Epicurean Charlotte

Food & Wine Magazine

CHRONICLING THE JOYS OF FOOD AND WINE IN THE CHARLOTTE METROPOLITAN REGION

Bound for the Bahamas: Plan Your Escape to Nassau & Paradise Island

article by Sara Kendall
images courtesy Graycliff Hotel, Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board, Sara Kendall, and Warwick Paradise Island


If you’re in need of white sandy beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters, the Bahamas is for you. This Caribbean archipelago is a mix of natural beauty, island culture, and crave-worthy cuisine, making it the ideal spot for your next getaway. A quick two-hour flight makes getting to Nassau and Paradise Island easier than you may think. So, ditch the stress of everyday life and head to the islands, the pleasures of the Bahamas await you.


Island Activities

At the top of the list for any Caribbean vacation are lounging by the pool and relaxing ocean swims. Once you’ve gotten your dose of pool and beach time, Nassau and Paradise Island offer so much more fun and excitement to fill your days and nights.

Try a Tru Bahamian Food Tour, where you can taste and sip the flavors of this Caribbean island. In the heart of colonial Nassau, you will be lead by a local on a culinary and cultural walking tour with six stops, each with authentic food and drinks. Stops include Bahamian Cookin’, a local favorite restaurant that has been around over 30 years, the exquisite Graycliff Chocolatier, and the famous Tortuga Rum Cake Company. Along the way, you’ll learn about this island nation’s history and culture while satisfying your foodie adventure desires.

The Graycliff Hotel is a must-do outing, especially for wine lovers. Here you can take a tour of Graycliff Hotel Wine Cellar, where you’ll find the third largest private wine collection in the world! Once a pirate dungeon, hotel guests and diners can tour the cellar’s maze of small rooms, each storing a particular type of wine or champagne. With over 275,000 bottles, the seemingly endless racks of vino stored in every nook and cranny will amaze you. Don’t miss the million-dollar wall of French wines. Their most expensive bottle is a 1727 German dessert wine valued at $200,000. Just imagine what dessert you would pair with this wine!

If you want to dine like the stars, reserve the private dining room carved out in the wine cellar where Sean Connery, Tom Cruise, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James have dined.

Another must-see is John Watling’s Distillery. Situated on a hilltop, you can take a free guided-tour and hear about the history of the distillery and the three kinds of hand-produced rum produced there. You’ll taste a sample of their signature piña colada made using only fresh ingredients—prepare to be wowed!

After the tour, you can partake in tasting their spectacular three rums or sip a handcrafted rum cocktail in their very inviting bar. As you depart, pause for a few minutes on the veranda to take in the nice view of the town and their surrounding beautiful grounds. A scene from the James Bond movie Casino Royale starring Daniel Craig was filmed on the grounds, and a sign marks the spot of this action scene.

If you aren’t staying at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, it’s well worth it to purchase a day-pass to enjoy their Aquaventure Water Park. The centerpiece of Atlantis is the 141-acre park featuring 18 thrilling water slides and a mile-long lazy river with waves, rapids, and tunnels. Adults and kids both will need plenty of time to experience all the waterpark has to offer. When you need to refill and recharge, you’ll find a number of restaurant choices around the waterpark, in addition to ample locker space to secure any valuables while enjoying the waterpark’s activities. Numerous lifeguards are stationed throughout the waterpark, and nurses are on staff to assist with any medical issues. It’s definitely worth your vacation time to spend a day here.


Where to Eat

Conch is the national food of The Bahamas and a true island specialty worth eating more than once while vacationing here. The most sought out dishes are conch fritters, known for being the best appetizer, conch salad served with chopped tomatoes, onions, and green peppers, and cracked conch, which is deep-fried served with a spicy dipping sauce. Wash down all these conch specialty dishes with Kalik, the official beer of the Bahamas.

One of the best places to find a menu full of conch-inspired dishes is the popular Fish Fry, a no-frills row of small fish stands and seafood shacks on West Bay Street. The most popular sit-down restaurants are Goldie’s, Oh Andros, and Twin Brothers. You can expect this area to be full of local flavors and atmosphere.

Dining at Graycliff Hotel Restaurant is a unique experience you won’t want to miss. Upon entering, you’ll notice Old Nassau ambiance everywhere. Along with a jazz singing pianist, you will find a cigar maker hand-rolling the perfect cigars. This hotel’s five-star restaurant’s warm ambiance, attentive service, incredible entrées, and astonishing wine list will give you one of your top dining experiences ever.

Family-run Athena Café brings a taste of the Mediterranean to the Caribbean, offering authentic Greek food. A bit of a departure from the seafood restaurants, you can order classic Mediterranean dishes like Greek salad, fresh pita bread, and lamb gyros. Located in downtown, this upstairs restaurant gives diners fabulous town views.

If the mood for modern Japanese cuisine strikes, then Atlantis Resort hosts Nobu, where famed Chef Nobu Matsuhisa brings his sensational talents to his newest restaurant outpost. Looking for classic French fare, have dinner at Café Martinique, where renowned Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten has made his mark. Mediterranean-inspired dishes can be found at Olives, where famed Chef Todd English hangs his apron. These gourmet celebrity chef restaurants are highly sought out, so advance reservations are recommended; you can book them online well before your trip.


Places to Stay

Warwick Paradise Island has just completed a significant renovation, to the tune of $50 million. It’s a brand new hotel, plus it’s Paradise Island’s first all-inclusive adult only resort. Perched on Nassau’s harbor, this hotel offers guests glorious views of the harbor, yet remains easy walking distance to beaches, shopping, and entertainment. They offer five room choices from Island View to Harbour Premium Balcony rooms and six restaurants and bars, ranging from buffet to fine dining. Fishing equipment is available, and if you catch anything off their pier, the chef will prepare your catch for your dinner.

Over the past three hundred years, pirates, world leaders, and British royalty have been drawn to Graycliff Hotel, Nassau’s first and only five-star hotel. Here, their friendly welcome will make you feel as if you are a guest at the home of a dear friend. Among their 20 elegant guest rooms and cottage suites, you’ll find a mix of modern conveniences and old-world style. You can take a chocolate making class at their chocolate factory or attend a cigar-rolling lesson at their onsite cigar company. For some down time, head to their luxurious pool, the first and oldest pool in Nassau, adorned with hand painted Italian tiles.

For a resort that has everything, Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island is it! Six different hotels with over 3,800 hotel rooms, surrounded by beautiful white-sand beaches, 11 swimming pools, 40 restaurants, an enormous waterpark, a championship golf course, bars, shops, nightclubs, spas, a casino, marine habitat, and animal experiences, all there for your pleasure. How could you not love this place! The resort’s 8,000 employees keep the place up and running, taking care of your every need with a smile. This is the kind of place you check in and never want to leave.