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5 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in the Bahamas

When beach lovers dream of the perfect stretch of powdery sand, lapped by seas in sublime shades of blue, they're probably dreaming of the Bahamas. Encompassing 700 islands and more than 2,000 small cays sprinkled across the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, this tropical paradise lies only 80 kilometers from Florida at its closest point. Once a haven for pirates and Loyalists, the islands are now a playground for the rich and famous and anyone who enjoys world-class fishing, boating, diving, snorkeling, and sailing.

These peaceful islands are dotted with sleepy fishing villages and secluded beaches, and flourishing coral reefs rim many of their shores. The other islands all offer something for discerning travelers. From the big game fishing of Bimini, and the pink sand beaches of Harbour Island, to bonefishing, regattas, and uncrowded outer cays, it's hard to beat the Bahamas. For those visiting around the New Year, don't miss the throbbing drums and kaleidoscopic costumes of Junkanoo, the nation's most popular festival

1 Atlantis Paradise Island: Dominating the skyline on Paradise Island, this splashy, salmon-pink resort evocatively recreates the legend of Atlantis in a luxury hotel, entertainment complex, aquarium, and water park. Guests at the hotel score free entry into the popular 141-acre Aquaventure, a waterscape packed with high-speed slides, more than 20 swimming areas, and a long Lazy River Ride. In the marine habitat, hammerhead sharks and swordfish swim through sparkling open-air pools. Guests will also find many shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues on site. The fantasy sea theme continues throughout, capturing the imagination of young and old alike.

2 Nassau: One of the most popular cruise ship ports in the Caribbean, Nassau still manages to charm visitors despite the crowds of camera-toting tourists. Visitors come here to bask on the white sands of Cable Beach; explore the shops, restaurants, museums, and candy-colored colonial buildings of downtown and Bay Street; and shop for souvenirs at the Nassau Straw Market. A short catamaran ride away from Nassau, animal lovers can cavort with dolphins on a day trip to Blue Lagoon Island, while Ardastra Gardens, Zoo, and Conservation Center also offers a slower pace, with its endangered and threatened species amid four acres of tropical gardens. Paradise Island, home to the perennially popular Atlantis resort, shimmers on the horizon about five kilometers offshore from Nassau.

3 Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park: In the remote eastern edge of the Bahamas, the Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park is a "no take zone" and marine protected area, the first of its kind in the Caribbean. The park boasts some of the most striking seascapes in the Bahamas, with luminous water in electric blues and bone-white sand. The area is popular with divers and boaters, who come here for the quality anchorages, abundant marine life, and crystal clear waters. On a good day, divers and snorkelers can enjoy 30-meter-plus visibility. Most people visit this underwater wonderland on private boats or live-aboard dive charters. No fishing or shelling is permitted within the park boundaries.

4 Harbour Island: Pretty Harbour Island, northeast of its big sister, Eleuthera, is one of the oldest settlements in the Bahamas, as well as the site of the first Bahamian parliament; English Loyalists settled here in the 1700s. Famous for its pink sand beaches and chic resorts, the island, which is affectionately known by the locals as "Briland," has long been a hideaway for the rich and famous. Golf carts rule the streets here, and visitors feel as though they've stepped back in time as they cruise past the cute, pastel-colored Loyalist cottages lining the streets of Dunmore Town, the island's only settlement. Popular things to do include diving, snorkeling, fishing, and basking on the beautiful pink sand beaches.

5 Grand Bahama: The northernmost of the Bahamian islands, Grand Bahama is a popular destination for package tourists and cruise ships. The capital, Freeport, is the second biggest city in the Bahamas, though Port Lucaya has now replaced it as the tourist hub for shopping, dining, and entertainment. Port Lucaya Marketplace sells jewelry and straw goods as well as other souvenirs, and the marina is a social hot spot for tourists and boaters. Despite the island's large all-inclusive resorts and hotels, it's still possible to escape the crowds. Grand Bahama is home to one of the world's longest underwater cave systems, and nature-lovers can spot many native bird species in the three national parks.

There are many wonderful and beautiful places to visit in the world. If you are blessed enough to get frequent vacations then you are well aware of the fact that it can be hard to choose what kind of vacation to go on and where to spend your days away from work. Do you want to vacation somewhere warm or somewhere cold? Do you prefer a bit of an isolated vacation or do you like the busyness of being surrounded by many people? As my family and I have been vacationing for the past few years, we have determined our favorite spot that we just cannot get enough of: the Caribbean islands.

I knew the Caribbean islands were something special the first time we took our children there. There was a magic and a wonder in their eyes upon seeing the water that even Disney World didn't evoke the year before. Our kids were absolutely hooked on the sheer beauty of the Caribbean islands. I didn't mind the relaxed pace or the daily agenda of just being by the water and swimming if we felt like it.

One of the great things about the Caribbean islands is the variety of locations and feels there is to choose from. If you are looking for an island with a lot of activity, you can find it in the Caribbean islands. If, however, you are looking for a quiet and secluded feel for your vacation, it is not hard to find a Caribbean island that fits your needs. Few places in the world offer such flexibility for any kind of vacation. You can stay on a Caribbean island that offers a lot of tourist attractions or you can stay somewhere that only offers the beach. It's up to you.

So, if you're looking for a great place to vacation, look no further than to the Caribbean islands. You can experience any kind of vacation you want to, but all in the midst of the beauty and wonder of the Caribbean islands. What could be better than that?