Finding the Local Side of The Bahamas

Clifford, a local island chef, wielded his cleaver. Chop! There went the top of the queen conch. A dozen or so chops later, he had cubed the conch’s pink flesh. As we watched, he diced sweet and hot peppers, tomatoes and onions and tossed them with salt, a squeeze of orange and lime. Voila! Conch salad, as fresh as anything I could imagine.

Two bowls of Bahamian conch salad and bottle of beer.
Photo: © Can Stock Photo / shalamov

Salty, tangy and reminiscent of the sea, this ceviche is one specialty at the food stands and restaurants I discovered at Arawak Cay, an area also known as the Fish Fry, near downtown Nassau. The tradition of a fish fry is a cacophonous event found on practically every one of the Bahamas’ 16 main island groups. Here, in Arawak Cay, there is always a joyful air, celebrating time-honored culinary and musical traditions. Punctuated by drums, cowbells, and even handsaws, this is where locals kick back, slap dominoes, feast, dance and mingle with travelers.

Arawak Cay.
Photo: © Bahamas Ministry of Tourism

In fish fry gatherings and in casual restaurants, you’ll find conch fritters, conch chowder, and Bahamian lobster. Sit down at Bahamian Cookin’ Restaurant & Bar for fried grouper served with peas and rice or stop by as part of a guided walking tour. As you stroll and dine your way through Nassau, cool off with a glass of switcha (tart Bahamian lemonade), sample rum cake and delight in handcrafted sweets at Graycliff Chocolatier. You may be compelled to return to Graycliff — a hilltop complex that includes a chocolate factory, historic inn, restaurants, artisan market, cigar factory and heritage museum — for a hands-on lesson in making chocolates from bean to bar. Whether you’re enjoying a one-day excursion or dedicating a week to deep exploration, culinary discoveries are endless within the islands of the Bahamas.

Florida-based Chelle Koster Walton is the author of The Bahamas Explorer’s Guide and a frequent contributor to USA Today and the Miami Herald.

Delve deeper into true Bahamian culture when you explore the Out Islands. Read more in our digital publication by entering OFFER EW11353 on our website.


The Bahamas encompass 700 major islands and islets and countless smaller, uninhabited cays. All are known for their gem-toned waters, white-sand beaches, and abundant wildlife. For island-hopping excursions, the Abaco chain entices with its vibrant string of beach communities, as do The Exumas for their 365 secluded cays. The island of Blue Lagoon is a quick boat ride from Nassau, ideal for sunbathing, snorkeling and interactions with playful dolphins or sea lions.

Grand Bahama Island, home to Freeport and Lucaya resort areas, is a short flight from Nassau. Witness true bush territory and Out Islands flavor as you hop behind the wheel of an open-topped Jeep along sunny trails leading to the laid-back beaches and a national park where ancient burial sites and bat caves await.

Clifton Jaws Beach, Nassau.
Photo: © Bahamas Ministry of Tourism

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[Cover Photo: ConchSalad-GBI © Bahamas Ministry of Tourism]

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