth and medium-bodied, aged for three years and is often preferred on the rocks. The Buena Vista is also smooth, with harmonic and varied flavours with nutty and vanilla notes, giving it a dual purpose of being served on the rocks or in a cocktail. The last but not least, the premium single barrel rum has a full-bodied character. The single blend is aged for four years, but each barrel unique in taste. The barrel is selected by the master blender for its taste and aroma, ensure it is perfect before being bottled. As so much decision making and precision goes into making it, it has become a dearer, and much-desired style of Bahamian rum.
After the tour, you can use your palette to taste the rums for yourself and have an opportunity to take a bottle or three home!
4. Try the people-to-people dining experience
One of my favourite dining experiences in Nassau was the people to people experience. The Bahamians, known for their warmth and hospitality sign up to welcome guests into the home, cook for them and entertain them too. You share your interests or what you do for work, and they pair you up with a couple or family with similar interests.
We were kindly invited into the beautiful home for a man who used to work for the Bahamian Tourism Board back in the USA, and his wife. Naturally, we felt right at home after he took us on a tour of his house, share photos of his precious family and settled us outside on the decking with a beverage and some mellow Bahamian music.
We watched the sky turn from a bright, luminous blue, transition into its gorgeous apricot colours before closing into the gorgeous, warm evening with birds chirping as they returned to their nests. By that point, it was time for dinner. Our hosts went to such great lengths and effort to entertain us, with a beautifully set dinner table and a three-course meal made with fresh local ingredients from their garden and locally sourced fish, meat and vegetables. Absolutely delectable!
If you’re looking for something different to do while in Nassau, I’d highly recommend it!
5. Escape Nassau to one of the Out Islands
Nassau’s central location makes it really easy to access any of the out-islands of the Bahamas, even if it’s for a day trip or an overnight stay. You can jump on a small plane, and be in the Exumas within 40 minutes or take a boat across to Harbour Island within two and a half hours. The out-islands offer a completely different experience than Nassau, where you get a true taste of the Bahamas and what it has to offer. As a part of my trip, I spend three nights visiting Harbour Island and North Eleuthera, and when comparing my experience to Nassau, it was vastly different. Visiting Nassau is a must, but I feel you cannot go all the way to The Bahamas and not experience the laid back Bahamian lifestyle, and all the exceptional experiences they have to offer on the out-islands too. I won’t go into too much detail yet though… you will have to wait until my next blog post to find out more!
Until next time…