Five Bahamian Experiences Off-the-Beaten-Path
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For many people around the world, the Bahamas are emblematic of the Caribbean’s charms. When we think of these islands we generally picture pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush green forests. The Bahamas offer all that and more and that makes the islands one of the most popular Caribbean destinations.
Indeed, according to Caribbean & Co., the Bahamas was the fifth most visited Caribbean destination in 2017, outranking Aruba with 1,335,933 who stayed overnight on the island ( vs. cruise ship passengers who visit for a day). Although the idyllic elements mentioned above bring visitors to the Bahamas, the destination is more “touristy” than some of its lesser-known regional counterparts. However, the following five off-the-beaten-path experiences can offer visitors something unique and a bit more authentic.
1. Out Islands Snorkeling
Snorkeling is a popular activity in the Bahamas – but usually it’s done outside of major resorts or hotels in places like Nassau. Because the Bahamas is an archipelago and not one island the Out Islands offer a lot of unspoiled beauty to explore. The Out Islands have fewer people, fewer resorts and more spacious beaches and natural surroundings. Snorkeling at the Out Islands is about as good as it gets.
2. Jaws Beach Lounging
Nassau offers some of the best beaches in the Bahamas but a lesser-known beach (with a scary name) is a real gem. Jaws Beach is a local secret that escapes notice because of its unfortunate name. Jaws Beach evokes images of monstrous sharks but the beach has no relationship with the cinematic creature. It’s just a beautiful beach where the crowds are a bit lighter. Perhaps locals created the name as a practical (or purposeful) joke to keep tourists away. Oddly, Jaws Beach is actually located in the out skirts of Nassau but the beach isn’t recommended as commonly as some of its neighbor beaches.
3. Baha Mar Gaming
A more common activity that is off-the-beaten-path is gaming at the Baha Mar resort. Baha Mar is often over-shadowed by the famous Atlantis resort, recently named as one of the best summer casino destinations on the planet, but it offers a local alternative to the Atlantis offerings. Although Baha Mar is a major resort with vibrant gaming offerings, the resort is perfect for those who want a taste of island flavor.
4. Exumas Kite boarding
If pigs could swim…actually they do at Exumas in the Out Islands. This stretch of the Out Islands is actually found in the travel guidebooks because of the famous Bahamian swimming pigs (which are well worth going out of your way to see). But Exumas’s watersports, specifically kite boarding, has made this area very attractive to adventure seekers. Kite boarding is growing in popularity and the Exumas is a perfect place to learn the sport because of the wind conditions and calm waters.
5. Mangrove Forest Tours
Lush green forests populated by mangroves are a staple on many Caribbean islands and the Bahamas are no exception. However, development throughout the Caribbean is threatening this natural treasure as beaches and resorts continue to spring up. While tourism is a major industry in the Caribbean islands there needs to be a balance between preserving nature and accommodating tourists. In the Bahamas, the Bimini Mangrove Forests are a beautiful tourism attraction that also supports the local economy. The tours through Bimini provide the necessary balance. This natural area is under threat from hotel developers, and every bit of tourism that supports it can help.
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Gregory Hogan is a freelance writer, photographer, and occasional world traveller. He contributes to a range of publications and hopes to combine his interests in a quarterly online magazine in the near future.