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Whether you're heading to the Bahamas to party or relax against the backdrop of sandy beaches and the sparkling ocean, there's a lot to know before booking your villa or rental property. Use the information on this page to learn which Bahamas islands specialize in water sports and which are known for shopping, and find out tons of other useful information as well.
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Across the Straits of Florida, just 50 miles from Miami begins the 120,000 square miles of ocean lightly scattered with 2,400 islands known collectively as the Bahamas. This diverse group of islands provides limitless vacation possibilities for young and old alike. The low-lying limestone and coral islets (Cat Island boasts the highest point at 207 feet) have a history rich in British tradition and on July 10, 1973 became the free and sovereign Commonwealth of the Bahamas, ending 325 years of British rule.
The two main cities of Nassau and Freeport are on two of the smaller islands in the chain. The capital city of Nassau on New Providence Island boasts lively casinos, resorts (many on adjacent Paradise Island), shopping, and is the center of government and commerce. Cruise ships make Nassau and Freeport, Grand Bahama Island regular stops on their Caribbean routes. Accommodations in each city range from first class resorts to small family-run inns. Nightlife, water sports, golf, tennis, fishing and family activities make these two islands a favorite vacation destination for travelers seeking a tropical resort atmosphere. Grand Bahama features the Dolphin Experience where you can swim in the open water with trained dolphins.
The other populated islands and cays are known as the Out Islands. Eclectic visitors, towns and islanders make these remote islands the Bahamas' best-kept secrets. They are not hard to get to and your efforts are well rewarded with deserted, powdery white sand beaches (pink sand sparkles on Eleuthera and Harbour Island) rimmed with coconut palms and causerina pines. Peace and solitude, the hallmark of the Out Islands, is reflected in their friendly, relaxed atmosphere.
Abacos is hailed as some of the finest yacht cruising in the world and is the northernmost island group in the Bahamas. Annual billfish tournaments, sailing and diving are Abaco's claim to fame.
Land of water, sea of life-Andros, the Bahamas largest island is full of holes and inhabited by mysterious creatures, both in the trees and under water. Snorkelers and divers explore the island's blue holes and underwater caves. Go bird-watching to see pink flamingos or enjoy world-class bonefishing at one of the many fishing camps throughout the island.
Bimini, a favorite of many celebrities, hosts big game fishing tournaments and is a great getaway for those who just want to relax and leave the world behind. Enjoy Hemingway memorabilia and laze away the days on your own white sand beach. No shopping, nightlife, or casinos here, just Out Island charm at its finest.
Often overlooked, but so perfect a spot, Cat Island offers a few small resorts, excellent diving and water sports, 17th century pirate history, and secluded beaches for the road-weary traveler.
Long and skinny, Eleuthera's 100 miles are some of the most developed in the Out Islands. Off the northern coast lies Harbour Island and Spanish Wells, two favorites for vacationers. A comfortable place to enjoy white sand beaches and crystal clear water.
The Exumas are a sailor's paradise. These 350 little cays are some of the most unspoiled in the Bahamas. Enjoy bonefishing, annual sailing regattas and maybe your own private island.
Long Island extends 60 miles north and south dotted by small towns and innumerable nooks and crannies worth exploring. There are several large resorts, golf, diving, sailing, fishing, lovely deserted beaches, two airports, and that Out Island friendly hospitality.
San Salvador maintains the lookout on the Atlantic as the easternmost island. Home to a few resorts, development has largely passed this lovely island by. Superb diving, island exploring, beachcombing and biking will make your stay memorable.
The first settlers were originally from South America and arrived in the Bahamas in the Ninth Century. They were known as Arawaks or Lucayans. English settlers left Bermuda in 1647 and formed the first British colony on the island of Eleuthera and began a prosperous agricultural economy that still thrives today. The geography of the islands attracted many well-known pirates such as Blackbeard, Henry Morgan, and others who dominated the islands for the next 70 years in what was known as "The Golden Age of Piracy." Britain claimed the islands in 1670 and the first governor finally drove the pirates out in 1718. Britain then recognized the Bahamas as a colony. Great Britain granted the islands their independence in 1964. In 1973, the Commonwealth of The Bahamas became independent, but retained Queen Elizabeth II as constitutional head of state.
The Grand Bahamas Garden of the Groves is home to over 12 acres of exotic wildlife and botanical gardens. It's the most photographed spot in the Bahamas and frequently used for weddings ceremonies. Children come for the farm animal petting zoo. There are also parrots, alligators, ducks and turtles and hundreds of tropical plants. Garden of the Groves is located on the corner of Magellan Drive and Midshipmann Road on Grand Bahama Island. It is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Admission is $3.95 for children 3 through 10 and $9.95 for adults.
Travel & Leisure and Caribbean Travel & Life magazines both recognized Our Lucaya Resort on Grand Bahamas Island as one of the best for golf. Experience it for yourself on one of two 18-hole, par of 72 golf courses. The Reef Course has been called a "Scottish-like course, but a lot warmer". It opened in 2000 with deceptively open fairways, rolling greens, and an assortment of tall grasses, treacherous bunkers and huge lakes. It's rated one of the Top 5 courses in the Caribbean. The Lucayan Course, which was originally laid out in 1964, features tree-lined fairways, small elevated greens and Dick Wilson bunkers. To help you play your best, the resort is home to one of the finest golf schools in the world.
From Nassau you can see a giant arching bridge. Scale this 1/4-mile monster and you'll run right into the world-famous Atlantis hotel, frequented by celebrities. Some don't leave the resort; there's so much to do inside - 35 restaurants and bars, miles of pools, rivers and lagoons, a theater, shopping and a huge marine habitat. Branch out and you'll find sparkling white-sand beaches spooning the crystal, clear turquoise water. Jump in for a day of snorkeling, diving or a dolphin swim. On land you can tee off at one of two spectacular golf courses. If you still have some energy come evening, there's plenty for night-owls like the 9,000-square-foot nightclub called Aura or try your luck at the 2 largest casinos in the Caribbean.
Venture into the heart of Nassau, near Bay Street Shopping Center and George Street, and you'll find the Straw Market tent. Here you can shop for handcrafted Bahamian treasures including signature straw hats, beautiful handmade woodcarvings, tubs of Guava Jelly and other island souvenirs. You might also run into vendors selling knock-off Rolex, Prada, and other luxury items. Just don't be shy about bargaining. Those that don't usually over pay. Open 7 days a week from about 7am to 8pm.
Bahamas is a collective term for the 2000 cays and 700 islands 50 miles off the coast of Florida. The main cities of Nassau and Freeport are on two of the smaller islands in the chain. The other populated islands and cays are known as the Out Islands. These remote gems are not hard to get to if you're looking for a secluded vacation spot where you won't find cruise ships, high-rise hotels or crowds. It's the perfect romantic get-away or honeymoon spot for beach-lovers and sun-gods. You'll find excellent snorkeling and diving, fishing, kayaking, boating and sailing, eco-tours and a unique, colorful culture that welcomes the relaxed Bahamian lifestyle. The Abacos Islands are known as the world's top boating and sailing destination. The islands of Acklins and Bimini lure fishermen, divers and snorkelers. Andros is a natural wonder boasting the third largest barrier reef in the world. Cat Island is a fishhook-shaped island that's only 48 miles long and 4 miles across. Though small, there's plenty to see and do with miles of hiking trails and clear water filled with coral reefs, blue holes caves and shipwrecks. Eleuthera Island is known for the high cliffs on the eastern side and also the pineapple plantations. If you're looking for pink sand and luxurious resorts, check out Harbour or Exumas Islands. And finally, Long Island has the deepest blue hole in the Bahamas (more than 600 feet). It's also a haven for fishing, sailing and yachting.
Getting to Bahamas and getting around. Our transportation tips will help make your trip smoother. More good sand advice.
Proof of citizenship (passport, birth certificate and photo I.D. in the form of a driver's license) and a return or ongoing ticket. British and Canadian citizens may enter without passports or visas.
American, Delta, British Air connects the Bahamas through Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Bahamasair flies from Miami to Nassau and Freeport.
Lynden Pindling International Airport, the main airport formerly known as Nassau International Airport; six airports exist among the many islands - numerous flights from the U.S.
On the left - need to show driver's license to rent a car
Car rental and taxis.
Vacationers don't just stay in Bahamas villas - they come to paradise to get married and celebrate their honeymoons! An affidavit available at the U.S. Embassy in Nassau must be completed. Cost: US$120 for a marriage license. Documents Required: Passports or birth certificates plus divorce or death certificates, if applicable.
Before making their way to Bahamas villas, vacationers like to know a little bit of helpful information to make them feel more at home during their stay. Take a look at our travel tips to make your time in villas in Bahamas even more relaxing.
|Size:||3,940 sq km, slightly smaller than Connecticut|
|Time:||10:12 am zone:-5 (GMT/UTC -5)|
|Official Language:||English (official), Creole (among Haitian immigrants)|
|Topography:||long, flat coral formations with some low rounded hills|
|Telephone:||international: country code - 1-242|
The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism
P.O. Box N-3701
Toll Free: 1-800-Bahamas