“Bahama, Bahama Mama
Got the biggest house in town Bahama Mama”
The Bonny M song of the seventies suddenly crossed my mind as the sailing cruise approached Prince George Warf port early in the morning. The white lighthouse perched dedicatedly at the end strip of the island came closer gradually, giving way to the harbour. A plethora of colourful houses capsuled in the deep green of the sea below and the bright blue of the sky above brightened my heart. And I found myself restless to hop on to the beckoning island at the earliest.
Within a few minutes, I stepped upon the Nassau county feeling excited like a child entering an enchanting castle.
The Afro Bahamian behind the horse of the carriage we rented for the city loop took us around quite enthusiastically before dropping us at the cable beach where the white sands were waiting for us or so I assumed.
“Have you heard about the love story of King Edward and Wallis?” The carriage driver suddenly challenged my knowledge of Bahamian history in his accented English. Unable to recount reading anything of such nature, I nodded in denial and intently looked at the pink building that we were passing by wondering if the question had anything to do with it. And to my surprise, he actually pointed to the building and told us a romantic story of how King Edward denounced his throne for the love of this American lady called Wallis. The imperial coral building in question adorned by a statue of Columbus on its stairs was the Government house of Bahamas where King Edward and his lady love were one of the residents after they got married and he was chosen to be the Governor of Bahamas.
The Parliament house of the county was also pink in colour and was evidently an impressive example of the colonial architecture of old Nassau. The statue of Queen Victoria presiding centrally over the premises clearly stated the authority of the British Government even after the independence, as the island is still a part of the commonwealth. But not just the Government houses, Nassau was colourful throughout. Wooden houses with ample balconies and big windows to allow the Caribbean Sea breeze were all painted brightly to give the entire island a joyous and cheerful look. Beautiful historical mansions and Cathedrals could be spotted at every nook and corner.
Another site dedicated to the queen is a 65-step staircase from Fort Fincastle carved by the slaves for the protection of the British troops. Apart from its historical significance, the place is quiet and shady. The stony path covered with trees and creepers and weathered walls takes you on a reticent journey back in time.
Although the island at present is a civilized one, Nassau had a glorious past of being a pirate island. The skull and cross-bone, red jolly roger flags once swayed proudly on the pirate ships around the island, while the daunting pirates wearing eye patches sipped “Grog”, a drink made up of Rum, water, lemon juice and sugar, eyeing the vast sea for their target ships. Even some women pirates like Mary Reads and Anne Bonney happened to terrorize the Caribbean waters around. And to taste a bit of what it takes to be a pirate, there is this Pirates of Nassau Museum one must not miss at any cost.
What’s an Island without its beaches? Powder white snow soft sand awaits you at every corner of this island, ready to indulge you in snorkelling, Jet Ski, Booze Cruise, kayak, sunbathe or just a stroll along the beach. Amongst all the picture-perfect beaches of the Island, Cabbage beach, Cable beach, Junkanoo beach and Cave beach are the most popular ones. Some beaches are situated near luxury resorts and hotels for visitors to spend some fantastic days on the island. Cable beach in itself is cuddled between the Atlantis, the biggest resort in the Caribbean and the paradise Island beach club for you to have all the sun and fun without missing out on the luxury part. But if you love snorkelling, get on to the LCT Barge wreck site named “Thunderball” after the filming of the spy Bond Movie of the same name. Imagine floating along with a variety of colourful fishes, corals and seaweeds through the shipwreck from the World War II-era once shared by Sean Connery himself. The Bahamas has been Hollywood’s favourite location for long and many of the Bond films and others have been shot in Nassau and other Islands of Bahamas. So, in case you are a movie buff, this is just the right place for you.
It goes without saying that any island’s food scene will revolve around the seafood. Bahamian conch is no doubt the most sought out dish in Nassau and served in all possible ways; cooked, raw, fried or in soups. There are many restaurants to hop on after a day full of adventure and fun around, and one must not hesitate to try some authentic Bahamian meal. You can go to Senor Frogs or Graycliff, where JayZ proposed to Beyonce or to Daquiri shack for a sip of Rum or the tempting Bahama Mama concoction of Rum, Marnier liquor and pineapple juice. Oh yes! There is a drink by that name too! But whatever you eat or drink, do not forget to enjoy the most delicious rum cake with flavours like chocolate, coconut, key lime and many more.
The island that hosted the 2009 beauty pageant and has yellow elderflower as its national flower has a magic of its own. This laid back island is one that will keep calling to you even once you are back at your home playing with the straw hat you had collected from here as a souvenir. It will make you wonder when can you be there again to spend a few days of solitude, walking along with the 19th-century buildings or watching the deep red sunsets with your partner. If you are ready to be mesmerized by such enchanted destination as this, then pick your planner and mark up your next holiday season with a bright pink highlighter! Pun Intended.
If you go:
Getting there: By chartered or scheduled flights to Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA)
By Cruise Ship to Prince George Dock
Must pack: Beach flip-flops, bathing suits, sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, travel umbrella, waterproof camera.
Helpful Website: www.nassauparadiseisland.com