Bahamas Hotels & Resorts
Bahamas: Tourism Pictures

Bahamas in brief

The Bahamas is a chain of over 700 islands, starting just off the Florida coast and arcing down over 100,000 square miles of beautiful blue seas to the Turks and Caicos. Most are deserted, and of the 40-odd that are inhabited, only around half have developed tourist facilities.

The beaches are glorious - invariably of fine white sand, lapped by the clearest blue waters. Once you're in, you'll find the water temperatures are balmy - even in the coldest months it's usually at least 21C. Activities in and around the sea are understandably popular, especially the sailing, diving and deep-sea fishing, which are legendary.

The three busiest in terms of tourists are New Providence Island, Paradise Island and Grand Bahama, all of which have great hotels, restaurants, casinos and nightclubs. The Out Islands on the other hand (which include Andros, the Exumas, the Abacos, Bimini and Eleuthera), are harder to get to and therefore less crowded. This is where you'll stand the best chance of finding your own deserted beach.

New Providence Island is home to Nassau, the sophisticated, bustling capital, and the highly developed resort of Cable Beach. Paradise Island (half an hour away, linked by road bridge) is where you'll find the swankiest (and most expensive hotels), the glitziest casinos, the ritziest nightlife and the widest range of entertainment - all at a price, of course. Somewhat cheaper, Grand Bahama has well-developed facilities, especially round the tourist hot spot of Freeport/Lucaya. There's good hiking here, and some of the Bahamas' best beaches, along with great golf courses and top diving. It's a good choice for families.

Andros, the largest island, receives less tourists and isn't as developed - but is a big draw for divers thanks to the world's third largest barrier reef lying just offshore. It also has a range of accommodation choices from large resorts to small guesthouses. North and South Bimini, close to the Florida coast, are best known for their good yachting, scuba diving and game fishing (Hemingway lived here, in Alice Town). The Berry Islands, too, are particularly popular with fishermen. The Abacos are a cluster of small islands that are a favourite haunt of the yachting fraternity. Thanks to New Englanders who came here after the American Revolution, quaint villages such as Hope Town have lots of pretty, pastel-coloured clapboard houses and picket fences.

Even more popular with yachties are the Exumas, most of which are uninhabited. Eleuthera has the barrier reef to dive, plus masses of deserted beaches. Neighbouring Harbour Island has more New England style houses and beautiful pink sand (it's the coral and shells that turn it that colour). The southern Bahamas are remote and undeveloped but have good beaches, diving and fishing. If you have time, the Bahamas is a great place to island hop and get a flavour of the different atmospheres. The James Bond lifestyle is here if you want it (many of the 007 movies contain scenes filmed here), complete with powerboating, water-skiing, jetskiing and gambling. On the other hand, you can just kick back and go for a lazy life - beachcombing and sunbathing. It's up to you. Just choose your pace, then choose your island...