The Special Joys Of Seaside Bars

We’ve had a chance to frequent a seaside bar or two during our brief visit to Grand Bahama Island, and we’ve enjoyed each visit.  In fact, I think I’ve enjoyed every visit I’ve ever made to a seaside bar, regardless of whether the particular hole-in-the-wall is in Key West, Cozumel, or a remote Caribbean island.

There are several reasons for this.  First, a cold beer never tastes so good as when it is quaffed in the warm sunshine, while you are wearing a bathing suit, sitting barefoot, and watching through the darkened lens of your shades as anchored boats bob in the sun-dappled water nearby.  The warmth of the sun and the beer-infused warmth spreading through your system seem to combine in a magical elixir of relaxation.

Second, seaside bars tend to serve mostly fried foods — that is, salty, heavy, crunchy foods that are guilty pleasures for almost everyone.   I’m talking about foods like conch fritters and chicken wings, grouper fingers and fried lobster.  These are dishes that you eat with your fingers and dip into a sauce and that taste especially good with a cold beer.

Consider this plate of cracked conch and french fries that I got yesterday when we visited Doris’ place outside High Rock on Grand Bahama Island.  The plate is a study in shades of tan — the color that most of us secretly associate with tastiness.  There’s no effort to make it “healthy” by adding a few unwanted sprigs of green or the latest cutting edge vegetable combination.  In truth, no one wants to eat vegetables in a seaside place.

And finally, seaside bars are unpretentious.  They’re not decorated with fancy stuff.  They feature battered picnic tables and plastic utensils rather than fine cutlery.  There are cracks in the wood flooring.  They’re not the kind of place where people feel they need to whisper.  No, they’re places where everyone tracks sand in the door, and their idea of decorations doesn’t go much farther than a funny sign or two.  In short, they’re the kind of place where you can heave a sigh of relief, lean back with your frothy adult beverage, and enjoy a hearty laugh with your friends.

And that is the beauty of a seaside bar.

Vacation Time: Waterfront Bars

What is it about waterfront establishments that are so conducive to a pleasant drinking experience?

A view from the deck at Banana Bay

Beers rarely taste so good as they do when you are sitting at a picnic table, gazing out at the surf from under palm trees and a thatched roof, and eating a hot conch fritter.  There are two good waterfront venues within walking distance of the Pisciottas’ home, and we’ve taken advantage of both of them on this trip.

To the left, about a 15-minute walk away, is Banana Bay.  It has a big covered deck with picnic tables that looks out over the broad sweep of Banana Bay and a sand spit that stretches far out into the ocean at low tide.

Chuck at the entrance to the Sand Bar

To the right, past Club Fortuna, is the Sand Bar.  It is a smaller establishment with a narrow entrance off the beach, two outside decks with good views of the beach and ocean, and a dim interior bar with a sand-covered floor and a collection of local characters.

Banana Bay is more of a lunch restaurant with a drink menu, whereas the Sand Bar is more of a bar with a few food choices. They are both good options for a cold beer on a hot day.