Shining bright right in the sweet spot between Florida and Cuba lays the Bahamas; a sprawling group of 700 islands, 2,400 cays and 315 days of sunshine each year. If it’s always happy hour somewhere in the world, it’s probably in the Bahamas - a fruity cocktail offering the perfect accompaniment to the world’s most picture perfect beaches. For all its shining lagoons and swaying palm trees though, the Bahamas also has an edgy side to it with historic tales of pirates and rum smugglers, and modern sojourns by everyone’s favourite MI5 agent, James Bond.
There are beaches and then there are Bahamian beaches - beautiful coastal stretches that feature everything from bars with thatched rooves on Cat Island to rose-coloured sand on Pink Sands Beach, Harbour Island. For many, this and their resort’s pool is enough to keep them occupied for endless relaxing hours.
For others, there’s the deepest known salt water hole to explore at Dean’s Blue Hole, the Pirates of Nassau Museum for a unique history lesson and the Aquaventure Water Park at Atlantis Paradise Island to keep all ages entertained. There’s even an island famed for its swimming swine nicknamed 'Pig Island'. Yes there’s much more to the Bahamas than a couple of beaches.
Eat and Drink
If you come for the beaches, odds are you’ll stay for the food. On the menu is a mouth-watering mix of seafood running the gamut from fish and crabs to rock lobster and even conch, all typically seasoned with spices to give it that signature Caribbean flavour. To bond with local foodies in a homely atmosphere, hang out at the local Fish Fry on Arawak Cay where chefs show off their prep skills.
The dish to try while you’re there is the freshly-made conch salad washed down with a cold local beer such as Kalik. For something more upmarket, book a table at The Landing Restaurant on Harbour Island – a haunt lauded by Conde Nast Traveller.
Where to Stay
Of the 700 islands in the Bahamas only a handful are developed for tourism, the main ones being Paradise Island, Grand Bahama, the Exumas, Andros and New Providence which is home to the capital Nassau. For a stay close to the action, Sandals Royal Bahamian in Nassau offers a quintessential 5-star resort stay complete with personal butler service in suites and an exclusive off-shore island. For something more kid friendly (big and small), The Atlantis Paradise Island Resort is a destination in itself with a wide range of accommodation options from value-stays to complete luxury.
Where to Snorkel
To experience only the sandy shore in the Bahamas is to truly miss out. As stunning as it is, it’s what lies beneath those lagoons is where the Bahamas truly shine. While the central spot of Nassau offers some incredible snorkelling amongst age-old ship wrecks, venture a little further and you’ll be rewarded even more. There’s a black-coral garden off the shore of Bimini, and undersea caves and blue holes nearby Stocking Island. For scuba-diving, the best sport to dive deep is Shark Wall, a thriving marine site 10 miles off the coast of New Providence.
Bahamas Like a Local
The Bahamas may be famed for its rum but it has only one locally owned distillery. Located in Nassau, John Watling’s Distillery is worth visiting not just for the beverages but also the buzzing crowd. Head here on a Friday night, order the signature five-year-aged Buena Vista rum and let the good times roll.