What to do
Whether it's Watersports, Golf, Museums or Shopping, the Best is in The Islands of The Bahamas.
With over 700 islands, cays, reefs and beaches plus hundreds of activities on land and sea to choose from, visitors to the Islands of The Bahamas will find there's not enough time in a day to do everything that the islands have to offer. Vacationers looking for an active holiday will find a myriad of choices for sports - from sailing, windsurfing, fishing and scuba diving to golf, biking and hiking on land. Those in search of edification will not be disappointed as The Islands Of The Bahamas is rich in history and culture on display in museums, in communities and in live performances. And, of course, the inimitable shoppers will find themselves in a shopping paradise, with duty-free opportunities and local crafts at reasonable prices.
A haven for watersports enthusiasts, The Islands of The Bahamas have some of the best diving and snorkeling in the Caribbean with barrier reefs, fringing reefs, platform reefs and atolls. The island of Andros has the third-largest barrier reef in the world (after Australia's Great Barrier Reef), and a wide variety of underwater sealife for divers to view.
Grand Bahama, headquarters of UNEXSO - the best-known Bahamian diving school, also has a number of sites where divers can search for hidden treasures and explore underwater caves. Also popular are dives around the various shipwrecks of the islands. These include shipwrecks as the USS Adirondack the 125-year-old American warship lying off the Man-O-War Cay: a train freighter intentionally sunk off Freeport/Lucaya; and the Ms. Cumberbach off Cape Santa Maria.
Other watersports available are parasailing, windsurfing, sailing, water-skiing, angling and game fishing, with several operators arranging outings for visitors.
Shop 'Till You Drop
If you love to shop, then The Islands of The Bahamas is the place for you! With shelves piled high with products from around the world and the discounted duty-free prices lurking at every corner, travelers should be armed with a strong will power or an extra stash of money for a shopping spree. Some of the best buys include deals on watches and jewelry; perfume at greatly discounted prices; crystal and china; leather goods; cameras from around the world and paintings.
The famous Straw Market (there's usually one on each island) has stacks of local handmade produce at tempting prices.
A Hole in One and Other Landlubber Pastimes
Landlubbers who'd rather keep both feet on the ground but are still the active type will have plenty to keep them busy.
Most of the golf courses are in and around the cities of Nassau and Freeport/Lucaya. Some are Robert Trent Jones and Dick Wilson designs and range from beginner courses to professional ones. The Islands of The Bahamas also plays host to a number of tournaments including the annual Pro-Am and an Open on the Bahamian Independence Day.
Equestrians can find horse stables in Freeport and in Nassau, and joggers can take flight just about anywhere from the sandy beach to the tree-lined, traffic-free esplanade in Nassau and Paradise Island.
Tennis courts are at most of the big resorts as well as on some of the Out Islands including The Abacos, Berry Islands, Eleuthera, Long Island and Exuma. Squash and racquetball courts are available in Nassau.
If neither land or sea will do, bungee jumpers can take the plunge at Club Waterloo in Nassau.
Flora and Fauna Fanatics
The Islands are rich with tropical plant and animal life, and national parks and nature reserves offer wonderful opportunities to view the flora and fauna in unspoiled settings.
National parks include the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park with such rarities as the rock iguana and the hutia; Inagua National Park with one of the biggest flamingo reserves in the western hemisphere; Conception Island Park, an important breeding ground for birds; Lucayan National Park, home of one of the oldest underwater cave systems; and the palm garden Retreat on New Providence. The reservations include Peterson Cay Park; Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park, and Black Sound Cay National Reserve.
Plant lovers will especially enjoy the Rand Memorial Nature Centre in Freeport, the Ardastra Gardens and Zoo and the Botanical Gardens in Nassau as well as the Garden of the Groves in Lucaya.
Bathing Beauties' Best Bets Needless to say, The Bahamas is a great place just to lie on the beach and soak up the sun. Some of the most popular beaches can be found on Long Island, San Salvador, The Abacos, Harbour Island and the northern Exuma cays. But just about anywhere one turns, they'll find an alluring stretch of soft white sand.
Museums for the Minds
Culture vultures can find model ships of the late Albert Lowe as well as paintings of Alton Lowe, nautical craft, and artifacts from Loyalist settlers at the Albert Lowe Museum at Plymouth or Green Turtle Cay, Abaco. The Grand Bahama Museum has displays on the history of Grand Bahama Island with reconstructed caves, a marine exhibit and artifacts from the Lucayan Indian culture and era of piracy. In addition, small galleries and museums are scattered throughout the islands. In the heart of Nassau, the Pompey Museum houses a prominent collection by internationally recognized Bahamian artist Amos Ferguson who paints in the Native style.
Art & Architecture for the Inquisitive
The tumultuous historical past of The Islands of The Bahamas contributes to a wide and varied collection of architecture. Walking tours afford fine views of British Colonial, Victorian, Spanish and Spanish-American architecture. Buildings of note include the 19th-century mansion East Hill, the 1810 St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, the Government House; St. Francis Roman Catholic Church; the mid- 19th-century Devonshire House, Hillside Manor, Christ Church Cathedral, the Masonic Temple and Trinity Methodist Church, just to name a few.
Bahamas By Night
After Sundown, It's Jazz, Disco, Calypso and More in The Islands of The Bahamas.
If you're not too tired after a day's activity in The Islands of The Bahamas, get ready because there's as much to do at night as there is during the daylight hours, and there's something for everyone -from a quiet, romantic seaside dinner and jazz to dancing the night away at one of the islands' clubs.
The Islands of the Bahamas offer a wide range of international cuisines to fit every budget. Known for its local seafood including conch and grouper, the local Bahamian restaurants offer spicy, native food with a taste of the Caribbean. For those looking for other cuisines - everything from Italian, French, English and Chinese are available.
Nassau/Paradise Island, Harbour Island and Grand Bahama have some five-star fine dining establishments in stunning settings overlooking bays and the ocean. Whether you're looking for a lively place for a large group or a quiet intimate dinner for two, casual dining is always available on the 700-island archipelago.
Theater, Cinema, and Other Spectator Activities
The Islands of The Bahamas' rich melange of international and regional cultures contribute to a thriving artistic community. The Dundas Centre for the Performing Arts in Nassau offers a wide range of performances, and the Regency Theatre in Freeport showcases local as well as international performances. There are a number of community theater groups, dance troupes and choral ensembles, including the Diocesan Chorale, Lucayan Chorale, Chamber Singers and Nassau Operatic Society.
If visitors want to combine dinner and a show, the Palace Dinner Theater in Carnival's Crystal Palace Resort and Casino has a Las Vegas-type revue. In addition, the Atlantis SunSational Show and the Casinos Royale Show Room at the Bahamas Princess Resort & Casino presents a twice-nightly French-style spectacular with costumes, dancing and novelty acts. The cinemas in the Bahamas show primarily American-made films and are located on the larger islands. Videos are readily available at all the hotels and are the more common source for watching movies.
Calypso, Junkanoo, Goombay and Jazz
The night air is filled with song in The Islands of The Bahamas, with every kind of music including disco, jazz, and the local music known as goombay. Some of the popular all-night discos for the young and energetic include Culture Club, The Zoo in Nassau, Club Estee, and The Captain Kenny Pubs in Freeport. Port Lucaya Marketplace in Freeport provides for live entertainment and calypso and The Safari Lounge offers a lively disco scene with calypso. The Sir Winston Churchill Pub features special theme nights, and the Yellow Bird Showroom has one of Grand Bahama's best shows with local performers, calypso, limbo and fire dancers.
For those looking for a quiet evening out, The Veranda Bar of the Quality Atlantic Beach & Golf Resort has piano music nightly except Sunday. Apple Elliot and his ensemble plays some of the liveliest jazz in the Caribbean during the evening at the Lucayan Golf and Country Club.
Casinos for the Coin Happy
The islands' four casinos offer endless hours of entertainment and excitement. Complete with slot machines of every variety, crap and blackjack tables, roulette and baccarat, The Islands of The Bahamas have everything a gambler could hope for.
The 30,000 square-foot casino in Sun International's Atlantis, Paradise Island has every game imaginable including more than 800 slot machines, while the 35,000 square-foot casino on Nassau is shared by the Radisson Cable Beach Casino & Golf Resort and the Crystal Palace Resort & Casino. The 20,000 square-foot Princess Casino in Freeport has some 450 slot machines, 40 blackjack tables, eight dice table and roulette wheels, two money wheels and numerous video games. The Lucayan Beach Casino (of equal size, and also in Freeport) has 545 super slots, video blackjack, poker, similar tables as its competitors and more.
Dress at the casinos is casual except shoes must be worn and beach attire is not acceptable. Gamblers must be 18 years of age to play.
For more information about The Islands Of The Bahamas, contact The Bahamas Tourist Offices in the US at: 150 East 52nd St., 28th F1., New York, NY 10022, Tel: 212-758-2777 and at 19495 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33180, Tel: 305-932-0051, or use our Reader Service Card.