One of the most popular tourist destinations in the world is The Bahamas, known for its crystal-clear turquoise waters, golden sandy beaches, and hospitality. Tourists try conch salad, dance to Junkanoo music, and enjoy daiquiris and sky juice, but too much of the experience and tourist dollars are limited to mega-resorts. There is more to see and do off-property, and supporting small, Bahamian-owned businesses has far more impact on the economy than charging everything to the room. You may not be able to island-hop when you visit The Bahamas, but you can definitely give yourself a unique experience, meet more people, and score authentic souvenirs with unforgettable stories. Step off the beaten path, supporting local businesses, and take memories home that you could never quite capture in an Instagram post. Here are 10 businesses to check out in Nassau, Bahamas on your next trip.
Craft Cottage is easily the best place to shop for gifts and souvenirs. Shop owners Fina and Nadine are the most delightful people you could ever meet and from the moment you open the gate and they hear the bell ring, you are family. They are always excited to show the work of Bahamian artists, beautifully displayed in the one-room shop. Hand-painted tumblers, sea glass earrings, wire-wrapped pendants, straw hats and bags, cufflinks made from the scalloped 10 cent coins, and kaftans are only the beginning. There is so much to see in the cottage and the conversation is always so friendly and informative that you could easily spend an hour or two here. They’ll tell you all about the other places you need to see, so you’ll leave with treasured purchases and a longer to-do list than you had before. The island is only 21 by 7 miles, so why not?
Sixty 2 Sixty Art Gallery
A contemporary art gallery, Sixty 2 Sixty Art Gallery is located in downtown Nassau. It’s easy to fit a visit into your schedule as your plans are sure to include a stroll along Bay Street, checking out jewelry stores, colonial architecture, and Rawson Square. Head east and you’ll get the gallery and, if you’re lucky, meet owner and artist June Collie. If you go to see Government House from George Street, you’ll be delighted by Collie’s lively, vibrant mural on the wall to the west. Art by various artists including June Collie, Preston Hanna, Elkino Dames, and Arielle Rahming is available for purchase. While you’re there, be sure to visit the Sixty 2 Sixty store to pick and choose from the beautiful jewelry, handbags, postcards, and other eye-catching merchandise.
Seasonal Sunshine Bahamas
Seasonal Sunshine Bahamas is dedicated to promoting seasonal products, connecting people with local farms and produce, and making use of the resources available in The Bahamas. No one has better information on what is available, when, and where. Do you want to eat mangoes on your beach day? Are you wondering what starfruit tastes like? Do you absolutely have to try an Eleuthera pineapple? (You do, even if you don’t know it yet.) Seasonal Sunshine Bahamas can make it happen. They even take it to the next level, allowing you to take the taste of the islands home with you. Check out their line of rum fingers—white rum infused with native fruit such as seagrape, guava, soursop, and sugar apple, packaged for you to enjoy as shots or taste and save for later. Remember to ask about infused salts, including rosemary and bird pepper, making seasoning your meat and vegetables much easier.
There is no better place to go for a little sensory magic than this woman-owned small business that produces soy candles that don’t even have to be lit to transform a space. From espresso latte (so get your morning started) to spa date (for winding down), there is a signature scent to meet your needs. Before you leave The Bahamas, you probably want to take something with you that will transport you when you need a mental vacation. Bahama vacation will do just that. It’s a dreamy blend of mango, yellow elder (the Bahamian national flower), water lily, and musk. For a more subtle reminder, there’s Mango and Coconut Milk, which is a fusion of fresh mango, coconut milk, and sugar cane. Get in touch with Esscentrix on Facebook, tell them what you need your candles to do for you, and they’ll show up with all the options you could ever need.
This family-run business first opened in 1929 on Virginia Street but has been on Dowdeswell Street since 1956. Model Bakery is known for simplicity and consistency. If you’re hosting a dinner party or planning to have a massive spread with delectable dips and sauces, you want the no-frills dinner rolls from Model Bakery. When you need something sweet to go with your coffee, a twist or cinnamon bun—and you can get them with or without raisins—is definitely the answer. If you drop by early enough, you’ll be served through a window at the side of the building which, quite honestly, feels very clandestine and cool. You may even hear Bahamians ask for a “ham and cheese” for breakfast. You really can’t go wrong. They’ve been doing this for almost a century.
Run by the Mortimer family since 1928, Mortimer’s Candies produces Bahamians’ favorite treats including those known simply as “green mints”—the best you will ever have. Coconut cake, benny cake, and peanut brittle are often used as party favors, included in gift baskets, and the edible goodie of choice for those wanting to bring a taste of The Bahamas to conferences, meetings, and college dorms. The bright yellow building at the top of the hill on East Street is hard to miss. While you’re there, get some popcorn, freshly roasted peanuts, and a snowcone. If you drop in on the weekend, be sure to try their conch fritters, too.
The New Duff
It started as a food truck, and now it has a permanent location on West Bay Street, just west of the Fish Fry at Arawak Cay. After a great Bahamian meal, you can walk over to The New Duff for dessert. The most highly recommended item is the guava duff. This is fusion done right. The New Duff has taken the traditional Bahamian dessert of guava duff, a sweet dough with a generous amount of guava that is steamed and served hot with a drizzle of or a douse in (depending on your preference) butter rum sauce. They’ve got a Chinese-inspired steam bun version that reheats well and delivers the same flavor with a different texture. You can even get frozen duff to take home. While you’re there, try a cup of fever grass tea. Bush medicine is a Bahamian specialty.
Relax & Escape Mobile Spa
Have you ever needed a vacation from your vacation? Maybe just a little rest and relaxation after many hours in the sun? It can be disorienting to go into a spa for services, so let the massage therapist come to you. From Swedish and deep tissue massages to reflexology and inactive stretch techniques, Relax & Escape will bring exactly what you need to the comfort of your hotel room, apartment, yacht, or other private location of your choice. They also offer outdoor services on a beautiful covered deck overlooking the popular Cabbage Beach on Paradise Island. Would you like a maternity massage or service for the children? Relax & Escape has you covered, and you can book it all online.
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The Mixed Media gift shop at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas is the perfect place to pick up a little something for everyone, from books and postcards to jewelry and t-shirts. The friendly staff is always happy to make suggestions, share information about the artists, and point you in the direction of more of their work. They’ll also let you know about upcoming events including exhibition openings, film screenings, and artist talks. Pick up a “tings” tote bag from the Lignum and Tingum line as a last-minute carry-on stuffed with Bahamian goodies or a set of postcards featuring work by your new favorite artists to mail to friends or create a unique wall piece to remind you of your day roaming the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas’ sculpture garden.
Pulpy—owned by a young Bahamian couple—started as a pop-up, and it is now preparing to open its second location in Sandyport in the western part of Nassau. The Village Road dessert shop is centrally located, serving up premium rolled ice cream. After a few hours of touring, tanning, and tasting, you’re sure to want a cold, sweet treat. Every cup and waffle taco is customized for you. Choose the flavor, sauces, candy, and cookie add-ins and watch the experts put it all together. Your special selection turning into little scrolls is fun to witness at any age. Try the burnt caramel pecan ice cream taco, strawberry cheesecake, the good and faithful cookies and cream, or come up with something new. At Pulpy, it’s all up to you.