I don’t usually have the opportunity to travel to the Caribbean, and that’s simply because it’s too far from Los Angeles, California, where I live. I would love to bask under the sun and enjoy the turquoise and cerulean blue waters while sipping a rum punch and writing my journal, but unfortunately, I have to factor in the travel time, which includes several connecting flights, before arriving on the whimsical shores. However, JetBlue recently heard my prayers and (plenty of others), as they decided to expand their direct international flight service offerings on the West Coast, connecting Nassau, Bahamas, with nonstop service from Los Angeles (only on Saturdays) for now on November 4th. Their decision marks a massive step to widening their consumer base so everyone can enjoy a warm Caribbean escape year-round, no matter what coast you’re on.
Both routes offer JetBlue’s award-winning Mint® premium experience, featuring countless intuitive design touches that help every customer feel at home in the air, like plush seats that recline into a bed or a memory headrest, and culinary delights and craft cocktails curated by the one and only Pasquale Jones, which makes it impossible for any flyer to have a lousy plane ride experience. So it was my delight to be invited to take part in celebrating JetBlue’s inaugural, nonstop flight from Los Angeles to the Bahamas with a week-long trip to the Bahamas, which included two island stops out of their 700 isles and cays and 16 unique island destinations: Nassau and Bimini. As the first group of travelers to board JetBlue’s new weekly nonstop service from Los Angeles (LAX) to Nassau (NAS), I not only experienced JetBlue’s award-winning service first-hand but also got a taste of mindblowing adventures in Nassau, the capital of The Bahamas and Bimini, a beloved smaller island. I was thrilled to experience the coveted Caribbean paradise known for its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant culture. Throughout the stay, we had the opportunity to rest, dine, and drink at some of the most exclusive hotels and restaurants in the Caribbean, like Atlantis Paradise Island, Resorts World Bimini, and my favorite resort, the SLS Baha Mar.
As I stepped off the first JetBlue flight #2710 from Los Angeles and arrived at Lynden Pindling International Airport, I was greeted and embraced in true Bahamian style, with a spirited and traditional Bahamian Junkanoo welcome for the gate ceremony, setting the stage and tone for an unforgettable experience and trip.
“We are excited to introduce a new option to connect our customers in Los Angeles to the destinations they want to fly,” said Erik Hildebrandt, Director of Domestic Cities, JetBlue. “This new service to Nassau will bring more great service and everyday low fares to more customers, will expand our network and international presence in the Caribbean, and open a direct option to Nassau, a world-class and popular destination.”
Check out my top experiences during a fabulous week-long stay in the Bahamas; spoiler alert (I fed a stingray, tried octopus, visited a rum distillery, and took pictures in a wine cellar where Beyoncé and Jay-Z got engaged).
Visiting the Queen’s Staircase:
The Queen’s Staircase, commonly called the 66 steps, is a significant landmark in the Fort Fincastle Historic Complex in Nassau. It was hewn out of solid limestone rock by enslaved people between 1793 and 1794, and it is said that it provided a direct route from Fort Fincastle to Nassau City.
Rum tasting at John Watling’s Distillery:
John Watling’s Distillery at the beautifully restored and historic Buena Vista Estate is a must-see for rum lovers and history buffs. Set on more than two acres of lush tropical gardens and named after “a pious pirate who sailed the Bahamian seas.” We took a property tour and tried cocktails made with their signature Bahamian rum. I highly recommend trying their Pina Coladas.
Experiencing old-world beauty at the Graycliff Hotel and Restaurant:
With nearly 300 years of history, the beautiful Graycliff Hotel in downtown Nassau is steeped in glamour, romance, and thrilling tales. From its early days as a pirate hangout to its heyday as a sophisticated playground for the rich and famous, Graycliff is truly an “if those walls could talk” institution in The Bahamas. Today, the colonial mansion is a beloved attraction and home to a five-star restaurant, a chocolatier, a cigar company, and one of the world’s most extensive wine cellars. The wine cellar was also where Beyoncé and Jay-Z got engaged.
For the next leg of the trip, we headed out to Bimini and had to take another plane to do so. Once we landed and settled at Resort World Bimini, we went into town (North Bimini) to explore. Here were my favorite stops on tour.
Visiting Ansil’s Boat House:
Ansil is a beloved 90-year-old man who has been constructing boats from unique materials on the islands but also serves as an essential piece of history – one that interconnects Black Americans and Bahamians since the 1960s. During our visit, Ansil revealed that his boat house, and Bimini as a whole, was a sacred place for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to retreat to write his acceptance speech for his Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He reflected on how he took Dr. King on a boat ride through Bonefish Creek so Dr. King could clear his mind and bask in the gorgeous and serene scenery of Bimini.
Ansil proudly shared with us that Dr. King told him: “I feel like I could reach up and touch the face of God in this place.”
We sailed out on the Bimini pearly blue waters to try something adventurous, snorkeling with sharks and feeding stingrays through Neal Watson’s Bimini Scuba Center Bimini Boat Tour. I opted out of swimming with sharks but did feed the stingrays.
Visiting the Junkaroo Museum:
Following the revitalization of Nassau Cruise Port in May, the port is now home to a brand new Junkanoo Museum, allowing visitors all the more opportunities to learn about the country’s national cultural festival. There, I met Arlene Nash Ferguson, the brainchild of the original Educulture Junkanoo Museum in Nassau and an expert on Bahamian culture and traditions. “The purpose of the new Junkanoo Museum is to introduce our cruise ship visitors to the national cultural festival of The Bahamas – Junkanoo primarily! and as was explained to me initially, hopefully, it would inspire our visitors to seek out other Junkanoo experiences on the island. It sends a clear message that the Bahamas has far more to offer than sand, sun, and sea – of which we have much and which are magnificent. But so is our unique culture!” says Ferguson.
Flamingo Yoga at SLS Baha Mar (Nassau):
We had a private yoga class with Flamingos (any hotel guest can book this experience)! I highly recommend it if you’re open to doing a downward dog with the National Bird of The Bahamas beside you.