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Photos courtesy of Bahamas Ministry of Tourism

Nassau and Paradise Island

The capital of The Bahamas, Nassau is also its oldest city, dating back to the 18th century. The Bahamas are America’s closest neighbors, a refuge for loyalists after our revolution, again for southern Confederates after the Civil War.

Today, Nassau is action packed, and increasingly popular for more reasons than its proximity. It’s made up of two different resort areas – Cable Beach near Nassau town, and Paradise Island, across a short causeway from Nassau and home to the world famous Atlantis Resort complex, and other hotels.

Both Cable Beach and Paradise Island have beautiful golf courses and glittering nightlife, but only Paradise Island has a luxury boutique hotel, the One-and-Only Ocean Club; and only Nassau has the idiosyncratic, highly photogenic Compass Point.

More even than all this, Nassau is a tremendously popular cruise port, with nearly every cruise line in the Caribbean calling there, meaning it has excellent shopping. Nassau is also the international air gateway for most of the rest of the country.

Other well known hotel companies there include Sandals, Breezes, RIU, Marriott, Radisson, and Holiday Inn.

Not To Be Missed – Nassau – Junkanoo Festival traditionally falls on December 26 and January 1, but in June, every weekend there is a similar event, just for guests.

Grand Bahama Island

Larger than Long Island, New York, and only 55 miles from the south Florida coast, Grand Bahama is the “other” popular destination in The Bahamas. It, too, offers big resorts, nightlife, shopping, golf, and miles of beautiful beaches. But unlike Nassau, Grand Bahama is relaxed and slow paced, with none of the hustle and hurry of the capital.

There are two centers of tourism activities here, too, although several miles apart. Lucaya is the beach, marina, and sightseeing center, while Freeport has more hotels, casinos and nightlife, and shopping.

Hotel companies here include Westin, Sheraton, Crowne Plaza, and Holiday Inn. Local hotels in both Freeport and Lucaya have renovated and expanded in recent years, and are looking very nice; some of these include the Pelican Bay, the Island Palm Resort, Old Bahama Bay, and the Port Lucaya Resort and Yacht Club.

Unique features include the town of West End, which holds a popular Friday night street party, and East End, with mangrove swamps and unique ecotourism.

The Bahamian government has recently invested heavily in the island, renovating and expanding infrastructure, and financing private work. The result is a vacation resort that shines, offering quality and value.

Not To Be Missed – Grand Bahama Island – Friday night street party at West End; ecotourism options at East End

The Bahamas Out Islands

In terms of excitement, the Out Islands of The Bahamas are even further down the scale, being entirely quiet and relaxed, almost sleepy, with terrific diving and lovely beaches. Well known among them are Exuma, Eleuthera, Long Island, San Salvador, Cat Island, and the Abacos, just to name a few. Each has its own local history and culture, and each is well worth discovering.

Outstanding hotels here include the Pink Sands Resort on Harbour Island, off Eleuthera; the Club Med Columbus Isle on San Salvador; the Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort on Long Island; and the Four Seasons Great Exuma at Emerald Bay, on Exuma.

Not To Be Missed – The Out Islands – On Abaco, see wild horses, descended from Columbus’ voyages; on Eleuthera, stroll on Lighthouse pink sand beach at Bannermantown; on Exuma, visit Exuma Land and Sea Park

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