Top Things to do and Tourist attractions in Bahamas

Shipwrecks, coral reefs and crystal clear waters surrounded by a paradise of swaying palms is just one facet of a holiday on Bermuda.  Golf courses on the islands have been designed by the very best, and there is much for the active holiday maker.  The variety of watersport opportunities ranges from diving and snorkeling to parasailing, sailing, and hiking.  Attractions on the island offer much for the history buff, the eco-tourist, foodie and party animal alike.

Top Things to do in Bahamas

Restaurants and bars abound, so your holiday in the Bahamas will be full of taste adventures.  You can choose from menus at high-end restaurants, the many cafes and bistros, or you can opt for an alfresco meal from the local beach bar which is a great favorite for many. Specialty dishes include conch, and if you are wondering, this is a marine mollusc that tastes similar to clam and is much like calamari in texture.  Conch can be ordered ‘scorched’ or ‘cracked’ (deep fried) or you can enjoy it in a refreshing salad.  Of course, the most popular seafood is rock lobster often served in salad or broiled whole.  Bahamans are justly proud of their delicious soup or Souse which, on its own is a great meal.  For those of you  with a sweet tooth, there is Guava Duff which has a unique flavour and is a great way to end a meal.

Coconuts grow in abundance on the island and are almost an obligatory ingredient in some of the truly refreshing alcoholic drinks offered.  One in particular is made with coconut milk and gin.  If you like a cooling beer to quench your thirst then ask for Kalik, which is the name of the much loved beer of the Bahamas.  After eating your fill there is nothing quite like a good coffee and a glass of the local liqueur Nassau Royal that is guaranteed to leave you mellow and pleasantly soothed.

The people of the islands are warm and welcoming.  They have a laid-back attitude to life with ‘Island time’ defying strict time-keeping.  The local people speak their Bahamian patois, but the lingua franca of the islands is English.

The Bahamas Top Attractions

Nassau:

Nassau - Bahamas Top attractions 1

The town of pirates, revolution, and colonial history offers more than just beaches and watersport opportunities.  There are many points of interest from the historical and cultural to those created by nature.  No visitor should miss putting the top attractions of Nassau high on their ‘must see’ list and if you are into fantasy then a trip to the astounding entertainment complex of Atlantis on Paradise Island, is certainly worth a visit.  You can opt for the safe and lazy way of getting around by taking a river ride, or if you are in the mood for an adrenaline rush, you can take the ‘Leap of Faith’ that will have you hurtling through a tunnel that lies under a lagoon infested with sharks.  Another great draw is a swim with dolphins which is not only a delight, but is also said to be therapeutic.

Arawak Cay: 

Arawak Cay - Bahamas Top Attractions 2
Arawak Cay Photo Credit: expedia.ca

If you are looking for a place to mix with the locals and try out some traditional cuisine then Arawak Cay, with its clusters of clapboard houses, offers a less commercialized experience.  Here you can sample authentic Bahamian cuisine, either during the day or in the evening, when the Cay comes alive and local music fills the air.

Ardastra Gardens Zoo and Conservation Centre: 

Ardastra Gardens Zoo in Nassau, Bahamas Top Attractions 3

Many of the animals roam free in these delightful gardens.  Apart from the lovely scene of flocks of flamingo moving in unified waves, you can enter the aviary to hand-feed the many colorful, tropical birds.  Walking through these tranquil gardens with monkeys gazing down inquisitively, you’ll see Madagascar lemurs, jaguars, and potbellied pigs.  This lush and delightful zoo-garden is just the place to recharge your batteries while surrounded by natural tropical splendor.

Christ Church Cathedral:

Christ Church Cathedral - Bahamas Top Attractions 4

After the British mandated the Lord Proprietors of Carolina to establish churches on the island, they did just that and this is the last replacement of 4 previous wood structures built during the 17th century that was completed in 1841.  This Gothic church built from local limestone incorporates the tower of the 4th structure.  Interestingly the blocks of limestone are not cemented together but remain in place simply because of their weight and size.  Inside its historic walls are exquisite tapestries and needlepoint hassocks bathed in mellow colours from the beautiful stained glass windows.  History buffs will find a number of tombs in the Garden of Remembrance that date as far back as 1760.

Clifton Heritage National Park:

In this 156 acres national park, are the remains of a Lucayan Indian Village as well as the ruins of some 18th and 19th-century plantations with their infamous slave huts.  There are also many interesting and thought provoking wooden sculptures made many years ago, by the slaves of the islands.  You can take a walk down to the sea on the pirate steps, or take a shuttle to Jaw Beach, ideal for a day of lazing among the great blue herons and sooty terns that have made the beach their home.

Cloisters and Versailles Gardens:

The terraced gardens of the One&Only Ocean Club resort boast the remains of a 13th-century monastery with a strange history.  The monastery was brought in parts to the island in the 1920s by the famous, mega-wealthy William Randolph Hearst who later sold the scattered pieces of the monastery to Huntington Hartford, the wealthy heir to the A&P grocery store fortune.  It was Hartford who had these pieces reassembled on his Estate in the 1960s.  The Estate, now the resort, stands on the east coast of Paradise Island overlooking Nassau Harbour.

Eleuthera:

If you are up for a little time travel then this charming colonial island, one of the Out Islands, is just the place.  You can wander the streets of colonial villages and explore pineapple plantations or just sit and take in the ambiance at one of the many seafood restaurants along the coastline.

Fort Fincastle and Water Tower:

If you have the energy to brave the Queen’s Staircase, you will reach the Fort built in 1793 by Governor Lord Dunmore, or as he was later known, Viscount Fincastle.  Standing here on the highest point of the island (ideal for pirate spotting) are the ruins of the fort.  Next to the ruins stands the 126 water tower, a new addition from the early 1900s which had the dual role of island lighthouse.  The panoramic views of the island and harbor, from the observation platform, are breathtaking, so it is well worth paying the small fee to stand and gaze.

Government House:

This prestigious mansion painted in pink and white has been the official residence of the Queen’s representative since 1801.  In front of the mansion is a statue of Christopher Columbus which commemorates the explorer’s first landing in 1492.  Although there are no tours of the interior, the pageantry of the changing of the guard ceremony performed every other Saturday at 10 am, is well worth adding to a morning’s sightseeing.

The Queen’s Staircase:

The steep stairs from Elizabeth Avenue up to Fort Fincastle were carved into the limestone wall by the islands slaves and once afforded British soldiers a certain amount of safety as they left the town for duty at the fort.  Today the steps lead to the grand views from the fort and are one of the most popular stop-offs of the many tours of the island.

The Retreat – Nassau

The Retreat is the venue for two annual festivals:  The October Art and Wine Festival, and in late November there is a Festival before Christmas which quite naturally has a Christmas theme.  Both these festivals are fundraisers for the Bahamas National Trust, which is the developer and manager of the national park system of the Bahamas.  The gardens surrounding this once private home, cover 11 acres filled with some of the rarest, and exotic orchids and palms.

Fun things to do in the Bahamas

Fishing:

Experienced fishermen who return again and again to the Bahamas to hunt the seas know that you can fish to your heart’s content anywhere offshore, but if you want all the bells and whistles then Abacos is top place to go.  Big Game fishing is offered at Bimini, and those keen to do some really challenging deep sea fishing will have no difficulty in finding the very best guides, and excellent charters here on Abacos.

Diving:

Abacos is the place for ancient shipwrecks, one of which is America’s first steamship, the San Jacinto.  And off Bimini you can explore the stone ruins of what is said to be the Lost City of Atlantis.  Dive facilities are world class, and there is no shortage of excellent dive instructors to ensure a first class dive experience.

Kayaking:

If you love a little more than just kayaking along the coast then take a tour at Lucayan National Park where you can explore the world’s longest underwater cave system and get to see its remarkable Remipedia bats.  The Park has many other waterways to explore so there is a wide choice for those who enjoy this way of exploring.

Paddle with Pigs:

If you are looking for more than just something else to do, a great attraction is to swim with a friendly pig or two.  Big Major Cay is an island inhabited almost solely by pigs.  It is not known how these feral pigs got there, but they are friendly and love nothing more than swimming with 2 legged friends.  Boat trips take you out to the island to enjoy a fun frolic with these friendly porkers.

Hiking:

Andros is an island untouched by mainstream tourism and is, therefore, the ideal island for a day’s hiking along the many trails.  You can also take a break and dive or snorkel in the clear waters along the world’s third longest reef or enjoy a little leisurely fishing.

Shopping:

One of the top Things to do in the Bahamas is Duty Free Shopping.  Since 1992 there has been no import tax on goods imported into the islands, which make the Bahamas a shopper’s paradise. On the Bahamas, you will find all the usual high-end products at affordable prices as well as locally made straw goods, seashell jewelry, paintings, and woodcarvings.  A favorite shopping place is the waterfront Port Lucaya Marketplace with its excellent shops and stores that sell duty-free perfumes, emeralds, and silks.

Golf:

The Reef Club offers the most picturesque of the islands’ golf courses, but if you are looking for a challenge on a world class course, then Exuma’s Emerald Reef Golf Course is certainly an excellent choice.

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