The Bahamas. Seven hundred islands. Twenty-five hundred cays. Four days of vacation. What do you do? From Nassau to the Out Islands, here is our cheat sheet for the Bahamian best, in exploring, imbibing and just plain loafing.
and kiteboarding, Exumas
Hundreds of cays swoosh over a 120-mile span of crystal blue water in the Exumas, a shimmering natural playground anchored by
lonely coves and critter-filled reefs. Glide past palmettos and plovers near George
Town or paddle to iguana-owned shores in Exuma
Cays Land and Sea Park. Adrenaline junkies may prefer swooping the gusty
banks by kiteboard.
Visit Starfishexuma.com and Outislandexplorers.com
for kayaking info, and Exumakitesurfing.com
for catching air.
goombay smash at Miss Emily’s, Abacos
Miss Emily’s Blue Bee (Victoria
Street; 242-365-4181) shines like a bright blue gumdrop
near the centre of New Plymouth, a gingerbread town clinging tight to windswept
Green Turtle Cay on Abacos. For decades,
yachties and day-trippers have drifted into the Blue Bee for jug-poured goombay
smashes – the drink was created here – and the easygoing charm of Violet Smith,
Miss Emily’s daughter. Tack your business card to the wall.
with friends, Andros
Divers swap stories and lies at Small Hope
Bay Lodge, Andros, where the only thing
better than peering over the Tongue of the Ocean is talking up the adventure
with friends. And everyone is a friend at this affable, family-owned retreat
near Fresh Creek. With its home-cooked buffets, eco-friendly accommodations and
laugh-filled happy hours, Small Hope serves up
everything but the camp songs.
Christmas does not leave Nassau on lullabies
and sugarplums. It parades out of town in a jostling blast of whistles, horns,
drums and cowbells that whirls down Bay Street in the wee hours of Boxing Day.
In this brightly costumed celebration, which traces its roots to West Africa
and plantation-era religious rites, neighbourhood teams compete for prizes.
you miss the parade on Boxing Day, there is a second one on New Year’s Day and
a warm-up in the summer.
loafing, Harbour Island, Eleuthera
Roving roosters and sputtering golf carts are part of the charm in Dunmore
Town, a chichi Harbour Island village where
Wall Streeters, supermodels and kitesurfers come for the shimmering pink sand
beach. Beyond loafing, requirements are few: lunch at Sip Sip, cocktails
at Rock House and mingling at Vic Hum, where the
basketball court doubles as a dance floor.
and aquariums, Paradise Island
Got the grownup blues? Hurtle back to your childhood with a 60ft plunge, a
bobbing river ride and a shark-encircled waterslide at the 141-acre Aquaventure at Atlantis, on
New Providence. More than 20,000 exotic fish
and sea creatures – from orange Nemos to stately manta rays – float past in the
resort’s vast-but-walkable network of tanks and lagoons.
at Nippers, Abacos
Mother Nature smiled when she created Great Guana Cay, a breezy isle floating
just a few kicks away from the fish-and-coral treasures of the Great Abaco
Barrier Reef. Nippers
Beach Bar and Grill adds a wink to that smile with cold Kaliks, beach-shack
conviviality and free use of its snorkel gear. The Sunday afternoon pig roast
is a legend.
Governor Woodes Rogers may have expelled Nassau’s pirates in 1718, but that
does not mean they actually left. Engaging displays about parrots, peg legs and
Blackbeard keep swabby legends alive at the Pirates of
Nassau Museum while the 260-year-old Graycliff Hotel charms
guests with swashbuckling tales of its buccaneer founder. A statue of Rogers
stays vigilant from his pedestal in the middle of town.
Point Fish Fry, Grand Bahama
Every taxi driver on the island knows the way to the Fish
Fry, a Wednesday night tradition at Smith’s Point, east of Lucaya on Grand Bahama. Locals queue early for grouper, lobster
and snapper, fried up Bahamian-style under a wooden shack by the sea. Trust us,
everyone is here or on the way. Stick around for after-dinner dancing.
jam at Elvina’s, Eleuthera
First-timers always ask the same question: where did all these people come
from? Elvina’s, a ramshackle roadside shack in lonely Gregory
Town, lures ‘em in from far and wide for short sets by native musicians and travelling
pros. Who is here? Low-key locals, gregarious old salts, sun-baked surfers and,
occasionally, Lenny Kravitz.
The article 'The 10 ultimate Bahamas experiences' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.