A short trip from Florida, a Bahamas holiday is an easy and convenient tropical paradise.
The Bahamas are a group of islands with an amazing combination of natural wonder, culture and historical attractions, but above all are the friendly, peaceful people whose very nature seems to reflect the former inhabitants of the islands; the gentle Lucayan and Arawak Indians!
This diverse group of islands provides limitless holiday possibilities for all holidaymakers- old or young, the adventurous or those looking to relax. The low-lying limestone and coral islets have a history rich in British tradition and on July 10, 1973 became the free and sovereign Commonwealth of the Bahamas, ending 325 years of British rule.
One of the Caribbean mysteries is exactly how many islands are in The Bahamas; there are some big enough to count of course, but the little islands of sand that appear with falling tides is near on impossible to count. Guesses range from around 700 islands and 2,000 cays, spread out over nearly 100,000 square miles of ocean. With so much territory to cover, most visitors tend to pinpoint one of the 16 main inhabited islands or island groups, each with its own unique character.
The two main cities of Nassau and Freeport are on two of the smaller islands in the chain. The capital city of Nassau on New Providence Island boasts lively casinos, resorts (many on adjacent Paradise Island), shopping, and is the centre for government and commerce. Cruise ships make Nassau and Freeport, Grand Bahama Island regular stops on their Caribbean routes. A range of accommodation plus the nightlife, water sports, golf, tennis, fishing and family activities available make these two islands favourite holiday destinations.
The Islands of The Bahamas are very accessible by both air and sea. Major international airlines offer direct flights to several of the major islands and just a 45-minute flight will transport you from a hectic airport in Miami to the quiet solitude of a picturesque island full of history and charm- meaning you can easily combine a trip to The Bahamas with a US visit. More ships are stopping in The Bahamas than ever before on their cruises, and as a boater’s paradise, the island is perfectly set up to cater for every type of boating imaginable, from pleasure cruising to competitive sailing.
The most visited island is New Providence which is home to the bustling capital of Nassau. There is a busy international airport and cruise ship dock which welcomes millions of visitors through its terminals annually; many arrive for their relaxing island experience, while others race for a high stakes Bahamas holiday, gambling in the world-class casinos. The neighbouring resort development of Paradise Island is home to the Atlantis Resort: The Aquaventure Water Park and aquarium together comprise the world's largest open-air marine habitat.
GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND
Grand Bahama Island boasts a sprawling reef-protected shoreline and cays which are covered with powdery white-sand beaches. Around 90 miles of the southern shore is white-sand beach and more than 50 miles of that is secluded. Each area can claim a favourite: Gold Rock Beach, the star of them all in the east; Paradise Cove Beach, a tiny jewel in the west; Taino Beach, a hub of activities in Lucaya including a children's playground, nature reserve and bird sanctuary; and Xanadu Beach which is a favourite of those who visit Freeport due to its close location to the town. Golfers know that The Bahamas' nicest golf courses – those designed by Dick Wilson, Joe Lee, and Robert Trent Jones Jr. – are located on Grand Bahama Island.
As you’d expect with these tropical turquoise waters, diving and snorkelling are first class in The Bahamas, and Andros boasts the third-largest fringing barrier reef in the world which is 190 miles long and plunges to more than 6,000 feet. It is unique in the region because of its large area, luxuriant coral growth, and low incidence of coral disease. Blue holes, both inland and in the ocean, are another reason to visit, as well as highly acclaimed fly-fishing flats, where bonefish are abundant. Andros also offers many things to do on-land; including watching the numerous birds that inhabit the island and taking a trip to see the pink flamingos.
ABACOS & EXUMAS
The Abacos and The Exumas are two island chains in The Bahamas known to be amongst the world's top boating and sailing destinations- and have been boating capitals since colonial times. It is very common for boaters to leave the 'big island' of Great Abaco on a day trip to explore the nearby cays – Elbow, Great Guana, Man-O-War, or Green Turtle.
The Abacos offers many spectacular stretches of sand here, most notably Treasure Cay Beach, which was voted one of the 10 best beaches in the region. Others are Ocean Beach with its sugary sand, Tahiti Beach has soft white sand, seven-mile-long Guana Cay Beach has a tall dune, Abaco Beach Resort's sand is shaded beneath palm trees and Sandy Point Beach has plenty of pretty shells to collect.
The Exumas are an archipelago of 365 cays and islands, boasting thousands of miles of invitingly soft, white-sand beaches stretching along the length of the chain, perfect for relaxing or exploring by foot and by boat. The shallow, crystal-clear waters provide one of the prettiest settings for snorkelling in the entire Bahamas. On Great Exuma Island, there is Tropic of Cancer Beach, the longest one on the island and the prettiest in the chain. Others include Emerald Beach at Sandals Resort, named for the translucent emerald-green water it sits on; Three Sisters Beach is associated with a local myth; crescent-shaped Jolly Hall Beach can be reached on foot from most hotels; Coco Plum Beach is great for shelling and on Hamburger Beach you can usually join a volleyball game.
ELEUTHERA & HARBOUR ISLAND
The pink sands of Eleuthera & Harbour Island, spreading over 35 miles of coastline on the Atlantic Ocean side, along with its tropical flair and New England style has charmed travellers for decades. Everyone’s list of the world’s top 10 beaches includes the famed Harbour Island’s Pink Sand Beach. The 100 long and skinny miles that make up this island are some of the most developed of the out islands. The famous pink sand which Eleurthera is known for also spreads over 35 miles on the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea sides of Eleuthera Island. The island features several other blushing beaches too, most notably French Leave Beach,Lighthouse Beach, Surfer’s Beach and Winding Bay Beach.
Long Island is home to Dean's Blue Hole, the deepest recorded blue hole in the world, with the second largest underwater chamber. It also has one of the largest ancient cave systems in The Bahamas. It extends 60 miles, and is dotted with small little towns and beaches which are dramatic, serene and scenic.. The most beautiful—Cape Santa Maria Beach—has been ranked among the best in the world. Some beaches have water that is deep shades of blue and turquoise, separated by cliffs to hike over and reefs you can walk on when the tide is low. Others are shallow with a toned-down cool turquoise colour, and on a calm day it looks like the water meets the sky. There is a wide variety of beaches here, offering both quiet places to relax and busier beaches buzzing with activity.
THE BERRY ISLANDS
The Berry Islands border the Tongue of The Ocean and are known as the "Billfish Capital of The Bahamas," second only to Bimini for championship fishing. Bimini is also home to the legendary spring known as the “Fountain of Youth,” which was made famous during a voyage by explorer Ponce de Leon. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was the late United States Civil Rights leader, is another famous face of Bimini: he reportedly wrote his 1964 acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize while on Bimini whilst on his Bahamas holiday. Ernest Hemmingway also fell in love with Bimini, inspiring him to write, but more notably fish, in the incredible and abundant waters.
Christopher Columbus reportedly first came ashore on San Salvador in 1942. The island is home to the Gerace Research Centre, which conducts research at ancient Lucayan/Taino Amerindian sites in the southeast Bahamas.San Salvador maintains the lookout position on the Atlantic as the island furthest to the east. Home to a handful of resorts, development has largely passed this lovely island by. Superb diving, island exploring, beachcombing and biking will make your stay here memorable. Beaches include Bonefish Bay, Long Bay Beach, and Sugar Loaf Beach.
The highest point in The Bahamas is Mount Alvernia (Como Hill) on Cat Island which stands at 206 feet; a short hike to the summit will reveal The Hermitage, a stone-cut sanctuary built by a Catholic priest in 1939. Known as the cultural capital of The Bahamas., Cat island is Located on the mystical island is the childhood home of Oscar winner Sir Sidney Poitier and many world-renowned Bahamian talents, such as acclaimed musicians Joseph Spence and Tony McKay, have their roots in Cat Island. For holidaymakers, the island offers a few small resorts, excellent water sports (especially diving), pirate history to learn and plenty of secluded beaches to explore. Locals beaches include Orange Creek Beach, and Fernandez Bay Village Beach, a tree-lined mile-long stretch with clear water and sparkly white sand, ideal for kayaking, relaxing, and sunset-watching.
ACKLINS & CROOKED ISLAND
Unspoiled, barely populated, and mostly undisturbed, Acklins and Crooked Island sell seclusion as their main feature and reason to visit. Mayaguana, the most easterly in the chain and the only Bahamian island with its original name, offers picturesque untrodden beaches and an ideal getaway for travellers seeking a quiet, rustic experience.
Ragged Island is sought out by yachters mainly for its great fishing; Rum Cay, “the sleeping beauty” of The Bahamas, is considered one of the best-kept secrets within the region. It is a scenic refuge with rolling hills, beautiful coral reefs, miles of pure sandy beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and exhilarating surf.