2011 Happy Hour Spot #1: Santana's, Little Exuma, Bahamas

It was after the meal and I was smiling, having a drink and looking out over the ocean, my beer resting on a bar painted the same color as the water. There was a sleeping dog under the wooden bench, and when I moved my feet along the railing sand would fall around his head. The next day I would swim with the pigs and feed french fries to an endangered species, but right then a schedule was the last thing on my mind.

I told the couple next to me that I thought they should order the lobster – that I’d highly recommend it – but they did not seem to value my opinion (I probably looked like a teenager to them).

Hopefully you won’t make the same mistake.

Menu at Santana's.

As was the case with the #2 spot Chat ‘N’ Chill, the remoteness of Santana’s adds so much to its appeal – it is located on Little Exuma, which is a decent drive from the hotel area in and around George Town. It isn’t somewhere that your everyday tourist is going to stumble upon, which gives the place an invaluable vibe that other’s cannot copy or imitate. The only people who go to Santana’s are the ones who have heard about it and anticipate having a good time there – which means go thirsty and hungry, plan on staying a while and being social and making a few friends.

That atmosphere translates into fewer one-and-done customers – it’s not a bar where you monitor your watch and kick out when the specials are over. If anything, the more time you spend, the harder it is to leave. I love spots like that, where the booze relaxes rather than rallies.

Although it was not the extra-strength version I had previously on the trip, I enjoyed a Kalik and watched my friends walk down towards the water. They were taking pictures and enjoying the view – which was stunning – and I was pleased to see them noticing all of it. A bit later I myself would walk down and go in up to my ankles, but right then I was enjoying the beer.

All six of us ordered the lobster, which is deep fried and served with a full plate of sides – rice & peas, pasta, grilled onions, and coleslaw (all delicious). I had deep-fried lobster once before when I was in Rosarito Beach, but Santana’s version blows it straight out of the Caribbean Sea. I’m sure whatever choice the older couple made in ordering treated them just fine – all the food there looked great – but lobster is the name of the game.

Keep in mind this is coming from a person who thinks lobster is one of the most overrated/overhyped foods on the planet given its lofty price tag. I like it, it just doesn’t typically do it for me in the way it seems to impress others. I’ll take a $16 salmon plate over a $30 lobster dish any day of the week.

Except the day I go to Santana’s again, because it truly does shine in a way I’ve never experienced before. Talk about the fish being fresh: When you see the location of this place, it will be obvious that what you are about to eat just came out of the sea. There are no deliveries of frozen fish in this neck of the woods.

Good news on the price as well: It comes with two tails and more sides than the average person can handle, so split the lobster dish with confidence and cut the $22 cost in half. Beers are cheap – a few bucks – and the view will keep your attention (Santana’s is located down the road from the Tropic of Cancer). Come and go on the beach as you please, or settle in at the bar for an extended happy hour.

Thanks to Dee at Santana’s for the unforgettable memories – and congrats on being Wake and Wander’s #1 Happy Hour Spot of 2011.

Check out the rest of the top five:

2011 Happy Hour Spot #5: Eagle Island Dock, Georgia
2011 Happy Hour Spot #4: Saona Island, Dominican Republic
2011 Happy Hour Spot #3: Santa Barbara, California
2011 Happy Hour Spot #2: Chat ‘N’ Chill, Exuma, Bahamas

Photos of Santana’s:

Love this sign. So Caribbean.

View of the water near Santana's.
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