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With powder-white beaches lining sundrenched shores or shopping streets emanating sophisticated cosmopolitan chic, the gloriously laid-back islands of the Bahamas offer a holiday cocktail that’s best enjoyed ever-so-slowly stirred.
Sure, there’s modern day glamour and lively nightlife in the elegant capital, Nassau with its world class hotels and restaurants attracting travellers from across the globe.
And there are active pursuits like parasailing and water ski-ing to be found right along the magnificent coastlines. You can island-hop on a small charter boat and explore the network of cays.
But it’s all delivered with such a chilled and charming manner you can’t avoid being eased into an ambience of rest and relaxation from the moment you step ashore to the time you wave a fond farewell.
Dive with dolphins during a stop at Freeport, Grand Bahama, swim with sharks or just wonder at the tropical beauty of the islands’ exotic marine life on a fun snorkelling session.
Or take an exciting day excursion which starts with a water-ferry ride through Nassau harbour to Paradise Island where you’ll find Atlantis – home of the world’s largest open air marine aquarium, teeming with more than 200 species. There’s also an amazing water park with lots of fun slides and rides as well as some great restaurants.
Many cruise lines own their own small islands, exclusive to their guests, giving you a real taste of idyllic, Robinson Crusoe ‘get away from it all’ solitude, like CocoCay where you can take a nature trail, have a go and parasailing or just swing in a hammock sipping a cocktail.
Other calls ashore during your holiday may include a visit to the tip of nearby Florida and the chance to experience Hemingway’s beloved Key West, explore its charming harbour-front streets and hear tales of the Spanish Conquistadors and pirates that shaped its history.
On the Bahamas you’ll be beguiled by the blend of colonial, traditional and high-tech architecture which ranges from pastel-coloured clapboard cottages to masterpiece hotel modernity for a marvellous mix.
You can grab one or two of the many duty free bargains on famous brands or select a souvenir from the scores of local craft stores and markets whose artefacts offer a window to the islands’ rich and eventful past.
With seafood as its staple, Bahamian cuisine is a treat for the senses, either served in a beach-side shack or at a luxury restaurant.
Fresh, beautifully seasoned conch meat, crab or rock lobster are island specialities hot or cold; there’s subtly flavoured fish brought straight from the sea to the kitchens and a rainbow of delicate spices from which to create an aromatic sauce to die for.
And to wash it down? Well you could try the bar’s own speciality rum punch or ask them to pick a lime, blend it with coconut water and make you a refreshing ‘Switcher’.
Take your choice – and most importantly, take your time.
That’s what the Bahamas is all about!
You can discover this lovely island group by including the Bahamas on your chosen holiday with most of the world’s leading cruise lines, including Carnival, Holland America, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Costa, NCL and P&O.