Family Travel in the Bahamas

Original open uri20160815 3469 85evgm?1471294147?ixlib=rails 0.3
Family Travel in the Bahamas
Few beach destinations are as family-friendly as the Bahamas. Immerse the clan in cultural celebrations, foodie expeditions, market excursions, and fishing trips.
By Flash Parker, AFAR Ambassador
Photo by Cathy Taylor
  • 1 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 85evgm?1471294147?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Get Festive in the Bahamas
    If there’s one Bahamian event you don’t want to miss, it’s the Junkanoo street parade, the ultimate expression of local culture. Held on Boxing Day and New Year's Day, Junkanoo began in the 16th century when slaves were given an opportunity to celebrate Christmas with their families. What began as a simple celebration evolved into a modern frenzy of Bahamian art, dance, and music. Fox Hill Day Festival and Emancipation Day, held in early August, feature dances, races, paper costume challenges, and a massive food festival that's one of the highlights of the Caribbean culinary calendar.
    Photo by Cathy Taylor
  • 2 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 17rerya?1471294154?ixlib=rails 0.3
    The Bahamas for Kids
    The Bahamas is one of the most kid-oriented destinations in the Caribbean. The Aquaventure Waterpark at Atlantis Paradise Island offers a soaking wet good time at a 141-acre theme park that features water slides, lagoons, pools, waterfalls, rapids, tube rides, and a mile-long artificial river. At Atlantis Kids Adventures, children can take cooking classes, make crafts, and play in a game room. If neither destination keeps the kids busy for long, there’s always the option of renting a metal detector and scouring the beach for buried (or lost) treasure.
    Photo courtesy of Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board
  • 3 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 19p230j?1471294161?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Bahamian Bargains
    An hour among the slick-tongued vendors at the Straw Market in Nassau is an exercise in traditional commerce; besides, you'll be amazed by how many different items can be made from straw. (Just be prepared to haggle.) A visit to Sandpiper Arts and Crafts in George Town is a much more relaxed affair and one of the best places to shop for locally-made jewelry, ceramics, textiles, and pottery. Sandpiper also features a gallery of wonderful local photography. The Port Lucaya Marketplace on Grand Bahama Island is a small shopping district with a relaxed vibe (even though the port services luxury yachts). The public square features live music, cafés, and plenty of no-hassle shopping.
    Photo courtesy of Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board
  • 4 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 ucw548?1471294166?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Educational Tours
    Salt production has long been an important industry in the Bahamas, and the local salt flats are strikingly beautiful. A tour of Morton Salt Works makes a great companion visit to the late-nineteenth-century Great Inagua Lighthouse, which is one of three kerosene-fueled, hand-cranked beacons on the islands that is still in operation. The Androsia Batik Works Factory in Andros Town is a great place to shop for authentic, one-of-a-kind art that supports local artisans, while a tour of the Perfume Factory of Fragrances in Freeport culminates with guests crafting their own custom scents.
    Photo by Mark Lewis/age fotostock
  • 5 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 vlyl6w?1471294171?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Historic Bahamas
    History students may already know that the Lucayan people were the original inhabitants of the Bahamas and that they were Christopher Columbus’s first point of contact in the Americas. Columbus's landing on October 12, 1492 is memorialized on San Salvador Island. Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, is home to important museums and galleries, including the Pompey Museum of Slavery and Emancipation and the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas. Pompey is located in the Vendue House in Nassau, the former site of slave auctions. In Rawson Square, the supreme court and parliament buildings are painted pastel pink. Don’t skip Christ Church Cathedral, built in the late 17th century and known as the Anglican "Mother Church."
    Photo by Victor Korchenko/age fotostock
  • 6 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 1s38gwh?1471294177?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Island Wildlife Encounters
    Ardastra Gardens, Zoo, and Conservation Centre in Nassau has been a planting ground for zoological education since it opened in 1937. It houses such animals as flamingos, jaguars, lemurs, and iguanas in large, natural environments. Great Abaco Island is home to one of the rarest breeds of horses on earth, the Abaco Barb, which has a wild population of fewer than a dozen. The animals are now protected at the Abaco Wild Horses reserve, which can be visited on guided expeditions. More than 50,000 West Indian flamingos call Inagua National Park home (listen for their tell-tale honk), while the Marine Habitat at Atlantis is one of the world’s largest, and most impressive, marine parks.
    Photo by Flash Parker
  • 7 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 wk8112?1471294183?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Ecotourism on the Bahamas
    The largest protected park in the Bahamas lies on Andros Island, and Forfar Field Station in Blanket Sound is the operational and educational headquarters. Andros is the launch pad for cave excursions (both salt and freshwater systems criss-cross the island), and kayaking, medicinal plant discovery tours, and offshore blue hole expeditions can be arranged via numerous Andros outfitters. The impenetrable terrain of the Andros Island interior is home to numerous species of native birds; Small Hope Bay Lodge offers wonderful birding trips led by the Nature Conservancy’s Dr. Mike Baltz.
    Photo by Flash Parker
  • 8 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 w8xpf4?1471294188?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Scenic Strolls
    The Bahamas isn't well known for treks, hikes, and walks, but nearly every island has a network of trails that offer unique views of the interior. The Bimini Nature Hiking Trail is an easily accessible network that puts Bahamian flora and fauna into perspective with educational placards. The highest point in the Bahamas, 203-foot Mount Alvernia, can be reached via the easy Cat Island trail. Standing on the summit is one of the most beautiful religious sites in all of the Caribbean, a stone hermitage built entirely by hand by the Catholic priest John Hawes. Andros Island features mangrove marshes, pine forests, and a freshwater reservoir.
    Photo by Stefano Scata/age fotostock
  • 9 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 132sazb?1471294192?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Family Fishing Trips
    Fishing is a great recreational activity for the entire family. The Bimini district is known as the sportfishing capital of the world, and anglers here have the opportunity to reel in marlin, tuna, and several species of shark. Bimini is a popular destination for fishing charters and hosts numerous pro and amateur tournaments throughout the year. Andros Island is known as the bonefish capital of the world; standing on the casting deck of a tiny skiff attempting to pluck the shimmering fish from the ocean is an experience few forget. Trawling for bottom feeders puts you on the tail of triggerfish, yellowfin tuna, and snapper, but you’ll have to be quick to catch them.
    Photo by Earl Harper/age fotostock
  • 10 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 18eo8g9?1471294196?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Fresh Seafood Stops
    Potter’s Cay Fish Market is home to numerous fish stalls, with colorful names like the Drift Wood Café, the Burning Spot, and Doc Sands, that serve remarkably fresh seafood at a fraction of the resort prices. (Don’t leave without trying scorched conch.) For a sit-down experience, try Goldie’s Conch House in Arawak Cay, Nassau, where the conch ceviche is much less intimidating than it sounds. Or stick with the conch fritters if you’re squeamish. Visit Grand Bahama Island in October for the McLean’s Town Conch Cracking Festival, a day-long celebration of food and drink that features games and activities for kids and adults.
    Photo by Peter Baker/age fotostock