The Islands of the Bahamas have been the perennial vacation for American tourists. A hotspot since the 1970s, tourism to the country has only quadrupled since then, and the islands continuously rank among the top 10 most-visited international destinations for U.S.-based tourists. But might they soon crack the No. 1 spot? With lots of new development and new nonstop flights from the States, we think so.
Comprising more than 700 islands, the Bahamas has successfully demonstrated that they can be all things to all people. Just 50 miles from the U.S. coast, the archipelago offers a total package of seductive blue waters, seemingly untouched beaches, a vibrant Caribbean culture and an ever-growing playground of attractions.
Affordable flights and ample lodging categories easily allow the cost-conscious tourist to secure an international seaside vacation. And secluded parts of the islands offer luxurious properties and affluent second-home communities for the well to do. Plus, the idea of a quick weekend getaway (as the Bahamas is the closet Caribbean nation to the U.S.) is a tempting retreat for many hardworking professionals.
Regions like Paradise Island and Nassau, the capital city, are where tourists find a bevy of attractions like shopping, museums/historic sites, water adventures and the more popular resorts like world-renowned Atlantis, the all-inclusive Hotel RIU Palace and the newly opened, much-anticipated Baha Mar. Abaco and Harbour Island are better known for a low-key vacation style of sailing, golfing and more private beachside fun.
3 p.m.: Check into your spacious villa rental at Abaco Club at Winding Bay. Spend the afternoon alternating between the beach and their beachside tiki bar, Flippers, where you can find favorites like fish tacos and their amazing coconut cookies (theabacoclub.com).
7 p.m.: Enjoy the casual vibes at Pete’s Pub, an open-air bar and grill. Here, sip their signature rum cocktail, the Blaster, and dine on their fresh fish catches served with coconut curry quinoa and Bahamian slaw (petespub.com).
7 a.m.: Rise early to hit the Abaco Club golf course, taking advantage of the club’s PGA professional golfer/coach, who is on hand to offer instruction for both beginners and seasoned vets.
12 p.m.: Enjoy an afternoon on the waters. Sail to Abaco Island, where you can snorkel and hit the areas of Man-O-War, Marsh Harbour and Hopetown for a different scene. Or, if you fancy scuba diving, you’ll definitely want to try the island’s many underwater caverns and blue holes, which can reach depths of 300 feet.
6 p.m.: Abaco Club’s Cliffhouse restaurant, helmed by Bahamian executive Romeha Forbes, is a nice switch-up if you’re looking for a classic dining-and-wine pairings type of evening.
12 p.m.: Ferry or fly to Paradise Island (via Nassau), where you can check into the adults-only Hotel RIU Palace. The newly renovated all-inclusive, 24-hour hotel provides a nice mental break—no need to waste brain energy deciding dinner and drink plans when you can just try all the property’s five restaurants, including their brand new Chutney Indian Restaurant (riubahamas.com).
3 p.m.: Peel yourself away from the beach, if you can, to see more of Nassau/Paradise Island. Scoop up the cutest local items at the Craft Cottage Bahamas; do a cake tasting at the Nassau Rum Cake Factory (thebahamasrumcakefactory.com) and then settle for a casual dinner (and conch salad) from Potters Cay market. Or go for an upscale dinner at Graycliff Hotel, an island landmark (graycliff.com).