A stunning archipelago of over 700 islands, the Bahamas is a honeymoon hotspot and popular year round holiday destination. The region receives over 6 million visitors per annum, eager to laze on perfect powder white sands and frolic in sparkling turquoise waters. Peak tourist season runs from December to April, and the beaches of Nassau and Grand Bahama see an influx of U.S. students celebrating spring break during February and March. Here are seven sublime destinations you won’t want to miss.
This chilled out, rugged island intersected by canals and mangrove swamps is the largest in the Bahamas, and less developed than many of its busier neighbours. A popular fly fishing and scuba destination, Andros boasts a 190 mile long barrier reef, the third largest on the planet. Hike through pine forest in Blue Holes National Park and swim in its natural pools. Land crab is a speciality here; if you’re visiting in June check out the island’s annual crab festival.
Only 55 miles from Florida, Grand Bahama presents a laid-back alternative to bustling Nassau and offers easier access than the remote Out Islands. A blissful 85 mile expanse of powder sand beaches and unspoilt cays, the island’s untouched interior lies swathed in mangrove jungle. Freeport and Lucaya are the main visitor hubs.
Hike or kayak amongst 40 acres of mangrove swamps at Lucayan National Park, famed for its vast underwater cave system. Bask on the idyllic sands of Gold Rock Beach, which starred in Pirates of the Caribbean. Snorkel and dive in sheltered reefs or, if you’re an experienced diver, explore shipwrecks on the seabed.
Located in the Out Islands, Long Island boasts a picturesque 80 mile tract of land with a diverse, spectacular landscape of jutting cliffs, corals reefs and wonderful beaches. Divers make a beeline for Dean’s Blue Hole, a pristine azure natural wonder. At 663 feet deep, it’s the second deepest saltwater hole known to exist. Visit historic Hamilton Cave, former home to the Bahamas’ indigenous Lucayan population, who inhabited the cave system over 1,500 years ago
Sitting just offshore from Bahamas’ capital Nassau, and linked by two bridges, Paradise is a beautiful compact island surrounded by fine white sand beaches. Focal point is the vast Atlantis resort, a sprawling complex which hosts an open air dolphin sanctuary, marine habitat, and numerous aquariums which are home to manta rays, lionfish, sharks, piranhas and jellyfish. Take the plunge at Aquaventure, a 140 acre water park featuring high speed water slides, snaking river rides and over 20 swimming areas. Enjoy the island’s glorious beaches including Arawak Beach, and Smuggler’s Beach on the east coast. The island is also home to beautiful French gardens and the remains of a 12th century French monastery, dismantled and shipped from France to the Bahamas then painstakingly rebuilt!
Boasting a gorgeous coastline, superb restaurants and charming colonial architecture, Harbour Island is a compact (three miles long and half a mile wide) and laid back destination. Hire a golf cart to explore its delights, including a main street lined with pretty 19th century pastel cottages. Don’t miss Pink Sands Beach, an Instagram favourite. This heavenly three mile stretch is renowned for its rose tinted sands formed from shells, coral and remnants of tiny ocean organisms.
New Providence Island is often referred to as Nassau, which is actually the name of its capital city. A bustling port, Nassau offers lively nightlife and abundant restaurants. Sample typical Bahamian cuisine at the Fish Fry strip. Climb the historic Queens Staircase. Hewn by slaves during the 18th century, the impressive 102 foot flight of limestone stairs links downtown Nassau with Fort Fincastle. Sink your toes into the white sands of beautiful and popular Cable Beach, six miles from central Nassau. Hire a boat or jet-ski, swim alongside manta rays and fish in the calm waters. 40 minutes from Nassau, Clifton Heritage National Park is a go-to for outdoor activities. Dive and snorkel amongst coral reefs and visit the underwater Sir Nicholas Nuttall Coral Reef Sculpture Garden.
Head to the tiny uninhabited island of Big Major Kay for a close encounter with its unlikely residents – a herd of pigs. Opinions vary on when and how the non-native herd arrived, but they have adapted successfully to island life and enjoy regular swims in the surrounding waters. Visitors can swim with the porkers and feed them approved treats.
This article originally appeared on Travel Off Path. For the latest breaking news that will affect your next trip, please visit: Traveloffpath.com
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