There are many magical images to conjure up when one pictures what it must be like to visit the Bahamas – sandy white beaches, hammocks tied to palm trees, tropical fish, the effervescent hum of music and an endless an supply of rum cakes. I’m here to tell you all of the above is true, plus much more!
Flying into Nassau, the capital city from the US state of Florida was an experience in itself, as far as the eye could see we were greeted with sapphire water and dotted islands, over 700 of them to be exact, whilst we never got to sample all the pleasures this paradise had to offer, Amber and I got to sample a small morsel and it left us wanting more.
The first thing to note is most of the beaches in Nassau back onto private resorts so you cannot visit the beaches unless you have paid to do so, the one saving grace we were advised of on our first day there was Cabbage beach, just out of Nassau on Paradise Island. Be prepared to bargain with the local Bahamian’s for a beach chair and umbrella – tourism is their business and they like to wheel and deal.
The main attraction on Paradise Island is of course, the Atlantis Resort and from the moment you arrive you’ll be captivated not only by it’s sheer stature but with the events, concerts and countless choices Atlantis offers to help you create the perfect vacation in paradise.
Whatever your heart desires, you can do it here including playing a round of golf at The Ocean Club, improve your swing while taking in the scenic seaside greens and beautiful coastline. If shopping’s more your thing you’ll love the Marina Village, which boasts everything you could need from your daily groceries to that new Cartier bracelet you’ve been meaning to buy yourself just for being fabulous. Wave goodbye to some money in style at the Caribbean’s largest Casino or wave hello to the Dolphins at Dolphin Cay, but if there’s one thing you must do while visiting Paradise Island, that’s release your inner child and head to Aquaventure Waterpark.
It’s one of the largest water-themed attractions in the world and the beautiful blue centerpiece of Atlantis. Featuring 18 exhilarating water slides, and a mile-long river ride incorporating waves, rapids, tunnels and more, this is a must see and do for anyone travelling to the Bahamas. If you’re staying at the resort admission is complementary, however if you’ve just visiting for the day the admission is quite expensive but be prepared, there’s plenty of bang for your buck!
Island-hopping is easy in the Bahamas, there’s many tour operators on hand and hotels are more than happy to give you advice on which islands to visit and which operators offer the best packages. Because we were limited on time, Amber and I knew we wouldn’t get to all the islands we’d like and narrowing it down to two trips was an arduous task as all of the Island tours were completely different and all offered something spectacular, but after much deliberating we chose Exuma and Blue Lagoon Island.
Picture the sun shining bright, the air wrapping it’s velvety warmth around your body and wading in knee-deep, crystal clear water as far as your eyes can see. Welcome to Exuma. There were three different islands we hopped around that day, each one different to the first. Where our boat docked on the first island we could see sharks circling the hull clearly aware that the hum of the engine signified feeding time, another island we coasted out to was like a giant white sandbar curving away into the horizon. The snorkelling was amazing with colourful coral and tropical fish, but my most spectacular find was a sand dollar, which google tells me is actually the skeleton of a once living sea urchin, but to my eyes it’s simply beautiful, flat in appearance, extremely delicate and has the imprint on it’s body that resembles a star or coin imprint, which is how it gets it’s name.
Our final island on our day excursion was into the heart of the Exuma Cays to feed the rare Bahamian Iguana, again much like the sharks earlier, these intelligent lizards recognise the sound of the boats coming and move towards the water knowing that food is on it’s way! They were well fed by the time we departed and we watched them crawl back onto their rocks stretching their bodies out soaking up the last of the afternoon rays.
Our next day excursion was to the Blue Lagoon Island located just a short boat ride from Nassau and as the name suggests there’s a secluded lagoon right in the centre to swim and relax by. In contrast to the other islands we’d visited the Blue Lagoon was a lot more lively with a bar and music coasting across the beach. We lounged in hammocks staring skyward at tall coconut palm trees, explored the island, swam in the warm waters and visited a small, but natural enclosure showcasing dolphins and sea lions. The island is gorgeous and maintains a lot of natural beauty and is well worth a day trip.