The Bahamas is a
Lying 60 miles off the coast of Florida and running more than 500 miles in a southeasterly direction over 100,000 square miles of open ocean almost to the tip of Cuba, The Bahamas is a boater’s paradise. Its 700 islands, fewer than 24 of which are fully settled, and it's more than 2000 small cays and rocks, are dotted like jewels in warm waters so clear you can see the stripes and colours of parrot and angelfish, jacks, snapper. From the deck of a boat, you can spot conch and amazing heads of coral, purple sea fans, starfish and blades of sea grass gently swaying underwater. Regular cruisers who return year after year report never tiring of finding new coves for a safe anchorage or new fishing grounds for a catch for personal consumption.
The Bahamas is a nation of islands blessed with year-round warmth and some of the most hospitable people in the world. This year, the country celebrates its 40th anniversary of Independence and there will be celebratory events leading up the holiday of July 10. (hyperlink to Bahamas.com) Marina space in Nassau, the capital, should be reserved well ahead of time for that week and for the major holiday weeks of Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and Easter. The cultural festivals of Junkanoo are held December 26 and December 31, another important time to mark on the reservations calendar. Regattas are also popular crowd pleasers and there’s one on a Family Island nearly every month.
Although independent since July 10, 1973, the country reflects both its British heritage and its proximity to America. A democratically-elected Parliamentary form of government sits for a maximum of five years. Free education is available to all and a public health service ensures basic care is provided at public hospitals and clinics. Nearly six million visitors arrive by cruise ship, air and private yachts annually. Infrastructure is sophisticated with high speed 4G data available throughout the islands. The language is English, spoken as American, written with British spelling. Currency is on a par with U.S. and U.S. is accepted everywhere. Rental cars are widely available. Drive on the left despite most vehicles being equipped with steering wheels on the left. Hundreds of flights land and depart from Nassau’s international airport, one of 37 in the country. A tax-friendly environment, The Bahamas enjoys a robust financial services sector and many who arrive by boat end up buying a home or condo, making The Bahamas not only their sailing destination but their second home. For all information, including laws and more than 300 downloadable forms, see Bahamas.gov.bs.
Nassau, the capital of The Bahamas, is located on New Providence, in the northwestern Bahamas.
Though one of the country’s smallest islands, it is home to more than two-thirds of the population and is the bustling centre of its resort and financial services activities.
The island is 21 miles long by seven miles wide at its broadest with most of the marinas, boating supply stores and boating activity lining its northern coast. It was because of its well-protected harbour that Nassau became the centre of activity in the days before air travel when everything arrived by boat or ship, people and supplies.
Nassau harbour continues to be the most identifiable feature on the New Providence map, stretching nearly from one end of the island to the other and opening into the wider bays or ocean beyond. Because it was dredged to make way for mega cruise ships — and was the first in the region to be so prepared — parts of the harbour can accommodate vessels of any depth with the greatest challenge to navigation being the westernmost bridge to Paradise Island which has a maximum height of 57 feet at high tide. It is advisable to enter the harbour by light of day, particularly if entering through the western end.
Nassau/Paradise Island is home to great resorts, including Atlantis, shopping, night life, restaurants, recreation, entertainment, schools, medical providers and facilities and marine suppliers and expert mechanics.
Nassau begs to be photographed. Its historic architecture, arches, porches, mature fruit trees, brilliant bougainvillea and hibiscus, the purple sunrises and orange sunsets, the rich texture of people’s faces create a thousand Kodak moments a day.