Grand Bahama Island: Fresh Fish, Conch Salad, and Bahama Mamas

About 100 miles from Miami lies Grand Bahama Island. Best known for Freeport, the large shipping terminal and adjacent tax and duty-free area and the tourist town of Lucaya, Grand Bahama also boasts gorgeous white sand beaches, explorable caves, and excellent fishing -- which translates into great seafood.

Restaurants on Grand Bahama Island range from Americanized joints selling pizzas to the more interesting beach shacks offering fish, conch, and lobster just plucked from the crystal blue Atlantic. The seafood is fried or grilled and served with an ice cold Kalik or Sands, the two most popular beers of the Bahamas.

A good time to take a weekend jaunt to Grand Bahama is during one of the many festival days. Short Order took in the recent International food festival, which featured stands representing the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Guyana to name a few. Coming up is the annual Junkanoo Summer Festival, celebrated on Taino Beach every Thursday in July and the International Film Festival in October. But, since it's less than an hour by airplane and two and a half hours by fast ferry, it's a great alternative to the usual Keys jaunt any time you're jonesing for fresh seafood and a few beers.

Fresh snapper served with peas and rice at Junkanoo Beach ($8).

Conch is Queen in the Bahamas. Here it's breaded, deep fried, and served as a conch burger ($8).

Conch fritters ($5) are served just about everywhere. Small restaurants on the beach, like at Diamond Sunrise in the town of High Rock, give you a better conch-to-breading ratio.

Lobster tails ($22.95) are fresh daily at Le Med restaurant on the dock at Lucaya Marina.

Drive off the beaten path for the freshest seafood at the best prices. Bishop's Place serves fresh seafood directly on the beach.

Stands serve boozy drinks inside coconuts.

Many restaurants have their own fishing boats. Whatever happens to be caught is on the menu, like this snapper which is fried whole and served with a salad at Diamond Sunrise ($10).

Here's the view while you chew.

Besides the usual pops for kids, this truck surprised us with freshly made guava ice cream.

Lorraine sells hot pepper sauce ($7) and jams made from local fruits like guava, sea grape, and papaya.

Conch salad is prepared fresh to order. It's worth the wait.

Though there's a large party scene, the Bahamas is a Christian nation, so you might see signs like this at your restaurant. 

Yes, they're Cuban. Totally legal to buy and smoke on the island. Don't try to smuggle them home.

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