Let’s dispel two common myths about the idyllic Caribbean paradise of the Bahamas straight away; there is so much more to this island nation than ‘just’ great beaches and yes whilst it may be more expensive than other Caribbean destination, it’s not prohibitively so.
The Bahamas has a unique exotic beauty that enthrals travellers from around the world, drawn to the pristine beaches and established resorts. But there is also plenty of traditional charm and history contained within the 700 islands that make up the Bahamas. Discovered in 1492 by legendary explorer Christopher Columbus, today the islands are under British rule, which offers fascinating culture and history throughout the islands.
Explore the National Trust Parks of the Bahamas
In all there are 27 national parks within the Bahamas islands, so pack your hiking boots and get out there! The parks are home to various bird, reptile and mammal species and they provide an important habitat for endangered species. Here you’ll find the biggest colony of breeding West Indian Flamingos which is thought to number more than 50,000! There are also rare sea turtles and birds. Explore the Abaco National Park which is home to the colourful Bahama Parrot. See the unique endemic cave fish at the Blue Holes National Park. And try snorkelling and mingling with the rich and varied marine life at Bonefish Pond, which offers 1280 acres of coastal wetlands.
Experience the world’s deepest blue hole
Take a trip over to Long Island for the (rather eerie) experience of a lifetime – swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving the site of the biggest blue hole in the world! Dean’s Blue Hole measure 202 meters (663 feet) deep and is home to various fish species, whilst on Long island, pass through historic yet quaint Clarence Town where St. Paul’s Anglican Church offers superb views over the secluded beaches and bays beyond.
Enjoy an Exuma Cay all to yourself
Exuma is a chain of 365 pristine cays and islands that can only be reached by boat. Just an hour away from Nassau by speedboat, this is the perfect spot for uninterrupted snorkelling, swimming and lazing. You’ll need to do your research first though as many of the islands are privately owned or for exclusive use.
Try fishing on Grand Bahama
Grand Bahama id very much focussed on eco-tourism and takes its ecological credentials seriously. There is an extensive underwater limestone cave system where you can sail, swim and fish. Try your hand at catching wahoo, billfish, blue marlin and tuna. There are also opportunities to try shark diving on Grand Bahama.
Explore the history and heritage on New Providence Island
Nassau is the capital of the Bahamas and is lively, with frequent big cruise liners in dock, keen to snap up duty-free bargains and to see the sights from this island which dates back to 1492. With a curious legacy left by Christopher Columbus, marauding pirates and of course the British, New Providence Island is the best place for history enthusiasts. Discover the pastel pink Government House which was built in 1737 and sits on top of Mt Fitzwilliam and features a changing of the guard ritual. Explore the legacy of the pirates at the intriguing Pirates of Nassau Museum and Blackbeard’s Tower. Admire the stained glass windows of the typically-British Christ Church Cathedral and marvel at Fort Charlotte which was 1787. There is also the Queen’s Staircase and the impressive Fort Fincastle which were both built to honour Queen Victoria. Escape the crowds at downtown Bay Street, which is set on the waterfront, with small boutiques and dockside cafes. And to round off your trip, enjoy a traditional Caribbean rum at Graycliff Manor, an 18th century plantation house.
Try deep sea fishing on Bimini Island
Hailed as the ‘Deep Sea Fishing Capital of the World’, Bimini’s season runs from April to July, in contrast with the remainder of the Bahamas. Due to its close proximity to Miami, many Americans make the relatively short trip over to fish, scuba dive the wreck of the concrete ship SS Sapona and try bone fishing.
Go mountain biking on Eleuthera Island
Hire a mountain bike locally and explore the large island of Eleuthera. Experienced riders will appreciate the challenging peaks around Gregory Town. Stop off at the Queens Bath hot springs and the secluded Ten Bay Beach. Take a detour to the Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve and admire the geologic formation wonder that is the Glass Window of Eleuthera.