Imagine Caribbean holidays and it’s almost always the Bahamas that springs to mind first.
A gorgeous archipelago of 700 islands and over 2000 scattered sand cays they evoke paradise perfectly. And the reality seldom disappoints.
Beaches are whitest sand, washed by green-blue transparent seas under cloudless, sunny skies. Warm almost all year round, occasionally wild and stormy, always easy going and friendly, the Bahamas are a wonderful introduction to the Caribbean.
Direct flights from UK to Nassau take 9 hours and 40 minutes, Grand Bahama is a 40 minute flight from Nassau.
Direct flights from UK to Miami take 9 hours 50 minutes and Grand Bahama is under an hour flying time from Miami.
Average temperatures in December 27˚C rising to 32˚C in July and August.
June to September is rainy season with the highest chance of hurricanes.
Grand Bahama, Nassau and Paradise Island are the most active islands for kids.
There are 23 National Parks across the islands including heavily protected Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, Abaco National Park and Nassau’s Primeval Forest, Bonefish Pond and Harold & Wilson Ponds National Park.
Christmas and New Year are great times to visit. There are celebrations on every island and the annual Junkanoo Festival is spectacular.
The eleven Lighthouses of the Bahamas built by the British Imperial Lighthouse Service between 1836 and 1887 are on UNESCO’s tentative World Heritage list. The famous Elbow Reef Lighthouse on Elbow Cay is still operational today.
Just off the north east coast of Nassau, Paradise Island is dominated by the Atlantis resort. With everything from its own shopping malls to beaches, waterparks, vast aquariums, dolphin reserves, golf courses and every type of water sport imaginable, this is the zenith of all-inclusive Caribbean family holidays. In terms of heritage, culture and character, all the Bahamas adds here is gorgeous weather. But the island’s only 5km from lively Downtown Nassau and there’s plenty of local colour to be had there.
The Bahamas’ capital and biggest city, Nassau’s perennially charming. Pretty ice-cream coloured colonial buildings, cute Bay Street, the general fun of Downtown, cute street markets and lush gardens more than make up for a cruise ship packed harbour and hordes of tourists. The beaches here are big, broad and beautiful – not quiet coves, but good for activities, luxurious sun-loungers and on-tap service. And if you want a little easy, barefoot peace, catching a boat to Blue Lagoon from Nassau, at least once, is almost compulsory.
Grand Bahama is popular for family holidays. It’s also the closest island to Florida’s coast with fast, frequent flights from Miami, so a favourite for short breaks from the US too. The capital, Freeport, is the second largest city in the Bahamas famous for beaches, super-yachts in the marina and enormous resort hotels. Stick with the crowds round Freeport’s bustling Port Lucaya district and you’d be forgiven for dismissing the island as a little soulless. But visit any one of the three national parks, sail around for the day or delve deep into its amazing underwater caves and Grand Bahama will quickly change your mind.
The traditional annual Caribbean carnival is a spectacularly colourful New Year event which is now so popular it’s held during summer too. The Junior Junkanoo involves local kids, mini-parades and outrageous dress-up.
National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, Nassau
This dynamic museum has a constantly evolving permanent collection celebrating and supporting new and traditional national art.
Atlantis Aquaventure, Paradise Island
You don’t have to be a guest at the enormous Atlantis Resort to take complete advantage of the biggest waterpark in The Bahamas.
Pirates of Nassau Museum, Nassau
An interactive experience of life aboard a typical pirate ship, looting, buccaneering and boldly rampaging about the 18th century Caribbean islands.
Ardastra Zoo, Nassau
If the self-consciously glamorous hordes strutting around Nassau aren’t theatre enough for kids, take them to see the marching flamingos of Ardastra.
Lucayan National Park, Grand Bahama
Spending a day in this fabulous national park is a Grand Bahama must-do, it’s great for picnics but the big draw is the world’s largest underwater cave system.
Glass Bottom Boat Tours, Grand Bahama
Grand Bahama’s an iconic diving destination but kids to young to scuba or snorkel can see (almost) as much underwater action on an island boat tour.
Grand Bahama Eco-Tours
Island hopping, heritage exploring, beachcombing are just a few of the guided experiences on an eco-tour and several are fantastic for kids.
If you’re staying on Nassau or Paradise Island the manmade fun gets too much, take the kids sailing for the day to quaint and historic Harbour Island.
The Bahamas has 700 islands and over 2000 cays, so hopping near and far by air or sea is the best type of adventure.
Most of the islands are easy to get around by public transport or even on bikes. Because the Bahamas is such a popular cruise destination, you’ll find short tours to most major attractions which work well for younger kids. Bahama Ferries operates scheduled crossings to larger islands and private charters and flights are available to cays and more remote areas. If you want complete independence, car hire’s easy to arrange in Nassau and Grand Bahama.