Dining under the stars at The Palapa Grill, as you finish off a Bahamian lobster tail, seared red snapper, or a heaping plate of jerk chicken, you hear the distant sound of drums.

Intrigued, you quickly pay your bill, take a loved one by hand, and pass by the pool, through a white gate, and down winding stairs towards the ocean. There is a soft glow ahead. Concrete gives away to white sand, so you shed sandals or shoes and continue walking.

A full moon casts a dull light. It sparkles off the crashing ocean to your left, and straight ahead, you can see shapes moving around a bonfire. Before long, faces and smiles are visible, the sound of laughing and socializing, and everyone has a drink in hand.

Two Bahamians are pounding large drums and dancing in colorful costumes.

Bonfire2Welcome. You have arrived at your first Junkanoo Bonfire, a truly unforgettable experience at Grand Isle Resort & Spa.

Every Tuesday and Thursday night, the resort pays homage to this staple of Bahamian culture.

Junkanoo is a type of music and dance shared throughout the Caribbean, although Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, takes it up a notch. In fact, every year at Christmas, downtown Nassau becomes the site of the largest Junkanoo parade in the world, featuring elaborate costumes and choreographed dance.

This tradition, however, can be found in smaller forms throughout the Bahamas.

On Tuesdays, you can enjoy a meal at Palapa Grill and take in the Rake N’ Scrape band, playing a mix of relaxing ballads and upbeat island music. And on Thursdays, the bar and restaurant offers a special Bahamian menu of local culinary delights, such as conch, peas and rice and baked macaroni and cheese.

A Junkanoo Bonfire follows both of these dining experiences.

Bonfire12Sitting around the fire, you cannot help but stomp, shake or dance to the infectious music. There are even cowbells available so you can play along with the drums. These bonfires are a unique taste of Bahamian culture, and standing around those licking flames, you will feel thousands of miles of away from the ordinary.

It is the perfect end to another perfect day at Grand Isle in Exuma, Bahamas.

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