Yesterday, I posted part 1 of our free Bahamas vacation. I shared my favorite pictures we captured on our journey to Nassau and a few we took while at the resort. The resort was nice, but we wanted to explore the real Nassau—outside of the gated confines of a lux resort.
Prior to arriving in Nassau, we did a little bit of research about where we could explore. Despite my over-planning ways, the best advice came from locals. Our concierge, Cindy, and the shuttle driver who brought us to the resort, both raved about the Fish Fry.My friend, Amy, suggested we check out the Straw Market. Cindy also gave us tips about Potter’s Cay.
We first ventured to Nassau on Saturday afternoon. We intended to check out the Straw Market and make our way to the Fish Fry. Cindy told us to catch the 10 bus to get downtown. The bus was one of those small tour buses, not like the city buses we are used to in the U.S. As we climbed on, we were heard numerous “afternoon” greetings. At each subsequent stop, the passenger who climbed on board would pleasantly repeat a warm greeting. I was so impressed by how polite all of the locals were. I might be jaded, but I don’t recall strangers greeting me so politely in a very long time.
Once we got downtown, we wandered into the Straw Market. I found a straw hand-woven tote I wanted. Nearly all the vendors carried them, each with a slightly different hand-woven floral pattern. Despite my husband’s protests over my incessant need to buy a souvenir, I couldn’t get this specific tote out of my mind.
We had read to barter so you don’t pay more than 50% of the original asking price. The vendor asked for $40, but said she’d give us a deal at $35. My husband dismissed her offer, and repeated several times, “It’s not worth more than $10 or $15”. The vendor rolled her eyes at him and contested. As we started to walk away, she urged him to come back, and desperately offered $25. We said we’d think about it. In the end, I didn’t really want it that badly. After seeing rows and rows and rows (and rows) of these straw bags, they definitely lost their luster. I quickly learned that the more I saw the same item, the less special it felt.
I didn’t get the bag I was eyeing, but I enjoyed watching their bargaining banter. It was fun to witness the salesmanship of these local vendors. They are outgoing, sometimes aggressive, and always flattering—“hey pretty lady, hey honey, hey sweetie, come check out my stand, I’ve got a special deal just for you.” I can’t knock that hustle.
After the Straw Market, we hoped to find our way to the Fish Fry. We ran across signs for Junkanoo Beach and the Fish Fry, so we made our way in that direction.
We stopped along the way to capture pictures of the architecture and brightly colored buildings, street art we happened upon, and views from Junkanoo Beach.
The Fish Fry is about a mile walk from the Straw Market. It was quite hot and humid that day. By the time we reached the Fish Fry, we were dripping with sweat. We had imagined the fish fry to be a bunch of food stalls with conch and sky juice—much more casual than what we actually found. Instead, there were rows and rows of restaurants, all called “The Fish Fry”.
By the time we passed more than a dozen restaurants, we decided it was too hot and we were too sweaty to stay downtown any longer. We decided to head back to the resort to regroup and revisit the fish fry another day. Plus, we thought we were looking for more of a farmer’s market, not a bunch of restaurants. After we got back home, we realized we had confused the fish fry and Potter’s Cay. We thought they were one in the same, when in reality, they are two distinctly different experiences. We figured we’d check them out another day.
We continued our downtown adventure a couple days later when we decided to rent a scooter. I’ve never ridden on a motorcycle or scooter, so I was quite apprehensive, even though Jade is an excellent driver. We tried to find a scooter rental company close to our resort, but couldn’t find one. Instead, we figured if we headed toward downtown and the touristy area, we’d find one. Sure enough, after a quick 15-minute bus ride and walking a few blocks toward the pier where the cruise ships park, we found two scooter rentals.
After a rushed negotiation to discount the half-day rate, a quick introduction to the scooter and a 20 second test-drive to make sure Jade could handle the scooter, we zoomed off toward Potter’s Cay.
Potter’s Cay is definitely for locals, and is the furthest thing from touristy. I may even use the word grungy, but still really unique. It is set under a bridge, with an industrial—shipyard kind of feel. There are individual brightly colored booths were local vendors sell fresh conch, local fruits and vegetables, and other seafood, like crabs. I was mesmerized by the fresh conch, still moving inside their coraly-pink shells. I couldn’t stop watching the crabs lunge toward the top of the cage with their sharp claws wrapping tightly around the metal rugs.
After a quick peek at the stands, and Jade trying kenep (tastes like lychee!), we hopped back on the scooter and continued to drive away from downtown, and even further away from our resort. We wandered until we saw a picturesque park overlooking the ocean where Fort Montagu sits.
After touring the Fort and enjoying the scenery, our next stop was to head back to the Fish Fry, to experience some local cuisine. We had intended to eat at Twin Brothers, but they were closed. Instead, we decided to eat at Candies because we were impressed with her hustle to get us in the door “Best conch in Nassau, free daiquiri shots and conch fritters”.
We ordered the conch salad, a local specialty. I would classify the salad almost like a fish salsa. There were larger pieces of chewy and salty conch paired with finely chopped onions, green peppers and tomatoes. We were served a heaping bowl with a spoon stuck in the middle. After a few bites, I was through. Living in the southwest all this time, I felt like I needed some tortilla chips to go along with it. The onion ratio was a bit overwhelming, so Jade picked through to eat the tasty conch.
After Candies, we decided to drive back downtown to check out the architecture and cruise the side streets for hidden gems.
I could tell Jade was itching to drive faster on the scooter (my tight grip around his waist and fearful yelps from the back were annoying, I’m sure), so I suggested he drop me back off at the Straw Market. I wanted one last shot at haggling for that straw tote I had eyed a couple days earlier and to find my parents something for their great effort in watching our babies for the week. Jade happily complied, excited for the freedom to drive around with my worrying.
If you have the opportunity to go to Nassau, I highly suggest you rent a scooter for the day and explore the island. It was so much more exciting to get to explore a country and see what it’s really like, rather than just hang out at the plush resort the entire trip. I’m so glad I agreed to go outside of my comfort zone to rent a scooter and experience the city on our own. I’m also glad we took the time to have conversations with some local people who directed us to some pretty cool and unique things we probably wouldn’t have seen without their suggestions.
My lasting impressions of Nassau—the beaches and ocean are indescribably beautiful, I love all the brightly painted buildings, and the people are so polite and friendly. Next time, I’ll try the scorched conch with a sky juice, and I’ll haggle a little harder for a woven beach tote.