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Nassau & New Providence Island

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Here is a guide that is drawn from our larger guide to all of the Bahamas. Nassau, the capital city of the islands and a bustling sea port, is a microcosm of Bahamian cultures. It's the largest city on the islands, with a population of more than 150,000, and has long been a center, not only for tourism, but for much of the world's banking. There are more than 400 banks in the city, offering tax shelters to one and all. But Nassau is more than the Bahamas' commercial center. Each year, some two million tourists enter the country through its international airport and a million more arrive by cruise ship and private boat. Most of them stay for at least a day or two. New Providence island, which measures 21 miles long by seven miles wide, offers a diversity of accommodations, from ultra-modern luxury resorts to intimate hotels. There's a wide variety of attractions, from the all-in-one world of the Atlantis International Resort & Casino on Paradise Island, to Crystal Cay Marine Park, deep-sea fishing, diving, walking, swimming, bicycling, driving, windsurfing, parasailing, waverunning, shelling, and snorkeling, to diving beneath the waves in a full-blown submarine. Experience the places you visit more directly, freshly, intensely _ sometimes best done on foot, in a canoe, or through cultural adventures like art courses, cooking classes, learning the language, meeting the people, joining in the festivals and celebrations. This can make your trip life-changing, unforgettable. All of the detailed information you need is here about the hotels, restaurants, shopping, sightseeing. But we also lead you to new discoveries, turning corners you haven't turned before. That's what makes our guides unique. Photographs throughout. All the latest information on the best hotels in all price categories, restaurants, dive sites, dive operators, fishing guides and much, much more. You'll find more information on these islands here than in any other guide. The Bahamas were once the playground of pirates. Modern travelers can find a different kind of adventure here, exploring a shipwreck or beachcombing near a secluded cove.ÊÊ "This is a highly informative guidebook that reviews both the obvious and obscure. The Bahamas has so much to offer and this book really manages to cover quite a bit. I highly recommend it for someone that wants an insight into each of the islands that make up the Bahamas." -- GlobehoundÊ "Now in an updated fourth edition, The Bahamas and Turks & Caicos is a travel guide the 700+ islands of the Bahamas as well as the Turks and Caicos. Fabulously illustrated with full color photographs on virtually every page, The guide describes the best hotels in different price ranges, restaurants, dive sites, dive operators, tours, fishing guides, historic forts and pirate hideouts, where one can walk through tropical forests or play with dolphins, find duty-free shops with bargains, and much more. An easy-to-use, reader-friendly field guide. Highly recommended for tourists and business travelers alike." -- Midwest Book Review

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Nassau A-Z

ePub

You can obtain assistance from the Embassy during working hours at their Nassau office on Queen Street, ph.  242/322-1181.

The local American Express travel office is located at 303 Shirley Street (ph. 242/322-2931). For emergency card replacement, ph.  800/327-1267; for lost traveler's check replacement, ph.  800/221-7282.

Citibank

Thomas Boulevard, ph.  242/302-8500

Frederick Street, ph.  242/322-6800

Commonwealth Bank

Bay and Christi Streets, ph.  242/322-1154

Barclays

Bay Street, ph.  242/356-8000

Want to tie the knot while you're in Nassau? Many of the larger hotels offer bridal consultants on staff; you can also obtain assistance with everything from paperwork to party favors at these offices:

En'ella Floral and Bridal

PO Box N-1577

Nassau, Bahamas

ph. 242/394-ROSE

Incredible Services

PO Box N-1507

Nassau, Bahamas

ph. 242/341-1482

E-mail: incred@batelnet.bs

Wedding Circle

Winders Terrace

Nassau, Bahamas

ph. 242/323-3549

E-mail: vikki@bahama.net.bs

www.bahamaweddingcircle.com

Anna's Wedding Planning

& Consulting Service

 

The Abacos

ePub

The Abacos aren't one destination but a whole family of little islands. Like tossed seashells, they span a 650-square-mile area.

They're in the northeastern end of the Bahamas (so far to the north that they're sometimes nicknamed "The Top of the Bahamas"). They are 106 miles north of Nassau and 175 miles east of Palm Beach, Florida.

The Abacos are the second-largest island group in the Bahamas. The majority of the landforms aren't developed, but you will find many that are inhabited, including Man-O-War Cay, Great Abaco, Elbow Cay, Great Guana Cay, Treasure Cay, Green Turtle Cay, Spanish Cay and Walker Cay.

Great Abaco is on the western side of the island group, separated by the Sea of Abaco from the cays on the east.

The Abacos are a favorite with sailors, yachties and anglers.

Five miles east of Marsh Harbour lies Elbow Cay. The community of Hope Town overlooks the harbor and is filled with pastel-tinted houses built in a New England style. You can't miss the candy striped lighthouse built in 1863. Today it is one of the few manned lighthouses in the Bahamas.

 

Andros

ePub

Andros is a favorite destination for scuba diving.

If you've flown from Miami to the Caribbean, you probably flew over Andros. This giant island spans 2,300 square miles and is one of the largest tracts of unexplored land in the hemisphere.

Andros is easy to spot from the air because it splinters like a waterlogged chunk of wood floating in the sea. The island is home to many lakes and inlets. Snorkelers and scuba divers find some of the best activity in the area here, with the third-largest barrier island in the world just offshore. "Andros may be one of our best kept secrets," says the Director General of the Ministry of Tourism. "With its peaceful villages and spectacular, unspoiled scenery, it's the perfect destination for those who really want to get away from it all. Yet it's quick and easy to reach."

Andros is the home of the legendary Chickcharnies. These three-toed, red-eyed elves sport beards and feathers and supposedly live deep in the interior. The tale of these impish beasts has thrived on this island for generations, scaring young children and explaining away odd occurrences.

 

The Berry Islands

ePub

Anglers love the Berry Islands!

Haven't heard of the Berry Islands? You're probably not alone. This family of islands is largely uninhabited. Over 30 islands and cays (many privately owned) make up the chain, which is sprinkled 150 miles east of Miami and 35 miles north of Nassau.

These quiet islands, however, are well known in gamefishing circles. Serious anglers come to the islands, just like nearby Bimini, to try their luck at marlin, sailfish or mackerel.

See price chart.

GREAT HARBOUR CAY

YACHT CLUB AND MARINA

Great Harbour Cay

ph. 242/367-8838, fax 242/367-8115

Reservations: ph.  800/343-7256

Moderate to Expensive

All accommodations have maid service at Great Harbour Cay.

Great Harbour Cay is a private island and home to these villas and two-bedroom townhouses. Rooms include air conditioning, full kitchens and linens. An 80-slip marina is located here as well.

CHUB CAY

One mile from Chub Cay Airport

ph. 242/325-1490, fax 242/322-5199

Moderate to Expensive

This 16-room resort has air conditioning in all its rooms and villas. All accommodations have a phone, cable TV, coffee-maker, refrigerator and private bath. This is a popular option with active travelers, offering scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, bonefishing, tennis courts and bike rentals. It has a restaurant, marina, laundry room, two pools and a bar.

 

The Bimini Islands

ePub

The Biminis are popular with anglers, as well as those looking for a quick getaway.

Just 50 miles east of Miami lie the Biminis, a chain of islands and cays closer than any others to the US. You often hear "Bimini" as a single destination, but travelers should set their course for North Bimini, South Bimini, or one of the other many cays such as Gun Cay, Ocean Cay or the ritzy private island of Cat Cay.

If you've heard of the Biminis, it is probably due to Ernest Hemingway, undoubtedly the most famous Bimini booster. The writer came to these islands to pen Islands in the Stream and To Have and Have Not as well as to fish, swap fish tales, and down a few cold ones at The Compleat Angler bar.

Today Ernest's seat at the bar has been taken over by any number of other gamefishermen, who come from around the globe to test their skills in what is often called the "Gamefishing Capital of the World." Records have been set here for trophy sailfish, tuna and wahoo.

The largest destination in this chain isNorth Bimini , which measures 7 miles long. The island's main community is called Alice Town.

 

Cat Island

ePub

Cat Island is a favorite diving destination.

Cat Island is home of the highest peak in the Bahamas - all 206 feet of it! Mount Alvernia isn't exactly high enough to cause nosebleeds, but it does lend an interesting summit to this large island, the sixth-largest in the Bahamas.

Cat Island is 325 miles southeast of Miami.

TIP

Cat Island is not at all the same as private Cat Cay, located in the Biminis. Don't confuse the two!

"Cat"

Two theories account for the island's name:

A) Wild cats that supposedly were descended from cats left by Spanish colonists, or

B) Captain Arthur Catt, a British sea captain (sometimes termed a pirate).

GREENWOOD BEACH RESORT

Cat Island Dive Centre

Port Howe

ph. /fax 242/342-3053

Reservations: ph.  800/688-4752

Inexpensive

www.greenwoodbeachresort.com

A favorite with divers, this 20-room resort is located on eight miles of beach. All rooms have private baths. We recommend this resort for active travelers. Guests can borrow bikes and explore the island, take a snorkel tour or go scuba diving. The resort offers an excellent restaurant.

 

Crooked Island & Acklins Island

ePub

The waters around Crooked & Acklins Islands are especially attractive to anglers & scuba divers.

Crooked and Acklins Islands almost look like one landmass, but are separated by the Crooked Island Passage. These islands were once the home of Loyalists who left America after the Revolution and came to settle on these islands perched on shallow waters.

Crooked Island was called "Isabella" by Columbus in honor of his queen. Today, this quiet place 240 miles from Nassau is home to only 700 residents. Visitors here find many beautiful beaches.

Acklins Island is separated from Crooked Island by a one-mile wide stretch of water. If you've got a bad case of the "been there, done that's," Acklins may be a good destination for you. It is a rare destination for anyone, although here you'll find good scuba diving, fishing and swimming.

PITTSTOWN POINT LANDING

Landrail Point

ph. 242/344-2507, fax 242/344-2507

Reservations: ph.  800/PLACE2B

www.pittstown.com

Inexpensive

No plane? No problem. You can also arrive here via a scheduled BahamasAir flight.

 

Eleuthera & Harbour Island

ePub

Eleuthera is the kind of place that sneaks into your thoughts when you're stuck in the office fantasizing about an island getaway.

* DID YOU KNOW?

In Greek, Eleuthera means "Freedom." It's a favorite retreat for those seeking a few days of freedom from hectic schedules.

Eleuthera is popular with anglers and scuba divers.

To the first English settlers, Eleutera meant religious freedom. The Eleutheran Adventurers came to this land because it resembled English farmland. Located 60 miles east of Nassau, Eleuthera is hilly and fertile, and it is the most developed of any of the Bahamian Out Islands.

Ask a local resident about his island, however, and he'll call it Cigatoo, the local name for this 200-square-mile piece of land. Whatever you call it, you'll find plenty of fun, including numerous dive sites, snorkeling and bonefishing.

Just two miles off Eleuthera's northern coast liesHarbour Island , connected to its larger cousin by ferry service. This three-mile-long island is just half a mile wide, but it is the home of several attractions.

 

The Exuma Islands

ePub

The Exumas are a longtime favorite with sailors.

The Exumas are a whole chain of islands and cays - over 350 of them, to be precise. Located right in the middle of the Bahamas island chain, they are a favorite destination for the sailing crowd.

Most of the activity takes place on Great Exuma in the community ofGeorge Town . Shoppers can visit the town's Straw Market. A far cry from the two-story version in Nassau, this local outdoor market is very relaxed.

The islands also offer good deep-sea fishing and diving. Staniel Cay'sThunderball Grotto was used in the filming of the James Bond movie Thunderball. Another good site isHighborne Cay Wreck , where snorkelers can see the wreck in just 40 feet of water.

CLUB PEACE AND PLENTY

George Town

ph. 242/336-2551, fax 242/336-2093

Reservations: ph.  800/525-2210

E-mail: pandp@peaceandplenty.com

www.peaceandplenty.com

Moderate

This 35-room waterside hotel offers air-conditioned accommodations with harborview balconies. You'll find plenty of action here: twice-weekly cocktail parties, a freshwater pool, and beach fun at the Stocking Island Beach Club, which has snorkeling, undersea caves for exploration and sailing.

 

Grand Bahama

ePub

Grand Bahamas is a favorite with shoppers and couples.

Grand Bahama island is indeed a grand destination, starting with the city ofFreeport . Stroll the streets of this bustling port and enjoy shopping for international and locally made goods.

The Port Lucaya Marketplace and Marina offers shops selling perfumes, clothing and crafts, and usually has live music along its outdoor waterfront. You'll find goods from around the globe at the International Bazaar, and nearby the Bahamas Arts and Crafts Market sells locally made jewelry and baskets. The bazaar and market are adjacent to the Resort at Bahamia (formerly the Bahamas Princess Resort and Casino), where you can try your luck at table games or slot machines.

The city of Freeport/Lucaya was established just over 40 years ago as a tax-free base for trading nations of the west.

The seabed surrounding the Bahamas is dotted with "blue holes," deep, seemingly bottomless holes in the sea that are easily seen from the air.

These holes were formed when an underwater mountain range filled with glaciers during the Ice Age. As the glaciers grew, water levels dropped and the land peeked up from the sea. Once the glaciers melted, the seafloor became pocked with numerous holes and underground caverns.

 

Inagua

ePub

Inagua is a favorite with birders, who come here to admire the flamingos & other birds.

Inagua is actually two islands: Great and Little Inagua. They make up the fourth-largest island in the Bahamas and the southernmost point in the country. At 20 miles wide and 40 miles long, the island (referred to in the singular, despite being two islands) is scarcely populated, with just under 1,000 residents. But it has over 50,000 flamingos (more on that later).

* DID YOU KNOW?

Inagua is an anagram of the word "iguana."

Inagua has a desert-like climate, with little rain, constant trade winds and little fresh water. This harsh environment is perfect for salt ponds, though, and those assets have brought money to local residents for many years. Salt was believed to have first motivated settlers to come to this island. In the 1930s Morton Salt Company dominated the salt industry around the globe and the company maintains a large operation here.

Today most residents work in the factory inMatthew Town , harvesting a million pounds of salt a year from the surrounding land.

 

Long Island

ePub

Long Island is visited by boaters, divers, anglers, and those in search of some quiet.

It's not hard to guess how this island got its name. Stretching 60 miles end to end (although only four miles across) Long Island lives up to its moniker. This quiet getaway is a favorite with divers, anglers, and boaters and for those seeking quiet beaches, and a gentle, rolling landscape.

Like other Bahamian islands, this one was settled by many Loyalists who came here after the American Revolution. If you take a guided ride around the island, you'll see the ruins of several plantation homes that once were surrounded by large cotton estates.

While on your tour, you might stop by several other Long Island attractions.Dunmore's Cave was once used by pirates. You can also see the Moorish-style churches built by Father Jerome. Don't missCape Santa Maria on the north end of the island where Columbus first anchored and named this land Fernandina.

CAPE SANTA MARIA BEACH

RESORT AND FISHING CLUB

Stella Maris

ph. 242/338-5273, fax 242/338-6013

 

San Salvador

ePub

San Salvador attracts many scuba divers.

Most regard San Salvador as the site where Christopher Columbus first made landfall in the New World. (OK, the folks on Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos will beg to differ, but more on that later.) When he landed he found an island named "Guanahani" by the Lucayan Indians. The explorer renamed the tiny isle San Salvador or Holy Savior.

* DID YOU KNOW?

Exactly where Columbus landed is also up for debate, although most agree it was Long Bay, at a site now marked with a large stone cross.

The island became a lot less holy when notorious pirate Captain John Watling decided to set up camp here and proclaim the island his headquarters. The English buccaneer used San Salvador as a hideaway during the 17th century, but Watling's influence long outlived him, and the island took on the name Watling's Island. Finally, in 1925, the name of San Salvador was restored.

San Salvador is 200 miles east-southeast of Nassau and southeast of Cat Island. It is a favorite with scuba divers, offering visibility of up to 150 feet. The pace here remains quiet and relaxed. Most activity takes place inCockburn (pronounced Ko-Burn)Town , a small community on the west coast.

 

Providenciales

ePub

Providenciales is open and unsettled, dotted with short palms and sea grapes. Chalky limestone roads wind across the flat land, connecting settlements like Blue Hills and The Bight.

But the traveler to Provo will soon realize that its desert terrain is just a backdrop to the clear waters and long beaches that are the main attractions. These sandy stretches can be miles long, dotted only with the footprints of animals and birds. You won't find beach vendors or hagglers on these shores, just a few tourists and locals. Highrises are forbidden, with resorts built no taller than three stories.

But most visitors come to Provo to do nothing at all. Days are spent on the beach or in the clear waters of the ocean.

This is a popular dive destination, with good visibility and warm waters that are home to hawksbill turtles, nurse sharks, octopi.

With the high number of both American visitors and expatriates in the Turks and Caicos, you'll find many cuisines represented on the islands.

TIP

For a taste of true island food, sample the conch, served as fritters, salads and sandwiches, as well as grouper, hogfish, soft-shell crab and spiny lobster.

 

Grand Turk

ePub

Grand Turk is home of its own little historic controversy. We said earlier in the book that many historians believe Columbus first made landfall in the New World on the Bahamian island of San Salvador. However, many others believe that the island the Italian explorer called "Guanahani" wasn't the Bahamian island, but instead was Grand Turk.

The truth about where Columbus first set foot on land may never be known, but many facts are proven about Grand Turk's often raucous history. The island was settled by pirates from Bermuda. These devilish entrepreneurs used the nearby coral reefs as their own traps, luring ships in with lights to a false sense of safety. When the ships wrecked on the coral reefs, out went the pirates to plunder them. Today the evidence of that wicked history is still evident on Grand Turk; many of the historic buildings were made from the lumber of these ships.

The atmosphere is quiet and calm on Grand Turk. This island serves as the governmental capital of the Turks and Caicos Islands and you'll see many government buildings in the community of Cockburn Town. Here most of the island's 4,300 residents live just steps from the sea.

 

North Caicos

ePub

They call it the "garden island," and a quick look around North Caicos explains why. This island receives twice as much rain as Providenciales and most other destinations in the Turks and Caicos. The rainfall helps North Caicos produce sea grapes, sugar apples, oranges, mangoes and other tropical harvests.

Flamingos can also be seen at the Mud Hold Pond.

This island is home to the ruins of several Loyalist plantations. Another interesting site is the Flamingo Pond, where magnificent flamingos nest.

TIP

Birders should make time to visit nearby Three Mary's Cay for a look at ospreys.

PELICAN BEACH HOTEL

Whitby

ph. 649/946-7112, fax 649/946-7139

Moderate to Expensive

This 14-room hotel offers boat rentals, scuba diving, and tennis courts. Travelers enjoy watersports and can also explore local caves, plantation house ruins or watch pink flamingos at their roost. The oceanfront rooms have private baths, terrace, two queen-sized beds and air-conditioning.

PROSPECT OF WHITBY HOTEL

Whitby

ph. 649/946-7119, fax 649/946-7114

 

Salt Cay

ePub

Tiny Salt Cay is the kind of place you come to for real rest and relaxation. There are very few diversions on this small cay - just some fields that were once flooded with seawater, later to evaporate and be raked of sea salt. In those days, this 2-square-mile landmass was the world's largest producer of salt. Remnants of old windmills still turn in the gentle trade winds, a reminder of that bygone era.

Today Salt Cay is the kind of place where you can pedal around on a bike and not worry about traffic. Beautiful waters surround the cay, inviting snorkelers and scuba divers.

MOUNT PLEASANT GUEST HOUSE

Victoria Street

Reservations: ph.  888/332-3133, 649/946-6927

Inexpensive

This simple accommodation with seven guest rooms plus a dorm room with multiple beds is a favorite with scuba divers. All rooms are furnished with antiques and, while they're nothing fancy, they are within walking distance of the beach. A casual restaurant located on the property is a super place to meet fellow travelers.

 

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