As a co-owner of Craft Cottage – arguably the best local handicraft store in Nassau – my friend Nadine Ramphal meets her fair share of visitors. They come to the Village Road shop to browse her collection of island mementos, which includes everything from sea glass jewelry to plaited-straw sneakers and salad servers she painstakingly embellishes with seed beads. But they leave with so much more. That’s because Ramphal, a Jamaican artist who’s lived here for nine years, also doles out insider intel on what to do, see and eat in this Caribbean capital that most visitors associate only with cruising, Kalik and conch salad. We caught up with her on a recent visit to Nassau, and she agreed to share some of her island finds.
FLOWER POWER On weekends we love to get out on the water, and Rose Island, which is only about 20 minutes’ sail from Paradise Island but feels a world apart, is one of our favorite spots. It’s an islet where you can snorkel, swim or just laze on the sand. And on the way out there you’ll pass turtles, sharks and Gilligan’s Island, where the opening scenes from the TV show were shot. We get there on our boat, but visitors can book day trips with tour operator Sandy Toes.
NASSAU NOSH One of my favorite places for local food is Lukka Kairi, a waterfront restaurant downtown at St George’s Wharf. Embellished with local wood, it also has a massive mural that tells the history of the islands, and a live band plays on a stage behind the bar. The tapas-style portions are small enough that you can try all the Bahamas’ specialties – conch fritters, cracked conch, fried fish, lobster – in one place. It’s not cheap but it’s so worth it, and the food and the décor is so well done that I’m always proud to take visitors there.
FLORA AND FAUNA It’s marketed as the city’s zoo but I think Ardastra Gardens is more accurately a tropical garden with animals in it. Go there for a pleasant saunter through the plants and flowers in the company of meerkats, monkeys, and strutting peacocks. And don’t miss the bird-feeding and the famous marching flamingo show. Few people know that the gardens were established by a Jamaican; maybe that’s one of the reasons why I like going there!
LEISURELY LUNCH For a tasty lunch in an easy and laidback atmosphere I always recommend Goodfellow Farms, tucked away on the west side of the island near Lyford Cay. They grow their own organic micro veggies there and everything on the menu comes with a salad topped with the most amazing sweet pesto-type dressing. You order by number; grab a drink from the fridge; and then take a seat and enjoy your meal under the trees. While you’re eating one of the farm’s rescued animals may wander, and it’s not unusual to have rabbits or kittens or macaws for company. And the vibe is so relaxed that you don’t even pay until you’ve finished eating. Love that!
TASTE THE SKY You can’t leave the Bahamas without trying sky juice. It’s a locally loved combo of coconut water, gin and condensed milk that packs a real punch. I love the version at Lukka Kairi, where it comes in a mason jar and is topped with desiccated coconut. But with just three main ingredients, it’s easy to make for yourself once you get back home.