From swimming with the pigs in the Exumas to the incredible local food, here are 11 reasons why you need to visit the Bahamas this year
By Abbie Schofield
1. Luxe Hotels
Atlantis, Paradise Island is the Bahamas prize resort, boasting five separate hotels from the iconic Royal to the family-friendly and more affordable Reef – but it’s The Cove that offers the ultimate luxury Caribbean experience. The lobby is open-air and the entire ground floor feels like an outside space; sea views, water features and foliage merge the hotel with the breathtaking nature surrounding it. The suites are full of nautical blues and neutrals, and generous balconies mean the ocean view is the centrepiece of the room, like a work of art. On the 22nd floor is The Cove Club offering a gourmet buffet breakfast in the morning and signature cocktails in the evening, as well as a dedicated concierge service, with its floor-to-ceiling windows provide breathtaking panoramic views of the resort and ocean beyond.
2. Exquisite Beaches
The beaches are a true tropical paradise, with bright, white sand. As you look out across the water, you’ll see 50 shades of blue, from deep navy to glistening azure. It’s no surprise that astronaut Bill Anders described the Bahamas as “a turquoise jewel that you could see all the way to the moon. It was like an illuminated piece of opal.”
3. Swimming with the Pigs
Big Major Cay in the Exumas, Bahamas is also known as Pig Beach because of its pot-bellied inhabitants. They were first brought to the idyllic beach as an emergency food supply for the residents of Nassau, the Bahamas capital and most-inhabited island. The pigs were well-fed and taken care of, and began to associate the boats coming to the island with dinner time. So, keen to get their grub, they learned to swim out to the boats and now, Pig Beach is one of the Bahamas most famous tourist attractions. Companies like local family business Pieces of Eight take visitors to feed and swim with the creatures.
4. Incredible Local Food
Authentic Bahamian cuisine combines soul food with Caribbean flavours; think fried plantain, peas and rice, spicy chicken, mac and cheese, coleslaw and sticky ribs. Another local delicacy is conch salad which combines the finely chopped shellfish with vegetables and a spicy citrus dressing.
5. Stunning Marine Life
The local wildlife is breathtaking, particularly the marine life. From turtles to sharks and an array of tropical fish, one way to see these beautiful creatures is to pay a visit to the numerous aquariums within Atlantis, home to over 50,000 aquatic animals. Most of the animals there are rescues animals (the hotel even has its own fish ‘hospital’) and there’s also the chance to swim with dolphins and sea lions rescued from Hurricane Katrina in Dolphin Cay, a large habitat dedicated to conservation, rehabilitation and education.
6. The Lovely People
Atlantis is all about a five-star experience alongside Bahamian warmth and hospitality – it isn’t pretentious. Around every corner is a smiling member of staff, genuinely keen to know how you are, and each request is met with enthusiasm and kindness. The Bahamian people are so full of kindness and generosity and getting to know them will make your trip even more special.
7. World Class Restaurants
The Bahamas boasts fantastic local cuisine, but it’s also home to exquisite restaurants, headed up by world-renowned chefs. On the ground floor of The Cove is Fish by Michelin-starred chef José Andrés, serving sustainably-sourced local seafood with a Bahamian twist. Elsewhere in Atlantis, there’s Nobu (rumoured to be the best one in the world) located right next to Atlantis’ bustling casino. And not forgetting Café Martinique, a fine dining restaurant that celebrates plant-based food, championing local spices, ingredients and tradesmen. At Atlantis, every day of the week offers a new phenomenal dining experience.
8. The Relaxing Vibe
The Bahamas are known for their serenity. Pitch up on one of the many beautiful beaches, or if you’re looking to treat yourself to something more luxurious, The Cove does down-time like no other. You can hire your own private cabana, complete with stunning beachfront views and access to the exclusive Cove pool. A VIP butler will bring you cocktails and Bahamian dishes from Sip Sip, one of the most talked-about Caribbean restaurants originating from Harbour Island. You can even have a beachside massage from the hotel’s Mandarin Spa, which combines ancient Balinese methods with natural elements indigenous to the Bahamas.
Aquaventure is a Mayan-themed 141-acre waterscape with dramatic slides, a two mile-long lazy river, multiple swimming pools and rides. Thrilling for both adults and kids, Aquaventure is a brilliant, active alternative to lounging by the pool and a must-visit when in the Bahamas.
10. It’s Family-Friendly
The Bahamas are a safe and welcoming place for families, and there’s plenty to do. Atlantis has a whopping 20 swimming areas, including 11 different pools, three of which are for children only. There’s also a kids club with fully-trained childcare staff on hand, and children can visit the games room, take a culinary lesson, perform in the mini theatre and much more.
11. To Support Their Economy
Despite the sensational offering for visitors, tourism in the Bahamas is far from booming. In August 2019, Hurricane Dorian ravaged the islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco. Homes and businesses were destroyed, and 70 people were found dead, with a further 282 missing. The Bahamas has just 390,000 residents, and the tight-knit community was devastated. Dorian’s impact on tourism was swift. 50% of the Bahamian economy relies on the holiday industry, and with the rest of the world assuming the Bahamas wasn’t safe, the number of visitors dropped. But what people don’t realise is that out of the 16 inhabited islands, 14 were unaffected by Hurricane Dorian. For example, Paradise Island, where Atlantis is located (just a 30 minute drive from Nassau airport) remains untouched. The Bahamas are in need of more tourists to help recover their economy, so as well as being an unforgettable trip, your Bahamian holiday will do good.
Absolutely London stayed at The Cove, part of Atlantis, Paradise Island. Ocean Suites start from £267; atlantisbahamas.com
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