Searching for your next great adventure? This Sweet July series taps top travel enthusiasts to share first-hand insight into their ventures across the country and world, so you know exactly what to expect and how to prepare once you book your ticket. Wishing you safe—and sweet—travels!

Today: Brea Baker shares her top tips for vacationing in the Bahamas.

Made up of more than 2,000 small islands and cays, the Bahamas is situated in the Atlantic Ocean just off Florida’s coast. Most of these areas—home to coral reefs, caves and various animals—aren’t inhabited by people. You’ll find Bahamian residents and tourists alike only on the few dozen islands north of Cuba, the most famous of which are Nassau and Freeport. The remaining islands are referred to as “out” or “family islands.”

My first trip to the Bahamas was part of a cruise with a less than 12-hour stop at Nassau Island. On my second trip to the Bahamas, I decided to stay longer and get more acquainted with the island as part of the Nassau Paradise Island Wine & Food Festival at Atlantis Paradise Island, the famed Nassau resort. I try my best to build trips around events because of the opportunity to meet other global travelers and have a unique experience in a gorgeous new place.

The festival did not disappoint. It was perfect for a weekend away: an event with unmatched flair and an award-winning lineup of culinary and entertainment talents including chef JJ Johnson, Wyclef Jean, Martha Stewart, Nobu Matsuhisa and so many more. If you’re looking to plan a trip around next year’s festival, the dates are March 12-16, 2025. Regardless, there’s plenty to do in the Bahamas year round.

Aerial view of Atlantis Paradise Island taken from one of the resort’s hotel towers.



Those looking to indulge in local savory delights should make a beeline for Fish Fry, a hub of food stands known for large portions, affordable prices, and some of the freshest fish and seafood like snapper and lobster. Formally called the Arawak Cay, this area is also great for strolling and taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the Bahamas. Soca and reggae music flows out of restaurants and people spill out onto the streets. The Fish Fry is conveniently situated near the area where cruises dock, so short time visitors can enjoy the food as well.


The annual Nassau Paradise Island Wine & Food Festival is a weekend full of culinary experiences and performances worth every dollar. (Ticket packages range in price based on how many sessions or experiences you wish to include and the exclusivity of those offerings.) Before arriving, my ears perked up when I heard that international icons like Martha Stewart and Nobuyuki Matsuhisa of the renowned Nobu Restaurants would be cooking alongside local restaurateurs and chefs like Chef Antonio Williams of Da Food People Catering. The packed itinerary lived up to all expectations. Many of the events—like the evening Jerk Jam—highlighted local culinary expertise and Bahamian ingredients like conch and other seafood. My drink partners ensured that the fun lasted all day and well into the night!

At the festival, I devoured everything from oxtail and tuna tacos to slow-braised short rib and lobster tails, all prepared by some of the best chefs in the world. During a dinner curated by celebrity chef Robert Irvine, I drank wine from ancient sea beds and enjoyed citrus- and herb-crusted black grouper that had been caught less than an hour before our meal. At a Rum Punch Lunch hosted by Chef JJ Johnson, he talked through a vision for how foods like rice can bridge cultural divides. A Black American chef with Caribbean heritage, Chef JJ brings together things he learned in his grandmother’s kitchen with crafts he honed at elite culinary schools, and always honors the farmers who make our food possible. It was amazing to eat with and learn from him in such an intimate setting. True foodies will live for moments like these!

Many of the chefs included in the festival also have restaurants in the Bahamas—Nobu, Carmine’s, and Fish by José Andres for example—so you can make reservations outside of the weekend. Similarly, the local Cafe Martinique, which hosted a gospel brunch during the festival featuring music artist Hezekiah Walker, is home to weekly Sunday brunches that hotel visitors and residents alike come out for. Sitting next to Chef Glenn Rolnik of Carmine’s at an event, I listened as he explained that restaurants in the Bahamas—even those part of international franchises—are unique by nature of ingredient availability, import regulation and staffing availability. As with everything, our meals are political yet still incredibly delicious and a great way to learn more about a nation and her people.



The most affordable way to visit the Bahamas is definitely on a cruise, though there are drawbacks to that route. Most cruisers only get about eight to 10 hours on land, which is just enough time to hang on the beach, grab a day pass to a nearby hotel or explore the immediate area but not long enough to do multiple water excursions and taste the abundant food available.


As one of the largest employers in the country and home to iconic architecture and water features, the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort is a landmark and lodging in one. Boasting 11 outdoor pools, several water slides, four hotel towers, a mini aquarium, casino, spa, golf course, several high-end restaurants and more, Atlantis is a mini-city offering enough activities and excursions to keep things fresh for dozens of visits. What I especially loved was the resort’s emphasis on sustainability through partnerships with local nonprofits that protect marine life and prevent excess tourism waste.

For young traveling parents like my wife and myself, the Atlantis Resort made bringing the baby on vacation actually enjoyable. From accessible amenities, like the crib at check-in and dispersed water refill stations, to the safety and convenience, we were hooked. It’s the kind of resort where I could rock my baby to sleep poolside and then quietly order a Sky Juice (the famous local cocktail of coconut water and gin) as my little one napped under an umbrella.

Brea Baker with Chef JJ Johnson of FIELDTRIP, Chef Glenn Rolnik of Carmine’s, and Jeremy Joyce of Black People Eats.



When staying at a hotel like The Atlantis, there are built-in sights and experiences included in your stay, such as the sting ray, sea turtle and predator observation stations around the resort and available at no additional cost. Two other affordable, off-site options are the Rum Cake Factory and Queen’s Staircase. The former is the home of the Official Rum Cake of The Bahamas and is an example of the local culinary traditions that can be found across the island of Nassau. The Queen’s Staircase, also known as the 66 Steps, is another prominent historical landmark, dating back to the 1700s. The limestone staircase is now covered in moss and plants but still offers insight into the local history of colonization.


Surrounded by the bluest, clearest water you’ve ever seen, the Bahamas is most associated with water sports. There’s swimming with dolphins, snorkeling, scuba diving and boat tours galore. Any hotel you’re staying at—including the two largest: Atlantis and the Baha Mar—offer excursions to be booked on sight but tours can also be arranged through stand-alone agencies that are fairly prevalent across the island. The more you’re willing to spend, the greater privacy and customization you can find, but know that the islands offer near limitless possibilities.

What To Pack:

The Bahamas enjoys warm weather all year round, though the breeze from the ocean can keep nights feeling cool. You’ll definitely need bathing suits, hats or visors, and lots of sunscreen. I’d also recommend packing layers for different points in the day. A light jacket can be wrapped around the waist or placed in a beach bag until needed.My go-tos are either my floor-length Ivy Park sweater or a Philaprint hoodie paired with a brightly colored, medium Telfar shopping bag.


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