By Goldie Tock
There’s something about flying into the Caribbean and looking down through the clouds to the vivid blue waters that’s breathtaking. The warm breeze on your face instantly makes you feel relaxed and on island time. It was a hop, skip, and a jump from the Nassau airport to our hotel, the RIU Palace Paradise Island. On arrival we were greeted with welcome cocktails, smiling staff and an opulently-decorated lobby.
Whether you’re away for business or pleasure, it’s the perfect place to stay. Our room was furnished with all the trimmings, mini fridge and bar, equipped with a regularly replenished liquor dispenser, modern décor, and a balcony fit with a pristine ocean view. To the left of the lobby is a stunning coffee bar, Capuchino, where you can start your day indulging in aromatic espresso and a buttery croissant. Lay by the beach in the afternoon and enjoy fresh cuisine poolside from the new Jerk Chicken hut.
The beach is just a few steps down from the pool deck, which allows you to easily toggle between beach bumming and pool lounging. Fancy a drink? Enjoy poolside service or float over to the swim-up bar. The RIU Palace Paradise Island was recently renovated and is now an all-inclusive resort exclusively for adults. It’s perfectly situated beside the Atlantis, which allows you to stroll over to shop designer brands and visit the world-famous casino.
High roller or not, you can live the high life night or day; between shows at the RIU and excursions throughout the capital, Nassau has something for every type of traveller. After unpacking and exploring our surroundings we enjoyed a decadent dinner at Krystal Restaurant. There were too many mouth-watering options to choose from so I shared a seafood risotto dish and beef tenderloin with my travel partner. I was slightly nervous as I suffer from many food allergies, but once I let our waiter know they were beyond accommodating — the chef even came out and spoke with me directly. Satiated, we went up to our room and turned in for the evening after a nightcap on our private balcony.
Off we went the next day on a Sunwing Experiences catamaran tour of the Bahamian coast. We basked in the sun as our guides provided an exciting sail and snorkel outing from Nassau to Paradise Island. One of the best parts of a catamaran ride is laying on the net above the open ocean. The crisp air flowing through your hair as you hear the waves crashing on the hull of the boat is exhilarating. Anchoring off Athol Island, we were adjacent to the vibrant coral reef. If you fancy a snorkel, you barely have to submerge yourself below the waterline to be surrounded by marine life. A local pulled aside our boat and sold fresh coconuts that he cut open with a machete. Talk about a taste of paradise; the coconut milk was sweet and refreshing.
After many jumps off the boat we worked up an appetite and headed to the farmers’ market at Potter’s Cay Dock for some authentic fare. Fresh, frittered or fried, you will be delighted by the island’s local delicacy, conch. I’m a sucker for an experience, so watching a fisherman pluck a conch out of the bottom of the bay, crack it and chop up the crustacean was thrilling. It’s one of the many wondrous things you’re sure to see under the Nassau bridge.
The resort made it easy to enjoy yourself at the bar, beach or in your room. Many bubbly libations were sipped at the Calypso Lounge before and after dinners at the varying à la carte restaurants within the RIU. A fabulous perk of the hotel is that you can indulge in many à la carte restaurants, including the new Indian restaurant, Chutney. We cleaned up for the evening and headed down to feast. Among the candlelit tables, we were able to taste various traditional dishes in a family-style setting.
The next day was spent in town, where we were impressed by the colonial architecture of Rawson Square. It was one pastel building after another, and then off to Fort Fincastle, which provides a panorama of the city. Following our city tour we stopped at Graycliff Hotel, which is as lavish as could be. The Graycliff is home to a stunning pool, restaurant, cigar company and chocolate shop. We were able to tour the cigar rolling facilities and watch the torcedores at work.
If you’re looking for a relaxing (long) weekend away, the Caribbean is a short flight south. Filled with beaches, sun, fresh cuisine and stunning places to see, Nassau should be the next locale crossed off your bucket list. Although we were sad to go, the Bahamas left us wanting more and dreaming of our next paradisiacal escape.