Just 50 miles off the coast of Florida, our tropical archipelago is an easy and convenient dream vacation destination with turquoise waters.
The Islands Of The Bahamas comprise a unique archipelago with an exceptional combination of natural wonder, cultural charm, and historical attractions. But the true gems of the islands are the friendly and intrinsically peaceful people whose very nature seems to be linked to the former inhabitants of the islands, the gentle Lucayan and Arawak Indians! Today, actor and diplomat Sir Sidney Poitier, NBA stars Mychal Thompson and Rick Fox, international supermodel Shakara Ledard, Grammy-winning artist Lenny Kravitz, as well as a number of famous Olympians, scholars and high-achievers all carry The Bahamas with them, for their global acclaim is rooted in the islands’ heritage.
No one can say for sure exactly how many islands are in The Bahamas, particularly if you factor in those tiny spits of sand that magically appear with falling tides. But best guesses put the count at about 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 most visited Bahamian island is New Providence, home to the bustling capital of Nassau. Its busy international airport and cruise ship dock welcome millions of visitors annually; many yearn for a relaxing island experience, while others clamor for a high stakes vacation, gambling in a world-class casino. The neighboring 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.
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. It is also home to the Lucayan National Park, a 40-acre national preserve with an underwater cave system mapped for six miles, and a vast system of mangroves that represents an important nursery for marine life.
Diving and snorkeling are first class in The Bahamas and Andros boasts the third-largest fringing barrier reef in the world. It is 190 miles long and plunges to more than 6,000 feet into the Tongue of the Ocean. 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 draw, as well as highly acclaimed fly-fishing flats, where bonefish are abundant.
The Abacos and The Exumas are two island chains in The Bahamas known amongst the world’s top boating and sailing destinations. The Abacos have been The Bahamas’ boating capital 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 – for seafaring excitement. The Exumas are an archipelago of 365 cays and islands, and you’ll want to drop anchor in the famous Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, the first of its kind in the world. Thunderball Grotto, an underwater cave system in The Exumas with diverse marine species and breath-taking corals, is one of The Bahamas’ most notable snorkeling spots. 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” in 1983, also based on the Thunderball novel.
The pink sands of Eleuthera & Harbour Island, spreading over 35 miles of coastline on the Atlantic Ocean side, have charmed travelers for decades, along with its tropical flair and New England style cottages. 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. On Inagua, West Indian Flamingos, the National Bird of The Bahamas, far outnumber the human population. With 140 species of bird residents on the island, it is truly a bird watcher’s paradise.
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,” made famous during a voyage by explorer Ponce de Leon. The late United States Civil Rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is another famous face of Bimini: he reportedly wrote his 1964 acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize while on retreat there. Ernest Hemmingway also fell in love with Bimini. The island inspired him to write, but more notably fish, in the incredible and abundant waters.
San Salvador, reportedly the first place Christopher Columbus came ashore in the New World in 1492, is home to the Gerace Research Centre, which conducts research at ancient Lucayan/Taino Amerindian sites in the southeast Bahamas.
The highest point in The Bahamas – 206 feet – is at Mount Alvernia (Como Hill) on Cat Island. A short hike to the summit will reveal The Hermitage, a stone-cut sanctuary built by a Catholic priest in 1939. Cat Island is known as the cultural capital of The Bahamas. Located on the mystical island is the childhood home of Oscar winner Sir Sidney Poitier. Many world-renowned Bahamian talents, such as acclaimed musicians Joseph Spence and Tony McKay, have deep roots in Cat Island.
Unspoiled, sparsely populated, and mostly undisturbed since the days of Christopher Columbus – Acklins and Crooked Island tout seclusion as their main attribute. Mayaguana, the most easterly in the chain and the only Bahamian island with its original name, offers picturesque footprint-free beaches and an ideal getaway for travelers seeking a rustic experience.
Ragged Island, the main island and only inhabited one in the croissant-shaped Jumento chain, 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, stunning coral reefs, miles of pure sandy beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and exhilarating surf.
The Islands Of The Bahamas are very accessible by air and sea. Major international airlines offer direct flights to several of the major islands. 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. We are also one of the hottest destinations in the world for cruises, with more ships calling here than ever before. And, as a boater’s paradise, we cater to every type of boating imaginable, from pleasure cruising to competitive sailing, and you can navigate into one of our many ports of entry with ease.
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