The Bahamas is a string of islands scattered over hundreds of miles of turquoise seas. Whether you are looking to lounge on palm-fringed white beaches, explore historic villages or try your hand at fishing, diving or sailing, the Bahamas offer it all.
Where to stay in Bahamas
CAPE SANTA MARIA BEACH RESORT
Long Island (00 1 250 598 3366). This has 10 colonial-style, beachfront cottages within 45 acres of grounds (20 guests maximum). Bonefishing is available. ££
PEACE AND PLENTY BONEFISH LODGE
George Town, on Great Exuma (00 1 242 345 5555). This lodge has eight rooms and a private guest-lodge. Bonefishing is available. £££.
SMALL HOPE BAY LODGE
andros (00 1 242 368 2014). A relaxed, all-inclusive hotel with 20 beach cottages. Diving, bonefishing and other sports are available. ££
OLD BAHAMA BAY RESORT & YACHT HARBOUR
Old Bahama Bay, West End, Grand Bahama (00 1 242 350 6500; fax: 242 350 6546; www.oldbahamabay.com; email: email@example.com). Old Bahama Bay is a five-star yacht club, villa and condo-hotel complex situated on 228 acres in the former rum-running settlement of West End, the western-most tip of Grand Bahama Island. There are just 49 deluxe suites, all steps from the beach, and all with Frette linens, whirl pool soaking tubs and oversized terraces. A 4,000 sq ft heated swimming pool (complete with massage jets) overlooks the beach. Treatments are available in your room, and include massages, manicures and pedicures. Offshore snorkel trails, accessible by boat, bring you close to the wreck of an old Spanish vessel; there are also bicycles and kayaks for those who want to go exploring. Restaurants include Bonefish Folley’s Bar & Grille, fine dining restaurant Aqua and The Straw Bar which offers BBQs and live entertainment.
The traditional Caribbean aesthetics are attractive (including a flagship villa conceived by the late Arne Hasselqvist, also responsible for some of the best houses on Mustique). Old Bahama Bay was featured in our special feature on Bahamas Hotels. £££
ONE&ONLY OCEAN CLUB
One&Only Ocean Club, Paradise Island (00 1 242 363 2501; fax: 363 2424; www.oneandonlyresorts.com; email: firstname.lastname@example.org). Paradise Island is home to the most famous five-star resort in the Bahamas, One&Only Ocean Club. The hotel’s history offers a whiff of glamour. Before the South African hotelier Sol Kerzner arrived bringing $100 million to throw at its refurbishment, The Ocean Club was owned by Huntington Hartford II, a famous playboy of the 1950s and 1960s, who made it Hollywood’s Caribbean playground. It offers hard-to-fault luxury with breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as room service, all designed by New York super-chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. There is also a neighbouring 18-hole championship golf course created by Tom Weiskopf, and a near-perfect, alabaster-white beach. The 106-room resort is expensive, but service is super-smooth, delivered with a streamlined professionalism unusual for the Caribbean (aided by a four-to-one staff-guest ratio). One&Only Ocean Club was featured in our special feature on Bahamas Hotels. ££££
The Landing, Harbour Island (00 1 242 333 2707; fax: 333 2650;
www.harbourislandlanding.com; email: Bahamas Hotels and in The Hot List 2001. ££
ROCK HOUSE HOTEL
Rock House, Harbour Island (00 1 242 333 2053; fax: 333 3173; www.rockhousebahamas.com; email: email@example.com). This new hotel — owned by Wallace Tutt, a Miami property developer — is a slick, nine-room boutique hotel with a private gym and 40ft swimming pool flanked by thatched cabanas in a similar style to those at Ian Schrager’s mould-breaking Delano. Some may like the Rock House because of its look-at-me glamour. And it’s definitely worth eating at one of the two restaurants. The comfort food is excellent. Rock House Hotel was featured in our special feature on www.pinksandsresort.com; email: firstname.lastname@example.org). For a full-service resort, Pink Sands, Harbour Island’s original fashionable hotel, owned by record producer Chris Blackwell, is a good choice. The cottages, created by Biba designer Barbara Hulanicki, are large and full of character, painted in gingerbread-house pinks, yellows and sky-blues. Interiors are equally eclectically coloured. In the main restaurant and bar, outsize Indonesian teak beds are loaded with plump Indian cushions and mirror-work textiles while the open-air design is punctuated by carved Balinese door frames. Despite a decent-sized pool, most guests hang out on the beach. Pink Sands was featured in our special feature on Bahamas Hotels. ££££
Kamalame Cay, Staniard Creek, Andros (00 1 305 531 8800; fax: 236 8629; www.islandoutpost.com; email: email@example.com). This is a 96-acre private resort just off the coast of the island of Andros. While the aesthetics have the same bohemian abandon as other Blackwell hotels, here they are less ethnic, more faded Laura Ashley florals. The menu features simple dishes with fresh fish and meals are served at a communal long table in the Great House. The beach is rough and ready, littered with driftwood and backed by tangled hibiscus and casuarinas. Rooms are cottage-style with verandahs. They are thatched and copper-shingled with raftered ceilings and billowing white curtains, spread out at wide intervals down the narrow golden strand. They don’t have in-room televisions or telephones. A plus point is that Kamalame Cay is not filled exclusively by honeymooners. Kamalame Cay was featured in our special feature on Bahamas Hotels. £££
Things to do in Bahamas
With its miles and miles of beautiful white-sand beaches and turquoise seas, it is easy to do nothing but sunbathe and relax in the Bahamas. For those who prefer to explore, there are quaint historic villages and plenty of local culture to keep you busy. Those of you who are looking for a little more adventure can try the many watersports on offer, including sailing, diving and fishing. Bonefishing (fishing for bonefish) is a particularly popular local pastime. Here is some essential information for anyone keen to have a go:
Wear a light-coloured hat with a dark underpeak; sunglasses that polarise with a brown, amber or the all-new clear-water copper tint (grey gives poor visibility); a swimsuit to go under fishing trousers and a lightweight, hooded rain jacket (squalls come in quickly and rain feels cold in a speeding skiff); and neoprene boots, such as Orvis Premium Flats Booties (details below), which will protect your feet against sharp coral, rocks, and sea urchins, while still being suitable for delicate wading.
A pair of long pliers for pressing down barbs on hooks (bonefish should be released immediately, so barbless hooks are necessary); nippers to cut tough nylon; and a small torch, as there are no lights at night on the remote islands.
ESSENTIAL MEDICAL PROVISIONS
Take all the usual sun-care items such as antihistamine cream and witch hazel; insect repellent; antibiotic cream; and adhesive plasters. NB: Coral cuts turn septic quickly, as do some insect bites. You will just have to learn to live with sandflies.
Fly-fishing for Bonefish by Dick Brown (Lyons and Burford; the UK distributor is Airlife); Fly-fishing the Flats by Barry and Cathy Beck (Stackpole).
House of Hardy, 61 Pall Mall, London SW1 (020 7839 5515); Farlows, 5 Pall Mall, London SW1
(020 7839 2423); Orvis, 36 Dover Street, London W1 (020 7499 7496); The Rod Box, London Road, Winchester, Hampshire (01962 883600).
How to get to Bahamas
Fly directly to the capital of Nassau.
AIRLINES FROM THE UK
British Airways (08708 509 850; www.british-airways.com) flies five times a week from Heathrow to Nassau. American Airlines (0845 7789 789; www.aa.com) flies daily from Heathrow to Nassau. Connections to other islands are available with Bahamasair (00 1 242 377 5505; www.bahamasair.com). If you’re travelling from the USA, the new high-speed Bahamas Florida Express (www.ferrybahamsa.com) runs daily (journey time two hours) between Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Grand Bahama.
The best way to get around Bahamas
The best way of getting around the Bahamas is by plane. Bahamasair sells a variety of air passes for travel around the islands, with journeys starting in Nassau, Miami or Orlando. As all its internal flights are returns from Nassau, a four-flight coupon, which costs around $180, means you can travel to two islands, and a six-flight coupon, which costs $270, covers three islands. However, island-hopping can be difficult, because each outgoing flight must return to Nassau. All passes must be purchased in Europe.
Tourist information for Bahamas
Contact the Bahamas Tourist Office on 00 1 242 322 7500 (fax: 242 328 0945).
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