They span 100,000 square miles, comprising 700 islands and thousands more cays. Their highlights include rum punches and endless sea views, mega-resorts, pure white sand and casinos flanked by dolphin habitats. The Bahamas have a reputation of captivating all those who visit, whether they are sailing through unspoiled cays or eating Jean-Georges cuisine atop a beachside skyscraper. Stepping onto the powdery sands of Cable Beach, however, the translucent waters lapping gently onto shore, it’s easy to understand why this destination enchants. Since the 19th century, when Cunard cruises began offering regular routes to Nassau, travelers have been lured to the paradisiacal archipelago between Havana and Miami. But it wasn’t until the mid-20th century, when Prohibition and the trade embargo on Cuba occurred, that the Bahamas stepped into the spotlight. Private clubs like Lyford Cay emerged, complete with manicured golf courses and tennis courts, that beckoned America’s ‘jet-set’ and wealthy families: a tricked-out Beverly Hills in the tropics. Another wave of popularity occurred in the mid-90s, when the sprawling, multi-resort Atlantis development was erected on Paradise Island, employing tens of thousands of locals and hosting even more international tourists. Today, the Bahamas’ reputation ranges from a spring break destination (thanks to Atlantis) to an A-lister hideaway. A host of celebrities including Tiger Woods and Justin Timberlake have invested in properties here.
For a full-service, luxury getaway: Rosewood Baha Mar. For a sophisticated, upscale and private experience: Albany Bahamas. For an old-school, classic Bahamas vacation: Four Seasons Ocean Club. For a reliable resort escape: The Cove Atlantis.
Getting There: Nassau is a 3-hour flight from NYC, offered daily by JetBlue, United, Delta, American. Small planes are required to reach the Bahamas' other islands, like Harbour Island.
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