Weekend Getaway

There's Nothing Better Than Cruising The Bahamas


You've done all your homework. You've picked the perfect weather window. Now you are in awe as the dark blue of the Gulf Stream gives way to the crystal clear, shallow waters of the Bahamas Banks. The feeling of accomplishment just can't be described. You have finally reached the Bahamas, so what's next? The answer is almost as endless as the island chain itself.

Arriving on your own boat is by far the best way to experience the Bahamas. Simply island hopping itself can take up an entire season. The Abacos, with their New England flavor, offer settlements such as Hopetown and Marsh Harbor, which have become boating community hubs. If nightlife and excitement are your pleasure, Grand Bahamas and Freeport, with their large casinos and resorts, will occupy all of your time and a lot of your money. The calm, protected waters of the Northern Bahamas are wonderful for sailing, snorkeling, diving and world-class angling. Fishing is a big part of the Bahamas experience.  Mahi-mahi, marlin, tuna, wahoo and mackerel are but a few of the possible catches of the day. Hooking a jack, snapper or bonefish in the morning and cooking your catch on the grill that night is the definition of the good life. Fish from your own vessel, hire a guide, or charter a boat.

Fishing and island hopping are not your only choices of what to do. The diving and snorkeling in the Bahamas are some of the best in the world, and no place is better known for its dive sites than the Exuma chain. Dive or snorkel on patch reefs, do deeper wall dives, or try one of the well-known blue holes for a scuba experience you will never forget. Bring along a kayak or rent one from one of the many vendors in the Exuma settlements for an up-close-and-personal view of the spectacular waters and coastline. Preserves such as the Exuma Land & Sea Park have nature trails to hike and undisturbed underwater habitats to explore. The southern Bahamas offers a real Caribbean experience, with deserted islands and white sandy beaches that rival any other in the region.

If golfing is your passion, hit one of the Bahamas' three world-class golf courses. The Abaco Club is a private facility with reciprocal privileges. Treasure Cay Golf Club, at Treasure Cay, and Grand Isle Resort, on Great Exuma, round out the offerings. All three are challenging 18-hole courses with stunning vistas that will at times be distracting to players, and all offer amenities that rival or surpass many golf clubs in the U.S.The lower Exumas are a seasonal destination for many boaters. During the winter months, the warm and balmy trade winds make for some very comfortable weather. Your options for adventure are almost endless. Feed the iguanas on Allans Cay, swim with the pigs at Pig Beach on Big Major Spot, snorkel Thunderball Grotto -- of James Bond fame -- at Staniel Cay, or join in the festivities that run almost nonstop in Georgetown. Elizabeth Harbor, located near Georgetown, is home to the annual Family Island Regatta Week, held during the last full weekend of April. The event brings together Bahamian boat builders and sailors to compete during five days of sailing. More than 400 boats at once have been known to visit the harbor during regatta week, still leaving ample room for more. Daily volleyball games occur at, you guessed it, Volleyball Beach, plus there are sing-alongs, pot lucks, boating seminars and local holiday festivities.

The biggest problem with cruising to the Bahamas is, when it's time to leave, you may not have done everything you wanted to. It truly is better in the Bahamas, and that's probably why boaters are drawn back there over and over and over again.

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