Thursday, August 21, 2014

Five Things You Never Knew About the Bahamas

Image courtesy of Trish Hartmann
The Bahamas is famous around the world for its striking beach-side beauty, and with its sparkling turquoise waters, white sand and near-perfect weather, it is certainly deserving of this accolade. But this stunning island range is so much more than just a great destination for a beach holiday; with a multitude of uninhabited islands and secret cays to explore, this exotic destination is perfect for adventure lovers.

Have a look at a few facts you may not have known about this tropical paradise…

The Bahamas is a Cultural Hotspot

One of the many captivating things about the Bahamas is its diversity: each island has its own individual character, ambiance and subtle variances in culture. Strongly influenced by its African, Indian and European heritage, Bahamian culture is entirely unique and rich in Caribbean customs.

A particular highlight of Bahamian culture is Junkanoo, a street carnival which takes place on Boxing Day and New Year's Day. Junkanoo is a treat for the eyes as well as the ears: you can marvel at the spectacular costumes and floats of the parade while listening to authentic Bahamian music, such as Calypso, Soca and Rake 'n' Scrape.

Perhaps the jewel in the crown is the locals themselves; warm, friendly and laid-back, most residents of the Bahamas are all too happy to tell stories of their island’s history and important events to interested (and respectful) tourists.

The Bahamas Has Over 2,700 Islands & Cays

If you love exploring then it won’t be long before you realise that the Bahamas is one of the best places in the world to do this: boasting over 700 different islands and 2,000 cays that stretch from the fringe of Florida to the edge of the Caribbean, the possibilities for adventure are endless.

Those with sea-legs can charter their own boat and explore the secret side of this idyllic destination – and because the islands are scattered across 100,000 square miles, you could spend years sailing round them all! There are only about 30 inhabited islands in the Bahamas – the rest are isolated and secluded enough to be perfect destinations for a private and relaxing day out.

The Bahamas is a Gastronomical Gem

Although you may not immediately associate the Bahamas with fine dining, any fans of seafood will be in their element here. Every day an abundance of fresh fish and seafood is caught by the local fishermen, the most popular choices being conch, crawfish, red snapper, grouper and yellow tail.

Conch fritters image courtesy of istolethetv
Whichever way you like to eat your fish, be it steamed, baked, fried or stewed, you will be spoilt for choice here. Conch is considered the national dish in the Bahamas, so you should make sure you sample them where possible; a local favourite is conch fritters, which are deliciously crispy and best served with hot sauce and a slice of lime – and preferably eaten on a beach for maximum enjoyment.

The Bahamas is Ideal for Bird Lovers

It isn’t just beach holidays that the Bahamas is perfect for – animal lovers will have a brilliant time exploring the wildlife reserves found on this paradise. The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, located in the Exuma island range of the Bahamas, is a strikingly beautiful sweep of cays that stretches for 176 square miles and provides a safe haven for the wildlife indigenous to this area.

Here you can spot over 40 species of tropical birds and also enjoy some of the best snorkelling in the whole of the Bahamas. Inagua National Park also deserves a special mention, as this park just happens to be the world's largest breeding colony of West Indian flamingos: there are approximately 50,000 of these remarkable birds to be found here.

The Bahamas Boasts the Best Sea Life in the World

As you may expect from a tropical location that is entirely surrounded by crystal clear ocean, the Bahamas is one of the most fascinating locations in the world to snorkel or scuba dive in. With sea life that includes dolphins, sea lions, sharks, rays, barracudas and all manner of exotic fish, it’s no exaggeration to say the ocean is absolutely teeming with life here.

There are also plenty of secret lagoons, caves, shipwrecks, coral formations and magnificent underwater ruins to explore. Aside from all this, the Bahamas is also home to the world’s deepest blue hole, Dean’s Blue Hole on Long Island. Although the Great Blue Hole in Belize is more well-known, Dean’s Blue Hole is situated right next to the shore, which means you can be swimming in water that is knee-deep and suddenly find yourself over a sudden drop off of 202 metres...

Dean’s Blue Hole image courtesy of chafonso via Flickr

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