Bahama Mama!

The quickest and easiest way to go to the Bahamas is on a cruise. Of course, you can also fly there but cruising is more fun and leisurely  specially if you go with a LOT of people.

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There are several cruise ships that visit this island nation daily making tourism its number one income generating economic activity.

Did you know that Bahamas comes from the Spanish word Baja Mar which means “shallow waters”?

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Made up of more than 700 islands and islets, you can find your own little paradise somewhere. Bahamas is well known for its beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters, the world famous luxury resort and casino, Atlantis Paradise Island, that ever popular beach drink, Bahama Mama, believed to have originated in the Bahamas region, pirates, braided hair and conch fritters.

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Bahamas has a long standing violent history of piracy (the name Blackbeard ring a bell?) that it was turned into a British settlement to help eradicate the pirates and stop the attacks. Notice the pink and white buildings in Nassau? Those are all colonial influenced from back in the day. All the other buildings look picture pretty as well with all the pastel colors.

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Most cruise ships dock at Nassau, the capital city of the Bahamas or at Freeport at Grand Bahama island. Carnival and Royal Caribbean, the two cruise ships I’ve been on both dock at Nassau.

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You instantly get that island vibe right away as a local band greets you with live Caribbean music as you walk through the immigration building.

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From the port, once you exit the main immigration building, also brimming with local vendors and souvenir shops, you get swarmed by taxi cab and tour operators all offering you a “good deal”. What a good deal is, I have no idea because we never did any locally operated excursions.

We only participated in one excursion in the three times that I have visited and that was the Paradise Island and Sightseeing Tour by Royal Caribbean. The highlights of the tour included visiting the Queen’s staircase, Fort Fincastle, Fort Charlotte and a brief stop at the Atlantis Resort.

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The Straw Market right off Bay street, about a good 5 mins walk from the port is THE place to buy locally made souvenirs. From tshirts, hand-woven straw hats, bags, wood carved figures, magnets and other little touristy things, you can find just about anything and everything under the Bahamas sun. Test your haggling skills here as it is highly recommended!

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A little past the Straw Market is Junkanoo beach, a local public beach. It is about 10-15 mins walking distance from the cruise ships. If you get tired of all the touristy things and just want to chill and relax, this is the place to be.

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Convenient and accessible, you can either rent lounge chairs and umbrellas for $10-$15 or bring your own towels and beach mats and simply put your things down and lay on the sand. There are local vendors selling drinks and food and public toilets can be found nearby.

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The waters are so clean and inviting and crystal clear. The sand is white and sprinkled with little rocks and broken corals and some sea glass which didn’t bother me at all as it is as natural as it can get. Most of all, this is a FREE attraction!

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Another interesting fact that I found out is that the flamingo is the Bahamas’ national bird. For some reason, I thought it was Florida’s …I see Flamingos everywhere in Florida from shirts to garden decor. A popular tourist attraction is the Ardastra Gardens and Zoo where you can see the flamingo show. I personally did not visit this attraction but a few friends of mine did and it is great for families and kids.

I probably would not come back to the Bahamas anytime soon but if there was one single reason for me to go back, it would be Junkanoo beach. There are other beautiful beaches too but because of its convenience, I would easily pick this one over the others.

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