When does an activity transcend into an experience? The answer: when what you do for the moment blossoms into lifelong memories. Sure, Grand Bahama Island's CocoNutz Cruisers has motorized bicycles and takes you to off the beaten track sites . . . but what you take away is much more than a ride.
Owner H. Alfredo Bridgewater works hard to accommodate you, the tourist. Did you come on a cruise ship but forgot to sign up for a tour? Just have someone call him from a Bahamas telephone. Do you need a lift from your hotel? No problem, same thing. If you forgot sunscreen, he's got you covered.
His bicycles are somewhere between a bike and a scooter; he gives lessons ahead of time and makes sure you'll be able to ride in traffic. What if you just don't get the hang of it? I kind of didn't. Even that's not a problem, as he'll take you along in his vehicle. That turned out to be a bonus for me, as Alfredo is a fount of knowledge of Bahamian history and culture. If he doesn't know everybody – which it seems like he does – he knows where they're from. How is this possible? By talking with him, I realized just how small some of the Bahamian islands' populations are. Also, he knows by their last names. Sadly, because the islands were settled by slave populations, the slaves took the names of their masters; Alfredo knows where those plantations were.
So, what are some of the places you'll see? CocoNutz Cruisers arranges an exclusive experience with Anthony "Zips" Hanna of Tony Macaroni, the famous beach bar. Tony teaches how to scoop out a live conch and make salad from it – the freshest cooking I've ever done. What makes him extra-memorable is that he's pretty much the Afro-Caribbean Don Rickles. He dishes it out unfiltered, on sight. What he probably wasn't expecting, was that I give as well as I get. To amuse myself and to see what would happen, I threw a hand-grenade into the mix: What did he think about Paula Deen? Soon, we had all kinds of N and F words flying, accusing Caucasians of being hypocrites for being outraged at her statements. Ah . . . but what about the plantation-style wedding she dreamed of? That brought out a rarely seen quiet and thoughtful Tony. Harkening back to those types of "My Old Kentucky Home" sickeningly unequal lifestyles and glorifying them, showed a basic insensitivity.
Lunch is an abbreviated menu at Banana Bay – where you can also do a bit of swimming at their beach. I ordered a conch burger, as I can't get that at home, but others ordered fried fish, etc. Those fried things looked divine – definitely go with that. They have massive iced tea glasses, meant to be a "challenge," but gone in a flash on a hot day!