Despite these north Caribbean islands reputation as a pricey beach side escape – and one with a somewhat dubious standard of service, too – the sunny islands of the Bahamas have plenty to offer the more adventure-orientated traveler, as well as those simply looking for shimmering blue waters and relentless rays.
If what you want are casinos, duty-free and a substantial tan, head to Nassau, a former pirate-infused stronghold that’s 21st century treasures are rum cakes and duty-free jewelry.
At the opposite extreme is The Bahamas National Park, where tens of thousands of flamingos hover around sites perfect for hikers and laden with slow-moving turtles. The Exuma Cays have a sandy island for every day of the year, each gentle beach shore begging to be explored on foot or swam around with a well-fitted snorkel. Sunsets over these tropical paradisos seem to hover in the air for hours, leaving an orange tint over the rippling sea and outlines of drooping palm trees that coax snapping photographers, and make your tropical excursion the envy of everyone who stumbles on your albums.
In Bimini you can wallow in the waves with wild dolphins, and explore the underwater Bimini Stones glistening from the suns refracting rays, The Bahamas own Atlantis. The crescent shaped Abacos Cays pigs don’t fly, but they do swim amongst the potent Man O’ War that float past secluded beaches. It’s the perfect spot to park up the yacht and explore a mix of ancient tradition and wacky bar culture in the Cays unofficial capital, Marsh Harbor.
Lucayan National Park is the place to be for adventure kayaking, where you can weave among the gentle mangroves and picnic surrounded by playful raccoons determined to relieve you of your meal, while Cat Island is untainted by the excesses of tourism, and features impressive wall diving amongst the shoals of stingray, as well as the last hints of African culture in the ruined cotton plantations and 18th century slave huts.
With so many islands to explore, there’s something for anyone who loves sun, sea and sand on the bewitching Bahamian Islands, from the simple pleasures to tribal cultures to rich underwater havens. You might arrive looking for a good tan, but you’ll leave with the memories that last long after it’s faded.