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Primary appeal is to Mid-Authentics and Centric-Authentics, along with some Authentics

Did You Know…?

  • When Columbus sighted land on Oct. 12, 1492, he saw San Salvador in the Bahamas.
  • Only about 20 of the 700 Bahamian islands are inhabited.
  • Abaco Barbs descend from Spanish horses brought in at the time of Christopher Columbus.
  • The Bahamas does not have an army; it also has no rivers.
  • Tourism directly or indirectly employs half the total Bahamian workforce.

Neighboring islands

The Bahamas is a collection of islands so convenient to the U.S. East Coast that Americans may fly or sail in for a short break as easily as for a longer, more leisurely stay.

Visitors come for fun in the sun, water-based sports, the casinos and entertainment, shopping, the food and some very lively festivals. They know they are welcome, and it doesn’t hurt that, in the Bahamas, the U.S. dollar consistently trades one for one with the Bahamian dollar. English is the language in this former British colony.

Tourism officials in the Bahamas have developed a People-to-People program that encourages interaction between visitors and locals, helps arrange social events and solves problems.

There are numerous reasons to visit this glittering group of islands set in the North Atlantic just where the ocean meets the Caribbean.

Active travelers can choose diving or snorkeling, sailing, sportfishing or tennis and golf. Sightseers can explore old caves used by pirates and smugglers, sail to Cat Island to see a monastery atop the highest point in the Bahamas and escape the hotel scene to admire natural wonders on trips to wilder parts of the islands.

Not to be overlooked, the festivals are a lure for the gregarious. The biggest of the lot is Junkanoo, a cousin to New Orleans’ Mardi Gras and Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival, but staged in the Christmas-New Years period. The parades are a highlight, and the most spectacular parade occurs in Nassau, but there are parades on Grand Bahama Island, Eleuthera/Harbour Island, Bimini and the Abacos.

And, of course, there is that other, so obvious choice: Simply collapse on a favorite beach or alongside a sparkling hotel pool, with a cold drink in hand and just relax.

Who visits? Stressed-out residents of the eastern half of the U.S. and people who like their Caribbean fun with British overtones. Many fly to the destination, but some visitors are passengers on short cruises out of Florida. Any time of year is fine, but winter brings the most people to the Bahamas.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Scuba diving options offer you blue holes and caves, reefs, shipwrecks — plus the option of night dives when colors under night lights are deeper than in the day’s sun.
  • Do you have a boat you would like to take farther from home? Join one of the Bahamas Summer Boating Flings. These piloted cruises are designed to help boat owners discover how they can safely sail to the Bahamas and to show off the islands themselves.
  • Go sportfishing. If you are a competitor, enter a big-game tournament in the Bahamas.
  • Fly your own plane to the island by participating in a fly-in. The events, to introduce pilots to the Bahamas and one another, are held the first weekend of each month and encompass a three-day custom itinerary of boating, fishing, gaming, scuba diving, shopping, sightseeing, etc.
  • Dance in the streets at the islands’ most important festival, the Mardi Gras-like Junkanoo.
  • Go parasailing. You’ll remember the experience, especially as the boat driver turns around to head back to shore and you wonder if you’ll stay up.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Eat Bahamian cuisine (lots of fish, typically spicy). Bahamian cooking, more than elsewhere in the West Indies, has been influenced by the American South.
  • Take a kayak and cave tour in the Lucayan National Park.
  • Do the limbo when you get your first chance.
  • Go bird-watching. Go to the Abaco National Park to see the distinctive Abaco parrot. And head to the Inagua National Park to see some of the 80,000-plus West Indian flamingos protected there.
  • Play golf. You can even enter a local tournament.
  • Tour the habitat of the seriously endangered Abaco Barbs, the horses that descend from those brought by the Spanish in around 1500. The survivors live at the Abaco Wild Horse Preserve in the Treasure Cay area.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Try your luck at one of the Bahamian casinos.
  • Paradise Island, long a retreat for the rich and famous, is also the site of the Cloisters, a transplanted 14th century French monastery, for those who seek a quiet moment to step into the past.
  • Explore Nassau the old-fashioned way, via horse-drawn surrey.
  • There are a few monuments in the Bahamas commemorating Columbus’ landfall there. Keep your eyes peeled for them.
  • Head on down to the Port Lucaya Marketplace, home to a variety of restaurants and bars and backdrop for live entertainment of various kinds every night of the year.
  • Get out of the water and get a look at sea life from a glass-bottom boat.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Bahamas Tourist Office at