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When I stepped off the plane and wandered into the worn-down baggage claim that desperately needed an update, I didn’t know what to expect. Thankfully, I was met by a cheerful customs agent and escorted to a desk to fill out my landing card. When I was done, the woman directed me to a small stand near the luggage carousal that offered free cocktails,  and after a long flight from L.A. and a layover in Miami, I was ready to get the weekend off to a good start.

I ordered a Bahama Mama and surveyed the scene. The airport had seen better days, for sure (apparently I was in the un-renovated part), but I was in the Bahamas and I knew everything would be all right.

As the taxi pulled out of the airport, something else hit me: Nearly everybody I’d seen was black.

The customs agents, airport employees, the border agents, the driver, and the too-fine construction workers getting off for the day — everyone was black like me.

Having never traveled to the Caribbean or Africa, I didn’t realize what being black in a black nation felt like until that very moment, but I can honestly say it felt gooood. Whatever happened next, I was ready.

My trip to the Bahamas to was sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism, so I knew I was in for a treat. I figured they’d whisk us off to all of the famed tourist haunts — Atlantis, the Poop Deck, and, of course, the pink sand beaches — in the hopes we’d write a good review, but what I encountered during my four days in the Bahamas was much more real, and in retrospect, a lot more fun.

So, the next time you think of taking a long weekend to the Caribbean, add the Bahamas to your list. Here are 4 reasons why it’s not to be missed:

The food is amazing:

The dining options in the Bahamas are endless. From tasty cheap eats from roadside vendors to four-star restaurants, the Bahamas offers something for everyone. When I was there, I ate waaaay too many conch fritters, fried shrimp, jerk chicken, and tropical fruit, and I drank enough rum to last me well into the summer.

A few places you should definitely check out when you visit is the Indigo Café (they had the best fried shrimp I’ve ever tasted!); the Sip Sip on Harbour Island; the Graycliff, one of the island’s most upscale restaurants (Jay and Bey have dined there); and don’t miss the local fish fry shacks, which serve up some tasty seafood, and on some nights, karaoke, too.

The moral of the story? Don’t even try to stick to your diet when you’re in the Bahamas. Just give in and make your taste buds happy.

There’s so much to do:

Once you’ve eaten yourself silly, what better way to work it off than by getting into a few activities? Whether you like to become one with nature and swim with the dolphins (a serious must-do), speed through the ocean on a jet ski, head downtown to shop in the historic straw market, or mix it up with the locals at the fish fry, the Bahamas has an endless selection of things for you to do.

On our trip we took a ferry to Blue Island to get up close and personal with a few dolphins and sea lions, and although it was a little scary and the water was freezing, it was a once in a lifetime experience. The dolphin, Salvador, was so sweet and cheeky and I even got splashed for not giving him a kiss!

During the visit, we also had the chance to hop a two-hour cruise to Harbour Island to spend a little time exploring. Unlike Nassau, Harbour Island is far more laid back, moves at a slower pace, and offers up the relaxing island vibe many crave. If you’re into extreme sports activities, I’m told Exzuma (another island) is a must-see, and with more than 700 islands and cays, you can spend weeks exploring the Bahamas and still not see it all.

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  • D’Ann

    It’s been a few years since I have visited, but I can tell you I enjoyed Bahamas immensely! It was the very first Caribbean island I visited ever. The fish shacks have the best and freshest seafood!

  • Taya

    I would expect for Bahamians to disagree with me. I get it, its home. I am not disagreeing that you may have a good time. I can have a good time anywhere. In fact I did have fun in the Bahamas when I was there. But after seeing and doing I wouldnt ever spend my money to go back. Now if my trip was sponsored I would consider it but IDK. Ppl visit the Bahamas because it is cheap and close to home. And almost every cruise line has a 3 days cruise from Miami there. So all the cheap and inexperienced travelers can get a vacation too. This is all jmo and my experience.

  • Taya

    Dont believe me check this out….
     
    “He reported that the Caribbean Tourism Organization website shows that tourism has actually increased from 2008 to 2011 by four to 10 per cent in just about every other island of the Caribbean, while at the same time tourism decreased in the Bahamas” -PLP candidate Gregory Moss http://www.caribbeannewsdigital.com/en/noticia/bahamian-plp-candidate-lashes-out-lack-tourism-investment  http://www.bahamasb2b.com/news/story.php?title=Munnings-Bahamas-Has-Become-Boring-Destination