Graced with beautiful beaches of pink sand, evocative windswept panoramas and countless opportunities for diving, snorkelling and fishing, the islands of
are well established as one of the world's top draws for both intrepid explorers and casual vacationers. An island chain beginning a mere 55 miles east of Miami, Florida, the Bahamas offer an array of tourist hotels, all-inclusive resorts, and even rustic lodges, making staying there a relatively simple endeavour. Indeed, more than three million travellers each year choose the islands as their prime destination for outdoor sports, sun worship, casino gambling and, on some of the slightly more remote spots, eco-tourism.
In total, the Bahamas include around seven hundred islands, no more than thirty of which are inhabited, as well as smaller cays (pronounced "keys") and rocks - an impressive
stretching from just beyond the Atlantic coast of Florida to the outlying waters of Cuba, where Great Inagua lies only sixty miles offshore. Although deeper oceanic troughs surround some of the islands, most are encircled by
shallow, crystalline water
that reflects a light turquoise hue during the day and glows with purple luminescence at night. This combination of shallow and deep water makes
both challenging and intriguing, with numerous reefs waiting to be explored just beyond the shores of the gorgeous, uncrowded beaches.
Other useful information
for tourists (each section contains more specific sub-sections):