Bahamian Must-Do: The 43rd Annual McLean’s Towne Conch Cracking Festival

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When in Grand Bahama and you’re looking for something to do that is quintessentially Bahamian, then the McLean’s Towne Conch Cracking Festival is the one to hit.  Fortunately, when our traveling True Beach Lover was on her information gathering journey, this one-a-year massive bash was going on. Here’s her saga as we know it.

On the way to this remote fun spot, you think you’re headed off to oblivion (or Texas Chainsaw Massacre country), but alas, you’re not. While you do drive down a long windy road through some woods, you will suddenly come upon an opening – an expansive grass dirt field full of tents that is hugged by a sparkling, shallow inlet. When you get closer, you hear the Bahamian music (akin to Reggae), see the smoke of the fire pits, hear the deep laughter of the locals and realize that you’ve discovered a party – and a contest – like no other: The McClean’s Towne Conch Cracking Festival in the Grand Bahama.

Contestants take a hammer and a spike, place it in the middle of the conch shell, slam it down to crack it open, then take the long, black slug out of it, dangle the slimy thing around for all to see, then throw it in a bucket. The winner – the one who can crack, pull and throw the conch out of the shell the fastest.  But watch out, these shells will be a flyin’ so get out of the way of the women who are doing the cracking.

Around the festival, you’ll see big stacks of shells outside every tent – the “spoils of war” these competitors are proud of. You might be thinking: what’s the big whoop about an obscure, little crustacean? Conch is the national dish of the Bahamas. Boom.

conch at mcclean's towne conch cracking festival grand bahama
(Conch, McClean’s Towne Conch Cracking Festival, photo by: instagram.com/sydneykay3.)

Top line: this grub is good stuff. You can enjoy conch raw (it’s like ceviche), fried (like chicken), Conch salad (our TBLs fav) or conch fritters – both are delish.

may pole mcclean's towne conch cracking festival grand bahama
(May Pole, McClean’s Towne Conch Cracking Festival, photo by: instagram.com/sydneykay3.)

May Pole. Bahamian-Style.

Another festive event at this partay is something like the May Pole, but it’s done year round. School girls, each holding a different bright color of ribbon, weave in and out around each other and create a braid on the pole. Our True Beach Lover got to join the festivity and was welcomed like she was a local.

gully wow station, mcclean's annual towne conch cracking festival grand bahama
(Gully Wow station, McClean’s Annual Towne Conch Cracking Festival, photo by: instagram.com/sydneykay3.)

What may have given her some liquid courage to join the school girls ‘round the May Pole was the famed drink of the fest, the Gully Wash, or it’s called the Gully WOW. It’s a mix of fresh coconut water, sweetened condensed milk and gin. It was mixed up right under a tent in a coconut, and poured right into her red Solo cup. (She especially liked this).

kalik beer mccclean's towne conch cracking festival grand bahama
(Kalik beer, McClean’s Towne Conch Cracking Festival, Bahamas, photo by: instagram.com/sydneykay3.)

Beers…YUM.

Other libations that our True Beach Lover enjoyed at the fest were the beers: Sands with Lime, which tasted like fresh squeezed lime was poured into it moments before she took her first sip. The other was Kalik, a Bahamian classic, replete with an enormous crazy balloon swaying in the cool breeze. You can get a beer for two bucks, or go the super-saver route and buy six beers for four dollars. These Bahamians, they aim to please.

So are you thirty yet? Hungry? Thought so. All you have to do is call 1-800-915-3162 and one of our outstanding Beachologists will set up your dream escape to Grand Bahama, or any one of our other glorious hot spots in the Caribbean or Mexico. Or you can browse our menu of all-inclusive vacation packages where you’ll get more sand for your dollar. Don’t wait. You probably need a beach right now more than you really know.

Lisa Mitchell

I am a blogger for CheapCaribbean.com who is a travel junkie and addicted to the beach.

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