Last updated: 01:59 PM ET, Sat April 18 2015

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  • Rosalind Cummings-Yeates | April 18, 2015 1:59 PM ET

    Top 5 Unexpected Things To Do in Nassau

    Top 5 Unexpected Things To Do in Nassau

    All photos by Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

    As a popular cruise port, Nassau, Bahamas attracts nonstop crowds who flood the bustling capital city for beaches, casinos, and shopping. Since 70 percent of the island's population lives in Nassau, there's never a shortage of events, shows, and places to explore. But what if you're interested in digging beyond the typical tourists spots? Personally, I love to gain insight into the history and culture of every place I visit. I've discovered the easiest way to do that is to look beyond the crowds and head to more hidden locations. Here are my top picks for unexpected activities in Nassau:

    1. Enjoy A One on One Cultural Exchange With The Bahamas People-To-People Program

    There is no better way to understand a place than getting to know its people. All of my best travel memories involve connecting with locals and the People-to-People program makes this really easy in Nassau. It's a free service, all you need to do is fill out the registration form that explains your interests and background and the Ministry of Tourism matches you with a local host. I was the guest of a gregarious local and his family for dinner and lively conversations. I sampled Bahamian delicacies like fried conch, red snapper and guava duff. I learned about daily life in Nassau and how many people travel between the 700 Bahamian islands (about 30 are occupied).

    2. Visit the Clifton Heritage National Park

    One of my most moving experiences in Nassau was exploring the expansive grounds of Clifton Heritage National Park. A national heritage site for which the Bahamian people battled for decades to preserve, the park boasts beaches, wetlands, nature trails, historic ruins, and art installations. A tour guide supplies the history of how the Lucuyan native Americans settled the region until Columbus enslaved them and the British colonialists arrived with enslaved Africans. Several plantation houses remain on the grounds, as well as a restored slave village. But the most memorable aspect was viewing the stunning “Garden of Genesis” art installation by Antonius Roberts. The artists carved casurina trees rooted to the ground and overlooking the ocean, in the image of enslaved women looking over the water, trying to glimpse Africa.

    3. View the World's Oldest Bottle of Wine in the World's Third Largest Private Wine Collection

    As a celebrated port city, Nassau claims quite a few pirate locations, but none as grand as Graycliff, the former home of pirate captain John Howard Graycliff. Built in 1740, the landmark is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is now a luxury hotel that houses the third largest wine collection in the world. Deep in the bowels of Graycliff, in what used to be the dungeon, rows and rows of over 250,000 bottles representing 15 different countries line the walls. In a corner, nestled in a protective box, lies the world's oldest bottle of wine from the year 1727, priced at $200,000. Try a Graycliff wine tasting or wine luncheon to get a first-hand experience.

    4. Sample Upscale Bahamian Cuisine

    Island life is all about relaxed and casual pursuits, but you can also grab a more refined experience at Sapodilla restaurant. Locally owned and surrounded by lush gardens and wetlands, Sapodilla offers a singular dining experience. I love the eclectic menu that features local specialties with European influences like a roasted pumpkin bisque made from local pumpkins that had me swooning. But the highlight was the pianist who sits at a white baby grand and rolls out top 40 hits like a Bahamian Elton John.

    5. Taste and Tour Nassau’s Oldest Candy Candy Maker

    A family owned candy company that has supplied Bahamians with sweets for 85 years, Mortimer Candies is a Nassau hallmark. Sitting at the top of a hill and fancifully painted yellow and lavender, the shop is always filled with locals picking up snow cones, popcorn, fudge, or an array of brightly colored candy. Don't miss the paradise sweet, covered in the yellow and sky blue of the Bahamian flag.

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Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Far-Sighted Field Notes

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a journalist, author and blogger who specializes in travel and culture topics. She loves guiding readers through the richness of various cultures and discovering the essence of a destination. Her travel and culture blog, Farsighted Fly Girl, offers travel insights through the music, food, art and history of various countries and cultures. Join her on the journey at www.Rosalindcummingsyeates.
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