Why We Love Bahamas

With more than 700 islands and cays scattered across the south Atlantic, it’s easy to find something to like in the Bahamas. The sun, the sand, the aquamarine water and the tropical breezes are all constant. From the cosmopolitan bustle of Nassau to the blissfully empty Out Islands, there’s a fit for any personality. Fishing, from bonefish in the shallows to marlin in the deep, is world class; so is the golf, the diving and more. And the people of The Bahamas are as warm as the islands’ tropical sun.

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Top Destinations in Bahamas

Atlantis

Named after the legendary Lost Civilization, this salmon-pink resort towers over the end of Paradise Island just off Nassau. It is a luxury hotel, casino, entertainment complex, aquarium and water park all rolled into one. Guests find shops, restaurants and entertainment venues everywhere they look. A fantastical place to visit.

Grand Bahama Island

The northernmost Bahamian island, Grand Bahama is home to dozens of resorts and resort communities, a frequent stopover for cruise ships and, between its two major cities of Port Lucaya and Freeport, a mecca for shoppers.

Bimini

The “Big Game Fishing” Capital, Bimini hosts several worldwide fishing tournaments every year, and its fleet of fast deep-sea trawlers head out to sea almost every day in search of tuna, marlin, barracuda and other pelagic species in the deep, warm waters of the Gulf Stream. Ernest Hemingway, for one, loved the place. It’s also a mecca for scuba divers, with plenty of underwater wrecks, and snorkelers, with miles of reef trails to swim.

Andros Island

The largest Bahamian island by landmass, Andros offers miles of tremendous bonefish grounds, the third largest barrier reef in the world, blue holes and dozens of diveable shipwrecks, and some of the best birding in the Americas.

Eleuthera/Harbour Island

Both Eleuthera and Harbour Island, located two miles apart, consistently land on the lists of top beaches in the world: there are miles of empty strands, ringed by palm trees and lapped by the gentle surf, on both islands. Golf carts typically outnumber automobiles as life on these islands is decidedly laid back.

The Abacos

Calm waters, warm breezes and panoramic beauty make this 120-mile–long chain of islands a boating and sailing paradise. But it’s not just the sea that attracts travelers from around the world. Those who prefer to explore by land will find championship golf courses, charming colonial towns, and countless hotels, restaurants and bars.

Long Island

Known as one of the most scenic islands in the Bahamas, Long Island lies a little off the beaten path, in the southern half of the archipelago. Almost 80 miles long and no more than 4 miles wide, Long Island is a land of contrasts, with sandy beaches on the west coast and steep, rocky cliffs along the east. The island is a haven for fishing, diving, and boating, and boasts many beautiful pink and white sand beaches. Long Island is also home to Dean's Blue Hole, the deepest in the world.

Overview

With more than 700 islands making up the archipelago known as The Bahamas, one can find almost any kind of island experience. The most populated islands–Nassau and Grand Bahamas–feature high-rise resort hotels, casinos, cruise ships disgorging passengers, and all the modern-day hustle and bustle one could want.

But out on some of the smaller islands, Eleuthera, Exuma, Abacos, Andros and Bimini, life is slower and much quieter. The gentle trade winds rustle the coconut palms, the brilliant aquamarine water laps against the pinkish beach, and the sun follows its daily arc across the heavens from dawn until the green flash occurs at sunset.

The Bahamas is a sportsman’s paradise, with world-class golf courses, some of the best fishing in the world, miles of ocean reefs to dive and bike paths to pedal. Culturally, the islands are a little bit British–they drive on the left and wear wigs to court–and a little bit Caribbean, with a lilting accent, a love of family and friends, and a “no worries” attitude towards life. And The Bahamas is made to order for romance, a relaxed, hedonistic celebration of life.

With all those islands, and all those choices, The Bahamas truly offers something for everyone. As long as everyone enjoys gorgeous tropical islands baking in the hot sun, dancing to the steel drums and sampling some fresh fish in the torch-lit night air.

Quick Facts

English is the official language of The Bahamas. Native creole is also spoken in some places.

The currency in The Bahamas is the Bahamian dollar, which is kept on par with the U.S. Dollar. US currency is generally accepted everywhere on the island.

The electrical current is the same as in the United States: 120v, 60Hz, AC.

Internet connections and WiFi spots are found throughout the country. Most major hotels provide good accessibility.

Residents of the United States, Canada or the United Kingdom do not require visas to enter The Bahamas. A passport and return or onward air ticket is required. Other nationalities may require a visa, obtainable from the British consulate in their country.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends using bottled water for drinking and ice making.

Bermuda is in the Eastern (US) time zone. When it is noon in New York, it is noon in The Bahamas.

In The Bahamas, hotels charge their highest prices during the peak winter period from mid-December to mid-April, when visitors fleeing from cold north winds flock to the islands. Winter is the driest season.

Average High and Low Temperatures

Things To Do in Bahamas

Thunderball Grotto

Located just west of Staniel Cay, this fantastic underwater cave system is great for snorkeling, diving and wading. It is teeming with exotic marine life and a kaleidoscope of brilliantly colored coral reefs and fish, like yellow-tail snappers, Angel fish, Sergeant Majors and the like. The grotto's mystique is heightened by the small, almost hidden entrance. It is advised to enter at ebb tide (low or slack tide) and snorkeling equipment is optional. At high tide, however, diving equipment is necessary. The grotto got its name from the 1965 James Bond spy film "Thunderball," which was shot there. It was also the site of another James Bond film, "Never Say Never Again."

Junkanoo

Held all over the islands with the biggest celebration taking place on Bay Street in Nassau, Junkanoo is a night parade held on Boxing Day (Dec. 26), New Year's Day and then again in the summertime. Young and old Bahamians spend months making elaborate (but disposable) costumes for the parades, then take to the streets to dance, blare conch-shell horns, beat goatskin drums and clank cowbells. According to legend, Junkanoo derives from an African chief, "John Canoe," who demanded the right to celebrate with his tribe even after being sold into slavery in the West Indies.

Lucayan National Park

One of three national parks on Grand Bahama Island, this 40-acre spread of mangroves, palm and pine trees also contains lovely white sand beaches, the impressive Gold Rock Beach (usually dotted with colorful seashells) and one of the longest underwater limestone caves in the world. You can also kayak or ride horses in the park.

All Andros Crab Fest

If the Bahamas ran out of land crabs it would be a national travesty, hence the existence of the Crab Replenishment Reserve on Andros Island, the land of crabs. This food festival celebrates the island’s infatuation. Every June, Bahamians flock from the capital to Fresh Creek to eat crab and rice, crab and dough, crab soup, crab back, crab cakes and crab in 95 other ways.

Cat Island Rake and Scrape

This annual musical festival, held every year in early June, is the signature event for Cat Island. It showcases the sensuous, rhythmic vibe of the island's premier Rake and Scrape music, performed by local and national artists. It also features a Gospel concert, Battle of the Rake & Scrape Bands, quadrille dancing, a children's corner with games and a fishermen and farmers' market. During the festival, guests can partake of “Down Home” Cat Island cuisine, and purchase locally made crafts such as jewelry and straw items.

Eleuthera All That Jazz

The annual Jazz festival in Eleuthera (held in March or April) gathers together prestigious international musicians and Bahamian Jazz artists for a weekend of staccato rhythms and improvised melodies. Performances take place at multiple venues in George Town: Under an open air pavilion at the Leon Levy Nature Preserve, surrounded by the smells of fragrant native woods and flowering plants; on the steps of The Haynes Library overlooking the harbo. Proceeds help support the work of the library.

Graycliff Cigar Company

They may not have the same cachet as Cubans, but the Bahamian cigars hand-rolled at this 18th-century compound in Nassau (which includes a formal restaurant, wine cellar, and hotel) are every bit as good. Graycliff owner—and longtime cigar enthusiast—Enrico Garzaroli didn’t mess around when he decided to start producing cigars on the property in 1997: he brought on no less than Avelino Lara, the founder of Cohiba, as his partner. The results—consistently high-rated stogies that include both the super-full-bodied Graycliff Espresso line and the candela-wrapped Graycliff Emeralds—are sold in tobacco shops around the world, including Davidoff. But you won’t find a better place to enjoy them than on Graycliff’s palm-shaded porch, especially after a meal and a glass of wine.

Family Island Regatta

While the term “regatta” usually connotes sailing competitions, in the Bahamas it primarily refers to the concerts and food festivals that go along with the traditional Bahamian celebrations of boat building and sloop sailing. The National Family Island Regatta in George Town, Exuma is the largest of them all, with sailing races all day and lively entertainment in the festival village at night. Held annually every spring.

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