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Bahamas family holidays

Inagua National Park.Inagua National Park.© Bahamas National Trust
Pirates of Nassau.Pirates of Nassau.© Pirates of Nassau
Local kids.Local kids.© Bahamas Tourist Office
Feeding sharks.Feeding sharks.© Powerboat Adventures
Capital City Nassau
Flying Time 9hrs
Timezone GMT -4
Currency Bahamian Dollar

Today

Overview

Pink sands, warm seas and some of the clearest water on the planet combine to make the Bahamas one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean and a great spot for family holidays. There are 14 main islands and almost 700 outer islands and cays, so there’s something for children of all ages, from the glittering resorts of Paradise Island to the New England charm of Harbour Island.

Things to do with kids in the Bahamas

Start with a visit to downtown Nassau to see Providence Island's colonial heritage, Victorian mansions and rows of pastel wooden shops. Little adventurers love the Pirates of Nassau, an interactive pirate attraction and museum where they can learn about the real-life pirates of the Carribean. Then tour the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, free to under-12s, or drop into the Junkanoo Expo Museum in Prince George’s Wharf to see some of the spectacular costumes and floats used in the New Year’s Junkanoo Parade (see When to Go).

Downtown Nassau is also a great place to shop – don’t miss the chance to haggle for souvenirs at the Straw Market. A few minutes’ drive from downtown, Ardastra Gardens, Zoo and Conservation Centre has mammals, birds and reptiles galore plus five acres of exotic palms and fruit trees in which to let the kids loose.

Head 5km west of the city to reach Cable Beach and some of the most exclusive resorts the islands have to offer.

On neighbouring Paradise Island, the vast Atlantis Resort feature the world’s largest open-air aquarium, home to 50,000+ marine animals. Exclusive attractions for resort guests include a waterslide through shark-infested waters.

Venture away from Nassau and Paradise Island, to Grand Bahama a 30-minute flight from Nassau. One of the more Americanised of the Bahamas, it’s a good bet for families with older kids and teens keen on outdoor activities, as well as for golf and tennis enthusiasts.

About 100km east of Nassau, visit two of the most popular Out Islands, Eleuthera and Harbour Island. New England charm and a five-kilometre pink-sand beach make Harbour Island one of the most popular holiday spots in the Bahamas, one where little kids delight in travelling by golf cart (the island’s only method of transport) while parents kick back in one of the island’s quaint hotels set in old Victorian houses.

Explore the Bahamas’ natural wonders. Take a Powerboat Adventure from Nassau to the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, a huge natural reserve with coral reefs, exotic marine life and Bahamian iguanas. Families with more time to spare can charter a sailboat to voyage through the Exumas’ 160km string of pristine islands and cays, the location for two James Bond movies.

With older kids, consider flying from Nassau to Inagua National Park at the southernmost tip of the Bahamas, with its population of around 1,000 Bahamians and 80,000+ West Indian flamingos (come in March/April to see them nesting).

Spend a day with a local family on the People-to-People Program, organised through the tourist board and available on New Providence Island, Grand Bahama, Eleuthera/Harbour Island and the Exumas. It’s a great way for kids to learn more about Bahamian culture.

Eat

You’ll find all the international child-friendly favourites in the resorts, but family holidays in the Bahamas aren't complete without sampling the delicious fresh seafood – crawfish (crayfish), land crabs and fish including yellowtail and red snapper are local favourites. You’ll also find conch, served all manner of ways – in chowder and salad or as conch fritters.

Sweet treats include pineapple tart and guava duff, the latter made by folding fruit into dough and boiling it.

When to go to the Bahamas

The tradewinds that blow throughout the Bahamas create a moderate climate year-round. Sept–May is most pleasant, especially for family holidays, with temperatures a child-friendly 21–24°C. The rainy season (May–Oct) brings hot, muggy weather and temperatures of 27–29°C. Hurricanes can occur June–Nov.

If you opt for a Christmas break, keep the kids up late to watch the spectacular New Year’s Junkanoo Parade in Nassau, with local and national entertainers joining the parade through the city’s streets in a blend of art, culture and music. Due to its popularity, a second Junkanoo now takes place at Arawak Cay in July.

How to get to the Bahamas

Direct flights from London to Nassau Airport (Lynden Pindling International) take 9 hours 30 minutes. The Bahamas are GMT-5 so expect some jet-lag. From Nassau there are connecting flights to the Out Islands and major cities in the Bahamas.

Many visitors combine the Bahamas with Florida in two-centre family holidays. 

Cost

The Bahamas is by no means a destination for budget family holidays, but all-inclusive package deals can help offset the high cost of living there. Expect return flights to start at around £650pp, two-week package deals at about £1,800.

By Rhonda Carrier

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