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    United States: Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Go Now!

    United States
    Explore the vast openness and wildlife found roaming in the western United States, including Theodore Roosevelt National Park (pictured) in North Dakota. Begin Your Journey!

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    Trinidad & Tobago: Beautiful Coastline. Go Now!

    Trinidad & Tobago
    These Caribbean islands mix Indian, African, and European cultures alongside beautiful beaches. Go Now!

  • Cuba!

    Cuba: Sandy beach. Go Now!

    Cuba
    Many people fear the unknowns of Cuba, but the history, culture, food, and impressive beaches lure many visitors every year. Explore Cuba!

  • Panama!

    Panama: Panama City skyline. Go Now!

    Panama
    Panama is best known for the Panama Canal, but the beaches draw tourists, as does Panama City (pictured), a modern capital quite different from most nearby cities. Explore Panama

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    Although many people just go for the beaches, Mexico offers impressive mountain vistas (pictured in Puerto Vallarta), great food, and historic ruins that compete with the best in the world. Begin Your Journey!

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    This Caribbean island has hints of British culture, but is wholly Caribbean as well. Explore Barbados!

The Bahamas

Paradise Island Lighthouse and Atlantis

Nassau

March 18, 2013
The Capital of the Bahamas

Our cruise ship pulled into Nassau's port at about 8:00am, but most people were more concerned about eating breakfast than exploring the city at that time. Everyone did eventually get up and we headed off the boat by about 9:30.

The city of Nassau wisely sends everyone going into the city from the cruise dock through a series of shops before getting into the city itself. After navigating this maze we headed into the customs house to have our passports stamped. Few people do this and as soon as we entered everyone directed us to the immigration room.

We explored much of the city without real direction. We grabbed a map and knew we eventually wanted to make our way to Fort Fincastle, but along the way got lost a couple times as we regularly stopped to take pictures or just watch daily life pass us by.

Along our walk we met a local woman who told us to avoid the guides at the fort and re-directed us to enter the fort area via the Queen's Staircase. It seemed most of the people here were locals, but the fort itself was filled with tourists. Although small, the fort gave us excellent views of Nassau, the cruise ships in port, and the Atlantis Hotel on nearby Paradise Island.

After this we continued our aimless walk around the city, generally heading in the direction of the Government House. Again we stopped a few times to watch life pass. This eventually took us to Bay Street and the Straw Market. Like most cruise passengers, we took our time here as it seemed everyone was shopping for something.

After grabbing lunch on the boat, we headed to Atlantis to see the hotel, most of which was closed off to tourists. Of course the casino and high end shops were accessible to everyone so we each threw in a dollar and each walked away a dollar poorer a couple minutes later. Not having access (or not being willing to pay for access) to the water park, aquarium, and main hotel we headed back to town to find some conch fritters.

Our driver recommended a walk-up street stand to get conch fritters and once we got to his small stand it was clear only the locals knew about it. It was just a block away from the hectic tourist hub of Bay Street and within sight of numerous waterside bars and restaurants, but the only people at this small window ordering food were us and numerous locals.

We ordered our 6 conch fritters for $2.00 through the barred window then sat on a flower planter on the sidewalk as the young woman made our fritters. As we waited numerous locals came up to also order food and most were friendly enough to say hello and start a conversation.

A couple police officers on bikes stopped for a snack, a couple locals stopped, and an electrician on break also stopped to grab some fritters as well. We spent most of our 5 minute wait talking to him as he was friendly and eager to talk about life in the Bahamas.

This man grew up on another island, but most good paying jobs are in the cities so he moved to Nassau for work and has been quite successful since. He took great pride in his job as he said if he doesn't do the job right the first time he'll fix it for free as he lives on his reputation and word of mouth. The conversation went in other directions as well, but mostly about his job.

As our fritters arrived we asked about the rum cakes in the city as there was a rum cake shop half a block away. He didn't give much advice on the cakes themselves, but said he doesn't drink, because when he did it would be three or four 40s (40 ounce beers) and after some time he realized drinking only costs money, takes time, and gives you a headache. He said that seems to be the drinking culture in the Bahamas today, but many people avoid it entirely, like he does.

After he got his food he took off and we finished ours shortly after. We did check out the rum cake place, which reminded me of why I don't drink rum. None-the-less, we bought a small rum cake for everyone still on the boat, a treat no one seemed to thrilled about.

Castaway Cay

March 19, 2013
Disney's Private Island

Cindy & I were some of the first people off the boat this morning at Castaway Cay since we had an early excursion. We met our group and headed out for a hike than a kayak trip, although our hike was more like a leisurely walk.

Our guide was excellent and had almost no accent. Most of the Bahamians we had talked to in Nassau had a strong accent very similar to that of Jamaica, but our guide sounded like she was born and raised in the Midwest. This variation in accent was pronounced everywhere though as we listened to a radio program in one of our taxi's in Nassau and the callers had accents that ranged primarily from American to Jamaican (or perhaps I should call it Bahamian), although other variations also existed.

On our nature hike, or stroll, our guide taught us about the native animals, the history of the Bahamas, and even the plant life, including which plants are poisonous and which we should use as toilet paper if needed; she rightfully got a couple good poop jokes in there.

After our hike we met our kayak guide who, unlike our first guide, had a very heavy Bahamian accent. She also had a good sense of humor as she told us: "The water is only two to three feet deep... If you both lean in the same direction to look at a fish, you'll get a much closer look. If that happens, don't be drownin' in three feet of water on me, just put your feet on the ground and stand up."

Fortunately no one tipped over as we kayaked around a small bay on this inaccessible part of the island. Most of the island is off limits to maintain its natural state, but some places like this are reserved for organized tours, giving us a good look into an unspoiled part of a Caribbean island. After kayaking and spending some time on the beach we headed back to finish our tour with a hike.

For much of the day the clouds covered the sky, but it was still very hot so we spent the rest of the day relaxing on the beach, snorkeling, and of course eating. By dinner we were back on the boat and headed out to sea, leaving the Bahamas behind.

Learn more about the Bahamas Return to Justin's Travel Blog