Bahamas


Bahamas destinations

about Renowned as a maritime playground for sun-starved Americans, this stunning string of subtropical islands is so much more than a cruise-ship stopover. Stretched between the depths of the North Atlantic and Florida's eastern coast, the Bahamas comprises more than 700 islands and 2400 cays, most uninhabited, and all fringed by spectacular coral and fathomless ocean trenches. From the grit and bustle of funky Nassau to the vast mangroves of Andros, there's an astonishing array of beaches, reefs, forests and historic towns to be discovered, all within the compass of an hour's flight. There’s sailing around the Abacos’ history-filled Loyalist Cays. Partying til dawn at Paradise Island’s over-the-top Atlantis resort. Diving the spooky blue holes of Andros. Kayaking the 365 Exuma Cays. Lounging on Eleuthera’s pink-sand beaches. Pondering pirates in Nassau. There’s a Bahamian island to match most every water- and sand-based compulsion, each framed by a backdrop of gorgeous, mesmerizing blue.

Explore islands

Imagine a world where you can’t tell where dreams begin and reality ends. This is The Bahamas. And it's like no other place on Earth.

What makes the Bahamas unique

The Bahamas archipelago is an ecological oasis sprinkled over 100,000 square miles of ocean, starting just 50 miles off the coast of Florida. It comprises 700 breathtaking islands, over 2,000 rocks and cays, and boasts the clearest water on the planet—with a visibility of over 200 feet. You can see your toes as easily as you can the world’s third largest fringing barrier reef.

We invite you to explore all of our islands. One step and you’ll realize our beauty extends far beyond our extraordinary natural wonders. It’s the smiles on the faces of the Bahamian people. The unique sounds of our rich culture. The warm hospitality of our heritage and our colorful history.

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Nassau is the gritty, vivacious alter ego to the relaxed character of most of the Bahamas. The country's only city, it teems with haring jitneys, bawling straw-goods vendors, rum-happy locals and endless waves of cruise-ship passengers.

It's appropriate that Nassau has some hustle to it – it's been a redoubt of hustlers for centuries. From the 18th-century pirates who blew their doubloons on women and wine to the Confederate steamers smuggling cargo past the Union blockade during the American Civil War, the city has long sheltered daring dodgers on the make. The make-a-buck spirit of this global tax haven animates the duty-free shops and cigar salesmen of Bay St, while the historic wealth of the ruling classes finds tangible expression in grand, Georgian government buildings and homes. Whether you come to shop, eat, party or sightsee, Nassau is the place for a dose of urban excitement.

Discover Nassau & Paradise Island

With the lure of a big city and the ease of tropical utopia, Nassau & Paradise Island are considered by many as, well, paradise. Nassau, the capital of The Bahamas, is a bustling metropolitan hub full of culture and modern amenities. To the north lies Paradise Island. Its name tells you everything. It’s 685 acres of pure euphoria, developed almost exclusively to delight and accommodate visitors. The island boasts resorts, hotels, restaurants, shops, nightlife, a golf course, an aquarium and a casino.

What makes Nassau & Paradise Island unique

Nassau, the capital city of The Bahamas, is located on 21-mile-long New Providence, our 11th largest island. Nassau’s main harbor is protected by Paradise Island. The harbor attracted settlers in the early days, particularly pirates. In fact, Nassau’s population consisted mainly of pirates until 1718, when The Bahamas first Royal Governor, Woodes Rogers expelled them, restored order and built Fort Nassau. The Bahamas for centuries adopted Rogers’ motto, “Expulsis Piratis, Restituta Commercia,” which means, “Pirates Expelled, Commerce Restored.” Now, 212,000 people call New Providence Island home, with a large portion of them residing in Nassau.

Sights

Worth a trip: Cat Island

The heart of traditional Bahamian culture still beats on Cat Island, one of the islands least touched by tourism. Obeah and bush medicine are still practiced. Cat has several interesting historic sites, including plantation ruins and the Mt Alvernia Hermitage.

The island’s second-largest settlement is Arthur’s Town, 48km north of New Bight, the governmental administrative center. The hamlet’s main claim to fame is that it was the boyhood home of Sir Sidney Poitier, the Academy Award–winning actor. Sadly, his childhood home is now derelict.

On top of Mt Alvernia (62m), or Como Hill as it is called by locals, is a blanched-stone church, built by the hermit Father Jerome, with a bell tower that looks like something Merlin might have conjured up in the days of King Arthur. You can enter the small chapel, tiny cloister and a guest cell the size of a large kennel. It’s reached by a rock staircase hewn into the side of the hill. From the top, there’s a spiritually reviving 360-degree view. Try to make it at sunrise or sunset. Although it's close to Eleuthera, you may have to take the mail boat or a Southern Air charter from Nassau to get here.

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Activities

Boat Trips

There’s a jaunt for every type of adventurer in New Providence. Dozens of operators run fishing charters, island excursions, party boats and sunset cruises. Most depart from the Woodes Rogers Walk area or the Paradise Island Ferry Terminal, between the Paradise Island bridges.

Diving & Snorkeling

There’s superb diving close to shore, including fantastic shallow-reef, wall and wreck dives. The most noted sites lie off the southwest coast between Coral Harbour and Lyford Cay, while the reef off of Love Beach is a favored destination for snorkelers. There have been fatal instances of collisions between jet-skis and snorkelers on the more popular beaches, so take precautions.

Fishing

Nassau is a great base for fishing, with superb deepwater sites just 20 minutes away. Game species include blue marlin, sailfish, yellowfin tuna, mahi-mahi and wahoo. Charters can be arranged at most major hotels or by calling a charter company, which typically charge two to six people BS$500 to BS$700 per half-day, or BS$900 to BS$1400 per full day.

Sleeping

Nassau hotel rooms can be very expensive, and quality varies widely. Guest charges can push daily rates up by 20% to 30%, yet web rates are often dramatically lower than official listed prices – it pays to shop around.

Eating

Options are rich in Nassau: from a BS$3 breakfast of tuna and grits served through plexiglass to a three-course meal at a fine-dining establishment, the choice is yours.

Drinking & Nightlife

Nassau is the undisputed nightlife capital of the Bahamas. Downtown Nassau's bars cater mainly to tourists, but the farther you move from the cruise-ship dock toward Junkanoo Beach and Arawak Cay (for instance), the more local places and sociable Bahamians you'll find.

Shopping

Visitors flock to Bay St for duty-free liquor, jewelry, perfume and cigars, but savings are not guaranteed; check prices at home before your trip. Most stores close at night and on Sunday, even when the cruise ships are in port. Bahamian-made products are sold at booths throughout Festival Place at Prince George Wharf.

Travel with Children

From pirate-history museums to big days out on the water, there's plenty to keep kids occupied in Nassau. It's also one of the best places in the country for parents of small children: you're more likely to find changing facilities (in modern restaurants), pharmacies, supermarkets and stroller-friendly sidewalks here than anywhere else.

LGBT Travellers

Homosexuality is legal in the Bahamas (for those 18 and over), though the pink dollar isn’t particularly welcome. There’s not much public support for gay and lesbian populations across the islands, and discretion is the better part of affection here. Gay bars and clubs are very subterranean.

The Facebook page of the gay-rights group Rainbow Alliance of the Bahamas is a good place for information and contacts.

What to do in Nassau

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