Perhaps the most enjoyable way to get to know the culture of the Bahamas is by sampling its cuisine. Sharing meals of local dishes with residents will be at the heart of the AFAR Experiences program on June 15 and 16. Whenever you are headed there, here are some of the best ways to savor the flavors of the islands.
Join the Fish Fry
On many islands in the Caribbean, a fish fry is a once-a-week or perhaps a weekend-long event, when vendors set up their stalls to serve locals and visitors alike. In the Bahamas, however, the Fish Fry on Arawak Cay is open six days a week, from Tuesday to Sunday. Just a ten-minute drive from downtown Nassau, you’ll find a stretch of colorfully painted stands and food trucks, as well as some larger restaurants. You can stroll and sample conch salad, fritters, and fish, either “cracked” (coated in an egg-and-flour batter before being fried) or steamed.
Sides are not afterthoughts to a typical Bahamian meal and you’ll want to also try the macaroni and cheese, potato salad, pigeon peas and rice, plantains, and more. To wash it all down, you can’t go wrong with a cold Kalik or Sands beer (two popular local options) or a Bahama Mama, a frothy blend of rum, coconut milk, and fruit juices.
The Fish Fry is open every day, from around noon until 11 p.m., but the party is at its liveliest on weekend evenings when bands perform and junkanoo dancers sometimes rehearse. The prices are surprisingly reasonable, though stop at an ATM first as most of the stalls are cash only.
Let Your Appetite Guide You Through Nassau
By some measures, Nassau is a small city, with just under a quarter of a million people. The Bahamas’ capital is, however, big on flavor. You can set off on your own and simply follow your nose wherever it leads you—following the scent of conch fritters to a casual restaurant, or the smell of cake baking to a pastry selling guava duff, the Bahamas’ signature dessert, a cake rolled with guava paste and topped with a rum sauce. Whether you are in the mood for soulvaki at one of the city’s Greek-Bahamian restaurants or want to indulge your sweet tooth with either chocolates or creamy gelato made with tropical fruit juices, you’ll find something to satisfy your palate. At the Graycliff Chocolatier you can even learn how to dip your own chocolates.
It’s easy to explore on your own, with many of Nassau’s culinary highlights located along the waterfront or just a short walk away, though you can also opt for a food walking tour with a company like Tru Bahamian Food Tours. You’ll be able to leave the work of navigating to someone else and focus on what matters most—savoring Nassau’s flavorful foods.
Raise a Glass
Rum has long been the signature spirit of the Bahamas. It is believed to have first been produced in the 17th century, when plantation slaves discovered that molasses, a by-product of sugar cultivation, could be fermented into alcohol. Since then it has been central to the economy and life of the Bahamas; John Watlings Distillery keeps that tradition alive. The distillery is located in the Buena Vista Estate, a historic house from 1789, in the heart of downtown Nassau.
The distillery takes its name from a pirate who began his career of raiding ships around 1680. Watling’s hidden horde is still waiting to be unearthed, but you can taste the “liquid gold” named after him on a tour followed by a tasting. After an introduction to the process by which rum is distilled and an explanation of how the aging process is used to create different types of rum, you can enjoy a cocktail or two at the distillery’s bar overlooking Nassau’s harbor.