Paradise Island, Bahamas
Five miles long and less than 1 mile wide, Paradise Island has almost always been exclusively for tourists. Resorts, shops, restaurants, a golf course, a casino and, of course, naturally beautiful beaches line the shores and the streets. Paradise Island has been transformed by development and is now attached to New Providence by 2 600-foot bridges. The most notable change came with the opening of mega-resort, Atlantis Paradise Island.
This resort offers more than 2,300 rooms and suites, several water activities, and an 18-hole oceanfront golf course. One of the grand resort's biggest attractions is Cabbage Beach, a white sandy strip stretching for 3 miles along the north side of the island, including and extending beyond Atlantis' property. Private concessionaires provide the usual assortment of water sports: parasailing, snorkeling, personal watercraft and boat rentals. Just a short drive away, Paradise Beach offers the same white sand and turquoise waters that have driven people to the Bahamas in droves for years.
Nearest major international airport: Paradise Island is served by Nassau International Airport.
Taxi fare to Paradise Island from the airport takes about 30 minutes. For travel on the islands, visitors who aren't afraid of driving on the left side of the road can rent a car or a scooter. In addition, water taxis operate daily between Nassau and Paradise Island and buses run from the hotels to downtown Nassau several times a day.
Summers in the Bahamas can be warm and rainy, with daytime temperatures reaching about 95 degrees. Hurricane season lasts from July to October. Although the beaches are most crowded, the best time to go is during the high season, which runs from November to mid-April, making it a great spot for spring break.
Paradise Island is home to several resorts and hotels, including Atlantis, Bay View Village, Club Med Paradise Island, Comfort Suites Paradise Island, Ocean Club Golf Resort, Paradise Harbour Club and Marina, Sheraton Grand, Sunrise Beach Club & Villas, Bay View Village and The Pink House. On New Providence Island, there are a variety of options, including historic hotel properties in Old Nassau, resorts and more remotely placed hotels.
Seafood is the staple in the Bahamian diet and conch is one of the more popular offerings. You'll find it served fresh and uncooked with limejuice and spices or deep-fried, steamed, stewed, added to soups and salads or made into conch chowder and conch fritters. Bahamian "rock lobster," a spiny lobster without claws, is also popular and usually served broiled, minced or in salads. Bahamian food is spicy and heavily influenced by the American South. This is also a good place to sample rum. Different variations of rum punch are easy to find. If you're not in a punchy mood, try Kalik, a light and wheaty Bahamian beer.
Currency is the Bahamian dollar, however, United States currency is accepted most everywhere, as are major credit cards and traveler's checks.
While you are there
Check out Atlantis' Predator Lagoon and stroll through the 100-foot clear, underwater tunnel where you'll get about as close as you'd ever want to be to sharks, barracudas, sawfish and rays.
To fake that you've been there
Mention walking with the rush of bands down Nassau's Bay Street in the wee hours of the morning during Junkanoo festival, which is held the day after Christmas.
Pack your beach bag for a visit to these top 10 Caribbean beaches.