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The Bahamas is happiness in the Atlantic Ocean or, to be more precise, an archipelago of around 700 islands and 2,400 cays between Florida and Cuba. The Bahama Islands were where Christopher Columbus first set foot in the New World in 1492, and the former British Colony gained its independence in 1973.

With a history of pirates and rum smugglers, drug traffickers and illegal migrants, these picturesque islands are much more colourful than their idyllic appearance suggests.

New Providence is the main island in the group, which is often paired with the smaller Paradise Island, and where the capital Nassau lies. Nassau is the centre of Bahamian commerce and nightlife and home to the huge Atlantis Casino resort.

A drawcard is the beautiful colonial architecture in town including the pastel pink façade of the Parliament Building. Nassau was also a popular pirates' den and the Pirate Museum is a fun diversion, boasting some real artifacts from those dastardly days.

The warm waters of the Bahamas lend themselves to water sports of all persuasions including kiteboarding, kayaking, deep-sea fishing, bonefishing, wave runners and island boat tours. The Bahamas also boasts numerous exotic bird species, including flamingoes, as well as marine life including dolphins, manatees, sharks, turtles and many colourful fish.

With so many islands to explore, adventurers will enjoy sailing to Abacos in the Out Islands, diving in Andros – the world's third largest reef, wall diving in San Salvador, kayaking around the cays of Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park and sunning themselves in the pretty pink sands of beautiful Harbour Island.

Be bedazzled by the beautiful Bahamas

Another island of note is Grand Bahama, which contains an underwater limestone cave system and is the centre of the area's ecotourism with nature tours, national parks and gardens.

Back on dry land, the drink of choice is rum which is plentiful, cheap and legal now that the days of prohibition are gone. Aficionados can take a tour of the Bacardi Rum Distillery on New Providence or try one of the local tipples including Ron Ricardo and Ole Nassau Rum.

Be sure to try the coconut rum-flavoured cocktail ‘The Bahama Mama' while you're on holiday. Seafood is another highlight and the national dish of conch is traditionally served fried or raw with a twist of lemon and accompanied by that island staple of peas and rice.

With idyllic scenery; vibrant nightlife; colourful island culture; warm, inviting waters and a plethora of distractions; you may never want to leave the Bahamas!

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