Quantcast

Travel: Your Guide to the Islands of The Bahamas

The Bahamas are a glorious chain of 16 main islands, uninhabited cays and sand banks covering 14,000 km of land.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly shared dozens of photographs of them taken from space while he was orbiting the earth, tweeting that ‘The Bahamas is the most beautiful place seen from space’.

The islands share a tropical climate and heavenly turquoise sea, but each island is unique with its own distinct personality.

London-based travel writer Judith Baker, who specialises in the Caribbean, takes us on a tour of the highlights:

NASSAU & PARADISE ISLAND

Most people start their visit in the capital Nassau, with its pretty colonial buildings and lively restaurants. In front of Government House is a jaunty statue of Christopher Columbus and other reminders of Nassau’s history are visible at Fort Charlotte, built in 1788, which has spectacular views out to Paradise Island and the harbour.

What to do

  • On the last Friday of the month the Bahamian People-to-People programme offers complimentary afternoon tea in Government House with fashion show, live music and shuttle transfer to your hotel. To participate contact The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism on (242) 323 1853 or peopletopeople@bahamas.com
  • Thrill seekers should head for the shark dive at Stuart Cove’s just outside Nassau. The proprietor’s claim to fame is that he taught Sir Sean Connery to dive for 007’s underwater scenes in films such as Thunderball, and now his shark handlers take brave visitors down to encounter sharks and watch them feed call (242) 362 4171or see stuartcove.com
  • The Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island offers non-stop entertainment for all ages with casino, children’s activities, beaches and Aquaventure, the 141-acre waterscape of slides, rapids and pools. Or head to Blue Lagoon island just three miles away for dolphin and sea lion encounters.

Where to holiday

The  luxurious Graycliff Hotel is one of Nassau’s most famous mansions and a gathering spot of old notables including Winston Churchill and Lord Louis Mountbatten. Italian owners Enrico and Anna Maria Garzaroli have turned this former 18th century home an elegant hotel and restaurant.

GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND

In the north of the archipelago, Grand Bahama Island is known for its beaches, coves and nature trails.

What to do

  • Visit the Lucayan National Park with walkways through mangrove creeks, an ancient burial ground and diverse bird habitats.
  • Eat at the famous Wednesday night Fish Fry at Smiths Point where you can enjoy beach front sunset views and a hearty Bahamian meal accompanied by lively music and dancing.
  • Stop off at a beach bar for a Gully Wash, the local cocktail made of coconut water, cream and gin or vodka.

Where to stay

Old Bahama Bay is a low rise, elegant resort with its own marina sitting right on the beach at West End. Stay in rooms in colourful buildings dotted around the landscaped gardens.

Luxury resorts in The Bahamas: Old Bahama Bay sits right on the beach at West End and has its own marina

Old Bahama Bay is a low rise, elegant resort with its own marina sitting right on the beach at West End (photo: Facebook/OldBahamaBay)

The Out Islands

For a taste of laid-back Bahamian life, head to the Out Islands

BIMINI

Ernest Hemingway came to Bimini in the 1930s to fish and write ‘Islands in the Stream’. Martin Luther King also found relaxation on these peaceful shores. The island is famous for its boat building tradition and big game fishing.

What to do

  • Explore Bimini on foot or by golf cart from the quirky museum to the eccentric Dolphin House, created by local author and historian Ashley Saunders.
  • Snorkel or dive The Samona wreck
  • Bimini is only 50 miles off the coast of Florida, and a fast ferry takes you to Miami in 45 minutes, making a day trip or two-centre holiday an attractive option.

Where to stay

The only big hotel here is the smart Hilton Resorts World Bimini. The lovely property has three swimming pools, private beach and spa. It boasts the largest marina complex in The Bahamas as well as a world class casino, 10 restaurants, bars and cafes.

Hotels in the Bahamas: Hilton Resorts World Bimini

Hilton Resorts World Bimini is the only large hotel in Bimini

THE ABACOS

The Abacos were settled by English colonists who remained loyal to the crown after the American Revolutionary War, which is why towns like Hope Town and New Plymouth have the look of New England fishing towns.

What to do

  • Green Turtle Cay is the ideal spot for sailing, diving and spotting parrots, rays and even swimming pigs. Take a tour with Brendal who knows these waters inside out and stop for a lobster and snapper barbeque lunch on a deserted beach.
  • View Abaco’s famous lighthouses including the candy striped Elbow Reef lighthouse dating from 1863.

Where to stay

The Abaco Club on Winding Bay is a spectacular, luxurious beachfront property with a championship golf course, 2.5 mile beach with water sports, beach bar, restaurant and spa.

Bluff House is a 12 acre property on Green Turtle Cay with its own ferry dock, private beach and lively beach bar called The Tranquil Turtle

travel tips



 

Like what you see?

Sign up to The Resident newsletter for even more news, views and things to do in London, delivered direct to your inbox once a week