Stretching between Florida and the Caribbean are 700 tropical islands. This archipelago is a true paradise to behold and the islands lie like scattered emeralds in the sea. They have a perfect year round climate with gentle trade winds and stunning powder white beaches, making them a perfect spot for sun worshipers. The warm crystal clear waters are ideal for diving and snorkelling and the Bahamas has some of the best golf courses in the Caribbean. The main tourist areas are New Providence Island and Paradise Island which are connected by bridges, where you’ll find many sophisticated hotels, fine dining restaurants and plenty in the way of entertainment, however there are many small secluded islands to explore too.
Things to see & do in the Bahamas:
Attractions: If you can tear yourself away from the beach for a day or two, there are some great sightseeing opportunities in the Bahamas. Nassau, the capital city is well worth a visit. Here you can taste a flavour of the Bahamas’ swashbuckling past by visiting the Pirates of Nassau Museum where you can board a pirate ship and experience life as a buccaneer. Whilst you’re in the capital, make sure you visit Fort Charlotte and explore this 100-acre fort’s moat, dungeons and underground passages. The islands of the Bahamas are a sanctuary for an excellent variety of wildlife. For a glimpse of the Bahama Parrot, head to the Abaco National Park or visit the Union Creek National Park for Green turtles. If you fancy a bit of island hopping, Harbour Island is a great destination for a day trip and can been reached by the Bahamas Ferry which also travels on a daily basis between Nassau, North Eleuthera and Governors Harbour. Harbour Island, which has been rated as having ‘one of the best Bahamas beaches’ by various publications, boasts a pristine, powdery pink sandy beach (and is aptly named ‘Pink Sands Beach’) which has to be seen to be believed – make sure you take your snorkelling gear.
Events/festivals: The Bahamians celebrate ‘Junkanoo’ in the summer months of June and July and also on Boxing Day and New Year. The actual origins of the Bahamas Junkanoo Tradition are not clear, however most people believe it was developed in the days of slavery when in the late 18th Century the slaves were given three days off at Christmas and hence forth the festival gained its roots. Although Junkanoo almost disappeared after the emancipation of slavery, the revival is now big business and the streets become filled with parades, colourful masks and costumes, live music and parties. The biggest of the parades can be found in Nassau, however the carnival atmosphere extends throughout the islands with Junkanoo parties taking place everywhere.
Sports: The Bahamians love cricket and the place to watch it is at Haynes Oval on West Street Bay in Nassau, which is home to the islands’ team. The Cricket season takes place between March to November. Watersports are very popular in the Bahamas with everything on offer from sailing, kayaking, scuba diving – including shark diving – and some fabulous deep-sea fishing. There are also some top class golf courses in the Bahamas – some of the best are in Grand Bahamas Island, Nassau and The Abacos.
Nightlife: The Bahamas offers a whole range of nightlife options. On some of the smaller islands you will find quiet beach bars with local live music. The most lively nightlife can be found on Paradise island and Cable Beach, New Providence Island. There are two glitzy casinos here – one at the Atlantis on Paradise Island and the other at Crystal Palace on Cable Beach. The Atlantis Casino also has a nightclub for you to dance the night away to, plus a cinema and comedy club.
Eating/Drinking: Seafood is very popular throughout the Bahamas, not surprising given the amazing variety of fish that can be found in the waters surrounding the islands. The speciality of the region is the conch fish which can be deep fried or served raw and seasoned with spices. A popular drink with the locals is ‘Sky Juice’ which is a mix of sweet milk, gin and coconut water. The tropical rum cocktail ‘Bahama Mama’ is also a popular tipple with the locals and visitors alike.
Shopping: The best shopping can be found in Nassau, which has large shopping malls and the famous Nassau Straw Market where you can buy handmade gifts such as straw hats, bags, mats and dolls – make sure you join in with the bartering! You can also find handmade items at the Bahama Craft Centre in Nassau which features conch shell jewellery, Junkanoo art and wood carvings.
When to go
The best time to visit the Bahamas is between November to May, however, the weather remains fairly consistent all year round. It is more likely to rain between May and October, with the hurricane season between June and November, however, despite this the Bahamas sees more than 300 days of sunshine each year.
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