Adventurous Island Time in The Bahamas
With 700 islands and cays to explore, relaxing may actually be the toughest part of a visit to The Bahamas. I always have the best intentions of resting by the pool with a book and an umbrella drink, but there are so many adventures to tempt me away. Here are some of my favorites!
Start in Nassau, the capital of The Bahamas, home of the brand new international airport and site of all the biggest attractions. Intrepid adventurers will head straight to Stuart Cove’s for a dive in The Bahamas’ crystal clear water. Shark diving is a must! If a head-to-head experience with sharks isn’t your cup of tea, check out Predator Lagoon at behemoth Atlantis Paradise Island Resort for an encounter that’s a bit tamer. After that, visit the mega-water slides, wave pools, all-night dance parties at Aura, and maybe play a few hands (or hours) of blackjack in the massive casino and I guarantee you’ll never want to go home. I know I never do.
A few years ago I took my non-scuba-diving family to Brendal’s Dive Center on Green Turtle Cay and we all agree – we had one of the best days of our lives! Hundreds of types of fish, rays, moray eels and even a couple friendly turtles surrounded us as they snorkeled above while I dove below. The beach picnic afterward is unforgettable, too. Dive master Brendal cooks up fresh caught rock lobster with herbs from his own garden on a strip of deserted white sand while guests sip local sensation and secret recipe libation – the Goombay Smash. The Abacos are also a top bonefishing destination and a wonderful place to learn how to fly fish in the surrounding flats.
Island hopping in the Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park is an adventurous pursuit you’ll share with locals and some unexpected residents — Johnny Depp, Tim McGraw & Faith Hill and David Copperfield all have island homes in this strand of 365 mostly uninhabited cays. Brothers Brooks & Ryan Russell from High Seas Bahamas will set up a chartered speed boat excursion for the day where you can swim, snorkel, fish and celebrity-spot – oh, and eat the freshest seafood imaginable, meeting local characters along the way.
In the Exumas, you may have a chance to act out a scene from Bond. James Bond. In the 60s, Thunderball was filmed in these parts and the grotto where all the drama went down is just a 5-minute boat ride from rustic Staniel Cay Yacht Club. Adventure-seekers can swim into the grotto through a small channel and crazy people (guilty!) can jump into the grotto from a small hole in the top. Good swimmers only for this adventure!
Long Island is a bit further from civilization than some of the other Bahamian islands, but true adventurers will find the trip worthwhile. I like to stay at Stella Maris Resort, catching the sunrise on the rocky, wave-battered east side of the island and then spending sunsets on the west coast at Cape Santa Maria, one of the world’s most magnificent stretches of blinding white sand.
The most famous adventure on Long Island isn’t on the beach though – it’s in 663-ft. deep Dean’s Blue Hole. For the less adventurous, you can just swim right in and gaze down at the deep blue abyss below. Scuba divers and free divers flock here as well, but I prefer a little adrenaline with my island hopping – a jump from the 30+ foot cliffs surrounding the blue circle. It’s a little bit scary, but definitely a fantastic bucket list addition!
I love The Bahamas for a million reasons – the people are super friendly, conch is delicious and Nassau easy to get to, particularly from the East Coast. You can be in NYC in the morning and eating spicy, fresh conch salad on a white sand beach by the afternoon. There’s no need to exchange currency or learn a new language, as the US dollar is accepted and English is the national language. Even with those familiar touches, The Bahamas feels like an adventure a world away.
Angie Orth is a location independent travel writer, social media consultant and all around girl next door. Born in Jacksonville, Fla., eventually she found her way to New York City where she pursued a career in travel public relations. In 2010, she jumped ship in search of travel blogging adventures around the world. She’s passionate about the Florida Gators, sharks, trying everything at least once and storytelling at www.angieaway.com.