Virgin Atlantic has officially launched twice-weekly flights from London Heathrow to Nassau, the capital and largest city of The Bahamas. With no current Covid-19 restrictions and deals from £1,527pp for a seven-night stay, there has never been a better time to book a trip to the stunning islands of The Bahamas.
More than just a fly and flop destination, the 16 islands of The Bahamas have something to offer every traveller: from couples to families to adventurers and even eco-travellers. From cultural immersion with the People-To-People Programme to diving the world’s third largest barrier reef to swimming with pigs or even underwater motorbiking, there is more to The Bahamas than white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters (although it offers these in abundance).
Here are 10 of the most incredible activities and experiences The Bahamas has to offer.
Best for a slice of local life: The People-To-People Experience, available across various islands
Unique to The Bahamas, the People-To-People Experience pairs inquisitive travellers with volunteer locals from ten different islands and all walks of life, offering the chance to connect with local life on a deeper level. Depending on visitors’ interests and preferred Bahamian island, the programme will pair visitors with a like-minded local for the best possible immersion into Bahamian life.
Programme experiences include a tea party at Nassau’s historic Government House, a visit to the Fish Fry at Arawak Cay for island favourites like conch salad and a ‘sip-sip’ session (otherwise known as a good-natured gossip with the neighbours).
Best for history: The historical sites of Long Island
For a splash of Caribbean history, experience the historical sites of Long Island including Hamilton’s Cave – the largest cave system in The Bahamas, where the Lucayan Indians were thought to have lived in 500 A.D. and where many Lucayan artefacts were discovered in 1936. Visitors can also explore the Long Island Museum which features exhibits showcasing the history, culture, and customs of Long Island including how the homesteads used to look in the old days before the conveniences of modern age took effect.
The Stella Maris Resort on Long Island, a traditional plantation style resort, offers seven-night all-inclusive stays from £2,652pp based on two sharing.
Best for cuisine: Conch 40 ways on Potter’s Cay, Nassau
Conch is an iconic dish in The Bahamas, and there is no better place to experience it than on Nassau’s Potter’s Cay where 40 conch shacks cook it 40 different ways. The picture perfect, colourful shacks on the waterfront are one of Nassau’s hidden gems for foodies, mainly as it is hidden under the bridge that connects Nassau with Paradise Island and can be easily missed. A popular stall to try is McKenzie’s Shack, run by a former conch fisherman turned restaurateur who has been in the same location for twenty years.
Best for diving: Explore the world’s third largest barrier reef off Andros
The Bahamas offers world-class diving with countless blue holes, thriving coral reefs and numerous shipwrecks, with visibility of up to 200 ft and warm waters for most of the year. Andros’ particular geography means that it offers breath-taking dive sites with shallow coral gardens and the spectacular Andros Barrier Reef trail off the island’s east coast.
Home to over 160 species of fish and coral and at 190 miles long, it’s the third largest barrier reef in the world. Andros Diving offers a two-tank boat dive from £119 per person.
Best for fishing: Bountiful fishing on the Berry Islands
The Berry Islands are bordered by the Tongue of the Ocean, a deep underwater trench that is a haven for marine life, meaning that it has some of the most bountiful fishing in The Bahamas. Sometimes referred to as the fish bowl of The Bahamas, The Berry Islands are ideal for the beginner angler or more serious fishing enthusiast looking for a record breaking catch.
Stay at the Chub Cay Resort and Marina, a boutique hotel with 11 beach view rooms from £267 per night based on two sharing. The hotel can arrange fishing trips with a four-hour ‘Deep Drop Charter’ starting from £297 for four guests.
Best for romance: Seclusion on Eleuthera
Hailed as one of The Bahamas’ best kept secrets for anyone looking for a quiet getaway, Eleuthera is a sprawling stretch of wild beauty with magnificent beaches and a laid-back Bahama charm. The pencil thin island has 210 miles of coastline with a tranquil bight on one side and rolling waves of the Atlantic Ocean on the other.
Base yourself at Bahama House, a nine-room hotel set within white picket fenced tropical gardens that ooze retro 50s charm and has a freshwater swimming pool and sunken Tiki Bar. From here, explore the white sand beaches, jump and swim in the Sapphire Blue Hole, paddle with turtles at Edwin’s Turtle Lake Marine Reserve and hike through the Leon Levy Native Plant Reserve. Double rooms at Bahama House cost from £325 per night.
Best for family: Island hopping in the Exumas
Families looking for an adventure-filled day trip should spend a day exploring the 365 islands of the Exumas. Known for their footprint free beaches, deserted cays and flawless coastlines as well as the homes to many A-list celebrities, these islands provide the setting to a truly magical family adventure.
Highlights include a stop-off to see the iconic Exuma pigs, swimming and even petting nurse sharks at Compass Cay and a swim in Thunderball Grotto made famous by James Bond’s Thunderball. Exuma Sunrise Tour offers a private full day boat trip to the Exumas from £817 including a captain, swimming with the pigs, iguana beach, snorkelling, sea turtles and a stop for lunch (meal not included).
Best for sustainability: Birdwatching and ecotourism in Inagua
Inagua, made up of Great Inagua Island and Little Inagua Island, are the southernmost islands in The Bahamas and remain raw and untouched, consisting mostly of protected national parks. Fly or take the weekly Nassau mail boat to the islands to see over 80,000 flamingos and 140 species of native migratory birds. Watch out for the native Bahama Parrot, West Indian whistling duck, Kirtland’s warbler and a rare species of heron found on Little Inagua. S
tay in one of the eco-friendly accommodations such as the seven-room Brensville Suites, where guests can watch wild birds pecking at the birdfeeder from the comfort of a hammock.
Best for adventure: Underwater motorbiking in Nassau
For those who have explored tropical waters by snorkel, scuba and swimming and are looking for the hot new underwater mode of transport, why not try underwater motorbiking? Explore the sea floors whilst sitting on a self-contained underwater motorcycle, with breathing made easy via a two-foot head dome. Putter around the ocean floor passing playful sea turtles, sleek manta rays, beautiful mollusks, and brightly coloured schools of tropical fish. The Bahamas Tour Centre offers a three-hour Mini SUB Adventure from £103 per person.
Best for culture: Dance at Junkanoo
One of the most colourful and vibrant weeks in the Bahamian diary is the Junkanoo Festival which takes place in Nassau every Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Unique to The Bahamas, it is the heart and soul of the islands, with costume preparation taking place months in advance. Watch Bahamians of all ages parading through the streets with joyous chants, beating on goatskin drums, trumpeting horns and ringing cowbells.
For anyone who isn’t visiting when Junkanoo is on, visit the Educulture Junkanoo Museum in Nassau. It is the brainchild of Arlene Nash Ferguson, an expert on Bahamian culture and traditions. Having participated in Junkanoo parades from the age of four and having served on the National Junkanoo Committee for 24 years, she wanted to honour the traditions of her heritage and built the Junkanoo Museum in her childhood home. The exhibits explain the history of Junkanoo and feature costume pieces and traditional fabrics. The museum is open Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm.
Seven nights at Breezes Bahamas from £1,527pp with Virgin Atlantic
Enjoy seven nights in The Bahamas from £1,527pp. Package includes scheduled direct flights from London Heathrow to The Bahamas and accommodations at Breezes Bahamas. Price is per person and includes all applicable taxes and fuel surcharge, which are subject to change. Price is based on a departure on 15th Jan 2022 with two people travelling. Virgin Atlantic Holidays is a member of ABTA and is ATOL protected.
All imagery used in this article credit: bahamas.com