Airport Report: Nassau, Bahamas

Back in the day, if you were traveling through a Caribbean airport the best you could hope for was functional air-conditioning and a sweaty cheese sandwich at the snack counter. But as regional airports have expanded and upgraded, so too have the facilities for passengers. I just got back from Nassau where I was blown away by the multi-million dollar improvements at Lynden Pindling International Airport, now a modern, spacious and light-filled hub where even Immigration officers crack a smile as they welcome you to the gateway of the Bahamas.IMG_7656

I continued to be impressed on my way out: Pre-clearing US Immigration and Customs in Nassau meant that when I got back to Fort Lauderdale I could just grab my bag and go.


And shopportunities on the concourse in the U.S. Departures area were some of the best I’ve seen in the Caribbean, with not only the usual duty-free designer offerings but a good selection of authentic and locally made buyables.


I loved the handmade soaps, candles and pottery at the My Ocean store, and I came “thisclose” to buying a yolk-yellow cotton sundress at Uniquely Bahamian, where they sell clothing, table linens made from the islands’ famous Androsia batik fabric.


Next door, half of the inventory at The Last Straw is devoted to baskets, bowls and placemats made on the island of Andros from the native and naturally water-resistant silver top palm.


When my retail itch was soothed I headed for the Graycliff Divan, a handsome sanctuary where for just $10 you get free Wi-Fi, a drink, and the chance to kick back pre-flight in one of two lounges (one for smokers) or on the breezy deck where you can soak up your last precious rays of Bahamian sunshine. The Divan also has its own boutique, where big sellers are the Cuban-style cigars and organic chocolates made at Graycliff’s cigar factory and new chocolate boutique downtown.


Of course, no one wants to be captive on the concourse for hours on end. But when the worst happens, Nassau's airport takes the drudgery out of the delay.