Bahamas Travel Guide: Welcome to the Bahamas!
Picture the word 'Bahamas' and you're instantly transported to a picture-perfect tropical setting, with pristine beaches, friendly relaxed characters and buzzing nightlife.
Thankfully, the reality of the Bahamas lives up to that ideal. However, there is more to the Bahamas than meets the eye - it is a nation with a complex history and vibrant culture.
Located roughly 55 miles to the southeast of Miami in the Atlantic Ocean, the Bahamas is officially recognized as an independent commonwealth realm - like Barbados, Grenada and other island neighbors - under the British monarchy.
When Columbus made his famous 1492 landfall in the New World, he stepped not onto American soil but onto Bahamian shores, laying claim to an island he later named San Salvador. Over the centuries that followed, that island and more than 700 others experienced social upheaval that defined the imperial era in the Lucayan Archipelago; however, by 1973, the Bahamas achieved independence and became a sovereign state.
Today, visitors from all corners of the planet travel to the Bahamas every year - and all year round.
The island boasts perpetually beautiful weather - ranging from 27-30 degrees Celsius in the summer and 21-25 degrees Celsius in the winter, almost guaranteeing a sunny trip at any point of the year. While they soak up the sun, visitors tend to enjoy the islands' signature drink, the Bahama Mama; beers from Nassau-based breweries like Kalik and Sands; or the locals' favorite, Sky Juice, a delicious concoction comprised of coconut water mixed with sweet milk and gin.
Between the capital city of Nassau (located on the island of New Providence), Grand Bahama and the Out Islands like Eleuthera and Bimini, the Bahamas as a whole attracts more than six million tourists annually by sea and air, with people from all walks of life and locales finding common ground on the area's immaculate white sand beaches. Once there, the local currency is the Bahamian dollar, but U.S. dollars are also widely accepted.
The local population, which stands at just under 400,000 citizens, is culturally diverse, with 90 percent of residents tracing their lineage to Africa. Although the official language is English, most locals also speak a hybrid of British and American English known as the Bahamian dialect, or a fusion of African and English called Bahamian Creole.
One of the country's most widely celebrated events is Junkanoo, an annual festival of music, dancing, and parades through the streets of Nassau, which begins on Boxing Day (Dec. 26) and runs through New Year's Day.
If you miss that then another Bahamian tradition kicks off just a few days later on January 6th as the revamped PokerStars Championship Bahamas returns to Paradise Island's Atlantis Resort. The always-anticipated poker tournament series, previously known as the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA), has been a staple of the global circuit since 2004 and is one of the most prestigious poker festivals anywhere in the world. If poker players traditionally consider the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas to be their 'summer camp' then the PokerStars Championship Bahamas is surely the game's unofficial spring break.
There's something for everyone in the Bahamas, making it a trip to paradise that you'll never forget.