Beauty in the Bahamas
Home to incredible beaches, bustling marketplaces, generous banking terms, and more billionaires and big stars per capita than most anywhere on the planet, the Bahamas offers great bounty for those who can afford it.
One of the richest countries in the New World, third only to America and Canada, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas spreads out over 500 miles and comprises 2,400 cays, or coral reefs, and 700 islands, only 30 of which are inhabited. Fueled by tourism and offshore finance, this popular cruising destination is visited by approximately six million people a year, 70-percent of which arrive by big boat.
Located in the Tropic of Cancer in the Atlantic Ocean, the island chain is surprisingly close and accessible to the United States. The Bahamas’ island of Bimini is about 50 nautical miles from Miami, a mere two-hour boat ride. The country’s capital in Nassau is 188 miles, or roughly an hour flight, from Miami.
Not much farther, as the crow flies, from the island of Cuba to its southwest Bahama is generally sunny, hot and dry. The former British Territory, which is actually part of the West Indies’ Lucayan Archipelago and not the Caribbean, boasts approximately 340 days of sunlight annually.
Bahamas’ temperate setting and its gorgeous turquoise waters make it ideal for all manner of watersports, including snorkeling, swimming and scuba diving, as well as jet skiing, windsurfing, sailing, kayaking and deep-sea fishing.
Most travelers head straight to Nassau to catch rays at Cable Beach or to shop at and around the famed Straw Market, or they might head to the Port Lucaya Marketplace in Freeport on Grand Bahama Island, which also features one of the world’s longest underwater cave systems, but there are myriad other Bahamian locales that are simply divine.
There’s Paradise Island, home to Atlantis resort and also some of the Bahamas’ wealthiest residents, such as Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. Once owned by media mogul Merv Griffin, the island has been featured in a number of movies, including the Beatles’ film “Help,” James Bond franchise films “Thunderball,” “The Spy Who Loved Me,” “Never Say Never Again,” and “Casino Royale” and most recently “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
There’s also Abacos and Exumas, where the “no-take” protected areas offer some of the world’s best waters for diving, snorkeling, boating and sailing, as well as swimming with some seriously adorable pigs. It might sound weird but it’s a real thing and it’s amazing.
Travelers also like to trek to Blue Lagoon Island, aka Salt Cay, where visitors can interact with dolphins and sea lions in their natural habitat. Other sought-after destinations and diversions include the pink-sands of Harbour Island; bone fishing on Andros; big game fishing on Bimini; and Dean’s Blue Hole on Long Island, which at 663 feet deep is the deepest blue hole in the world; to name a few.
There’s also the world-class golfing, which is not to be missed. With more than 100 courses, many of which have significant water views, there’s a course for everyone — from the novice duffer to seasoned serious pro.
There are so many things to do and places to see in the Bahamas. There really is a bit of something there for everyone, if only we had all the time in the world to explore.
Of course, even though a Passport is required to visit, there’s no real rush to leave if one is so inclined. It is possible to buy in the Bahamas, as there are no restrictions on foreign property ownership.
And though the properties can be quite pricey, there’s no sales tax or income tax for permanent residents. That’s great news if you’ve got a few million burning a hole in your pocket, a hankering for sunnier climes, or a deep desire for tax avoidance. Just don’t forget to stock up on the sunscreen!