Fave Place to Stay– One & Only Ocean Club, Paradise Island
Nothing combines the beauty of Bahamian beaches with ultimate luxury like this resort. I adore the simple elegance of the plantation-style architecture and unsurpassed attention to detail. From the private treatment villas at the spa to a gorgeous Versailles-inspired gardens, this resort fuses together elements of splendor and relaxation from around the world, truly living up to its name.
Highlights: personal hammocks, the beach (look at the water!), adults-only pool for peace & quiet, access to Atlantis Water Park for some big-kid fun! And, of course, the world-class spa…private treatment VILLAS, hellooo!
Website: One & Only Ocean Club
Local Grub Spot– Arawak Cay, Nassau
Known to locals as “the fish fry”, Arawak Cay is an unassuming strip of restaurants where Nassau residents and well-informed foodies come for authentic, no-frills Bahamian flavor. I headed to The Stone Crab House for a cornucopia of conch– conch fritters, cracked conch, conch salad…oh yeeeah! Wash it down with my local drink of choice, Sky Juice (a strong mixture of gin, coconut water & sweet milk) for a true taste of the islands that will send you soaring with joy amongst the puffy white Caribbean clouds.
About half a million pounds of conch is consumed in the Bahamas each year. It’s a delicious island staple that’s rumored to be an aphrodisiac, and must be tried! But if it’s your first time, my general rule about conch is– taste it before you actually see it. Once it’s chopped up, battered or fried, you’ll have no idea that the tasty dish you’re consuming is quite possibly one of the ugliest sea creatures on the planet!
Website: Arawak Cay, Nassau
Wine & Dine Splurge– Graycliff, Nassau
This historic mansion, transformed into the Caribbean’s first 5-star restaurant, is famous for its sophisticated Bahamanian-inspired cuisine and 250,000 bottle wine cellar (3rd largest in the world). But the 6th shining star at Graycliff is Chef Elijah Bowe, a larger-than-life personality whose charisma and charm is as abundant as the magnificent flavor in his dishes. I had the honor of cooking alongside Chef Elijah at Table One, a demonstration and private dining area in his kitchen. This was one of the most memorable and fun experiences of my life! We (ahem, yes I assisted) whipped up stone crab in a lovely cream saffron sauce and feasted on a number of foodgasmic Chef Elijah creations, plus bottles of heavenly wine and a 6-way dessert sampler. Oh, what a night!
Website: Graycliff Restaurant
Sealife Encounter– UNEXO Dolphin Experience, Grand Bahama Island
Get up-close and personal with these magnificent sea creatures in their natural environment. I was amazed by the physical strength, calming demeanor and intensely-focused intelligence of these gorgeous dolphins. UNEXO also offers shark encounters, as well as scuba and wreck diving. Fun for nature-lovers and kids of all ages!
Website: UNEXO Underwater Explorers Society
Sounds & Sunset– Bikini Bottom Bar & Grill, Grand Bahama Island
Nothing feels more right than being on an island and watching a glorious sunset, while live Caribbean music fills the air. My favorite spot on Grand Bahama is Bikini Bottom, a casual place with the coolest Rake ‘n’ Scrape band in town– the Island Boys. Rake ‘n’ Scrape is an genre of music that originated in the Bahamas with distinct sounds created by goat skin drums and scraping a hair pick along a carpenter saw. It instantaneously fills you with funk, happiness and the overwhelming urge to get up and dance! I had to opportunity to learn how to play the instruments and jam out with The Island Boys, probably not the most enjoyable experience for the customers that night, but something I will never ever forget. Rake and scrape, yaaaaaw!
Website: Bikini Bottom Bar & Grill
Mayleen Ramey hosts Destination Tennis, a travel show on Tennis Channel. Below is a promo video for Destination Tennis: Bahamas, please check Tennis Channel for air times of the full episode.