Nothing beats taking a break from the annoyance of snow, ice, and all that implies, like jetting south for a vacation in the sunny Bahamas. I have visited the Bahamian islands many times, on both cruises and land trips. Tropical drinks, fresh seafood, sandy white beaches, fabulous hotels, and casinos await you in the sunny Bahamas to ensure that you have a fabulous visit. Here are 4 perfect locations in the Bahamian islands that will bring warmth to your body and soul during these bitter cold winter months.
Nassau is located on a 21 mile long island (New Providence) and is heavily influenced by both European and West African cultures. It is also the capital of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. Nassau’s colonial Parliament building is a pretty shade of pink with a statue of Queen Victoria presiding over it. The Queen’s Staircase, Balcony House, and Zion Church are places you will want to photograph during your visit. The town is Victorian in style and very colorful, making it a unique place to explore.
Water sport enthusiasts thrive in the waters of the Bahamas and their cruise ports are some of the busiest in the world. The five mile Cable Beach (home to one of the most famous Sandal’s Resorts) is often called one of the best beaches in the world, by both TV and magazine.
The main thoroughfare is Bay Street, which is a haven for upscale shops with duty-free items such as jewelry, linens, resort wear, and keepsakes. Vegas style casinos also line the landscape. The world-famous straw market is filled with handcrafted baskets, toys, hats, handbags, and souvenirs to take home. Remember, bargaining is part of the fun. Be aware of people who may approach you for the sale of drugs and make sure to keep all of your possessions near your body; heed caution.
Freeport was in its prime back in the 1980’s, with hotels, casinos, and shopping bazaars. It has attracted many championship golf tournaments on their amazing golf courses, so you may want to consider bringing your clubs. Freeport is often a stop for South Floridians making a day trip to the Bahamas as it is only 70 miles from Palm Beach. Tourists must try the slushy Bahama Mama, said to have been invented here. It is made of plain and coconut rums, orange and pineapple juices, and a touch of grenadine. After a few years in the limelight, the tourism industry moved to Nassau and later shared the spotlight with Paradise Island. Still, the white-sand beaches and water sport offerings attract their share of tourists.
The Port Lucaya Marketplace, right outside of Freeport, is a 12-acre beachfront complex offering authentic Bahamian food, souvenirs, 100+ straw vendors, and artisans. Lucaya Marketplace touts themselves on being the only premiere shopping destination on the Grand Bahama Island. You may even see a Junkanoo show at the marketplace as well. What is Junkanoo? It is a masquerade held at Christmas with a street procession of people in traditional costumes dancing to the playing of bells, drums, and whistles. It is lively and fun, and also celebrated in Belize and Jamaica.
Cruise ships still visit Freeport and the most popular activities are ATV adventures, bicycle tours, fishing, snorkeling, and visiting Garden of the Groves. The Bahamas is a diver and snorkeler’s paradise with their clear waters. Deadman’s Reef is one of the most popular spots. Have you ever wondered how many shades of blue the water is here in the Bahamas? I have counted 7 distinct colors and not sure if I can even list that many colors: aqua, turquoise, navy, cobalt, azure. That’s all I know! See for yourself and try to describe the awe of it; it is nearly impossible.
Lighthouse off the coast of Freeport. (source)
Lying 35 miles south of Nassau is the 130 square mile paradise called Exuma Cay. Here, pricey yachts drift in the sparkling blue waters that attract snorkelers, divers, and those just seeking rest and relaxation. Staniel Cay, located in the middle of the 365 Staniel island chain, is perhaps one of the more well known spots as they are home to the famous “domesticated” pigs. These pigs are sure to delight animal as well as nature lovers and are found on Major’s Spot Cay. I have recently started seeing major advertising for Exuma Cay and sure that their cute pigs have a lot to do with reeling in the customers.
Deep water reefs and deep sea fishing are two of the islands perks. The Thunderball Grotto, one snorkeling destination, was featured in the James Bond movies “Thunderball” and “Never Say Never Again”. Should you choose to make this your vacation destination, I recommend the Tropic of Cancer Beach; a sheer delight with white sand and amazing scenery.
My favorite part of the sunny Bahamas….
One of my family’s favorite vacation spots lies here on Paradise Island, which is connected to Nassau by a bridge. The Atlantis Paradise Island Resort is a billion dollar investment that brought the largest luxury hotel and theme park to the tropics. Atlantis offers deep discounts online from time to time, but food is where they really get you. There are dozens of restaurants on location, each delicious and desirable, as well as a Crystal Court shopping arcade. The casino at Atlantis is one of my favorites in the world, while the outdoor activities will delight your entire family.
The 5 pools, underground grottos, marina, and water activities of Atlantis are all located on a 63 acre Aquaventure watermark, complete with 18 water slides, 14 lagoons, and 40 waterfalls. Two of the most spectacular offerings of Atlantis are the underwater walkway with viewing opportunities and the 120 feet Power Tower slide, featuring a 50 feet drop from the top. Atlantis houses over 250 species of marine species, a maze of archaeological ruins and excavations, and a “dig”, which is popular with children. An 18 hole golf course, tennis courts, and horseback riding can entertain the non-water sports types.
The newest Marina Village is also part of Atlantis, located within walking distance from the main resort. This vibrant outdoor marketplace is great for walking around, dining, and people watching. Bimini Road is spectacular for dinner. I recommend their mojitos and conch fritters with calypso dip; heavenly!
The 700 islands of the Bahamas are actually an archipelago, located partially north of the Tropic of Cancer. The Bahamas gained independence from Britain many years ago, though they still rely very much on the British ways of life, including driving on the left side of the road.
Christopher Columbus first landed in the Bahamas on his search for the Fountain of Youth. I hope he was not disappointed. This impressive island chain boasts five million visitors per year with 70% of visitors arriving by cruise ship. Since the Bahamas are not technically part of the Caribbean Islands, they have a separate destination listing option on cruise ship websites.
Foodies will love the culinary choices in the Bahamas. Ceviche, a seafood mixture cooked in lime juice, spices, onions, and chili peppers, is a special dish that will impress seafood lovers. Another thing to try is conch (pronounced konk) fritters. Conch is high in protein and omega 3 fatty acids so it is good for you and tastes yummy. Gumbos and chowders are also popular here.
Cricket is the most popular sport in the Bahamas.
Which sunny Bahamas island will you seek to cure your wintery blues?