Bahamas - Heavenly Beaches in the Atlantic Ocean
Long sandy beaches, pink mussels in the bright turquoise sea and green palms - welcome to the paradise. There is a reason why couples and newly-weds come to the Bahamas for their romantic holidays.
Geography - The Caribbean islands
The Bahamas are part of the West Indies in the Atlantic Ocean but they are considered geographical members of the Caribbean. The island group lies north-east of Cuba and south-east of the USA. It consists of about 700 islands and over 2,400 coral reefs, the cays. Pilots agree that you have the most beautiful view of the Bahamas before landing. The turquoise sea as well as the white sandbanks and the green islands in it are worldwide unique. Only 30 islands of the Bahamas are populated. Most people live on the three main islands of New Providence, Grand Bahama and Abaco. With an area of 5,957 km², Andros is the largest island. The warm Gulf Stream creates a subtropical climate with an average temperature of 28 °C. Even in winter, it does not get colder than 20 °C.
Nature - An island paradise beyond comparison
As the sea water between the islands and the reef is only a few centimetres deep, the first Europeans gave the region the Spanish name "Baja mar" ("shallow sea"). This was the origin of the current name "Bahamas". Although the individual islands are rather small, they are vegetated by 1,200 types of plants, 100 of which are endemic. Typical species are oleander, hibiscus and orchids. Some islands are still covered in thick forests. There are pine forests, mahogany and cascarilla on Andros and Grand Bahamas. The savannah landscape, which is occasionally interrupted by smaller lakes (the Blue Holes) is equally characteristic. The highest peak is Mount Alvernia with a height of 63 metres. You can also watch a number of exciting animals on the islands, for example wild horses, great iguanas, the Cat Island slider (a water turtle), parrots and colourful butterflies. However, the underwater world of the reefs is much richer. Shimmering schools of starfish and butterflyfish pass snorkellers and divers.
Natural sights - The swimming pigs of Exuma
There are 22 national parks in the Bahamas, which means that about 260,000 hectares of land and sea are protected. The Central Andros National Park is the largest one. It accommodates mangrove forests and the Andros Barrier Reef - the third greatest reef on earth. Clownfish, queen angelfish and mussels as far as the eye can see populate the island's bright blue waters. Another group of island animals are the dotted pigs on the island group of Exuma. It is not clear how the trusting animals came to the islands but they are definitely worth seeing. Travellers come near the towns on little boats, where the swimming pigs are already waiting. It does not take long before they go into the water - knowing that they always get a treat near the boats. The Bahamas' national bird is the flamingo. Over 30,000 of the pink flamingos live on Iguana Island and can be watched there. When you ask for the most beautiful beach in the Bahamas, you will get different answers. What is sure is that one beach is more beautiful than the other and that they are all dream beaches.
Culture - From the sponge divers to tourism
The traces of the native inhabitants date back to the years from 900 to 1500. The first European to set foot on the islands was Columbus himself in 1492. In the course of the colonisation, the island group went to the United Kingdom. The Bahamas only gained independence in 1972. However, formally, the British are still the islands' head of state. Nevertheless, the population celebrates their independence on the 10th of July every year. The people love and appreciate their islands and enjoy sharing their natural beauty with visitors. Even with regard to health, they trust the islands' natural gifts and use over 100 plants in medical practice. Until a few centuries ago, the islands' inhabitants lived on sponge cultivation. They exported natural sponges, especially to the USA. Today, the most important economic sector is tourism. Gigantic hotels with adventure parks, swimming pools and leisure activities are the most significant employers of the islands' population.
Cultural sights - Christian churches as film sets
In general, the Bahamas are Christian. This is reflected in their architecture. The oldest church was built by the Spanish in the 16th century. Most towns and villages still have the typical colonial style. One of the most important cities is the capital of Nassau, which has over 200,000 inhabitants. In the Pirates of Nassau Museum, the islands' past and the live of Blackbeard come alive again. Fort Fincastle is one of the most popular sights but the number one attraction is the Queen's Staircase, which leads to the Bahamas' only waterfall. In addition, the islands are frequent shooting locations for Hollywood productions. Besides James Bond, the actors of Speed 2, Jaws and The Silence of the Lambs have already enjoyed the sun on the islands.
Experience - Conch and Bahama Mama
There is hardly any other Caribbean island which is as greatly influenced by the South American cuisine as the Bahamas. The islands' inhabitants love hearty and well-seasoned food. Of course, freshly caught fish and seafood play a major role too. "Conch" is the name of the white meat of the pink sea snail, which is also called the "meat of the sea". It is very firm and delicious and is best enjoyed baked or as part of a soup. The Bahamian lobster is grilled, the land crabs are baked. Everything is seasoned with lemon juice, according to the islands' recipes. There is no way around rum in the Bahamas. Every bar claims to have the best rum punch on the islands. The well-known cocktail Bahama Mama is also made of several kinds of rum and fruity juices. In addition, the islands' inhabitants have extraordinarily delicious beer, the Kalik. If you prefer non-alcoholic drinks, you should go for refreshing coconut water. Bigger cities like Nassau have great shopping miles, which offer everything one could wish for. A more authentic experience is the traditional Straw Market. Besides the compulsory straw hats and straw bags, handmade coral jewellery, luxury care products and rum cake are among the most popular souvenirs. Nightlife also mainly takes place in the bigger cities. With casinos, night clubs, beach bars, limbo and karaoke, travellers can celebrate all night on Paradise Island.
Activities - Diving, cycling and flying
On shore, in the water and in the air - the leisure-time possibilities in the Bahamas are unlimited. Of course, the most popular activities take place at the powdery white sandy beaches. The water, which is 27 °C warm throughout the year, invites holidaymakers to go sailing, jet-skiing and take rides on banana boats. Windsurfing, parasailing and many other types of water sports are offered at the beaches and by the hotels. Divers enjoy one of the world's most beautiful reefs in the azure blue water. In addition, the Bahamas are a paradise for anglers. Bimini is known as the world capital of Big Game Fishing. Hemingway drew inspiration for his stories here. The islands are equipped with excellent bicycle trails. As the land is generally very plane, visitors can even go on tours at summery temperatures. Golfers, tennis players and cricket fans also get their money's worth on the islands and those who want to see the Bahamas from above can travel from island to island in one of the single-engined planes against a breathtaking backdrop. However, the best way of experiencing the islands' beauty is a relaxed walk along the beach.
The Bahamas' international airport is located on New Providence Island. The islands can also be reached by mailboat in about 15 hours. However, the classic way of visiting the Bahamas is on a cruise liner. They set off in Florida or Puerto Rico and stop off at several islands most of the time. Travellers who want to rent a car in the Bahamas should note that there is left-hand traffic.
Relaxation and tranquillity is the motto in the Bahamas. Travellers can unwind and forget about their everyday life here. Holidaymakers who are looking for action do not go short either. A wide range of leisure activities and the Caribbean nightlife invite visitors to discover and fall in love with the wonderful Bahamas.