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Last updated : Nov 2009
 
Bahamas Region
Bahamas Region - TravelPuppy.com
There are over 700 islands in The Bahamas, several of which have escaped the notice of tourists. The islands offer sandy beaches and clear warm water. Many are relatively large, please see our individual descriptions for a description of some of these, but others are tiny and uninhabited. All the larger main islands offer a high standard of accommodation and leisure facilities.

The capital of The Bahamas is Nassau, and stands on New Providence Island. In the capital, tourists can shop in the busy straw market, where local vendors create unique straw goods on the spot, or the more sophisticated shops in Bay Street. The 18th century Fort Charlotte on West Bay Street has a moat, open battlements, dungeons and a stunning view of the harbour. The nearby Ardastra Gardens have tropical flowers and pink flamingos.

The Queen’s Staircase, at the top of Elizabeth Avenue, is a 40 metre (102 feet) climb up steps carved into the limestone leading to Fort Fincastle and the Water Tower. For Fincastle was built in 1793 and is in the shape of a ship’s bow. The Water Tower is the highest point on the island, 85 metres (216 feet) above sea level. An elevator takes visitors to an observation deck for panoramic views.

Numerous bars, restaurants and discos can be found along Cable Beach, a 2.5 mile long stretch of golden sand, located just 3 miles outside the city. Paradise Island boasts some beautiful beaches, a 14 acre aquarium, 34 acres of beautiful landscaped gardens, the Caribbean's largest casino and a massive amount of resorts. Sunbathing, fishing, diving and boating are the main daytime amusements on these islands. The Bahamas National Trust is also based here.

Grand Bahama Island

Only 52 miles off the Florida coast, this island is extremely popular. Lucayan National Park (there are 40 acres to sample here) and Peterson Cay National Park are both worth a visit. The major towns are Freeport / Lucaya, which has an airport, and West End. The island offers wide white sandy beaches, 2 casinos and good shopping facilities, entertainment and restaurants at the International Bazaar and Port Lucaya.

The Rand Memorial Nature Centre offers a brilliant nature walk and the Garden of the Groves has exotic flowers, waterfalls and colourful birds. A focal point of any trip here will be to watch the semi wild dolphins gliding and soaring in Sanctuary Bay. There are also 8 acres of pristine white sand for the traveller to relax upon and observe the waters lapping this versatile island.

The Out Islands

The Out Islands stretch across a huge area of clear ocean and are fringed with 100's of kilometres of white sandy beaches, and peppered with authentic fishing villages. This is mammoth archipelago is twice the size of Spain. The islands have resort facilities for groups of up to 200 people and are ideal for a relaxed and secluded holiday. Though secluded, the islands are not isolated, and are served by the national flag carrier, Bahamasair, from Nassau and Freeport. The main Out Islands are described further below.

Andros

Andros is the largest but probably the least known of the bigger islands. Laced with creeks and densely forested inland, the interior is still largely undamaged and natural. Off the eastern shore is the 224 kilometres (140 mile) long coral barrier reef, the world’s 3rd longest. Beyond the reef, the ocean floor drops away steeply to a depth of more than 1.5 kilometres (1 mile), called the Tongue of the Ocean, deep water fishing is a major attraction here. Captain Bill's Blue Hole is an attraction, 180 feet deep, 440 feet wide in diameter. In Congo Town is the popular and world famous StarGate Blue Hole where Indian skulls were discovered in the early 1990's.

The Abacos

A 120 mile long, crescent shaped necklace of islands to the north of New Providence, where several of the towns have the atmosphere of New England fishing villages. The islands are mainly noted for their tradition of shipbuilding, the original 200 year old practice that can still be observed in Man-O-War Cay. Treasure Cay has an brilliant golf course and here, as in the other major islands, there are excellent leisure facilities.

Other attractions include Green Turtle Cay, Alton Lowe’s Museum in New Plymouth, Elbow Cay and Marsh Harbour, the bare boat charter centre of the northern Bahamas. Scuba divers are drawn to Pelican Cay National Park, an underwater preserve where night dives can be organised.

Eleuthera

A narrow island 177 kilometres (110 miles) long but seldom more than 3 kilometres (2 miles) wide. Attractions include the Glass Window Bridge, Ocean Hole, Harbour Island (with Dunmore Town, 1 of the oldest settlements in The Bahamas), Spanish Wells, off the northern tip of the island, Preacher’s Cave and the underwater caves at Hatchet Bay.

Harbour Island itself is 3 miles long by a half mile wide, boasting pink sandy beaches. It is an upscale part of Eleuthera that generally attracts newlyweds and couples in love seeking privacy. There are chic restaurants and good but not chaotic nightlife, geared towards those who enjoy sipping rum cocktails while overlooking the ocean. The scuba diving from Eleuthera is predominantly superb. The island is characterised by pineapple plantations and colonial villages.

The Exumas

The waters surrounding this 160 kilometre (100 mile) long chain of islands have been described by yachtsmen as being the finest cruising region in the world. There are also pristine cays and stunning reefs protected by the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, accessible by boat only. It is a 176 mile park of beauty, with exceptional marine life. Inland, many once great plantation houses now stand ruined and deserted, although the names of their owners still live on in many local family surnames. In April, Elizabeth Harbour is the setting for the Family Island Regatta.

Cat Island

1 of the eastern bulwarks of The Bahamas, Cat Island has 60 metre (200 feet) cliffs (a rare height for The Bahamas), dense natural forest and pre-Columbian Arawak Indian caves. The Hermitage (which was built by Father Jerome) stands on Mount Alvernia, where the Cat Island Regatta takes place during the August bank holiday. This is the destination for total seclusion, surrounded by pink sand beaches and cerulean waters.

Bimini

Lying between Florida and Andros, with the gulf stream running either side, Bimini is widely regarded as 1 of the best fishing centres in the world. Hemingway used to live in Alice Town in Blue Marlin Cottage, and reminders of his life can be seen in the local museum.

Berry Islands

The Berry Islands are popular with fishing enthusiasts and are also noted for serene landscapes and white sand beaches, every visitor here probably thinks of it as their own private paradise. Great Harbour Cay has a marina and a championship golf course. Scuba divers can admire the underwater rock formations and 5 metres (15 feet) staghorn coral reefs off Mamma Rhoda Rock.

Blue Lagoon Island

An exotic lagoon where visitors can enjoy close encounters with welcoming bottle nosed dolphins. Regular 45 minute sessions consist of an educational talk and about 30 minutes of swimming in the water with the dolphins.

Long Island

This island certainly lives up to its name, being almost 100 kilometres (60 miles) long but rarely more than 5 kilometres (3 miles) wide. The landscape consists of fertile pastureland, rugged headlands dropping sharply down to the sea, rolling hills and sandy beaches washed by surf.

At Conception Island, divers can investigate over 30 shipwrecks and tours are arranged from the Stella Maris Resort Club at the north end of the island. The Long Island Regatta at Salt Pond takes place in May. Attractions include Hamilton's Cave, and the deepest blue hole around, at 600 feet into the ocean floor, Dean's Blue Hole lies just offshore. For visitors seeking refreshments, Max's Conch Bar & Grill has become a kind of tourist attraction in its own right. And remember, this is the land of that tasty drink, the Long Island Iced Tea.

San Salvador

This was Columbus' 1st landing place in the New World and is truly 1 for the nature enthusiast, for those who enjoy bird watching, a variety of birds populate this island. Cockburn Town is the main settlement, which is not far from the spot where Columbus is said to have landed, however other sites also claim this distinction. Diving and game fishing and are the most popular pastimes.
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