Exploring three Bahamas Out Islands with TravelBrands
(Photo above: Lagoon pool running the length of the property at Resorts World Bimini.)
Photo courtesy ©Resorts World Bimini
When you think of the Bahamas Out Islands, you automatically think of the swimming pigs of The Exumas. Feeding the island’s 20-some friendly pigs and piglets is just the Instagram-able adventure travellers are looking for. But this is only one of 700 Out Islands, 30 of which are inhabited, that make up the nation of the Bahamas.
“Just because you’ve been to Nassau or visited The Exumas, doesn’t mean you’ve seen all of what Bahamas has to offer,” says Steven Johnson, senior manager, Bahamas Tourist Office, Canada. “We’ve been keeping the out islands a secret, but it’s time to let the world know.”
What makes the Bahamas Out Islands so special is the diversity. Every island has its own unique characteristics and spirit, so whether you want to sun, swim, sail, or snorkel, there’s an island for that. Also, this is beach country. Eighty-eight percent of visitors are attracted by the stunning, pristine, uncrowded beaches.
“Our waters are gin-clear, and our beaches are none other,” enthuses Johnson. Travel consultant, Melissa Xerri of Vision Travel Solutions confirms, “beaches are what sell, and the Bahamas has some of the best.”
Travelling to the Bahamas Out Islands is perfect for adventurous clients looking for a new and authentic beach vacation experience. And with the close proximity to and many daily direct flights from Florida, the Out Islands is also a great weekend getaway or change of scenery for the tens of thousands of Canadians who vacation in Florida throughout the winter months.
Booking all the little details of an out island trip can seem tedious, but TravelBrands, has you covered.
Last November, TravelBrands launched the Experiences By Sunquest (www.travelbrandsagent.com) product line which offers eight different collections, including four featuring the Bahamas and one, Amazing Islands, featuring the Bahamas Out Islands.
“Experiences By Sunquest is for clients who are looking for something different, something off the beaten path,” explained Shannon Smith, business development manager, TravelBrands. “Everyone’s done the all-inclusive, what they want is an authentic travel experience.”
TravelBrands’ Experiences By Sunquest earns agents a 11% commission.
At the beginning of the summer, the Bahamas Tourist Office, Bahamas Out Islands Promotions Board, and TravelBrands invited 11 Canadian travel agents, plus Travel Courier, to get a taste of the Out Islands for themselves. Nine hotel tours, eight flights, five days, three immersive island experiences, and countless cups of Bahamian fruit punch, all added up to one unforgettable island-hopping adventure. Discover the diversity of the Bahamas Out Islands…
Island vibe: Unpretentious and authentic. Locals and the many repeat visitors will go out of their way to welcome tourists to this small, simple island community.
Of note: This is the boating belt. Unlike other Caribbean destinations, Bimini’s high season begins in June when anglers visit for some of the best deep-sea fishing in the world.
Where to stay: A rooftop infinity pool, the largest marina in the Bahamas, boutique casino, and 10 dining outlets, the Hilton at Resorts World Bimini is the only major four-star resort on Bimini. Just opened last June, the 305-room hotel starts at $209 per night.
Local flavour: There’s no shortage of recommendations from locals: Edith’s Pizza, Joe’s Conch Shack, and Daughters Restaurant. But it’s Captain Bob’s that’s serving up some really tasty Bahamian fare. Conch chowder, mac&cheese, fruit punch, fried mahi mahi, peas and rice, guava duff – every dish is on point.
Don’t miss: The Dolphin House Museum. Inspired by his experiences with wild dolphins, Bimini native, Ashley Saunders, has been building his three-storey masterpiece for 20+ years using only found materials – shells, bottles, tiles, coins. Tour the property, visit the the gift shop, or rent the second floor apartment at Dolphinhousebimini.com.
Getting there: Just 48 nautical miles from Miami, getting to Bimini couldn’t be easier. Daily flight service is offered out of Nassau, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Melbourne, Tampa, and just recently, Newark.
Island vibe: Known as the boating and sailing capital of the Bahamas, Abaco has a laid-back vibe described as “barefoot elegance.” Get ready to spend lots of time on the water and meet new friends.
Of note: Book an excursion to visit Abaco’s own swimming pigs at No Name Cay.
Where to stay: Chill out at the Abaco Beach Resort, a relaxed environment with large marina for boaters and anglers, pool with swim-up bar, and live entertainment. Rooms start at $275 and suites start at $325 per night.
Local flavour: Snack on some spicy conch fritters at the Abaco Beach Resort or pack a lunch and sail over to Tahiti Beach at Elbow Cay for a picnic.
Don’t miss: Hope Town’s red and white striped lighthouse built in 1836, one of only two manual lighthouses left in the world.
Getting there: Access direct flights from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, or Tampa. Also connect through Nassau with a 25 minute flight. For those arriving by boat or float plane, The Abaco Beach Resort has customs and immigration on-site.
What agents are saying: “Abaco isn’t just for affluent travellers. There were more locals and regulars; it had a very authentic feel and definitely had its own identity,” says Scott Harvey, Travel Consultant, Go Travel Company.
Island vibe: If you’re looking to disconnect, Eleuthera, secluded and untamed, feels like it’s a million miles from nowhere.
Of note: Eleuthera used to be the pineapple capital of the world.
Where to stay: With clients like Justin Bieber and neighbours like Lenny Kravitz, The Cove Eleuthera is a luxurious resort suited to those seeking privacy and tranquility. Rooms are minimal and airy allowing unobstructed panorama views to take centre stage. Rates start as low as $299 per night in off-season.
Local flavour: On your way out of town, grab a Bahamian beer at Jimmy’s across the road from North Eleuthera Airport. It’s just $2 a bottle, and don’t worry, you’ll hear your flight announcement from the patio.
Don’t miss: The “Glass Window Bridge.” Below the bridge (that’s not actually made of glass) the warm, turquoise Caribbean Sea and deep, cobalt Atlantic Ocean dramatically crash into each other.
Getting there: With three airports on the island and the flying time from Nassau a quick 15 minutes, getting here really couldn’t be easier.
Island vibe: The candy-coated crown jewel of the Bahamas’ out islands. Just three miles long by a half-mile wide, have fun zipping around the streets, dotted with brightly coloured little cottages and fresh fruit stands, on a golf cart.
Of note: Technically an outpost of Eleuthera, Harbour Island is so special, it was voted the top Caribbean destination by Travel+Leisure.
Where to stay: The Coral Sands Hotel is whimsically decorated and sits on the island’s world-famous pink-sand beach. Rooms start at $295, suites start at $595 per night and go up. But if the centre of town is what you’re looking for, Valentine’s Resort & Marina is a five-star property of pastel-painted, colonial- inspired buildings. A one-bedroom suite with full kitchen and living room starts at $450 per night with housekeeping and use of common pool included.
Local flavour: At Harry O’s Seafood & Grill, enjoy a down home meal, while seated on the waterfront deck.
Don’t miss: Crystal-clear turquoise waters and pretty pink sands, Harbour Island is home to one of the world’s top ten beaches as voted by Conde Nast. Whatever you do while you’re in the Bahamas, do not miss this beach.
Getting there: Fly into North Eleuthera Airport and take a water taxi to Harbour Island. Alternatively, take the two-hour fast ferry at about $150 round trip per person direct from Nassau.
What agents are saying: “This is the best beach I’ve experienced in the Bahamas. I loved the sand, it’s very swimmable, very family friendly, and just gorgeous,” says Melissa Xerri, Travel Consultant, Vision Travel Solutions.
All prices are listed in USD.