Bahama mama

I wish I was sipping on one right now. Ah, a delicious Bahama mama.

A few weeks ago I posted about our recent decision to visit the Bahamas in January. It was a bit spontaneous considering we didn’t officially know we were going until a few weeks prior to the trip. But again, that’s how we like to roll. (Sometimes spontaneity can be a good thing.) Additionally, it was a great excuse to celebrate our 6th anniversary together. Hehe.

As I mentioned in my last post, D was able to get associate prices at the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island in Nassau. If you haven’t seen the commercials or advertisements about Atlantis yet, you’ve been living under a rock. It’s known as THE resort to stay. Crystal blue waters surrounding the entire island. Private beaches, several pools, a huge water park, lagoons filled with turtles, sting rays, sharks, and dolphins! It’s very much a sensory overload. In a good way.

Like most vacations, D and I like to keep ourselves to a set budget. I know what you’re thinking. Vacations are where you live a little. True, but we’re also pretty practical and don’t think that you need to break the bank in order to have a little fun. However, sticking to a budget in the Bahamas is a bit more difficult than you think. It’s pretty easy to blow through your budget while on the island. The astronomical cost of food and booze alone can surprise you. So if you’re thinking about taking a trip down to the Carribean, here are some tricks and tips to help you on your way. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.

1. Quick Service meals = cheap
If you’re wondering why prices on food and drinks are high, try to keep things in perspective. The Bahamas, as an island, has to import supplies. It’s not much different from the prices you see if you lived in the connected 48 states vs. living in Hawaii. But don’t worry, not all meals in Atlantis will cost you an arm or a leg. In fact, the cheapest meal we had was at the water park Aquaventure. We grabbed lunch at a quick service spot for about $17. Granted we also had water coupons for two free waters which helped offset the price, but for $17 we shared an order of loaded nachos and a foot long hot dog. Not bad and since we were hanging out at the water park – it was just enough to keep us going.

2. Get water for free
Along with the water coupons we were given, we also purchased a couple of Bobble water bottles to use in our hotel room and while traveling. It helped considering additional bottles of water from the sundries was about $3 a bottle. If you drink about 80 ounces of water a day, you’re looking at $9 a day in just bottled water. Since we stayed for 5 nights, that’s about $90 in savings for the both of us. The Bobble water bottles allowed us to filter and drink the water from our bathroom sink. Free water = win.

3. Buy a few snacks and/or cereal
Our first day, we ventured OUT of the resort. Why? Because we wanted to find a convenience store to stock up on snacks and booze. Why? Because I had done my research before and knew that food at the resort would be costly. So D and I walked off property and into a convenience store not more than a 5 minute walk from Atlantis. There we bought $13 worth of Bahamian beer and $25 worth of snacks. The beers we drank at the beach, and the snacks were used as our breakfast.

4. The Fish Fry is where it’s at
Okay, you’re on vacation so you decide if you want to go this route or not. D and I hate eating at cliche spots on vacation. When we go on vacation we research where the locals go and eat there. Normally the places are dive-y. And most often these places only take cash. But always, always, always, these places serve amazing food. So take it from us, would you rather spend $150 for a pasta dinner for two at Carmine’s? Or would you rather take a cab for $36 roundtrip from Atlantis to The Fish Fry and have a lobster dinner for $26 each? Up to you. But for what it’s worth, we went to The Fish Fry twice AND would have gone a third time it time permitted. The Fish Fry is a street full of restaurants serving authentic Bahamian food. There you’ll find Bahama Mamas, freshly made conch salad, and sky juice. Bahamian folks will urge you to try their restaurant, but our favorite is Oh, Andros. It’s a cash only spot, but it’s worth the trouble. Everyone’s friendly and the food is spot on.

5. Cash vs. Credit Cards
This is something that’s more of a traveler’s tip than a trick. When I was a kid, I traveled to the Philippines with my parents. I was only 6 years old, but I remember them only using cash. Now, here’s the rule – if you are going to a pretty well-known establishment – then sure use your credit card. But, if you’re going out and about, bring just enough cash for you to spend. It’s smarter and better. You don’t want to get back home and realize someone stole your credit card information and purchased something in Hong Kong with it. Always be street and book smart.

That pretty much wraps it up. If you’re taking a trip to the Bahamas soon, and to Nassau in particular, check out our highlights below.

‘Til the next time.
– E

Trip Highlights

  • Atlantis Beach, Cove Beach, and Paradise Beach – Each of these beaches can be accessed on Atlantis resort. We spent most of our time at Atlantis Beach since it was right outside of Beach Towers, where we were staying. There were vendors on the beach selling drinks, souvenirs, or trips on jet skis. On our last day we walked over to Paradise Beach and Cove Beach. Both of them were much quieter and more private than Atlantis Beach.
  • All the pools and lagoons – If you can, make sure to walk the entire property of Atlantis. This includes all of the towers and all of the pools and all of the lagoons. If you’re lucky you’ll catch a complimentary feeding of the sharks or turtles or sting rays. And if you’re into fish gazing, then you’ll just have a ball with all of the exhibits they have. It’s free entertainment and it’s also extremely beautiful.
  • Marina Village – If you’re looking for places to eat and shop, you can do that at Marina Village next to Coral Towers. Definitely convenient but also pricey.
  • The Fish Fry at Arawak Cay– You’ll pass by it when you taxi over to the island. You can’t miss it. Several brightly colored buildings in a row. Like I said, it’s the spot to be if you want real Bahamian food.
  • Downtown Nassau – Some points of interest can be found near Downtown Nassau. If shopping isn’t your thing, head south from Bay Street (the main street of Downtown Nassau) and venture over to the following spots: Queens Staircase, Fort Fincastle, and John Watling’s Distillery. Side note: on your way to and from the distillery you’ll also notice a pretty old Catholic church. The original church is beautifully adorn with mosaic tiles. If you want to stick to Downtown, then don’t forget to check out the government buildings and the library. The library previously was the first jail on the island. You can also take a look at the stately residence of the Governor-General a.k.a. the Government House.
  • Shopping – Alright, you can do a lot of damage in Downtown Nassau. Between the jewelry stores, straw market, and luxury stores like Gucci, Prada, and more – you can get anything and everything you want. During the day, the streets are buzzing with lots of vendors selling you tours, knock-off designer bags, and more. Depending on how many cruise ships come to port it can get pretty hectic.