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The Bahamas - Visiting Bahamas

May 19, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 98

The Bahamas, which has a population of just over 350,000 people, is such a warm and friendly place, making it ideal for families as well as individuals and couples. The islands lie in the mighty Atlantic Ocean about 100 miles off the east coast of Florida, making them an ideal location for cruises and weekend getaways. There is something in this tropical paradise for people of all ages.

Just one trip to the Bahamas is all it takes to realize why this beautiful series of 3,000 islands, islets, and cays is regarded as one of the world's most popular cruise destinations. The Bahamas has it all; including soft sandy beaches, warm turquoise ocean waters, incredible five-star resorts, picturesque historical locations, and gorgeous weather. It may be a small nation physically, but it is definitely big on fun and adventure.

The youngsters will enjoy the waterslides, blue lagoons, and swimming with playful dolphins while the adults can try their hand at snorkeling, deep-sea fishing, scuba diving, and sailing. If you would like a break from the water sports you can always try out the local golf course, visit the popular Bacardi rum distillery, and try your luck at the Atlantis Paradise Resort and Casino.

There is so much to see and do in this exotic location. Honeymooners will find everything they need in romantic Pink Sands Beach, while others will take the time to explore the wonderful capital city of Nassau by foot, bike, or carriage ride, where they can relive its history by exploring the fascinating streets, beaches, and forts. If you would like to learn about Bahamian history you will certainly want to visit the educational exhibits Roselawn Museum and Pompey Museum/Vendue.

The islands are overflowing with centuries of rich history as they have been the site of tribal Indians, pirates, explorers, and slave traders throughout the years. It's believed the Siboney Indians were the first settlers in the Bahamas more than 7,000 years ago. The Arawak Indians then sailed to the islands from South America's Amazon region and were still prospering there when Christopher Columbus claimed the land for Spain in 1492.

The local shipping route became so popular that is was soon infested with buccaneers and pirates who hid out in the numerous islets and cays. It believed there are close to 500 Spanish galleons lying on the bottom of the ocean off the Bahamian shores. The British tried the rid the islands of Blackbeard and other notorious pirates in 1718 when it became a Crown Colony.

American Loyalists then began to settle here late in the 1700s. However, the thriving cotton plantations they built were done so by the sweat of slaves. Slavery was abolished in 1834 and the Bahamas finally became an independent nation in 1973. It is now officially known as the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.

The exciting attractions to visit are simply endless. Some of the most popular include the Pirate Museum; Paradise Island's water park, entertainment center and casino; the Queen's Staircase; Fort Fincastle; Bay Street; the bustling Straw Market shopping district; the Ardastra Gardens zoo and conservation area; Fort Charlotte; the colourful Royal Victoria Gardens; Government House; and the fun-filled Crystal Cay Marine Park.

There are several electrifying events in the Bahamas each year with the Junkanoo Festival being the king of them all. This exhilarating celebration is similar to New Orleans' famous Mardis Gras festival and Rio de Janeiro's Carnival. It is a yearly party which celebrates Bahamian culture, history, traditions, dancing, music, costumes, and cuisine. It is so popular that it's held twice a year, on December. 26th and then again during the early morning hours of New Year's Day. It takes place in many of the nation's towns, with Nassau holding the most extravagant parade. Smaller versions of the event are sometimes held in July and you can also visit the Junkanoo Expo museum to check out the colourful costumes.

Depending on the cruise line, you may be able to enjoy an excursion on one of the Bahamas many private islands. These islands offer everything you need to enjoy a pampered day at the beach such as showers, umbrellas, volleyball nets, hammocks, water sports equipment, children's activities, massage tents, shops, bars, and restaurants.

When visiting the Bahamas, most cruise ships dock in the invigorating cities of Nassau and/or Freeport. Cruises to this fabulous destination are available all year long and the length of the trip will vary, depending on the specific journey you choose. The islands receive approximately five million tourists each year with many of them being returning visitors.

The cruise industry provides a value-based sector to the overall tourism product mix in the Bahamas, according to John Benneth, chairman of the Bahamas Tourism Organization. However, no shortage of unique challenges remain for Benneth and the entire Bahamas. "The biggest challenge is to re-invent our destinations all over the region into something new and exciting, while at the same time engaging our visitors in ways that spread the benefits as widely as possible. In effect, we need to provide great value and deliver a world-class destination experience on a continuous basis. The perception in the travel industry is that much of the region has gone 'stale,'" explained the chairman.

The Bahamas on Wikipedia

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