Mainly due to the fact that it is a very popular tourist destination, the Bahamas is one of the wealthiest nations in the western hemisphere. This archipelago, which is situated in the Atlantic – and not in the Caribbean, as many people think – offers amazingly picturesque beaches, clear, blue waters and a very agreeable climate.
Getting there/getting around the Bahamas
The Bahamas is approximately nine hours away from the UK by plane; you can take a flight there from most of the UK’s main airports. The islands’ main airport is Lynden Pindling International Airport in Nassau.
Once you’ve arrived, it is best to hire a car or a bike to get around. Some roads are nothing more than dirt tracks, but you can reach most areas without too much trouble.
Beaches in the Bahamas
With miles and miles of glorious, unspoilt, sandy beaches, Bahamian beaches are among the best in the world. Whether you’re in the mood for some beach activities or you just want to relax and soak up the sun, you’re spoilt for choice.
Some of the larger beaches in the Bahamas include Gold Rock Beach and Guana Beach, which stretch for miles. Check out the pink sands on the aptly named Pink Sands Beach on Harbour Island. If you’re feeling adventurous, head to Love Beach on Paradise Island and don some snorkelling gear – the marine life on view here is very impressive.
Sightseeing in the Bahamas
There’s pretty much a great view whichever direction you look while you’re in the Bahamas, especially along the coast. It may be a little expensive, but the Paradise Island Helicopter Tour provides some spectacular sights of many of the archipelago’s beautiful islands.
Dominating part of Nassau’s skyline, Christ Church Cathedral, which was constructed in the 17th century, is well worth a visit. New Providence island is home to a number of old forts, such as the huge Fort Charlotte or Fort Fincastle, which offers some wonderful views of the island.
Shopping in the Bahamas
Aside from picking up some of the islands’ special products, such as jewellery, watches and leather goods, one aspect of shopping in the Bahamas is particularly appealing: the fact that there is no duty to pay. If you want to be sure that you’re buying authentic goods, look out for a pink flamingo sticker on the front of the shop that verifies this.
A good area to go hunting for souvenirs is Bay Street in Nassau, where there are markets selling locally hand-crafted goods. The market-place in Port Lucaya is also worth a visit. It’s also worth picking up a bottle or two of rum, a very popular drink in the Bahamas.
Eating out in the Bahamas
While you’re in the Bahamas, make sure you try some of the local delicacies, such as the seafood, meat and pea dishes, but be aware that main course tend to be quite spicy here. And wash it down with some exotic fruit salad and, if the mood takes you, a glass of Bahamian rum.
The islands’ capital, Nassau, is home to a wide range of restaurants that serve both local and international dishes. Señor Frog’s, a lively Mexican restaurant, is worth visiting if only for the fact that you can tell people you’ve been to a restaurant called Señor Frog’s. The same could apply to Café Johnny Canoe, where the seafood – in particular the cracked conch – is very appetising.
Nightlife in the Bahamas
With a proliferation of bars and clubs that seem constantly to be open, every night is party night in the Bahamas. Paradise Island is home to many venues, especially in the resort of Atlantis. Try an exotic drink at the beach bar at Cocktails and Dreams, or if you fancy a bit of a dance to some local music, head to Da Island. And check out some Bahamian stand-up comedy at the Jokers Wild comedy club.
You’re also spoilt for choice on Grand Bahama island. As well as being a hub of restaurants and public houses Count Basie Square, in Freeport, regularly hosts a number of events, including live music, karaoke and limbo dancing. Try a coconut-based drink at Rum Runner’s Bar, or some local beverages at Club Amnesia.
Family attractions in the Bahamas
The kids – and, for that matter, adults – will love a visit to the Underwater Explorers’ Society in Lucaya, where you can swim with dolphins. Also popular with children is the Pirates of Nassau Museum; they’ll love the impressive replica pirate ship there.
Particularly recommended is a trip on the Sea World Explorer, a cruising underwater observatory in which all manner of incredible marine wildlife and coral can be viewed. Those who prefer to remain on land will prefer the Ardastra Gardens and Zoo, where all manner of wildlife, such as the well-known marching flamingos, can be seen.
Day trips in the Bahamas
If you would like to take a day trip while you’re in the area, the obvious thing to do is head out into the ocean. Taking a Thriller Powerboat tour is a great way to do this: you’ll see Nassau Harbour, a number of small idyllic islands and lighthouses and, if you’re lucky, dolphins going about their business.
You can also take a cruise around New Providence island aboard a catamaran; take a dip in the gorgeous waters while the vessel’s calypso band plays in the background. If you’re feeling a little more energetic, go on a barefoot sailing adventure, which involves sailing away to a secluded beach and doing a spot of swimming or snorkelling. And on the return journey the rum punch is free.