Bahamas Travel Guide
The Bahamas is a group of over 2000 islands, cays, and rocks (although only 20 something are inhabited) in the Atlantic Ocean starting east of Florida. The name has Spanish origins meaning “shallow water”, due to the several 100+ mile long sand banks. On these banks the water is between 1-20 feet deep, giving a multitude of different water colors. Once you sail off the banks the water depth can drop thousands of feet
within boat lengths. The islands themselves are all low limestone coral with fantastic beaches. In fact, the highest point in the country is only around 206 feet.
When Christopher Columbus made his historic voyage his first step in the New World took place on San Salvador Island. Unfortunately, the native Arawak population was enslaved and shipped to Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti) leaving the islands depopulated for over a hundred years. In the mid 1600’s pirates were living among the islands and British settlements were popping up. It became an official colony of Britain in 1783 and gained independence in 1973.
On Christmas Day 2010 I crossed from the Florida Keys to Bimini in my boat. A northerner holed me up for three days, which I took to explore north and south Bimini Island. I then went to Nassau for the Junkanoo festival, which started in the wee hours of the New Year.
From there I worked my boat down the Exumas and Jumentos. I then sailed out to Hogsty Reef, back up to the Acklins Island Group, and over to Long Island.
After exploring Rum, Conception, and San Salvador I worked my
way up Cat and Eleuthera Islands. Next I sailed to the southern part of Andros Island and worked my way north through the Berry Islands and over to Grand Bahama Island. At this point my 6-month visa was ending and hurricane season was beginning, so I headed back to the USA.
By mid-November I was ready to go back, so I explored the Abacos for three weeks and then day hopped down to Mayaguana. After a week, I explored the Turks & Caicos islands for two weeks and then sailed to the US Virgin Islands.
Likes, Dislikes, and Recommendations
If I ever hear someone say they do not like the Bahamas, I know that they simply visited Nassau on a cruise ship. Because once you leave the capital, the out islands are secluded and the people will take you in as if you are part of the settlement.
I loved cruising through the Bahamas on my boat for seven months, because each island has something unique to offer. My personal highlights were visiting Hogsty Reef, Junkanoo in Nassau, the cruising friends I made, visiting Christopher Columbus’s landing site in the New World (at San Salvador), The Hermitage on Cat Island, and the northern part of Eleuthera Island.
To be honest I do not have any dislikes, except that I was not able to visit Great and Little Inagua Islands. Otherwise I saw every island and set foot on most of them. I do think too many cruisers make the Exumas out to be the end-all-be-all. Many of them return to the Bahamas every year, but never explore outside of this one island group. The problem with this is that they are missing out on so much!
A couple recommendations I have for you is make sure you have the Explorer Charts (this will be your charts and guide), when you check into the country get your free fishing license, and stay updated on the weather (northerners in the winter and hurricanes in the summer) with harbors picked out to provide the right protection.
Below you can get even more helpful hints by watching the travel videos I made for the Bahamas. Just click on the upper left corner of the player to see a list of the episodes. Also, you can read what all I did there in my blog posts located below the video.