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Why We Love the Bahamas

Why We Love the Bahamas

by Hope Heldmar

Friendly pink flamingos, sharks, pirates and gambling are just a few reasons why we love the Bahamas. And Paradise Island is home to one of the Caribbean's best resorts, Atlantis. But the Bahamas has more to offer than fabulous resorts. Here's a few of the cool things to do that make this cluster of 11 Caribbean islands a tropical paradise.

There's just nothing better than sun, sand and blue water, or in the case of these islands, water that shades from dark blue to turquoise, sea green and every shade in between. While you're trying to describe it, check out these crystal-clear waters from under the waves. In the Bahamas, snorkeling is a must; colorful reefs teem with equally colorful fish. Two of the best spots are Peterson Cay National Park and Deadman's Reef in Paradise Cove, just a few miles from Freeport. Both offer incredible coral reefs and friendly fish.

Atlantis Paradise Island Beach Tower is home to a world-class water park that is irresistible to kids and adults. This playground, one of the world's largest, lets you take a walk on the wild side on a swim date with the dolphins of Dolphin Cay at Atlantis. This Bahamas state-of-the-art facility became home to 16 dolphins when Katrina destroyed their home in Gulfport, MS. The more daring can test their nerves at Aquaventure by plummeting down a six-story water slide into a shark-filled lagoon. And speaking of sharks, Grand Bahama Island has two different programs to dive with these intriguing prehistoric creatures.

While we love Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow, the Bahamas were home to real pirates and one royal governor who began as a privateer. The British Colonial Hilton Nassau is built on the site of what was once Blackbeard's home. Nassau is home to The Pirates Museum, which offers fascinating interactive displays and a pirate ship replica, and the Junkanoo Expo Museum with its colorful costumes for the musical festival. If you are a shopper, you'll love the Straw Market and Festival Place, and if you've still got energy to burn, hit one of the stylish casinos to see if Lady Luck is smiling.

Whether you're looking for a fabulous resort like Atlantis, a cool Bahamas beach or Paradise Island and swimming with dolphins, these 11 islands offer the ultimate beach vacation. One visit and you'll be debating which beach is your favorite.