By Dave Gordon
Are you looking to kick back, take a breather, and put the bustle behind you for a while?
Set your sights on the Bahamas. While there, any time of year, you can sit under the Caribbean sun, but also to enjoy the high-end resorts, gorgeous beaches, local eats, natural wonders, and island life. It’s one of the few places in the world where you can pluck a coconut right from the tree, or pull a pineapple straight from the ground.
There are plenty of first-world amenities, and it’s only a few hours away by plane.
Three off-the-beaten path resorts can give the visitor a spectrum of experiences, as well as sufficient distance from the throngs of other tourists.
Ripe for exploring is Eleuthera: unspoiled and surrounded by nature. At 180 km long, it’s the largest of the Bahamian islands (among 700), and has about 12,000 people on it. It is a twenty minute flight from Nassau.
While there, stay at the “Daddy Joes Hotel” spacious suites at Daddy Joe’s, where rock singer Lenny Kravitz (who owns a sprawling property down the road) has popped by. It’s clear every effort has been made to give each suite that “home” feel, from the couch and furnishings in the living room area, to the fully stocked kitchen with appliances.
Their Daddy-Joes-Eleuthera” restaurant serves authentic Bahamian fare, like conch fritters, and their take on spicy grouper. The owners boast a list of proprietary recipes the chef is specially trained to put together.
At The Cove, enjoy the breathtaking view of their private beach’s tranquil turquoise waters, steps away from any of their luxurious villas. They were rated the #3 Resort in the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, and Bermuda by Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice awards.
Among the available amenities are snorkeling, Swedish massage, kayaking, paddle boating, games and movie rooms, a fitness centre, and outdoor hammocks.
Overlooking the ocean, the resort’s Freedom Restaurant & Sushi Bar, and Gregory Town Grill, offer indulgent culinary experiences, that fuses American, Bahamian and Asian cuisines. Two of countless examples are the jerk spiced tostones – crispy plantains with tomato chutney – and grouper ceviche, with coconut milk, lemongrass, ginger and jalapeno.
A 15-minute boat ride away is Harbour Island, where the “www.romorabay.com” Romora Bay Resort and Marina is located. The property, lined with palm and coconut trees, has 14 rooms, and a full three-bedroom house available to rent, each overlooking the water. Two on-site restaurants showcase Bahamian and American delights, in what is touted as a “casual bistro setting,” right next to the pristine ocean.
THINGS TO DO
For the busy person looking to wind down, and take in the scenery, the Bahamas boasts no shortage of natural world-class landmark attractions.
In Eleuthera, the Queen’s Bath is a remarkable experience: a Jacuzzi-like rock formation with naturally-heated waters, about a metre and a half deep. The added bonus is the view of the ocean, situated just metres away.
A must-see is taking a drive along The Glass Window Bridge in Eleuthera. A few leaps in one direction, see the tumbling of the cobalt-hued Atlantic Ocean; a few leaps in the other direction, see the serene splashing aquamarine waves of the Caribbean.
In Spanish Wells, swim among the colourful Caribbean fish in the coral, with a “James Dunnam” snorkeling trip, led by local James Dunnam, of Bahamas Ocean Safaris. He was also responsible for popularizing what is now a tourist staple, swimming with pigs. Residing on an island of their own, his dozen porcine friends of all shapes and colours will happily splash around with anyone, while nibbling supplied wieners from tourists’ hands.
Nearby Sand Dollar Beach is an island surrounded by clear blue-green water, where there is nothing more than its pure, white, fine, silky sand. At five kilometers long and 2.4 kilometres wide, the aforementioned Harbour Island hosts, among many attractions, the renowned Pink Sand Beach, said to be visible in outer space. Typical among local beaches, the sand softly cushions under your feet.
If visit you during off season, you may find you’re lucky enough to not only enjoy those pristine beaches all to yourself, but anytime of year the waters are never too cold for swimming.
A popular method of transportation through the narrow Harbour Island roads is via golf cart, available for rent to tourists. One can wander amongst the boutique shops offering locally-made apparel, fresh island fare, and knick-knacks, as well as enjoy the scenic routes through the area’s local architecture.
For the fast-paced tourist, visit New Providence – where three quarters of Bahamians live. The capital city of Nassau tends to be the main touristy draw there. For example, at Atlantis Resort and Aquatic Park, you can enjoy swimming with the dolphins, gamble in the seemingly endless lavish casinos, gobble up the decadent food, and take in the jaw-droppingly stunning décor.
INTERESTING TO NOTE:
- The Canadian dollar is worth about 75 cents to the Bahamian dollar; they happily accept US currency too.
- 30 of the 700 islands are inhabited
- Like Great Britain, they drive on the opposite side as North Americans