The best of the Bahamas can be found at Sandyport

Nassau's Sandyport area is considered more laid back than many sections of the city

(Image: Coconut trees line the beach in front of the colourful villas that make up Sandyport Beaches Resort and Hotel in Nassau, Bahamas. All photos: Sandra Thomas)

By Sandra Thomas, Vancouver Courier

After deciding to visit Nassau in the Bahamas, we narrowed our search to the Sandyport area, which is considered more laid back than many sections of the city. The question then became where to stay? During our search I was repeatedly drawn to the website belonging, appropriately enough, to Sandyport Beaches Resort and Hotel with its colourful, waterfront villas located in a gated community on Cable Beach. I must have looked at those photos 100 times before we actually arrived. We also checked the resort out on TripAdvisor and liked what we saw.

The beach at the Sandyport Beaches Resort and Hotel in Nassau, Bahamas

TripAdvisor recently presented the resort with a certificate of excellence, an award based on guest reviews, and ranked it among the top five hotels on the island of New Providence, of which Nassau is the capital. We also liked it because of its easy access to liquor and grocery stores and the waterfront restaurants in the Sandyport Marina Village, including Blue Sail, a beachfront bar offering Mediterranean French fusion cuisine alongside some Bahamian favourites.  

But one of our favourite “dining” experiences of our entire two weeks in the Bahamas was not exactly in a restaurant. As we walked to our coral-coloured villa after checking into Sandyport on our first night in Nassau, in the distance I could hear the unmistakable R&B sounds of Curtis Mayfield singing “It’s All Right.” I traced the music to a tiny blue-and-white hut on the beach where a row of barstools called our name and a bartending chef named Cleveland gave us a very warm and rum-filled welcome to the Bahamas.

Drinks at the beach hut bar with Chef Cleveland

The next day, when the fog cleared, we set out to explore Nassau by bus. We’d heard the bus system was easy to navigate, which was true, so we headed out to Paradise Island where the rich and famous park their yachts and lose their money at the tables. Our plan was to visit what’s referred to as the “straw market” along the way, but an unexpected tropical storm brought in wind and rain so heavy it was blowing sideways and the tiny kiosks selling everything from ball caps to Bob Marley T-shirts were closed.

Nassau is a city of contrasts and nothing demonstrated that more than a trip across its nausea-inducing, potholed streets teeming with locals and moneyed visitors. We also travelled by taxi, which is an experience in itself. Taxis in Nassau are supposed to be licensed, but we travelled in some pretty sketchy vehicles, making us doubt the validity of that claim. But we did arrive at our destinations safely. Tip: always ask what the flat rate is, and if it seems inflated, barter.

We were lucky enough to arrive in Nassau the same week a new festival was about to launch, and the city was buzzing in anticipation of the big event, which included a carnival-style parade and concerts.

The Junkanoo Carnival is a celebration of all things Bahamian, including dance, food, arts and crafts and “rake ‘n’ scrape,” a style of music that’s thought to have its birth in Africa and was later brought to the Bahamas by slaves who made instruments out of recycled objects.

But seeking some rest and relaxation, we stuck close to Sandyport where we wandered down the street to explore and experience the true laid-back vibe of the area. We also enjoyed making meals in our colonial-style villa and eating on our balcony overlooking the azure-tinted water and Champagne-coloured sand. When we weren’t lying by the pool or beach we’d visit Lady Sarah, a.k.a. “Queen of Fun,” in the main building of the resort for suggestions on everything from where to eat to what activities we should check out.

Fresh mangos for breakfast, eaten on the balcony overlooking the beach

They say first impressions are everything so our initial reaction to Nassau and the Bahamas, based on our experiences at Sandyport Beaches Resort, was happily a great one.

And now I have my own photographs of those coral, green, blue and yellow villas to gaze at when I’m feeling homesick for a tropical locale.

For more about the resort, check out www.sandyportresort.com.

For more stories from the Vancouver Courier, visit www.vancourier.com.

Some of the many perks at the Sandyport Beaches Resort and Hotel in Nassau, Bahamas include soaker tubs in the bedrooms