With turquoise seas, a tropical climate and beaches ranging in colour from baby pink to gold, there’s a lot to like about The Islands Of The Bahamas.
But as well as natural beauty there is a wealth of adventures, cultural attractions and gastronomic delicacies to discover.
I recently revisited The Bahamas to find that, while retaining their quaint unique charm, there is a whole world of new openings and experiences that make this location more attractive than ever.
Starting in the lovely capital Nassau, I enjoy afternoon tea at historic Government House. I feel like royalty sipping tea on the terrace where The Duke and Duchess of Windsor spent time after the abdication of Edward VIII , but the experience is actually free! On the last Friday of the month the Bahamian People-to-People programme offers complimentary afternoon tea with fashion show, live music and shuttle transfer to your hotel.
Over on Paradise Island, we find a multigenerational heaven which mums and dads, youngsters and even grandparents can enjoy. Atlantis is guaranteed to make the adrenalin to flow with Aquaventure, a 141-acre, 200-million gallon Water Park that combines a series of slides a lazy river, and the Current, a mile-long water ride with waves and tidal changes.
On Blue Lagoon Island we swing in a hammock while the more energetic hit the water with water bikes and kayaks. There are dolphins and sealions to get acquainted with too, in the knowledge that the animals are very well cared for – Blue Lagoon has just been awarded Certification from American Humane, the world’s largest certifier of animal welfare and well-being.
Grand Bahama Island is different again, with its pine forests and succession of fishing villages. There are tours around the island stopping the Lucayan National Park with mangrove creeks, an ancient burial ground and diverse bird habitats. Don’t miss Wednesdays Fish Fry at Smiths Point where you can enjoy beach front sunset views and a hearty Bahamian meal accompanied by lively music and dancing – washed down of course with a delicious rum punch!
But for a more laid-back vibe, we head to the quiet but surprising Out Islands, just a short hop by ferry or small plane.
My husband has a thing about sharks – having dived with them around the world. But the iconic Hammerhead variety has evaded him. His dream comes true on little Bimini however, where every year these magnificent creatures can be spotted and encountered between November and April.
Keeping my head firmly above water I take a stroll around the island which is famous for its connections with Ernest Hemingway and Martin Luther King, who both enjoyed fishing here. I chat to local Ashley Saunders, owner of the fascinating Dolphin House, and his brother Ansel who, although in his 80s, still makes boats by hand.
All the Bahamian islands are best explored with the help of a local. On Bimini it was Ashly and Ansel, and in Green Turtle Cay, in The Abacos, it is definitely Brendal who has run the dive centre here for over 30 years. Green Turtle Cay is the ideal spot for sailing, diving and spotting parrots, rays and even swimming pigs – Brendal knows these waters well and will even include a lobster and snapper barbeque lunch on a deserted beach.
The 120 mile chain of Abaco islands is a magnet for sailors. But on land there is colourful history experienced by walking around colonial Hope Town, with its red and white candy cane lighthouse, or New Plymouth. The islands were settled in the 1700s by Loyalists escaping the American Revolution
It is easy to hop by ferry or small plane to other islands too. Lovely Eleuthera is famous for its sweet pineapple farms, and glamorous Harbour Island for its sumptuous pink sand beaches.
British Airways flies to Nassau from London Heathrow four times a week.
FRS ferry from Miami to Bimini – www.frs-caribbean.com
Ferries between the islands – www.bahamasferries.com
For packages to the islands of The Bahamas visit www.bon-voyage.co.uk/destinations/bahamas
For general information visit www.bahamas.com
Also visit Tropical Sky for more information.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Tropical Sky Beach Holidays for holidays to The Bahamas.