Bahamian Beaches

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Bahamian Beaches
From remote to raucous, beaches in the Bahamas come in all colors and styles. Some are the territory of high-end resorts while others serve as backdrops for yoga retreats. And many are surrounded by healthy coral reefs and historic shipwreck sites.
By Flash Parker, AFAR Ambassador
Photo courtesy of Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board
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    Beaches for Silence and Seclusion
    For some, the ultimate Bahamian experience is an escape from the everyday. The bliss of seclusion is exactly what some islands are about; Sunrise Beach on Cape Eleuthera makes getting lost a pleasure, while a little strip of Cabbage Beach known as Paradise Beach can only be accessed by foot or boat. Great Inagua and Little Inagua islands lie south of the Bahamian chain (closer to Cuba than Nassau) and feature numerous remote beaches sheltered by coral reefs.
    Photo courtesy of Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board
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    Exclusive Beach Experiences
    The Bahamas may have the market cornered for exclusive beach resorts. Some of the world’s most lavish retreats occupy the prime shores of the Bahamas. The Berry Island chain is home to Little Whale Cay, a private island available for rent that is ringed by white-sand beaches and waters filled with green turtles, sharks, and manatees. The Exuma chain features a number of private islands, including David Copperfield’s ultra-luxurious Musha Cay, which can be yours exclusively for a little more than $32,500 a night. (There are more affordable options on some of the other 360 cays.) Yachting at the Thunderball Grotto off Staniel Cay is a priceless experience.
    Photo courtesy of Little Whale Cay
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    Bahama Beach Parties
    If you have trouble pulling yourself off your lounge chair to go out for the night, perhaps you should wait for the party to come to you. Nassau’s One and Only Ocean Club brings the good times to the sand beneath your feet. The property features world-renowned ocean-view rooms and has numerous restaurants and bars offering creative tropical cocktails and incredible sea-inspired cuisine that blends local and international flavors. Cable Beach on New Providence Island is notorious for good times. It consists of a long stretch of sugar-white sand and rum shacks that overlook the ocean.
    Photo by Arne Trautmann/age fotostock
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    Hunt for Treasure
    If you’ve ever dreamt of finding pirate booty, the Bahamas is the perfect place to unfurl an old treasure map and hunt for your fortune. The former Haitian king Henri Christophe reportedly buried a ransom of riches off Great Inagua’s northern tip in the 19th century, and Inagua's reefs have a 300-year history of wrecking ships loaded with treasure, including the Spanish Santa Rosa, which was destroyed in 1599. The jagged Hogsty Reef has claimed hundreds of vessels, none more famous than the Princess Charlotte from Britain. Her bounty of more than 30,000 gold coins is still waiting to be discovered somewhere at the bottom of the Atlantic. Scuba and snorkel trips visit some of the most famous shipwreck sites.
    Photo by Bryan Leist
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    Into the Deep Blue
    The Bahamian islands are home to some of the world’s great underwater seascapes, which have drawn snorkelers, swimmers, and divers for decades. Stocking Island in the Exumas chain is particularly notable for its high visibility, bright blue water, endless cave systems, and pristine coral reefs. The Shark Wall off New Providence Island is exactly as terrifying as it sounds; a massive vertical face drops off into an unending darkness inhabited by Caribbean reef sharks. Near Andros Island, the Tongue of the Ocean channel (part of the Great Bahama Canyon) and one of the world’s longest barrier reefs can be explored by active adventurers.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    Sunrise to Sunset
    Sean Connery’s James Bond brought the world to the Bahamas in Thunderball, and since 1965 the islands have served as pilgrimage sites for 007 fans from around the globe. Compass Point in Nassau is a great place to catch a technicolor sunset while sipping a sundowner. If you chart an early course for Saddle Cay in the Exumas, you’ll have the horseshoe bay lit up by the sunrise all to yourself. Pink Sands Beach on Harbour Island in Eleuthera is true to its name; the three-mile stretch of sand is the color of cotton candy, and it turns nearly magenta come sunset.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    National Parks and Reserves
    The Bahamas features plenty of parks, some frequented by white-crowned pigeons looking for handouts. But the wildlife gets weirder. Bitter Guana Cay is known as the stomping ground of the endangered northern Bahamian rock iguana, so watch your step. Lucayan National Park is home to one of the longest underwater cave systems on the planet, while Abaco National Park is a great place to spot the Bahama parrot, though you may have a hard time getting one to speak. The first marine reserve established in the Caribbean, Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, lures visitors with the promise of lush vegetation, pristine reefs, and flashy aquatic life.
    Photo by Jessie Festa
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    Bahamian Water Sports
    Water sports are big business in the Bahamas. The Black Point Regatta is an annual race that brings together the world’s finest sailors and sloops every Emancipation Weekend in August. The wild at heart may prefer a Jet Ski safari with Exuma Water Sports, during which riders have the chance to see swimming pigs, wild iguanas, and other treasures of the sea. A wholly different view of the Bahamas awaits those brave enough to take to the skies on an Ocean Motion parasailing trip over Grand Bahama Island. Canoe and kayak excursions are available, too, for those with an aversion toward air travel.
    Photo by Patrick Bennett
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    Recharge Your Chakras
    If you're looking to tap into your spiritual self, the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat on Paradise Island will gently nudge you into the yogic lifestyle you’ve admired no matter your skill level. Yoga programs begin early in the morning on some of the island’s most pristine beaches. The WildQuest yoga and dolphin experience in Bimini on the Out Islands is an immersive experience designed to rejuvenate your spiritual center through yoga and swims with man's favorite marine mammal. A Bahamian yoga retreat may be the most relaxing experience of your life.
    Photo by Nano Calvo/age fotostock
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    Beachfront Dining
    There’s no point locking yourself inside some stuffy dining room when you’ve come to the Bahamas to expose your body to sand, sun, and surf. The Bahamas features a few standout beachfront eateries that serve everything from tourist staples (fish and chips, fried conch, seafood stew) to authentic local dishes. Santanna’s Grill Pit in William’s Town serves an array of seafood and Bahamian fare, including cracked conch, fried grouper, and seafood fritters, from a quaint seaside shack. Chat 'N' Chill on Stocking Island is a simple beach bar and grill that's especially good on Sundays, when it hosts a Pig Roast.
    Photo courtesy of Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board