Embark on one of our cruises to the Bahamas and you’ll follow in the wake of one of the world’s most famous explorers. Christopher Columbus happened upon the island chain in 1492 and changed the course of history – people have been flocking to the islands ever since and in recent years it has become a fantastic holiday destination for its beautiful beaches, year-round good weather and varied islands – there’s something for everyone here.
Perhaps best known for its beaches, the Bahamas has over 2,400 sigh-inducing cays on which you relax and enjoy the soft white sand.
The cays of the Bahamas are some of the most beautiful in the world, with Exuma having 365 alone. Imagine white sand beaches of the softest white sand like castor sugar, turquoise water that shimmers like stained glasses and paradise islands dusted with vegetation like gently swaying palms. You can lie back on a lounger and enjoy the sun’s rays bronzing your skin or take a refreshing dip to cool off. Most of the larger beaches have organised facilities like beach bars and restaurants serving conch fritters and potatoes. But if it’s isolation you crave, a deserted island is never very far away and then it will just be you, the sea and the sand.
But there’s more to do than just lazing around, if you prefer to stay active on your vacation. Some of the cays have unusual residents, like the colony of feral (but very friendly) swimming pigs of Staniel Cay, who’ll dip and dive with you in the water, or the iguanas of Cape Santa Maria which you can feed on a tour. With so much water around you must take the chance to try as many watersports as possible, getting out on the water on a hobie cat, kayak, paddle board or with a snorkel. Gaze at the soft sand below you and you may spot any number of colourful fish and starfish.
Aside from non-motorised watersports, scuba diving is another draw. The cays are littered with shipwrecks – from the usual shipping boats and small crafts to more unusual wreckages like planes. Take a boat trip around the cays and venture a little further afield; wrecks can be found in all conditions at all depths, so the area is ideal for beginners or advanced divers – there’s something for all abilities. Shallow wrecks are exposed to sunlight, meaning they often have abundant marine life, such as snappers, angelfish and parrotfish.
Most cruises to the Bahamas dock at the capital, Nassau, located on 21-mile New Providence. If you fancy staying closer to the ship there’s plenty to see here an on neighbouring Paradise Island, home to the extravagant Atlantis Hotel with its many attractions. The hilly city has lots of surrounding beaches and coral reefs so snorkelling and diving is a breeze, while the city itself has retained many of its British colonial buildings in a paint box of pastel colours, including the landmark pink Government House.
Best time to travel
As a Caribbean destination, the Bahamas is renowned for its wall to wall sunshine and warm weather.
Even in the winter months the temperatures can be hot and pleasant. The hurricane season begins in June and lasts until November, though this rarely causes upset and most rain spells are short and sharp.
Bahamian cuisine takes its influence from the island.
There’s plenty of seafood and the national dish is conch, which is often served raw in a ceviche dish or deep-fried in conch fritters, a popular beach snack. Cassava bread and rice and peas are served as side dishes.
The Bahamas comprises of 700 islands and 2,400 cays ranging from Florida to Haiti, but only 30 of the islands are inhabited.
The colours on the Bahamian flag are very symbolic to the island. The gold stands for the sun and the sand while the blue stands for the sea. The black triangle is meant to show the unity of the Bahamian people.
Things to do
- Disembark your cruise in Nassau and explore the bustling shops
- Snorkel off the beaches of Grand Bahama and keep an eye out for colourful fish
- Ride a horse along the beaches of Little San Salvador Island
- Take a trip to Pig Beach to swim with the famous residents – a colony of pigs!
- Snap some photos of the lighthouses of Elbow Cay
- Watch the sun go down over the beautiful beaches as you sip on a rum cocktail
- Book a deep-sea fishing excursion and catch your own lunch. It will be prepared for you
- Head to the awesome waterpark, Aquaventure Atlantis, and swim next to sharks
- Sail with Disney Cruise Line and enjoy the privacy of their private island, Castaway Cay
- Swim with dolphins and sting rays in one of the ecologically sound marine parks
- Try a traditional fish fry on the beach and sample conch, the national dish
- Meet the flamingos and other exotic animals at the Ardastra Gardens & Conservation Centre
- Learn how to dive or practice your skills in the warm, crystal clear waters
- Lie back on the spectacular beaches on almost every cay and work on your tan –safely!
- Cruise around Bay of Islands and spot dolphins and other marine life